For those with some morbid curiosity, but mostly for myself when I want to remember the details, our wedding in five parts.
Part Three: The Nuptial Mass
If nothing else had made me excited about the wedding, standing in the narthex of the church certainly helped. I waited with my maids there while my mom went into the church to tell C that I had arrived (our procession was quite unusual for those used to the American/Protestant tradition; just keep reading, you'll get it). We got a few pictures in while we waited. My step-dad continued to pretend that he wasn't going to cry that day. Then our priest with the altar servers rounded the corner of the door and he lit up at the sight of us (later, Father told me he got a bit emotional when he saw me. I don't think I should feel victorious at making a priest emotional, but for some reason I count it as an accomplishment. Haha). Excitement was definitely up there at this point. The groomsmen followed and C came in last. We caught each others eyes and I remember thinking about how handsome and incredibly tall he seemed. I mean, a good seven inches separates us, but sometimes I forget about that. I was happy to see, also, that he had the rosary I had gifted him with.
|My lovely bridesmaids and (if you look closely) my mom.|
One of the altar servers gave a sign to the organist and choir and our procession music began. Everyone seemed to take a deep breath at the same time. C's parents processed first, followed by my parents (after they had given me one last look). Bridesmaid N with groomsman P. Bridesmaid M with groomsman O. Bridesmaid H with groomsman T. The altar servers followed: thurifer [he's the one who holds the incense; the really cool thing about that was that we designed our own incense which included Constantinople (basically the typical thing you expect an incense to smell like), English Rose (nice floral scent, but not too sickly) and a citrus one whose name I forget. I sometimes get dizzy from incense, so we wanted to find something that I would be able to manage. It smelled amazing and now I want a wedding candle made from those scents.], crucifer, candle-bearers. Father after them. Then C and I looked at each other with faintly nervous grins (or maybe that was only me) and took our final steps toward marriage.
|Tell me they don't look cool.|
|Coolest priest I know.|
|Can't have a wedding without holy water.|
As we walked, I found it hard to focus on any one thing. The crowd of family and friends waiting before us? The lyrics in the program C held (though I knew the words by heart anyway)? C's face, which I—sweetness alert—could look at for ages? My feet, as I often do? Straight ahead in order to stay focused on the Mass and on where my body was going seemed like the best idea. I caught grins and bright colors out of the corner of my eye and when we passed C's aunt I heard her say something about running out of time to back out now. I was too out of it to process the comment, though I found it amusing. Soon we were reverencing the altar, stepping into the Sanctuary (way weird to be up there!) and listening to the choir chant. Our Nuptial Mass was ad orientem Latin but novus ordo. In laymen's terms, the priest faced the altar for the Mass, almost everything said or sung was done so in Latin, but the format was as most Masses post 1963 are done. Extraordinary Form would have been cool, but we ultimately decided against it to keep the Mass at least somewhat familiar to those in attendance and it required a bit less of Father and the altar servers (I don't know what their familiarity with the EF is).
I did as S had told me: try to be in the moment for everything. Capture all the details. Don't let the time slip away. Even though I felt like I stayed focused while walking, listening to the choir and following the prayers, the readings were suddenly happening and I had to double my concentration. The readings were chanted rather well by the altar servers, which I was pleased by. When Father rose to chant the Gospel, the time seemed to slip away again. His Homily, though, was golden. I still need to have it sent over, because there were a few lines from it I really liked. One particular portion likened our marriage to the gifts brought to the altar for consecration. Ordinary objects—a man and a woman, bread and wine—are offered to God in order to be made holy. It was a nice analogy that I am probably doing a disservice.
|The organist and choir were the icing on the cake of this wedding. But like a lemon poke-hole cake icing, where it all soaks into the cake and makes it super amazing. Exactly like that.|
|What a beautiful church.|
At one point, he relayed a story about when he knew C from seminary. They and other seminarians were buying ice cream at a grocery store and when the cashier had seen them all together asked a few questions about the group and said, “You guys are rollin' squad deep!” at which point Fr and C nearly fell on the floor laughing while the other seminarians just stared. The story elicited a lot of laughter from all of us gathered. Father also spoke about the first time he had met me and remarked on how I was taking notes on Latin in a notebook, but also added a quotation by him on another page. C and I are well-matched in our intellectual pursuits.
|Squad deep, eh?|
Following the Homily was the Rite of Marriage. C and I got up from our seats and met Father in front of the altar. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen joined us on either side and I handed off my bouquet to H. Everything seemed quiet and anticipatory. Father read off questions for the exchange of consent, to which we answered properly (no, we haven't been forced; yes, we will welcome children; and the like). The vows came next and C began them. Not nearly an emotional person as I am, he made it through the vows with no tremor or hesitation and I thought for a moment how lucky I had become to have someone like him promise to be true to me for all our lives. I, on the other hand, became emotional at the start and had to take a moment to sort out my voice partway through. Ah well. The rings were then blessed and C was first again. He slid the ring on my left hand and I remembered momentarily many months ago when he had slid my engagement ring on. I wasn't doing myself any favors on the emotional front. At all. I then steadied myself and put his ring on and grinned at him like a goofball when I was done.
|Do you vow these things? Me too!|
|Not crying. Not one bit.|
|And in the future, all the single ladies shall see this ring and think, "Dang. Someone else got him first." I really said that. That's why Father's laughing. JK.|
At this moment in other weddings, usually the officiant will pronounce the couple man and wife and there will be a kiss and lots of applause. Not for us! The more traditional route has the newly wedded couple returning to their seats, the wedding party to their pews and the Mass continuing on. Some say it's anticlimactic, and it was in a small way for me, because the knowledge of what had happened took a minute to really hit. As we sat while Father prepared for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, my legs shook with excitement (a much nicer feeling than wibbly-wobbliness at the engagement).
Funnily enough, I kind of forgot about the whole wedding factor when it came to the Eucharist. I was just completely focused on Our Lord and wanted to be prepared for all the graces His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity would grant me. I was also a little worried at this time of anyone taking Communion without being in a state of grace and, once I had received the Blessed Sacrament and said prayers of thanksgiving, turned to the Divine Mercy prayers. As Father purified the vessels, I turned my attention to the Communion motet (ave verum corpus). It was very pretty and is actually quite sombre for a wedding, but is worth looking up if you are unfamiliar with it.
|My favorite part of any Mass. Oh hey, Our Lady of Guadalupe!|
Father then gave the final blessing. Before recessing, I left my seat and met my mother who held a bouquet of lilies. I brought the flowers to Mary's side altar, laid them at her feet and knelt for a short prayer. I asked the Blessed Virgin to help me be a good wife and mother as she was, to always trust God's will and to be a strong Catholic woman. I could have spent an hour there with her, wondering on all the good things she had done, how her yes had changed the world, how she understood sorrow more than I could, how she stayed strong all her life...
|Just havin a chat with my mom.|
Eventually, though, I got up and returned to the center of the sanctuary where Father, the altar servers and C were standing. We sang the first verse of the recessional, genuflected and then turned to leave the Church. We led this time, arm in arm, man and wife, with Father, the altar servers and the wedding party following us. The last lyrics of the music finished as we crossed underneath the choir and organist and were back in the narthex. C turned to look at me and I just burst into tears. He looked as if he wanted to ask me what was wrong, so I just said, “I'm really happy right now.” It was just this moment where I really understood that we were married now and really felt it and I was overwhelmed with happiness and excitement. The wedding party and guests began pouring into the narthex and I turned away from C to receive hugs and congratulations. I think I apologized several times for crying but people said I was silly. I got to see a lot of people who I hadn't had the chance to talk to when they'd gotten in. One of C's cousins hugged me and said the wedding was fantastic and beautiful and of course that got my crying again. Of course I also promptly realized that I hadn't used waterproof mascara at this time (oops) and grabbed my maid of honor, who still had my bouquet, where I had hidden a tissue (oh ho, so crafty).
Once the line of people had gone through, I snapped into task mode. We needed to take group pictures before the reception began and I had no idea what time it was or how much time we had left. After gathering my bridesmaids together, I looked around for C and said, “Where is my husband?” and then exclaimed, “Oh! I'll be saying that for the rest of my life.” The organist interrupted quickly to thank us (thank us?!) for the opportunity to do the music for such a Mass and I told him they did an amazing job (I probably didn't give as eloquent a thank you as I would have desired because I was so scatter-brained, but they really helped to make our Mass wonderful). I took pictures on my own and with bridesmaids in the meantime and then the groom, groomsmen and parents started towards us. We took a variety of photographs, and got at least one without my step-dad looking as if he were thinking of riding trucks through the woods far, far away (haha), before I started dishing out orders and making another checklist. These people needed cabs, carpooling could happen with those family members, people were still congregating on the Church steps, C and I needed to get back to the hotel before the reception started, I needed to talk to the photographer, Father and the altar servers were extinguishing candles....
|Five seconds away from waterworks.|
How did all this chaos get resolved? Find out next post.
*Here are the music and reading selections we had at our Mass, for anyone interested in pretending they were at our wedding (we totally should have Skyped it!) or planning their own wedding:
Prelude: Regina Caeli, Deus Israel conjugat vos
Entrance Procession: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Gloria: Missa Aeterna Christi Munera
First Reading: Tobit 8:4-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128: 1-5
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:2, 21-33
Gospel: St Matthew 7:21,24-29
Offertory: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Sanctus: Missa Aeterna Christi Munera
Agnus Dei: Missa Aeterna Christi Munera
Communion: Ubi Caritas
Communion Motet: Ave verum corpus
Presentation of Flowers at Our Lady's Altar: Schubert's Ave Maria
Recessional: O God Beyond All Praising