A Catholic Nuptial Mass has very specific rules and regulations. From the words said at the ceremony to the photographer boundaries to the readings, a Catholic wedding is very structured.
Father Paul Turner said in The Catholic Wedding Answer Book (Resource Publications, 2001) that “When you marry in the Catholic Church, your marriage takes on a spiritual dimension that enjoys the support of a community of believers. This limits some of your choices, such as place, but it gives you the church’s assurance that the God we worship together will be an intimate part of your union.” There is no official list of Catholic wedding songs, but it does have the requirement that songs are prayerful. CatholicWeddingHelp.com says “The purpose of any Catholic liturgy, including a wedding liturgy, is to give glory to God and to sanctify (make holy) the worshipers. Your wedding music should reflect that purpose; in other words, it should help the assembly to pray and to give thanks to God for your love.” Essentially, your choices are limited, but by following the rules, you can make sure your big day is completely in line with the Church.
One thing that the Catholic Church is specific about is the music played during the ceremony. Most churches offer suggestions for Catholic wedding songs, but as long as the songs are religious in nature, they won’t be too tough on which ones are played. However, you may be surprised to learn that certain “typical” wedding songs (think Here Comes the Bride or Canon in D) most likely won’t be allowed, and nor will more modern hits like Adele’s Make You Feel My Love or Bruno Mars’ Marry You.
There are very specific times for music during a Catholic Nuptial Mass. You’ll need to have songs prepared for:
- The processional
- Gathering song (optional)
- The Psalm (set for the day by the Church; you will be provided with it and you typically don’t have the option to change it)
- The Presentation of the Gifts
- Reflection song (optional)
- The recessional
However, there are a lot of really beautiful Catholic wedding songs that can still wow your guests and represent you as a couple. Here are a few options:
- Come Thou Fount is a popular processional for Catholic Nuptial Masses. If you aren’t digging the choir sound, there are some more modern versions that are really beautiful. It also sounds beautiful sung by a simple soloist.
- In Christ Alone is a more out-of-the-box option for a processional, especially if you have a killer violinist.
- If you love the sound of classical/traditional music, Ode to Joy is typically acceptable as it has religious lyrics.
- Some Catholic Nuptial Masses will have a devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. These will typically feature the song Ave Maria. There are a million versions of this song, from the more classic to jazzy to contemporary.
- Communion is a sacred time for Catholics. During the Presentation, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace is a popular option.
- Here I Am Lord is another popular Catholic hymn often used during the Presentation.
- During Communion itself, Amazing Grace works nicely.
- A hugely popular Catholic hymn is On Eagle’s Wings. It’s often used during Communion. Everyone’s mass-attending grandma will know this one, so it’s a nice way to stay traditional.
- Sometimes after Communion couples will have a reflection song. Lord, I Need You works great, and this particular version is awesome. If you have a duo available, this acoustic duet is also really pretty.
- A really popular song for the recessional is Be Thou My Vision. There’s a great upbeat version if you’re looking for a joyful, celebratory feel, or a slower one if you want the vibe to be more on the solemn/soft side.
- If you want to incorporate a choir, O God Beyond All Praising sounds amazing with multiple voices and can be a huge statement song for the recessional.
Note: make sure to ask your church venue and priest if they have any guidance on music before setting your heart on a particular song. Different churches will have different requirements for Catholic wedding songs, from specific regulations to more flexible suggestions. They also may be able to help you find musicians and sheet music.
Looking for something less traditional? Check out our favorite unique wedding songs here!