A Catholic Nuptial Mass has very specific rules and regulations. From the words said at the ceremony and the photographer boundaries to the readings, a Catholic wedding is very structured.
Father Paul Turner said in The Catholic Wedding Answer Book 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.”
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.
How to Choose Your Catholic Wedding Songs
Most churches offer suggestions for Catholic wedding songs. But essentially, 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 (such as Richard Wagner’s “The Bridal Chorus”) 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. Because of that, you’ll want 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. You can also use them as a resource, since they also may be able to help you find musicians and sheet music, if your church does not have a music directory.
WGM Says: Talk to your church about how your chosen music can be played, be it pre-recorded or live musicians. If you are allowed live musicians, think about the kind you would like. For instance do you want a guitar, piano, and singer? Or maybe just one of those?
Order for a Catholic Wedding Mass
We review the order in more detail in our guide to writing your wedding ceremony script. However, there are very specific times that call for music during a Catholic wedding ceremony. Overall, you’ll need to have songs prepared for:
- Prelude music (to be played while guests arrive)
- The wedding processional
- Bridal entrance song (if you want a separate song from your wedding party)
- 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
WGM Says: Bummed you can’t play any song you want for your processional in a Catholic church? Keep in mind you’ll have lots of opportunities to play songs you love at your reception, such as your first dance song!
The Best Catholic Wedding Songs
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, Beethoven’s 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. There is also 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.
Looking for something less traditional? Check out our favorite unique wedding songs here!
Catholic Wedding Songs FAQ
This will vary by church, but the overall rule is that all songs played must be “religious,” or secular in nature. While the interpretation of that will depend on your church, you will need to run all potential songs choices by your church/priest. For instance most Catholic church’s will allow songs from composer’s such as Schubert, Handel, and Purcell to be played, even though they are not overtly secular. On the other hand, some church’s will not allow Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
One of the most popular processional songs for a Catholic wedding is Canon in D from Pachelbel
While the bride will typically choose her own song to make her big entrance, this is completely up to you. If you prefer, you can choose one song for the entire wedding party and bride to walk down the aisle to.
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