The prayers of the faithful --- also called "petitions" and "general intercessions" --- are a standard part of all Catholic wedding ceremonies, whether a full Mass is held or not. They are read aloud after the blessing and exchange of rings by the priest, deacon or lector. By identifying the needs of the entire faith community, the prayers of the faithful remind the couple that they are a vital part of that community.
The prayers of the faithful date back to the earliest days of the Roman Catholic Church, according to a May 2004 edition of Oblates. They were included in the liturgy from approximately the second through the fifth centuries. After a near 1,500-year absence from the Mass, the general intercessions were brought back by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
The church council established a set format for the prayers of the faithful which is outlined in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. During a regular liturgy, the intercessions take place after the clergy member's homily. After each petition is identified, the congregation answers, "Lord, hear our prayer" or a similar response. The proper sequence of the prayers is to first identify the needs of the church and then that of public authorities, the world, the suffering, and finally, the local community.
Although the petitions must still follow this general format for the wedding ceremony, the church allows some flexibility for this and other special occasions, according to Catholic Wedding Help. For example, prayers can specifically mention the bride and groom as they begin their married life and for their living and deceased family members.
Writing Wedding Petitions
In addition, parishes often encourage couples to compose their own petitions within the guidelines. The priest or deacon who is preparing them to receive the sacrament of marriage can provide them with the resources they need to make this part of their ceremony particularly meaningful.