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Catholic Weddings and the Tradition of Giving Gifts to the Wedding Party

Have you ever wondered about the protocol for the giving of wedding gifts? Although it is traditional to give a gift to the bride and groom, it isn’t a mandatory condition for being invited to the wedding and reception. It’s tradition and not something you are required to do, so don’t feel bad if it’s not something you can manage at this time. Tradition also has it that you have up to one year to present the newlyweds with a wedding gift.


However, for those of you who struggle to find the perfect gift for the newlyweds, imagine what it must be like for the bride and groom to come up with ideas for gifts they will present to the wedding party at rehearsal dinner. Again, it isn’t written in Church law, but it is a time-honored tradition most couples follow. So, what should you give the wedding party? Here are some thoughts.

A Word About the Tradition

Typically, the gifts are presented at the rehearsal dinner which usually takes place the night before the ceremony. Catholic wedding ideas for gifts go beyond what to give the newlywed couple. The wedding party is traditionally presented with a small token of appreciation for their part in the ceremony to be held the next day.

The bride chooses gifts for the bridesmaids and the groom for the groomsmen. Now imagine between 10 and 12 different personalities involved, and the couple must be up against some pretty heavy odds. Don’t panic! If it’s a traditional Catholic wedding, then the perfect gift might be something religious in nature.

About the Wedding Party When Choosing Gifts

Although the Church doesn’t require both the best man and maid (matron) of honor to be Catholic, only one must be Catholic. As an aside here, the non-Catholic person standing up for the couple must only not receive Communion. They can still stand up for, be a witness to, the vows of Holy Matrimony.

In this light, the bridesmaids and groomsmen aren’t required to be Catholic either, but the same Canon Law holds true. If they are not Catholics in good standing with the Church, they must not receive the Eucharist.

The Dilemma Resolved

When choosing from religious items as gifts to be given at the rehearsal dinner, and when some in the wedding party are non-Catholic, then perhaps a gift that can be non-denominational would work best. For instance, in a wedding party where everyone is a baptized Catholic, anything with a crucifix would be lovely.

On the other hand, if there are Lutherans, Baptists, or other denominations represented in the wedding party, you could safely choose anything with a simple cross – no body on the cross, that is. The point here is that in a traditional Catholic wedding, there is a strong emphasis on the faith. Christianity as a whole is highly encouraged, so a religious gift would be suitable.

Some couples prefer to give something religious along with something secular as symbolic of living their married life joined in union with each other as well as Catholic Christians in an ecumenical world. It’s a lovely sentiment but remember that there is nothing written in stone that you must give gifts. It’s a tradition, after all, but one you might want to adhere to within the frame of a traditional Catholic wedding.

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