October 18, 2016

What’s New in the New Marriage Rite?

wedding ceremony with flowers

On December 30, 2016, the revised Order of Celebrating Matrimony becomes mandatory in U.S. dioceses.

The Rite of Marriage, which served U.S. Catholics from 1970 to 2016, has given way to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony. The word “matrimony” has replaced “marriage” in order “to highlight the book as a liturgical ritual (i.e., the sacrament of matrimony) for the beginning of a lifelong commitment” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter, November–December 2013, vol. XLIX, 47). As with the Order of Christian Funerals, the word “order” has replaced “rite,” indicating that this book contains a series of rites that correspond to various stages in marriage, including “The Order of Blessing an Engaged Couple” and “The Order of Blessing a Married Couple within Mass on the Anniversary of Marriage,” in addition to the wedding liturgy.

Here we highlight a few of the changes:

  • The Introduction has expanded from 18 to 44 paragraphs. Among the points of particular interest to those involved in the preparation and celebration of the wedding liturgy are the reference to deacons presiding at the celebration of matrimony (24), the communitarian character of the wedding liturgy (28), the involvement of the engaged couple in the preparation of the celebration (29), and the music to be sung (30).
  • New to the OCM is a text by the priest or deacon following the Sign of the Cross which expresses the Church’s joy and calls on the assembly to support the couple “with our affection, with our friendship, and with our prayer” (52, 87). Given the challenge of encouraging singing by the assembly at most weddings, pastoral musicians will need to think seriously about how to engage the assembly in singing the Gloria at weddings.
  • The OCM now has nine options for the Old Testament reading, seven options for the Responsorial Psalm, 14 options for the New Testament reading, and 10 options for the Gospel. OCM indicates that “at least one reading that explicitly speaks of Marriage must always be chosen” (55, 90, 122).

These excerpts come from an in-depth explanation of the changes that will be published in the 2017 Lent, Easter Triduum, Easter issue of Today’s Liturgy. Don’t miss the article by Paul Covino; subscribe now!


The 2016 revised edition of Celebrating Marriage, Fourth Edition (OCP 30136672) takes engaged couples through each part of OCM so that they can exercise their role in preparing the wedding liturgy. This resource will be available in November 2016 at ocp.org.

Paul Covino

Paul Covino


A frequent speaker and workshop leader, Paul Covino has published numerous articles and writes the seasonal suggestions column for Today's Liturgy magazine and Liturgy.com. He is the editor of the Pastoral Press book Celebrating Marriage: Preparing the Roman Catholic Wedding Liturgy, Third Edition, Revised and is currently working on the 2016 revised edition.

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