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: