Offering flowers to Mary during a Wedding?

It was pointed out to me that during Catholic weddings, when the bride and groom offer a bouquet of flowers to a statue of Mary it looks somewhat “superstitious” that flowers are being given to a statue. Also pointed out was that it may prevent any Protestant attending the wedding from ever becoming a Catholic. Same goes for the arras, the coins used during weddings which symbolizes a sharing of spiritual & material wealth.

Because I’ve been to several weddings where these traditions were incorporated into it, I never really questioned those traditions up until I was told that it may look superstitious to some non-Catholics.

Are traditions like the coins and offering flowers to Mary in any way superstitious or against Church teaching at all? I’m really curious to hear what any of you may say.

[quote=Chrismasfetus]It was pointed out to me that during Catholic weddings, when the bride and groom offer a bouquet of flowers to a statue of Mary it looks somewhat “superstitious” that flowers are being given to a statue. Also pointed out was that it may prevent any Protestant attending the wedding from ever becoming a Catholic. Same goes for the arras, the coins used during weddings which symbolizes a sharing of spiritual & material wealth.

Because I’ve been to several weddings where these traditions were incorporated into it, I never really questioned those traditions up until I was told that it may look superstitious to some non-Catholics.

Are traditions like the coins and offering flowers to Mary in any way superstitious or against Church teaching at all? I’m really curious to hear what any of you may say.
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I would think that as long as the meanings of the traditions are explained, in writing, to the people attending. (not only the non-Catholics). Many traditions are ethnic in origin and some Catholics even may not be aware of their meaning.

There is far more weight to the argument that none of these rituals are in the books than to say that they “look superstitious.” In order for that argument to fly we would need to eliminate everything distinctly “Catholic” about our worship, i.e. genuflections, images, statues, altars (not tables) and so on. What the priest should watch out for is that the couple doesn’t have a superstitious intent, though. Many of these practices do have a long, long tradition, though, both within the liturgy and outside of it. I think that this is where prudence becomes really critical.

There is far more weight to the argument that none of these rituals are in the books

This was how it was explained to me when I got married. Monsignor didn’t allow a “presentation” of flowers to the statue of the Virgin Mary during the service itself. Since it was a Mass, he said there was no provision for that kind of innovation within the context of the Mass. Instead they suggested (and we did) including a special flower arrangement at the side altar (where the statue is). We had our flowers “In memory of” our grandmothers and this was printed in the wedding program.

[quote=kmktexas]This was how it was explained to me when I got married. Monsignor didn’t allow a “presentation” of flowers to the statue of the Virgin Mary during the service itself. Since it was a Mass, he said there was no provision for that kind of innovation within the context of the Mass. Instead they suggested (and we did) including a special flower arrangement at the side altar (where the statue is). We had our flowers “In memory of” our grandmothers and this was printed in the wedding program.
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OR a “unity candle!” Yuk!

[quote=mercygate]OR a “unity candle!” Yuk!
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When I do weddings I do not allow the unity candle. Not only is it not a part of the rite, it is actually a horrible understanding of marriage. The idea is that the two candles representing the individuals are used to light the center candle and then the two individual candles are blown out. This is supposed to represent the union of two people in marriage. The problem is that marriage is two people working for the salvation of each other. Yes, they form one flesh, but they remain two minds, two personalities and we must never forget that. Marriage is a giving of one partner to the other. If they are submerged in some sort of “unity” then there is nothing to give.

In a true marriage the partners remain ever gift givers and receivers. Each giving to the other, each receiving from the other. That is the model that Jesus gives us when he uses the example of the Church as a bride and himself as the groom – constantly giving, constantly receiving.

Deacon Ed

[quote=FenianMan]There is far more weight to the argument that none of these rituals are in the books than to say that they “look superstitious.” In order for that argument to fly we would need to eliminate everything distinctly “Catholic” about our worship, i.e. genuflections, images, statues, altars (not tables) and so on. What the priest should watch out for is that the couple doesn’t have a superstitious intent, though. Many of these practices do have a long, long tradition, though, both within the liturgy and outside of it. I think that this is where prudence becomes really critical.
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We incorporated both the presentation of roses to Mary and the Spanish rito de las arras (coins) into our nearly 2-hour Mexican nuptial Mass; no one even in my strongly Protestant family thought they were superstitious, and my husband’s Mexican side had all seen the rituals a hundred times. The roses are a form of prayer; at the very end of the Mass we prayed in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother, asking the Holy Family to guide our newly formed family.

The gesture differs very little from the traditional candles that are lit in front of icons and statues. We left a white rose next to the statue according to the custom instead.

The rito de las arras is a slightly more secular custom, and smacks of paternalism-- the groom traditionally gives the bride 13 golden coins, pledging to support her, and the bride formally promises to take good care of all that he gives her. The coins were heirlooms in my husband’s family, and we used them, but changed the wording of pledges so that we promised to always be grateful for the blessings of God, and to share our goods with others.

Neither rite is part of the Mass, obviously, but our priest told us that immediately after the exchange of the rings (which is also not part of the Mass) other cultural traditions may be observed.

[quote=Deacon Ed]When I do weddings I do not allow the unity candle. Not only is it not a part of the rite, it is actually a horrible understanding of marriage. The idea is that the two candles representing the individuals are used to light the center candle and then the two individual candles are blown out. This is supposed to represent the union of two people in marriage. The problem is that marriage is two people working for the salvation of each other. Yes, they form one flesh, but they remain two minds, two personalities and we must never forget that. Marriage is a giving of one partner to the other. If they are submerged in some sort of “unity” then there is nothing to give.

Deacon Ed
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Deacon Ed, I respect your decision, and understand your reservations about the unity candle. However, it surprised me to hear that the custom where you are is to blow out the two side candles; I had never heard of that and was appalled by it precisely because of the false imagery you describe. Here, we leave all three burning.

We used the unity candle at our wedding; it was not “yuk.” My family is German Protestant, my husband’s, Mexican Catholic. Think ‘Fools Rush In’ and “Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Major, complicated cultural clashes… The unity candle was perhaps the one symbol, other than the rings, that my side of the family could comprehend in our lengthy nuptial Mass. Traditionally, it does not represent the coming together of two individuals so much as the joining of two families to make a new one, and that is the sense in which we celebrated it.

For us, the Eucharist was the symbol (and reality) par excellence of our union in marriage-- not the candle. But I’m glad we incorporated it as a cultural expression that went a long way to uniting our two very different families that day.

[quote=maendem]For us, the Eucharist was the symbol (and reality) par excellence of our union in marriage-- not the candle. But I’m glad we incorporated it as a** cultural expression** that went a long way to uniting our two very different families that day.
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A “cultural expression” that has been around for approximately three weeks. I still say “yuk.” If you must have it, light it at the reception.

[quote=maendem]Deacon Ed, I respect your decision, and understand your reservations about the unity candle. However, it surprised me to hear that the custom where you are is to blow out the two side candles; I had never heard of that and was appalled by it precisely because of the false imagery you describe. Here, we leave all three burning.

We used the unity candle at our wedding; it was not “yuk.” My family is German Protestant, my husband’s, Mexican Catholic. Think ‘Fools Rush In’ and “Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Major, complicated cultural clashes… The unity candle was perhaps the one symbol, other than the rings, that my side of the family could comprehend in our lengthy nuptial Mass. Traditionally, it does not represent the coming together of two individuals so much as the joining of two families to make a new one, and that is the sense in which we celebrated it.

For us, the Eucharist was the symbol (and reality) par excellence of our union in marriage-- not the candle. But I’m glad we incorporated it as a cultural expression that went a long way to uniting our two very different families that day.
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I have no problem if the side candles are left burning. It’s just that in my area that is not the tradition…

As for culture clash – yes, I’m well aware of that here in Southern California!

Deacon Ed

[quote=Chrismasfetus]It was pointed out to me that during Catholic weddings, when the bride and groom offer a bouquet of flowers to a statue of Mary it looks somewhat “superstitious” that flowers are being given to a statue. Also pointed out was that it may prevent any Protestant attending the wedding from ever becoming a Catholic. Same goes for the arras, the coins used during weddings which symbolizes a sharing of spiritual & material wealth.

Because I’ve been to several weddings where these traditions were incorporated into it, I never really questioned those traditions up until I was told that it may look superstitious to some non-Catholics.

Are traditions like the coins and offering flowers to Mary in any way superstitious or against Church teaching at all? I’m really curious to hear what any of you may say.
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I look at this way at most weddings the parents of the bride and groom will normally get a or some flowers right, then why would you notgive your Blessed Mother some flowers as well. As a child we would always lay flowers by a statue of Our Lady. I love giving my mom flowers and I love giving my Blessed Mother flowers as well. Nothing superstitious about that right.

[quote=mercygate]A “cultural expression” that has been around for approximately three weeks. I still say “yuk.” If you must have it, light it at the reception.
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True, perhaps “cultural” is not an accurate description of the practice. But it is a tradition that now exists in probably 90% of Protestant weddings, and one many of our separated brothers and sisters hold significant.

Questioning its place at a Catholic Mass I understand. Wholly deriding it in a tone of snotty condescention simply because it is relatively meaningless to Catholics I do not.

When I was married for the second time my husband and I placed a bouquet of white roses tinged w/ red at the feet of Mary during our wedding…if my memory serves me, it was at the lighting of the unity candle and we gave each of our mothers a single rose at that time as well.
We did this out of love and thanksgiving to Our Lady since it was through her intercession that we were brought together. We got the idea from the 54 Day Rosary Novena we both prayed….

    In the Glorious Mysteries the prayer for petition is as follows:

“Hail, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, my Mother Mary, hail! At thy feet I humbly kneel to offer thee a Crown of Roses – full-blown white roses, tinged with the red of the passion, to remind thee of thy glories, fruits of the sufferings of the Son and thee – each rose recalling to thee a holy mystery; each ten bound together with my petition for a particular grace…”

This was done out of love and respect for the Mother of God…not out of any superstition.

[quote=maendem] Questioning its place at a Catholic Mass I appreciate. Wholly deriding it in a tone of snotty condescention simply because it is relatively meaningless to Catholics I do not.
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It happens at Catholic weddings. Why would I care what non-Catholics do at their weddings?

And hey, “snotty condescenscion” is the thing I do best, as you can see from my posts on these forums! :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote=kmktexas]This was how it was explained to me when I got married. Monsignor didn’t allow a “presentation” of flowers to the statue of the Virgin Mary during the service itself. Since it was a Mass, he said there was no provision for that kind of innovation within the context of the Mass. Instead they suggested (and we did) including a special flower arrangement at the side altar (where the statue is). We had our flowers “In memory of” our grandmothers and this was printed in the wedding program.
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Hi Kristine, This is what we did at my wedding in NY 13 years ago in NY. There was no formal presentation.

I will be getting married in a couple of days and will be presenting my bouquet to the Virgin Mary. I am currently in the process of creating a program for the mass and I am unsure of how to explain this part of the ceremony. Could you help me with the wording? I don’t want to risk any misunderstandings, at the same time I an still a neophyte and I would not want to risk a mis-explination of the Catholic understanding. Thanks for any help you can offer.

As we have given flowers to our mothers out of love and respect, so we are taking this time to give flowers to Mary mother of us all to show her our love and respect.

The unity candle was invented on a soap opera. A SOAP OPERA!

It has no place in the mass… the Eucharist is the union. It’s like driving to disney land and you see a sign that says “10 miles to disneyland”…and getting out and decorating the sign and taking pictures of the sign…when you can go right to disneyland.

It is empty, and actually, sometimes false.

I’ve played over 150 weddings, and you really start to see where the fluffy circus stuff lacks meaning. Every single detail in a liturgy has a theological reason behind it…down to how the priest holds his hands and certain points. These meanings have meaning for everyone in the congregation. Even if the priest is speaking certain words and the congregation is listening, it is meant for them to be participating by listening and praying.

In a unity candle, the bride and groom…walk walk walk, light a candle, walk walk walk.
It carries no meaning for the people in the congregation.

As a musician I have done many weddings of various denominations, but especially Catholic ones, and have grown to tell which ones have been done for “show” or because their parents’ expected them too, and which ones were truly deep and beautiful.

Many brides choose to do the presentation to the Blessed Mother, especially if they have a special devotion to her. Although some do it not really knowing why they are doing, but because it has “always been done that way”. Others have personally chosen not to do it because they don’t have a special devotion to her. The way I looked at it when we were married was that the “Ave Maria” was the sung prayer to the Blessed Mother which I prayed while the soloist sang it. I was honouring her as the Mother of our Lord and as a model for my life starting out as a wife and potential mother.

I don’t know how long that tradition has been around, but having spoken to many of my brides during the music planning, their grandmothers and mothers have done that tradition as well. What I have heard from my older colleagues who worked in parishes during the 80s, some priests during that time would not permit the Presentation to the Blessed Mother because they were against a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. There may be some leftover of priests who still do not allow it. That said, in almost all Catholic weddings I’ve done, the presentation is done after the Mass is ended.

In regards to the Unity Candle, it is a very new phenomenon that has absolutely NO connection to any ethnic or cultural traditions within the Church, although it has been adapted by so many. The Spanish/Latin/Filipino traditions of the Cord/Lasso, Veil, Arras, etc. are very old, cultural traditions dating back for a couple centuries, which is why those are permitted still. In my mind, and also in the minds of many in the Church, the Unity Candle has no place in the liturgy. In our diocese, at first they just discouraged the practice. Now they forbid it, stating the reason of it neither being cultural or liturgical and suggests doing it during the reception, so for the last few years I have not done a wedding in my diocese which includes the unity candle. The diocese next door, though, allows practically anything, including the unity candle. What I’ve found interesting from my colleagues who told me about those priests who did not permit the Presentation to the Blessed Mother, many times they still permitted the Unity Candle. :shrug:

Some priests won’t allow the marian devotion because it isn’t written into any part of the mass/marriage rite, not necessarily because they themselves don’t have a devotion to Mary.

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