Priest's Instructions to the Bride and Groom

Weddings masses seem to have so much variations when it comes to the marriage rites. This is all because the officiating priests would have some sort of preference on how a specific part of the ceremony will be done. Some priests prefer using wireless microphones, for instance. Other priests prefer to have some sort of rituals involving the wedding couple.

One priest for example, would have the bride and groom receive the gifts first from the offerors and then pass them to the priest. Thus, it appears that the bride and groom were offering the gifts.

A couple of variations even exist as to when the wedding candles on both sides of the couple are lit. Some priests prefer the candles lit after the homily and before the marriage rites. This is the traditional sequence of lighting candles, I believe.

The other variation is for the candles to be lit only after the offertory. Incidentally, this is the portion where the veil and cord will be placed on the couple. So essentially, all the three pairs secondary sponsors (Candle, Veil and Cord) will be called, one after the other. This is the variation that is non-traditional, at least to me.

Kissing the Hands of Elders as Sign of Respect

"Pagmamano" or the kissing of the hands as a sign of respect to elders is an age-old custom and tradition.

Apparently, in today's wedding, the officiating priest wanted this sign of respect performed by the wedding couple after the marriage ceremony. It was apparent to him. But not to me, as commentator. See, I haven't seen this "kissing of the hands" performed in the marriage rites of the other priests.

In our commentator's script, after the marriage ceremony, the parents and godparents are asked by the commentator to go back to their seats. In another wedding, I realized patience is a virtue as a commentator and provided buffer (a longer waiting time) in my announcement.

I've adjusted my own script so that I make that announcement when the priest starts to return to the altar. This is because, at that point, where the priest turns his back on the couple and returns to the altar, it can safely be assumed that the marriage ceremony is over.

Well, this assumption of mine is STILL WRONG.

Quiet Instructions to the Wedding Couple

So when the priest turned his back, I announced that parents and godparents return to their seats. When returning to the altar, the priest sidesteps to me and said, "You asked them to be seated but they've not even done yet with the kissing of hands!"

At that moment, I didn't know what he was talking about. But, sure enough, the parents and godparents have gone back to their seats.

Then, I saw the wedding couple going to each one of the parents and godparents and kissing the elders' hands. It was only at that point that I realized that the priest had instructions for the couple to kiss the hands of the elders WHILE THE ELDERS WERE STILL BESIDE THE COUPLE!

But the instructions were only given to the wedding couple.

I believe the parents and godparents, who were many, did not know. Otherwise, they wouldn't have readily gone back to their seats. I, certainly, didn't know. Otherwise, I wouldn't have told them to go back to their seats.

Because the elders have gone back to their seats, it took a while for the wedding couple to finish kissing the hands of all the parents and godparents. The wedding mass didn't go on overtime, but still. It was cumbersome too because the groom had to assist the bride with her long and bulky gown.

What's my personal assessment?

Well, had the officiating priest given an audible signal of what was to happen, i.e, the kissing of the hands, I don't think the elders would've returned to their seats prematurely. What's an audible signal? Well, giving his instructions on the microphone - so everyone knows what is to happen. I'm sure the priest wanted the couple to kiss the hands of the elders while they were there beside the couple - not when they (elders) were already at their seats.

Sadly, if I knew (better, heard) what the priest intended, I would've adjusted accordingly.

Lessons Learned

Here we go again. How else would I have known that the priest wanted the wedding couple to kiss the hands of elders in THIS situation? By waiting a little more. That means add more buffer. Maybe wait until the priest is REALLY back at the altar, and ensure nothing else is happening with the wedding couple. The elders would've probably grown tired standing up that they'll just be going back to their seats on their own.

The marriage ceremony that occurs after the Homily and before the Offertory has its many quirks among the priests. Resist the temptation to follow the wedding commentator's guide to the letter. Instead, be observant. Be on the lookout for what the priest might be instructing the bride and groom.

My consolation was that, on my way out, a mother-butler and lector commended the wedding mass that went smoothly as far as they're concerned. I did mention the "blunder" that occurred. I mentioned I'm already getting used to negative comments from other priests, lectors and mother-butlers. And in all candor, the mother-butler said, "you got used to it, because you're a humble lector and commentator."