Post # 1
I’m going to be a bridesmaid in my FSIL’s wedding and she is having a traditional Catholic wedding. I really don’t know what to expect, I have never been to a Catholic wedding, or a Catholic church since I was 7 years old as I am an athiest.
However when I was younger my grandma forced me through CCD but I stopped going after confession, so I was never confirmed (which my FI’s family actually isn’t even aware of). Does that matter? And what can I expect with the religious aspect of the ceremony?
Post # 3
You can be a bridesmaid without being Catholic. It’s basically a classic movie wedding (walk down the aisle with flowers, get into the pew, watch the bride, go stand up with the bride at one point, etc.) with a church service thrown in, and you should be somewhat familiar with it if you went through CCD when you were little (though there have been changes recently).
There will hopefully be a program you can follow, and you don’t have to participate in the words that are being said at all. If you follow the motions of what other people are doing you’ll easily know when to sit, stand, kneel, etc. It’s pretty easy to follow.
At Communion, you would not go to receive the Eucharist. You can receive a blessing if you want by basically hugging yourself (crossing your arms and holding onto your shoulders, if that makes sense?) but please do not take the Eucharist; this isn’t to exclude you, it’s just that you don’t really believe in it.
It will probably last half an hour to an hour, and at the rehearsal the priest will walk you through all of your duties.
Post # 4
Don’t worry, you will get all your info during the rehearsal. Don’t take communion, follow other peoples’ motions, and don’t be afraid not to participate.
If your friend has free time, maybe you could attend Mass one Sunday with her? You’ll get a refresher of the order of things.
Post # 5
@pierogi: You don’t have to be Catholic to be a bridesmaid. It sounds like your friend will have a full Mass, so expect to be there for about an hour. There will be periods when the Catholics are kneeling or standing. You will be at the front of the church, so you should ask your friend what she wants you to do. I think it’s okay if you sit most of the time; you shouldn’t need to do the prayer postures. Not all wedding parties do this, but it is most polite to be covered knees to shoulders. I know it surprises people to hear that some churches have a “no strapless” rule, but if you see pictures like this http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2012/02/21/strapless/ it makes more sense.
The Mass is an hour long, so I won’t go into all the details here, but here is a website with a detailed description http://catholicweddinghelp.com/topics/order-wedding-with-mass.htm. One thing to note is that the vows take place more toward the middle of the ceremony, not at the beginning. At this point, you might leave your seat to go stand with the bride and groom, then go back to your seat when the vows are done. It all depends on what the bride and groom decide.
The important things for you to do are to go up to the front of the church, sit down when everyone else does, and hold things for the bride. You won’t have to say prayers if you don’t want to. You don’t have to get into the communion line, and you are not supposed to take communion anyway. If the rest of the attendants are Catholic, just let them get past you. It is quite common for non-Catholic relatives and friends to come to a Catholic wedding, so you will probably not be the only one there who sits when other people are getting up for Communion, or who doesn’t do all the responses. If you don’t wnat to kneel, lean forward whenever everyone else is kneeling so the person behind you can rest his or her hands on the bench. There is a point in the Mass when everyone shakes hands with their neighbors and says “Peace be with you,” or something to that effect. That’s a nice one if you want to participate, but ask the bride what people in her parish normally do. Some places don’t shake hands as much.
I’ve been to lots of Catholic weddings, and many times there were non-Catholic attendants. Be respectful at all times in the church, not just at the wedding. Once at a rehearsal some friends of one of the attendants decided to have a loud conversation about why they hated the Catholic church…in the Catholic church building, right behind me while I was praying. SO RUDE! But it takes things that are that deliberately rude to tick us off, because we are really all used to people bringing friends and family who are not used to the order of Mass. I hope you have a great experience!
Post # 6
@HappierKate: You basically descibed it perfect! At the rehersal, ask questions!!
Post # 7
And wear a comfortable bra. Those underwires are PAINFUL when you’re doing all the stand up – kneel – stand up – kneel bits that go along with a Catholic ceremony. I majorly regretted my bra choice when I was a bridesmaid in a Catholic wedding and had no idea what to expect! :o)
Post # 8
I just had this same question last summer — I was a bridesmaid in a full Catholic mass (I’m Methodist). It wasn’t a problem at all. I learned during the rehearsal what I’d need to do, I took cues from the other bridesmaids, and I didn’t take communion. Easy!
Post # 9
Also, and you may know this from your classes, when the whole group recites the Lord’s Prayer, STOP after “Deliver us from evil.” In Catholic ceremonies, the priest says the rest! Nothing screams “Hey, I’m not a Catholic!” like the people who start mumbling “for thine is the kingdom…” when everyone else has stopped.
Post # 10
As long as you don’t take the Eucharist you are golden. The pp responses are all really great and hit the nail on the head. As far as kneeling, standing, sitting I just told my BMs to watch the Best Man and do what he does 🙂 it worked for them
Post # 11
All the general info and details have been covered very well, so I won’t add to them. I do have a piece of personal experience to share, but please don’t take it as the “standard” just what happened to me (non-Christian in a Catholic church wedding).
At the rehearsal, we were directed to line up by the church coordinator. I was the first bridesmaid down the aisle, so she told me to walk until I reach the first row of pews, pause, bend my knees slightly and bow my head, and continue to my place. Well, I didn’t want to cause a scene, so I just nodded. I did my walk, paused but did not bow, and kept walking. She immediately told me to come back and “DO IT RIGHT THIS TIME, MISSY.” I never had the opportunity to explain why I wouldn’t bow, and she glared at me throughout the rest of the rehearsal. Eventually I overheard her talking to the bride’s mother, and asking for me to be removed from the wedding! The mother just said no, but the coordinator didn’t look happy. The bride didn’t say anything.
I just want to be really clear: while it’s obviously a good thing to participate where it’s appropriate, it’s equally okay to refrain from something that makes you uncomfortable. I hope your Future Sister-In-Law and her church staff are wayyyy nicer than mine (which, frankly, I’m sure they are) but felt you should be aware of other things that can happen.
Post # 12
Do you know if they are having a full mass with the ceremony? If so you can expect a long ceremony! When I was married the first time around, since both he and I were Catholic we were encourage to have a full mass (which included having Eucharist), so it was approximately an hour long. I get tired just thinking about it, lol.
Post # 13
I had a full Catholic mass at my wedding, and one of my bridesmaids was not Christian, had never been to a western wedding or any sort of Christian church service, and did not speak English. She did fine! You just have to pay attention at the rehearsal, pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and make sure not to take communion. No problem!
Post # 14
@HBanan: oh. my. goodness. That picture is HILARIOUS! Thank you so much! LMAO…
Post # 15
If you are not Catholic it isn’t required for you to do any of the kneeling, standing, bowing or prayers. I personally wouldn’t if I wasn’t Catholic and no one will give you the side eye if you don’t. In the weddings I have been to those who are Catholic go through all the motions of Mass and those who aren’t don’t. I wouldn’t expect my bridesmaids to adhere to the rituals .
Post # 16
@sweetcrackers: Lol, that was the one I was going to toss in. I’m not Catholic, but at the very large Catholic wedding I attended last summer, eeeeeveryone knew who the Lutheran was. This girl. Haha.