The Catholic Betrothal Ceremony: Everything You Need to Know

An engaged couple holding a rosary
Ania Photography

The Catholic betrothal ceremony is a traditional ceremony that has recently been making a comeback among Catholic engaged couples! This ceremony dates back to the early days of the church, in which it would mark the official beginning of an engagement. At this time, families would discuss and arrange the details of the marriage contract and it would become binding under the eyes of God. Traditionally, Priests did not consider a couple to be engaged unless they had a betrothal ceremony.

Today, the Rite of Betrothal serves as a promise and a blessing to mark the beginning of an engagement.

Engaged couple Francesca & Christian during their betrothal ceremony at St. John Cantius in Chicago

What Happens During a Betrothal Ceremony?

Currently, there is not an official standardized rite of betrothal, which is why it is important to find a priest who is comfortable with this rite. The ceremony itself is short, but it may also be done during a mass, or before or after. Typically, the ceremony starts with reading Psalm 126 and then the priest addresses the couple. After the allocation, the couple joins hands and vows to one day enter into the sacrament of marriage together. Simultaneously, the priest places the ends of his stole in the shape of a cross over the hands of the couple. After their vows, he blesses the engagement rings and pronounces them officially betrothed! There is also an official betrothal certificate that is signed and given to the couple after the ceremony.

Benefits to Having the Catholic Betrothal Ceremony

A Catholic betrothal ceremony is a way to surrender your engagement to the Lord. Many couples love this ceremony because it is a way to recognize the sacramentality of marriage. It is also a way to enter in to wedding planning with your engagement firmly centered around God.

Our tips for your betrothal ceremony

  • Make it a date night! Make reservations at a nice restaurant, or invite a group of friends to join you at your betrothal and come celebrate afterwards. Your engagement is a joyful but brief period, so soak up the joy.
  • Use your hair and makeup trials! We always recommend using your hair and makeup trials for a special day, such as your bridal shower, but why not see if you can schedule your hair and makeup trials for your betrothal ceremony?
  • Recruit a photographer. The photos from a betrothal ceremony are always very sweet, and will give you an exciting sneak peek at what your wedding photos may look like.

While the Rite of Betrothal is not a requirement for marriage preparation, there’s no doubt that any extra preparation on the part of an engaged couple will benefit their engagement and future marriage!

A text option for the Rite of Betrothal can be found here: Rite of Betrothal

Want to learn more about Catholic wedding traditions? Here’s everything you need to know about Traditional Latin Mass Weddings!

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