The Sacrament of Marriage
Marriage is different to most of the Sacraments which are conferred by a priest, or bishop. The man and woman confer the Sacrament of Marriage upon each other when they express their consent to marry before God and the Church.
As ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage to each other you choose to live your married lives within the community of the Church. Your decision to get married is a sign of your love and of your desire to be together as husband and wife.
The Church rejoices in your decision to get married and offers its continued support as you journey together. The Sacrament enriches your lives in a very special way but it also enriches the community in which you will live.
You become witnesses for Marriage to all with whom you make contact. Your parents, family, friends and neighbours celebrate your entry into Marriage and by their attendance at your wedding offer their continued support to you for your future.
The Marriage Ceremony
The exchange of consent between a man and a woman is an essential part of the marriage ceremony. Wedding vows are generally preceded by three questions from the priest:
Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? Will you honour each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives? Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
The bride and groom say “I do” to the wedding vows, but the presence of the Church community supports the couple throughout their married life.
All those present are acknowledged to be saying to the couple “We do” We witness and support your marriage.
The Exchange of Rings
The rings, although not required as part of the ceremony, are an ancient symbol of the couple’s commitment to one another and their desire to enter into the covenant relationship of marriage. In the Scriptures, rings were given as signs of commitment.
After being blessed by the priest the rings are exchanged between bride and groom. This exchange signifies that in married life the weaknesses of one will be compensated by the strengths of the other.