• Mater

A TLM Wedding with Non-Catholic Guests: A Guide

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

Having a Traditional Latin Mass Wedding? Inviting non-Catholics or Catholics who have not been exposed to the Extraordinary Form? This can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be! This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce people to the beauty of the Mass and, most of all, Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Here are a few tips from our experience to make things go smoothly.

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Set the tone beforehand.

Definitely include the words "Solemn Nuptial High Mass" or something to that effect on your invitation. It's not a ceremony, and it's not a celebration. Use the specific wording to set a solemn, reverent tone for your guests.

Use your wedding website (if you have one).

If you have a wedding website, this is a great place to educate your guests and make it clear beforehand what is going to happen. Here is a few things I would make sure they know beforehand:

  • How long the ceremony will last (ours was around two hours)

  • What is expected of guests (reverence, silence, and a strict dress code)

  • A brief description of Mass (for your non-Catholic guests)

  • A brief description of the Extraordinary Form and how it differs (for your Novus Ordo Catholic guests; especially the lack of responses and receiving Holy Communion kneeling, on the tongue)

  • A reminder of the rules for receiving Holy Communion

This way, they can feel prepared and welcome, even if they don't completely know what's going on. It will mean a lot to your guests! If you are interested in sample writings that you can use, comment below.

Provide confession beforehand.

Chances are, you will have guests that are only attending a Mass because it's your wedding. We had many guests who were fallen-away Catholics and not-always-practicing Catholics. Any time you can offer Confession before Holy Communion is a good thing. It will not only reduce the chances of sacrilege, but it might also save a soul. Faithful, practicing Catholics will be grateful for the opportunity as well. Make sure you advertise it before, perhaps on your wedding website, so that your guests are aware.

Create a unique program.

Designing the program was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in wedding planning. Since my guests consisted of people totally clueless of the Extraordinary Form and people who were faithful TLM attendees with no in between, I decided to include only the English. I assumed the regulars would bring their Missal and not use the program to follow along with the Mass, which largely happened. The other group of guests however would be undoubtedly bored of having to sit through a two-hour Mass in another language. Even if they couldn't quite trace where they were, they could at least read the beautiful prayers being said. I took out some of the prayers that the priest prays silently, because it was getting too long. I also included "kneel", "stand", and "sit" instructions, knowing full well that guests wouldn't have a clue where they were. I hoped this would 1) remind them to participate and kneel when everyone else kneels, and 2) possibly help them keep track of where they were based on what the rest of the group was doing.

Ask your Priest to remind your guests of conditions for Holy Communion in his homily.

You can't remind people of this enough, especially since most Catholics aren't hearing it regularly now and then. I also had a lot of Protestant friends who were used to receiving bread and wine at their own weddings. Encourage people to remain in their seats if they are not receiving Holy Communion and to make a spiritual communion. You can include one of these in your program.

Have a fun reception.

This part of the day cannot be overlooked, not only because you just made your guests sit through two hours of what they thought to be a boring ceremony, but also because this is part of your witness. I had a non-Catholic and an atheist in attendance who both said their favorite part of the day was seeing the Altar Boys so reverent while serving, but so fun and friendly during the reception. These boys made a lasting impression on them!

Add your tips in the comments! If you would like to see the program I made or the write-ups I included on our website, please mention this in the comments.

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