Another Catholic Bee here. Don’t worry! As another pp said, priests marry Catholic/non-Catholic couples regularly and can certainly help you through everything and answer whatever questions you may have. As long as you are genuine (and not antagonistic) in your questions you won’t offend anyone. I know it all seems intimidating, but it’s really not that bad. To answer some of your questions:
1. Rites, sayings, etc.: The only time you MUST respond to questions or prayers or sayings is when you are actually saying your vows. For the rest of the Mass/Ceremony you can just sit or stand quietly and don’t have to respond to the prayers if you don’t want to. If you do want to respond, there should be able to find responses to prayers and such in the Missal (little book found in the pews). The priest should be able to guide to the correction section and you can follow along. When you meet with your priest, he’ll give you a Together for Life booklet that will contain your options for readings, Gospel, and songs. Your options will be pretty limited, which is nice because then you won’t be stuck with analysis paralysis and you’ll know what’s appropriate.
2. You will also have at least one meeting with the priest and he’ll explain the Sacrament of Marriage and how it applies to your marriage. And as far as dispensation goes, your FH or priest (can’t remember which) will just have to submit a letter to the local Bishop asking for permission for you two to get married in the Church. You should have zero trouble obtaining permission – it’s more of a formality these days I think.
3. Normal Masses are in English and only special or specified Masses are in Latin. Sometimes there’s a prayer or song in Latin, but it definitely won’t be the whole Mass.
4. Things you can and cannot do as a non-Catholic. The only thing you cannot do is take Communion. If you have a full Mass, the priest should invite only Catholics to take Communion so that way all the guests know what they are supposed to do. You’ll have to take to your priest about the exact set-up and procedure, but what I’m guessing will happen is that, when it’s time for Communion, you and your Darling Husband will walk up to the front where the priest is and the priest will give your FH Communion and then bless you (and typically all you have to do for that is cross your arms over your chest to make a giant X and bow your head).
5. I imagine it varies from church to church but every Catholic wedding I’ve been to the bride had a strapless dress (mine was). If you get married in a more strict/traditional church you might have to wear a little bolero jacket for the ceremony but I think that’s pretty rare. Also, your dad can absolutely walk you down the aisle. =) When I got married, my priest actually gave me a whole list of things we could and couldn’t do. I don’t think there was any sort of dress code, but we did have a limit on our bridal party size and couldn’t do a receiving line or extra symbolic ceremony like sand pouring or candle lighting. It also told us when to show up for the ceremony and how long we had to do pictures, etc. These things were all specific to my church (priest was all about efficiency and simplicity) but maybe your priest will have a similar list to help guide you.
And don’t forget your’ll have a rehearsal where the prist will go through the ceremony step by step. He should also provide guidance the day of by calling you up when necessary, calling the readers up, etc. The actual marriage part is pretty quick and simple and the rest of the time you’ll just be sitting off to the side with your FH.
I also second the idea of doing programs. It will definitely help people who aren’t familiar with the Catholic faith follow along. You can also add a crossword puzzle or something in case people get bored. 😉
Also, also, you will have to do Pre Cana (marriage counselling). But don’t worry about this either! In my experience and talking with other friends who were married in the Church, it’s a lot less religious than you would expect. It typically covers things like communication, how to fight, love languages, things to make sure you’ve discussed before getting married etc.
This website might also help you with any further questions you might have:
Good luck, congrats, and don’t worry! It’ll be totally fine and you won’t screw anything up.