Thinking about getting married? Engaged? Welcome aboard the emotional rollercoaster: Planning a wedding and anticipating a marriage is a joyful time of preparations — but also a highly charged period of decisions, debates and family pressures.
And, as usual, BustedHalo® is here to help. Recently, I joined forces via the wonders of iChat technology with Father Eric Andrews, a Paulist priest who has over 15 years of wedding experience. Fr. Eric and I answer questions from brides and grooms preparing to be married in the Catholic Church. Why can’t you get married on the beach? Why is the priest being such a jerk? Why do we have to talk about sex during pre-Cana?
In our video series, The Princess, The Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding, I advocate for the brides and grooms. With a Ph.D. in social history, four years of writing the Pure Sex, Pure Love column and a recent wedding under my belt, I’ve got both professional and personal expertise in this area. And Fr. Eric represents the clergy with honesty and humor, as he explains why he’d rather do a dozen funerals than one wedding.
Don’t believe us that there’s a culture war between engaged couples and the Church? Think of this scenario:
After you’ve called your parents and celebrated with your intended, your next step is that first phone call to your church. You want to set a date, and get the ceremony lined up, so that you can start the real work of booking the reception hall, the music, the flowers and the guest list, right?
Let the war begin
It’s at this moment that the cultural war begins: As a bride or a groom, this is the biggest day of your life — and you’ve got lots of specifications. You might have a color scheme in mind, or have your heart set on a particular song for the processional. You’re dreaming of the perfect event — at just the right time, in just the right setting, with everything going perfectly.
Well, here’s the thing: Getting married is a celebration for you, but it’s work for the priest — paperwork, donations to the church and marriage preparation. And since brides and grooms want a “perfect” event, it seems there are more details to discuss than a Papal visit. The priest is exhausted by all of this — and bristles at being treated like hired help.
Getting married is a celebration for you, but it’s work for the priest — paperwork, donations to the church and marriage preparation…. The priest is exhausted by all of this — and bristles at being treated like hired help.
So while you friends and family ask about hors d’oeuvres for the reception and why you haven’t picked out a china pattern yet, the priest is all business. Sometimes he’s impatient or uninterested. Other times he’s insistent on pre-Cana compatibility quizzes and asks awkward questions about your future sex life.
How do we know these things? Because we represent both sides.
My big day
On June 16, 2007 my husband, Peter, and I were married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I was the fourth generation in my family to get married there, so as I walked down the aisle in my elaborate dress and family-heirloom veil, I thought of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, all of whom had traveled that same path to take their sacraments of marriage. Yes, I’d spent more hours than I’d like to mention crafting a gift registry, but we also spent time preparing for our marriage, not just the wedding. Peter and I had put ourselves through an intensive marriage preparation course.
Still, June 16, 2007 was a big day not just because of the vows we’d take in front of 250 of our nearest and dearest; it was a show — and the biggest party my family and I had ever hosted. I prayed that I wouldn’t spill the red Communion wine on my dress. That the rain would hold off. That I wouldn’t trip. That everything would go perfectly.
Now, if you’d asked the Monsignor who was officiating our wedding what was going through his mind, it might have been something a bit different.
Since we first talked about doing The Princess and the Priest, we always intended for it to have a strong audience participation aspect: Have a question about planning your wedding? Interested if others are struggling with the same issue? We encourage you to email us questions, or record a short video with your question and send it to us. If we use your video in a future episode, we will give you a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Send in your questions/videos to firstname.lastname@example.org and stay tuned for the next month as Fr. Eric and I go head to head debating your “one perfect day.”