QUAERITUR: The origin of giving flowers to Mary during weddings.

A priest friend recently asked if I knew the origin of the “custom” during weddings of giving flowers to Mary, by placing them at her statue or image (which some protestants probably think is mighty strange).

I must admit, I don’t have a clue where this came from.  It smacks of the Mediterranean, but I can’t say for sure.

However, this should not be done during a Nuptial Mass.  There is no provision for this in the rubrics.  The same goes for “unity candles”.  Don’t ask to do it.

Don’t blame me!  It’s not part of the rite.

Let the Nuptial Mass be the Nuptial Mass without additional subjective and sentimental additions intrude on what it already says and does.

After Mass… that’s another kettle of fish.

But back to the question.  Aside from the fact that it shouldn’t be done, does anyone know the origin of this custom?

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50 Responses to QUAERITUR: The origin of giving flowers to Mary during weddings.

  1. palecap says:

    We do it here in Guam which was a Spanish colony for 230 years. Spanish missionaries gave us the custom and it has survived here to this day. Prior to V2, I am almost sure this floral presentation happened after the Mass. In the NO, it happens either right after communion or after the Post Communion prayer right before the dismissal. The meaning : asking Mary as mother of the family for her blessing. I think it comes from intense Spanish Marian devotion.

  2. tapatio says:

    I would think it is a spanish custom as it is VERY widespread custom in México but here it is always done right after the final blessing and before the nuptial recession. Normally it is acompanied with a moment of prayer of the bride and groom alone under the image of the Virgin (usually our Lady of Guadalupe).

  3. LadyMedievalist says:

    My cousin is Portuguese and after the recessional at her wedding, she and her husband came back into the church, down a side aisle, to leave her bouquet for the Virgin and to pray together. I’m assuming that was OK since Mass was over…?

  4. Geoffrey says:

    I first heard of this custom years ago in the “Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass for the Bridegroom and Bride”, which contains the complete marriage service and nuptial Mass for the Extraordinary Form (published by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei). After the “Deo gratias” of the Last Gospel (page 51), it says:

    “According to local custom, the bride may make a presentation of flowers to [the] Blessed Mother at the Marian altar/shrine while a Marian hymn is sung.” The recessional then follows.

    I’ve never been able to find this in any official liturgical book, in either form of the Roman Rite. However it would appear that it was customary in some places before Vatican II?

    I’ve heard that in weddings of recent times, it is both the bridegroom and bride who make this visit to the BVM, often also visiting a shrine of St Joseph as well, or sometimes the groom alone visits St Joseph, and the bride visits the BVM.

  5. Wade says:

    The Spanish side of my family does this – after the final blessing.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    I had assumed it was a Germanic or northern European custom, as that was the type of parish I grew up in. It was a common custom in my area. I have a vague memory of hearing that a famous princess in olden days did this and made it popular. Many, many years ago, my husband and I did this at the Brompton Oratory, which is fairly stringent as to liturgical rules, at our Latin Mass wedding, immediately after the vows and before we went into the sacristy for the signing of the registry book, an English thing, at the end of the Mass of the Catechumens and before the Mass of the Faithful. The Oratory choir sang some fantastic Marian Gregorian Chants. (I also had the traditional, old blessing of the bride in the sanctuary). My mother, all my aunts and most of my cousins, all on the Luxembourg side, did this custom of praying to the Virgin to bless our marriages. I know the custom in the Midwest is at least 64 years old-pre-Vatican II and Tridentine Mass obviously, as my parents just had their wedding anniversary and my mom and dad did that. We are not Spanish or have any Mediterranean background, my family being from Bohemia, Moravia and Luxembourg. I also know of families from Holland who did this, as we did, for generations. I even had a special bouquet for this little ceremony and placed it at the side altar of Our Lady of Victory at the Oratory. I prayed for Mary to bless our marriage in the spirit of her intercession at Cana. I had assumed it was a Midwest custom, and so many of the people there were northern European immigrants; and it pre-dates Vatican II, as I noted above. I did it because it had been done in the family for years, and apparently at the Oratory as well by other brides and grooms, as when I brought it up the priest in charge of the Liturgy (a bishop married us) commented on how traditional I was. If I were there, I would ask him if he knows the origin. He was obviously familiar with the custom. Just to complicate things, it was also the custom for the brides in our family to carry a rosary up under the bouquet.

  7. La Sandia says:

    My husband and I did this during our Extraordinary Form wedding, after Communion and before the final blessing, with the choir singing Ave Maris Stella in plainchant. I wouldn’t lump it together with the Unity Candle nonsense, which is by all accounts non-religious in origin.

  8. Brad says:

    “I also had the traditional, old blessing of the bride in the sanctuary”

    How beautiful! Please explain.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Brad,

    I think it is an older version of the blessing of the bride and groom, which happened after the Postcommunion. I know it was not the same one which is in the 1962 Missal, but an older and much longer version. The priest actually blesses the bride and not the groom in this version. I do not have my ceremony memories with me so I cannot help you with the details, but the blessing emphasizes child-bearing and obedience to the husband, etc. What was so cool at the Oratory was that one got to walk up to the high altar, where women never go, for this blessing. I remember it well, as it was so moving. As I am at the moment renting a holiday place and do not have my library, I would suggest looking at a pre-1962 Missal. Perhaps, as I got married in England, it was an English variation on the blessing.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Brad,

    clarification: English as in country version, as the blessing was in Latin.

  11. pewpew says:

    I think I’ve heard about that here in the Netherlands

  12. buffaloknit says:

    As soon as I read this post, I thought to myself, “Fr. Z needs SuperTradMum to ‘splain to him what the deal is with this.” Thank you, @Supertradmum and @Geoffrey for doing so! I have read about the flower/statue thing in a Tridentine Mass booklet, however I forget which one it was and cannot now find that reference. Similarly, aren’t there a variety of statue-decoration activity outside of Mass, that are fine Catholic traditions? I’m thinking of May crowning and whatnot (which my “catholic” elementary school did years ago). I don’t know where this custom came from, but I would bet money that it is not older than Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco-who by the way, carried a prayerbook and rosary with her bouquet!

    I think we should more carefully define what the ‘flower’ activity is. How do the rubrics for Mass prevent someone from going and praying in front of a statue of their choosing, after communion? This is basically, what the activity consists of for the well-catechized bride at an EF or OF Mass. The flower is on some level, secondary. I would appreciate more follow up on this from Fr. Z. Thanks!

    (Digressions: I love to complain about weddings, so let me say that for brides who spend $$$(big bucks) on flowers, the CHEAPEST flower-arrangement-as told to me by both a parish wedding planner, brides and florists, is always the *one and only* arrangement that remains in church-and should really be an arrangement designed to last!- at the statue of Mary. Most parishes request that ALL flowers be removed after the wedding (you’d think this would save a parish money in the flower budget?) but only the arrangement at the statue of Mary can stay in church. Reception hall flowers-and other arrangements that will be photographed, on the other hand, always get budgeted more $$$ than the flowers that should stay fresh for at least a few days in church. This makes little sense on many levels, in my opinion. I have seen fancy weddings with awesomely cheap (a single stem rose?!) left in a vase in front of a statue. If you can afford real flowers for both the church and the reception site, you can get something quality to decorate our Lady’s statue. No, I am not a wedding florist but I would love to talk to you about photographic cosmetics for your wedding day. Hint Hint -I’m a mark makeup rep). End of my digression.

    I have a few comments about the flower tradition: my mother did leave flowers at the statue of Mary at her NO wedding Mass in the 1980′s and she claims that folks did this at the Latin Mass, pre-Vatican II (I wasn’t there, so I can’t know for sure). She doesn’t remember if my father also did this, but said it was also common at this time. I didn’t have a wedding Mass, but did take a separate bouquet (designed for this purpose!) to the statue of Mary with my bridesmaids. It was a quiet and useful moment.

    A few comments about GROOMS doing a similar action: Is it me, or is there something hyper-politically correct about the groom doing everything exactly the same as the bride, no? Last time I checked, male and female each have a different role to play in the marriage. Pre-Vatican II and pre-feminist generations, seemed to have a more reality-based notion of the roles of men and women, and expectations. Obviously, grooms need to pray to St. Joseph for help with their new obligations, as the bride does, but typically grooms don’t tote around a bouquet? My point here is, this should be about praying for help, not fussing with flowers.

    In the minds of poorly catechized catholics ( I heard plenty of their ideas about what I should and should not do at my own wedding!) this is just a substitute “photo op” usually encouraged by priests, parents or parish wedding planners, thoughtful enough to know better than to use a unity candle. For the poorly-catechized Catholic, this is a Catholic-version of the unity candle, as Fr. Z intimated in his post. For others, like those in the comments, this is a prayerful observance that is old (but I’m not sure how old!).

    A fascinated topic for a future post is the difference between custom (local) vs. convention (common to an entire culture/society) and superstition (neither custom not convention, but something people do any, motivated by well, the wrong reasons) and the subject of weddings, nuptial Masses, etc.

    Finally, I haven’t yet searched WDTPRS for ‘unity candles’ but can someone generate a ‘SAY NO TO UNITY CANDLES’ coffee mug? I know, hm, a dozen people who each need a set badly.
    THANK YOU!

  13. mamajen says:

    I recently had a discussion with a non-Catholic (raised by fundamentalist Christians) who found this practice to be highly offensive. She thought it proved that we Catholics worship Mary. Needless to say, I quickly enlightened her and explained that we do not worship Mary or any of the saints. Fortunately she believed me, and felt bad for jumping to conclusions. Obviously there are non-negotiable aspects of a Catholic wedding mass and we can’t worry about offending every non-Catholic guest, but I think it’s important to be aware of how outsiders might perceive some of the “extras” we throw into the mix. All that to say, I totally agree with you, Father Z. However, if I hadn’t had that conversation with the non-Catholic I wouldn’t have even thought of it being a potential problem.

    I think it’s a beautiful thing for a bride to honor Mary, the ultimate wife and mother, but perhaps it could be done privately? And what about poor Joseph? Doesn’t he count for anything?

  14. FrCharles says:

    I don’t have an answer, but I have a hint I once received. When I was a parish priest we did a lot of weddings where I was. We had a lovely side altar dedicated to Mary (at which I said some of my first tries at the EF!) where almost all the brides wanted to make this little pilgrimage. One of the devout older ladies of the parish used to object to this frequently, saying that the ‘flowers to Mary’ used to be the privilege of some sodality or other, and not the right of every bride. Unfortunately, she had no further information for me, and nor have I been able to discovery anything.

  15. Andy Milam says:

    I concur with Father Z. It should not be done during Holy Mass.

    As a master of ceremonies, I have come up with two points where it could be apropos. The first is immediately following Holy Mass, in lieu of “the kiss.” I think that overt displays of affection in a sacred space are not appropriate, so often times I will coordinate with the celebrant and the two being married to place the flowers on the BVM altar (as a sign of respect for her role as the mother of humanity) at the point where they would normally kiss, at the end of Holy Mass. I have them delay “the kiss” until such time as it is more apropos, such as the moment they are met outside the main doors of the church or during the reception, when they are introduced.

    The second time, which is much less desirable is during Holy Communion of the faithful. Since, technically, the distribution of Holy Communion is extra-liturgical, that would be the time….after proper reflection of the couple once they have consumed the Sacred Species. While the faithful are approaching the rail, the couple may then place the flowers. As I said, much less desirable, but a possibility.

    As for the “unity candle;” I remind both the celebrant and the couple to married that this has no place in the Mass or ceremony and that they should do this in a “ceremony” to kick off the reception. Actually, it works quite well and is often times remembered as being a very nice way to remember the reception.

    This does not make me necessarily the most popular person, but I am ok with that, as long as the integrity of the liturgical action is kept intact.

  16. mamajen says:

    The unity candle comments are intriguing. My parents were married by the strictest, most traditional priest I have ever known (refuses communion in hands, uses altar rail, etc.), yet not only did he allow the unity candle, he actually purchased them himself. Every couple he married had the exact same kind of unity candle. My parents displayed theirs in our home, and I just assumed that the unity candle was a part of the ceremony the same way candles are used during a baptism. I was married by another very traditional priest (in fact a close friend of the one who married my parents), and we used a unity candle at our wedding. I cannot remember if he actually encouraged us to have a unity candle or if he asked whether we intended to use one. In any case, we did it. I just as soon wouldn’t have had I known it wasn’t a requirement.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Charles,

    I know that my Mother in 1948 did not belong to any sodality in order to do this flower thing. And, my aunts of her generation did not either, nor those on the other side of the family. It was a very common custom, and I think it is a really old custom, as I and others have noted. It happens in Europe, as well as in America, as noted. It is interesting, but I think regarding these sorts of things,women have a longer corporate memory for such customs than men. I wish my grandmothers were alive, so I could ask them about it, if they and their mothers did such a thing in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these histories die out with the lack of oral tradition.

  18. Volanges says:

    That’s the problem with unity candles, people think they’re necessary. I remember one bride who consulted with me about the ceremony and asked “Do I HAVE to have a unity candle?” When I asked why she was asking that way she replied that she didn’t really want it but her mother was insisting. This bride wasn’t even Catholic, she was marrying a Catholic. She was relieved when I explained that it wasn’t part of the Catholic rite and that they couldn’t possibly add anything that was more meaningful than the vows and exchange of rings. She was delighted to hear that.

    Of course even worse than the unity candle is the unity sand ceremony. GAG!

  19. The allowance for local customs has long been characteristic of occasional services in the Traditional form of the Roman Rite. The offering of flowers to the Blessed Mother is characteristic of the Spanish-speaking world, as well as former Spanish colonies. This would include the Philippines, where they also have the covering with the veil, the tying with the cord, and the offering of gold coins for the “bride price.” For that matter, those same countries eschewed the Rituale Romanum in favor of the Ritual of Toledo (not to be confused with the Mozarabic), even at the directive of bishops of those countries.

    In any case, I have rarely seen a TLM wedding done the same way twice. Some in the States use an American edition of the Rituale, some the English (and both are different in little ways). Since the Mass is usually “suspended” when ethnic customs occur, a violation of rubrics is generally not at issue.

    The unity candle — well, that’s something else again.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    buffaloknit,

    At the Oratory, all the brides of the day get together and agree on flowers, as they stay in the Church. It was easier that way as well. I did not know parishes asked for flower removal. They do not in England, as we enjoy the flowers from the weddings all week in most places. What a waste to do otherwise. As to unity candles, I have both attended numerous weddings and been in several as a bridesmaid in days gone and I have never seen this used, thank God. It seems Proddie to me.

  21. ContraMundum says:

    My question regarding this is: When, properly speaking, is the Mass over so that something like this may be done? Is it immediately after “Ite missa est”, or is it after the recessional?

  22. Father S. says:

    I, too, wonder where this comes from. In my parish, where we have OF English, OF Spanish and EF, we have all kinds of customs. In the Nuptial Mass in Spanish, the rubrics indicate the giving and receiving of arras (coins) by the groom and the bride, respectively. This happens right after the exchange of rings. After this, it is customary to impose the lazo (a special Rosary) over the heads of the newly bound couple while they are kneeling on the prie-dieu. Typically, this Rosary is then placed over the marriage bed in their home. I bring this up only to wonder if there was ever a time when the presentation of flowers was, in fact, given a place rubrically.

  23. akp1 says:

    At the moment I am involved in arranging the occasional wedding in my Parish Church. Some priests don’t allow any flowers to be removed, but as we have a simple church, I tell the couples that as long as the priest is happy with it, we only ask that they leave the two main arrangements placed either side of the Tabernacle. We would never ask for them all to be removed! It’s beautiful to go into the church and see the special flower arrangements. Most weddings I’ve seen have the ‘nuptial candle’ (probably the same thing as the ‘unity’ candle) but I only started seeing it a few years ago.
    We don’t have the tradition of leaving flowers for Our Lady; our traditions are a mix of English and mediterraean, so I would have thought we’d have had some instances of it if it was a Spanish or Portuguese custom.

  24. Andy Milam says:

    @ ContraMundum;

    If you’re speaking of the TLM, it would be after final gospel.

    If you’re speaking of the Novus Ordo, it would be after the dismissal.

  25. Alice says:

    I am an organist and when I was working for Catholic parishes, couples celebrating 50 or 60 or 70 years would come up to me and ask me if I could work in “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” on their anniversaries because that what was they sang when they gave flowers to the Madonna their weddings. In the next breath, they’d tell me how they had to get married early in the morning because you had to fast from midnight to receive Holy Communion back then.

    And, the reason the groom usually walks with the bride has less to do with PC silliness than the difficulty that those of us who seldom wear large dresses have getting around when we do have to wear them. Plus, churches have been altered so that the bride often has to walk much farther and go down steps to get there. When I got married, I had what is called a cathedral train and I was quite happy to have my husband escort me up and down the steps, even though I had always figured I’d be traditional and go alone.

    I think the Catholic use of the Unity Candle can be blamed on the “Together for Life” book and the prevalence of mixed and convert marriages. I’m pretty sure it was a Protestant custom long before it became THE thing for secular weddings.

  26. James Joseph says:

    I think the custom comes from the truth that Mary is the Mediatrix of all Graces.

  27. marajoy says:

    At my own recent wedding, immediately after my husband and I received Communion, we walked over and knelt in front of Mary. (Partly for the logistical reason of getting “out of the way” of the rest of the line.)
    I am rather baffled at how it would have been any different had I happened to have flowers in my hand and then set them down at that time.

  28. Austin says:

    I’m told that at our local Anglo-Catholic parish (once “orthodox,” now signed up to the new religion) the male homosexual couples who have their civil unions marked by a church ceremony leave their corsages at the Marian shrine. That was the first time I’d heard of the custom, but disposed me against it.

  29. This is a custom at Assumption Grotto; but, as Father Z points out, it doesn’t happen until the Mass is over.

    Here’s one snap shot I took at a recent wedding there: http://te-deum.smugmug.com/Weddings-at-Grotto/Extraordinary-Form-Weddings/Marion-Stump-Wedding/i-9Dc2f3G/0/XL/20111022-IMG9781-XL.jpg

  30. Father DiMaria says:

    The late Fr. John C. Dougherty (ordained 1945) maintained that this custom grew out of a privilege which was once restricted to brides who had been members of the Children of Mary. With the passage of time this privilege simply became an expectation of all brides.

    From my perspective it now appears that this quaint custom no longer holds much meaning for most brides beyond a photo op.

  31. kat says:

    I don’t know where the tradition started, but it certainly is one done in our church. It is always done after the Last Gospel, before the recessional (there is no “I introduce Mr. and Mrs. So and So, and “you may kiss the bride,” …the latter happens OUTSIDE of church.) Father comes down the steps, the bride and groom rise and go to the statue of Our Lady and present her flowers; some of us choose to read a short consecration prayer of our lives to Our Lady; we return to the center, and the recessional begins. Certainly, I would think, a beautiful way to begin a married life…consecrating it to She Who will watch over us! I’m fairly certain my parents gave the flowers to Our Lady at her altar as well, in 1953,

    Before the changes in the Church, women had very few allowances to be up in the sanctuary(cleaning, flowers, altar linens perhaps, etc.); but it was a special privilege of the bride to be kneeling in the sanctuary on her wedding day during the nuptial Mass.

    On another note, someone above mentioned the pre-Vatican II blessing during the Mass…I think it’s after the Post-Communion before the final blessing…or is it after the Pater Noster? Don’t remember at the moment. But yes, it is specifically for the bride, and her role of hopefully- to- be- mother. In fact, if a woman becomes a widow and marries again, she does not receive that blessing a second time and it is omitted from the ceremony.

  32. Mary Jane says:

    At the wedding of a friend a couple years ago, she and her husband gave flowers to Mary and prayed at her altar right after the Last Gospel (EF form Nuptial Mass). It was really beautiful. I’m sure they were praying…not just doing it “cause everyone else does”.

    At another friend’s wedding last April, she went to Mary’s altar and prayed while her husband went to St. Joseph’s altar and prayed (again EF, after Last Gospel). After praying they rejoined at the center and processed out.

  33. APX says:

    @Kat
    (there is no “I introduce Mr. and Mrs. So and So, and “you may kiss the bride,”

    I bet this cuts down on the hooting and hollering that seems to plague most of the weddings I’ve attended.

    I find unity candles lame and gimmicky. I abhor it when the Paschal candle gets used as the unity candle. Now the new trend is “unity sand”. Blegh!

  34. kat says:

    @APX…nope, no hooting and hollering! No clapping. Outside our church doors, in the vestibule, there is a sign that reads “There is a GRAND TRADITION of observing absolute SILENCE in church.”

    It’s an EF congregation…anything spoken above a whisper, except by the priest or during the responses by the congregation or of course the singing, is, well, to say the least, frowned upon!

  35. NoTambourines says:

    Unity… sand?

    I’ve never yet married, so this is still fairly foreign territory, but I wonder how much of these things get worked in by non-Catholic or quasi-Catholic wedding planners for the sake of brides who want to cover all the bases (rubrics, if you will!) of a secular “fairy-tale” wedding. After all, the marriage is not valid unless the wedding ceremony has kept up with the Joneses!

  36. Centristian says:

    Ah, yes, the “Unity Sandle” as I call it. I coordinate weddings for a church (about 70 of them every year) and about 2/3rds of the couples whose weddings I coordinate opt for the Unity Candle. Only once have I encountered the sand, and the priest could not fathom what on earth I meant when I advised him about it before the ceremony, but afterwards remarked that it was the most idiotic thing he had yet seen. He is not a fan of the Unity Candle, as it is, much less the “Sandle”.

    Many of the brides will place a bouquet at the altar of the Virgin, and at the church I work for, it is always done just after the Communion of the Faithful.

  37. APX says:

    @NoTambourines
    Unity… sand?
    Yes, also referred to as the “Sand Ceremony”. *eye roll* The more I read about these things, the happier I am to be Catholic, so I can actually have a meaningful ceremony- not some gimmick ceremony. If you’re ever in need of a quick good laugh, go online to some wedding places that sell these things and read the descriptions.

    Blending two families together has never had a more beautiful result than with our 4pc. Two Shall Become One Sand Ceremony Unity Set. Both a wedding day essential and a time honored tradition, this distinctive unity sand allows brides and grooms, as well as any other important players in their life, to be a part of the celebration. With one large, featured vase and three smaller vases, the curvy set permits children from previous marriages or even a religious leader a place in the ceremony. Simply add sand of your choice to each of the smaller vases and give to each designated party.

    Just as the sand from the three vases are combined, never to be separated again… so shall your love be!

    That previous marriage must not have had any unity sand to keep it together. Also, it’s good that they can add an extra vase of sand so the religious leader can have a place in the ceremony. Officiating it these days just doesn’t suffice.

    I like the tradition of giving flowers to Mary during weddings. I’ve never seen it done, but it makes sense. Unity sand and unity candles make no sense to me whatsoever, and they’re so expensive!

  38. americangirl says:

    I was married in 1973 and it was customary for brides to bring a small bouquet of flowers to Mary’s altar. It was a practice I personally still encourage women to do today. I remember vividly immediately following Holy Communion walking over to the side altar while the vocalist sang Ave Maria. It traditionally was the time of thanksgiving and reflection so it appeared to be an appropriate time to thank God and invoke the intercession and protection of Our Blessed Mother. To my surprise ( and to the surprise of the Priest) my husband accompanied me to the altar knelt and prayed. We consecrated our Marriage to Our Lady .Over the years through all the trials, tribulations, illnesses and difficulties I attribute the success of my marriage to Our Lady’s intercession. My Mother as well laid a bouquet at the Altar of Our Blessed Mother. She was happily married for 60 years.

  39. SWP says:

    After communion at my wedding, my wife went to the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa and offered a special Marian boquet while the organist sang the hymn Szerdecska Matko.

    While she did that with her mother and grandmother, I went with my mother and father to light a candle to St. Joseph asking his intercession on our marriage.

    Normally after communion, one prays in thanksgiving. What’s wrong with offering a prayer to Ss. Mary and Joseph after communion?

    We rightly saved the Unity Candle for our reception.

  40. Supertradmum says:

    Alice,

    I am not sure about America, but in England when I got married, we had to discuss canonical hours. I think this was true in the States as well at one time, as marriages were conducted in the mornings only not merely for Holy Communion rules but for ecclesiastical rules. I have assumed this was the case, as I remember my mother stating that one did not have night weddings, for example, in the 1940s, because of these hours. By the seventies, people were getting married at night, so again I assume the rules changed in the States. Maybe a canon lawyer with historical emphasis would know the details. My mother said one could not get married after twelve noon for years.

    One got married in England in the morning because of ecclesiastical canonical hours for marriages. This was the rule for years that the Sacrament was only performed. In England, these were changed from eight in the morning to twelve to eight in the morning to three and then six. I still think there are no night weddings, but I could be wrong. Weddings could only take place within those hours. I remember this discussion in my planning of the wedding with the priest.

  41. Supertradmum says:

    Father DiMaria,

    I had no photos during my wedding as it was forbidden at the time and I did not want those anyway as such interrupt the solemnity of the Sacrament. We were offered a video and we said no for the same reasons. The priest was thrilled. As to photo opts, as the giving of the flowers to Mary happened immediately after the vows, as was the custom, again, no photos. In fact, we could not have photos before or after the Mass at the high altar as that also was not allowed. I am so grateful for such clear rules. The people in the pew were not allowed to take photos either, because of the nature of the Oratory works of art, etc. This was before cell phone cameras. I would imagine flash cameras are still forbidden.

    Not all couples are photo nuts. I had two taken very quickly after Mass with the wedding party and the Bishop at the very Marian altar where I left the flowers. During the photos, the Bishop bent over and said to me, (as I had the florist make this design for flowers she invented-a curved bouquet for me with a smaller round one in the center, removable for Mary so it looked like one big one), that I should have given the larger one to Mary. I was laughing when the photo was taken. Maybe I should have, as I went to Vienna for my honeymoon and could not take the flowers onto the plane (rules), so I ceremoniously threw the bouquet into the River Ouse at Lewes on the second day, before leaving for the Continent and watched it float away as I was standing on the little bridge there. If I were a princess, it could have been the beginning of a new custom….

  42. Midwest Girl says:

    Of all of the liturgical items or “abuses” to get upset about, this seems silly to me.

    When my husband and I got engaged a year and a half ago, the first thing we did before calling friends and family was to visit a church we frequented often to pray together. My husband had already brought 3 roses there – one for us to give to Mary, one to Joseph, and one for me, his future bride. We asked Mary and Joseph for their intercession for our upcoming marriage, and we didn’t tell friends and family that portion of our the “proposal story.”

    At our wedding, post-Communion, the cantor sang the litany of saints and we visited the statues of both Mary and Joseph to once again ask for their intercession. It seemed appropriate to us to place the intercession of the Holy Family in the first moments of our marriage. In fact, our main celebrant actually gave us a statue of the Holy Family, which, to this day sits in a prominent place in our home. We’re expecting our first child in July.

  43. Volanges says:

    @Supertradmum, until 1953 Mass could not be celebrated after noon. Pius XII’s Jan. 1953 Apostolic Constitution “CHRISTUS DOMINUS — Concerning The Discipline To Be Observed With Respect To The Eucharistic Fast”, the document that changed the eucharistic fast discipline to 3 hours before Communion also allowed ‘evening Masses’ on select days. These Masses were not to be celebrated before 4 p.m. Over the years those select days have expanded to allow evening Masses daily.

  44. ellynvh says:

    I was a Lutheran when I married and had a Unity Candle – which I thought was dumb but I was under the impression that it was mandatory. Now, as a Catholic, my biggest bit of input about my daughter’s wedding was, “No Unity candle, puhleeez.” She and her husband agreed ! I did find the leaving of flowers for Mary to be sweet…and as a convert I thought this was something very traditional.

    I work in my parish office and so far I haven’t heard of any brides requesting that goofy sand thing. I saw it on some TV wedding show and my first thought was how long it would be until we had brides requesting it here. Our parish does request that a couple leave two arrangements in the church and there is often a lot of resistance as they want to use the flowers for the reception.

  45. amenamen says:

    Founded on sand?

    Sand, of all things, would have bad connotations for celebrating the “foundation” of a marriage.

    Matthew 7:26-27
    “And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

  46. irishgirl says:

    In 1979, and again in 1981, I went to two weddings where the bride left flowers for Our Lady.
    The grooms were brothers, and the whole family was Catholic to the core. And the brides were, too!
    In the ’79 wedding (on September 8, Our Lady’s birthday), the bride [and I think the groom with her]
    took a small bouquet of flowers-not her own bridal bouquet, if I recall-after Communion and went to the Marian altar as the soloist sang the Ave Maria. They prayed there for the duration of the song, then returned to their kneelers for the end of the Mass.
    Two years later, when the older brother married, there was a somewhat different tack to the custom. At the time, his family was going to an Eastern Rite (Melkite) parish, and the pastor of that church came to co-officiate at the wedding Mass in the bride’s Latin Rite parish. The Melkite priest brought along a small icon of Our Lady, which was placed on an icon stand just inside the sanctuary. I think it was around Communion time when the bride simply placed a small bouquet on the stand, in front of the icon.
    Speaking of coins in the Spanish custom: I remember reading about the Royal wedding in 2004 of Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz in Madrid. When they did the ceremony of the exchange of coins, a minor slip-up occurred when one or two of them were heard to ‘clink’ on the floor of the sanctuary.
    After the wedding ceremony, Felipe and Letizia went to the Atocha Basilica, where she left her bouquet at Our Lady’s feet there.

  47. Dominicanes says:

    It was the custom in this area that the bridal party would stop here at the monastery on their way to the reception and while the nuns gathered at the choir grille and sang the Ave Maria the bride would give her flowers to Our Lady. It was all very Sound of Music-ish but lovely. No one does it anymore which is sad. I think that if the bridal party knew the sisters the prioress or a few sisters would then go to the parlor to congratulate them.
    Lots of Italians in the area so perhaps it’s an Italian custom.

  48. Bea says:

    I did the offering of flowers to Mary at our wedding.
    I’m 75 years young and I remember it being done at all weddings since I was young.
    It must be Spanish tradition. Most of the folks around here are Mexican with Spanish roots.
    What I didn’t want was the “Arras” (coins that the groom pours into the brides hands) At the time I didn’t really know what this signified. This was supposed to signify his sharing of his earnings (women didn’t work at that time) and her promise to handle the earnings wisely.
    I also didn’t want the “Lazo” It was always commented “now they are tied for life” I thought this was silly. This I regret not having after I learned at the significance of it. It seems the “Lazo” is composed of 2 large rosaries. One is draped over the bride, the other over the groom. They are connected with a crucifix in the middle. They are then unhooked, unscrewed, untied (whatever holds them together). One rosary is handed over to the mother of the bride, the other one to the mother of the groom so that they will pray for the couple. The crucifix is placed on the wall above the couples bed for them to pray to and remind them of their vows.

  49. Pingback: It's The Bride In Me – QUAERITUR: The origin of giving flowers to Mary during weddings …

  50. Arrhae was sort of a Frankish, Gothic, Germanic thing as filtered through Roman law, so it was the custom in places as farflung as England (the Saxons) and Spain (aforesaid Goths). The actual brideprice was negotiated and paid at a different time. At the betrothal ceremony immediately prior to the wedding, the groom paid a symbolic brideprice to the bride (coins, a ring, a sword or knife — anything valuable). The point was that a Frankish (etc.) woman was a valuable asset to her family or any family, so she didn’t need to bring the groom a dowry. When brideprice went out of fashion or dowries became more fashionable than brideprice, this often turned into an exchange of symbolic brideprice for symbolic dowry, or was softened into a gift exchange.

    Anyway, the coins thing gradually became official in the Church, and the Sarum Rite used to use that too. So it’s not just a Spanish thing, although that’s more easily recognizable. If you get an engagement ring, you’ve essentially got arrhae.

    And considering how the Hapsburgs got around, any custom that’s Spanish is often Austrian, etc. as well.