In many cases a marriage is recognized both by a church and the state. While the legal requirements for a wedding are established by the state, many couple wish to follow certain religious traditions to have their marriage recognized in their church as well. In the Catholic religion marriage is considered sacred and is one of the sacraments of the faith. The Catholic Church puts forth their own requirements for a marriage to be recognized in the eyes of the church.
One of the most important aspect of a Catholic wedding is the location. Many couples may wish to be married in an outdoor ceremony but it is important to realize that an outdoor wedding would not be recognized by the Catholic Church. The purpose of holding your wedding ceremony is to demonstrate that you are seeking God's blessing and influence in your marriage. For this reason the Catholic Church does not recognize any marriage ceremonies that are held outside of a church. While you will still be legally married in accordance with all state guidelines your marriage will not be recognized by the church.
A Catholic wedding does not have to include a Mass as part of the wedding. The church will recognize a union that is performed in a church and by a priest without the full Mass. Many couples will opt for a full Mass to have the opportunity to receive additional blessings during their wedding. A wedding that includes a full Mass can be slightly over an hour long in terms of length. A wedding that does not include a Mass can be approximately 20 minutes long and usually includes readings, hymns and psalms as well as blessings from the priest but does not include a celebration of the Eucharist.
Yet another final superstition relates to offering well wishes to the bride. At a traditional Irish wedding it is considered bad luck for a woman to be the first one to congratulate the bride and wish her well. For this reason a close friend or relative of the groom will also take it upon himself to ensure that he is the first to congratulate the bride.
A traditional Irish wedding usually concludes with a toast that has been recited for many years. At the end of the reception the guests will gather around the couple for the final toast. The couple will begin the toast by saying, "Friends and relatives, so fond and dear, 'tis our greatest pleasure to have you here. When many years this day has passed, fondest memories will always last. So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask God's blessing in your hour of need."
One additional tradition of the Catholic Church is requiring the couple to attend pre-marital counseling sessions, sometimes called Pre-Cana. These are extremely worthwhile because the give the couple the forum for talking about various serious issues. This time honored tradition of the Catholic Church goes a long way in ensuring that the couple is right for each other and that their marriage will last. These sessions are usually hosted by a priest and can also include young married couples who testify to the joys and tribulations of marriage. These can be either individual or group sessions and include weekly or monthly sessions or may be one intensive weekend of counseling.
Of course, no traditional Irish wedding complete without the presence of bagpipes and kilts. It is customary for friends and family members to bring along their bagpipes and pipe the couple into the mass and into the reception. They may also continue to charm the guests with an assortment of bagpipe tunes suitable for dancing. Not only do friends and family members enjoy performing for the couple and the other guests but they also enjoy taking the opportunity to dress in traditional kilts for the occasion. The look and sound of the bagpipers creates the feel of a truly traditional Irish wedding.
In order for a marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church it is important to adhere to certain traditions. These traditions include location, music selections, seeking annulments for previous marriages and participating in church sanctioned counseling sessions.