Is your FI a registered and practicing member of a specific church? If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to contact that church and reserve your date. Most churches require some sort of donation when you reserve your date, and they should also give you a copy of the book Together for Life. This book has all the resources you need to plan the Catholic ceremony.
In a nutshell, a Catholic ceremony is the same as a regular Sunday mass, with some extra blessings thrown in and of course the marriage rite (exchange of vows and rings). If you’ve never been to a Catholic mass, I highly recommend sitting in on a couple to get a feel for it. Your ceremony will go in much the same order, with most of the readings, blessings, and songs that are part of a regular mass. You get to pick the readings and blessings you want for your ceremony; the easiest way is just to pick whatever’s the most meaningful to you out of the Together for Life book. Since you’ll have an interfaith wedding, you can omit the communion rite from your ceremony, since most non-Catholics don’t take communion at a Catholic ceremony anyway.
Since there are lots of parts to the mass that might be mind-boggling to non-Catholics, I recommend distributing programs that list those parts. PM me if you’d like to see my programs as an example.
Unless you get special permission from the Bishop, you’ll have to get married inside a church since your marriage is a sacrament. Your FI’s church will probably have some small rules about decorating. Most churches don’t want you scratching up the pews with metal clips to hold up flowers, for example. And it’s an absolute no-no to put any decorations on top of the altar.
As far as the music goes, they’ll have rules about that too (go figure right). Since you’re inside a church, no secular (non-religious) music is allowed. In other words, you can’t walk up the aisle to “Tonight’s gonna be a good night!” You should work with the church’s wedding coordinator to find a pianist/organist and singer. The pianist will be very familiar with all the little songs that go into a Catholic mass and what’s allowed in a wedding, so follow his/her direction when choosing music.
Ok so that sounded like a lot of rules, sorry! Just trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. A couple interesting facts: In a Catholic wedding ceremony, the couple administer the sacrament of marriage to each other, and the priest is just there to bless it. Since Catholics believe marriage should be entered into freely and that the bride is no one’s property, the bride’s father does not give her away (the priest won’t say “who gives this woman in marriage?”) but rather the father is considered your escort down the aisle.
One last tip LOL. A lot of Catholic brides have a little angst because the priest doesn’t say “you may kiss the bride” right after the exchange of rings (again because they don’t believe the bride is property). I recommend you ask your priest to say at the end of the ceremony “it is my pleasure to introduce for the very first time mr. and mrs. X” and then you kiss, right before the recessional.
Best of luck! And thank you for giving consideration to your FI’s religion in your ceremony! Some non-Catholic brides end up resenting the fact that their FI is Catholic. You truly are starting off on the right foot when each person respects the other’s background, so neither person feels like they’re giving up the person they are, just to get married.