For most couples, booking the church is the first item on their to-do list for the wedding--after all, the wedding ceremony is really the core of the celebration. Lately, marrying couples have started modifying their wedding ceremonies, and if you'd like to follow suit, be sure to clarify these concerns with the parish first.

May we compose our own vows?

If you don't want to make use of formula wedding vows, there's always the option of writing your own. However, before you sit down and write, ask your parish or presiding priest if you can read your personalized vows at the ceremony. Vows aren't easy to write, and you wouldn't want to put your efforts to waste if you suddenly find out that the parish won't allow you to read your modified vows.

May we choose our own readings for the ceremony?

There are recommended Biblical passages that you can use for your wedding. However, if there are other passages that you would like to be read during the ceremony, check with the parish or the presiding priest. This is just to make sure that the readings will be appropriate for the sacrament to be celebrated.

May we pick the music for the rites?

Brides love the idea of choosing a unique bridal march, but some churches stick to their recommended music. Ask your chosen church if you can pick out songs for your march--in case they can't accommodate your request, offer a compromise. Maybe you can have your chosen music played during the pictorial session right after the rites.

Where should photographers and videographers assemble and position themselves?

Although most churches allow photographers to move freely around the church to document your ceremony, some churches have restrictions, especially on solemn occasions like weddings. If the parish is pretty strict, come to a compromise. Ask if they'll have designated areas for photographers and videographers on your wedding day.

May a priest from another parish preside over the ceremony?

In case you would like a priest of your choice to preside over your wedding, ask the parish where you'll be married in if they allow such practice. Churches are ready to assign a priest to your ceremony once you register for a wedding, but just be courteous about your request to have another priest carry out the rites.

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May we put up your own decorations?

Most church wedding packages include decorations for the ceremony. However, if you'd rather bring in your own florist to spruce up the venue, inform the parish beforehand. You might need to secure a clearance for your florist, so that s/he can be permitted to enter and decorate the church prior to the wedding. Also check for restrictions on décor.

Are there other scheduled weddings on our chosen date?

A wedding before or after your rites can affect the flow of your ceremony. You want to make sure that your entourage and guests have ample time to prepare for your ceremony, and if the wedding scheduled before yours runs late, it could mean that you have less time to get things in order. On the other hand, you also want enough time for taking photos after the ceremony, so you should check the time of the wedding scheduled after yours. Moreover, some churches use one set of decorations for all the weddings scheduled on the same date, so that can help you save on decor. If you have other decorations in mind, remember that your florist has to do the ingress and egress fast if your ceremony is sandwiched between two other ceremonies.

To see listings for wedding ceremony venues, click here.

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