A Glossary of Terms Relating to Weddings & Marriage

Banns of Marriage – these are the traditional declarations of intention to marry, published by churches in bulletins and parish newsletters. Not all churches publish marriage banns, but some do.

Baptism – the ceremony which initiates members into a christian church community, by the pouring of (or immersion in) water in the name of the Holy Trinity. (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). Usually referred to as a sacrament and most frequently given to babies, but may be performed at any time in a person’s life.

Best Man – the groom’s attendant and principal witness on the marriage documents.

Blessing – a prayer imparting a state of holiness.

Cantor – a liturgical singer who leads the people in the music of worship. The cantor often sings the responsorial psalm, Gospel Acclamation and sometimes provides solo renditions.

Celebrant – a term often used for the person Priest Chasubles who conducts the ceremony and /or facilitates the marriage of husband and wife. In most christian churches this may only be performed by a bishop, priest or deacon.

Ceremonial Procession – a formal movement, usually involving a specific formation of ministers, or bridal party and attendants to or from positions in the church. In weddings this normally means the entrance and exit.

Church – the building in which christian services are celebrated. More broadly the wider community of baptised believers of a denomination.

Clergy – official members of the church who have been “ordained” or in “Holy Orders” responsible for conducting services and carrying out sacramental duties.

Congregation – broadly understood as those present at a religious service. Technically baptised members of a christian community.

Deacon – an official of the church who is permitted to carry out certain functions assisting a bishop or priest, which may include conducting the Rite of Marriage. A Deacon may assist at the Mass or Holy Communion, but cannot be the officiant of the Eucharist at Mass.

Denomination – the designation given to the subsets of different churches within Christianity. For example, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Baptist etc.

Diocese – a formal community of the church governed by a bishop, usually defined by geographical boundary.

Eucharist – from the Greek meaning “thanksgiving”, involving the bread and wine which are blessed or consecrated as the body and blood of Christ for holy communion.

Font – a basin containing holy (blessed) water used for baptism and other blessings.

Gospel Acclamation – the scriptural verse used by the Gospel. Generally this is an “Alleluia” except in the church seasons of Lent and Advent, when it is replaced by an alternative acclamation such “Glory and Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” Or “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory”.

Holy Matrimony – an older terminology for the state of marriage.

Lay or Laity – those who are not ordained or commissioned into clerical orders or religious life.

Liturgy – the public worship of the church conducted according to prescribed ceremonial formats.

Liturgical Books – the books containing the words and instructions for the public worship of the church. In the catholic church these include the Roman Missal, sometimes called the Sacramentary, Lectionary (containing the scripture readings appointed for certain days and occasions) the Psalter (containing the psalms).

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