I've heard several times about a new marriage rite, but when you recently performed my granddaughter's wedding, I didn't notice anything much different from my children's weddings from twenty or thirty years ago.
You are right. With few exceptions, most of the changes in the Rite of Marriage are primarily in the priest's texts.
When we prepare the wedding liturgy, our goal is to foster the full, conscious, active participation of everyone gathered. So, for example, when the wedding liturgy calls for them to sing, we do everything possible to support their song.
When it occurs during a Mass, the Rite of Marriage comes after scriptures (Liturgy of the World) and precedes Communion (Liturgy of the Eucharistic). Except for the marriage rite itself then, a wedding Mass will look very much like Sunday Mass.
One thing that was probably different at your granddaughter's wedding was the singing of an entrance hymn and the Gloria. After the procession was accompanied by instrumental music (I was so pleased to see both bride and groom escorted in by both parents) We began with song; they chose to begin as we would on Sunday.
You may remember a few years back when we received a new translation of the Mass. At the time, the Gloria was to be included at all weddings. On so joyous and important an occasion in the life of the Church, it is fitting to sing the Glory to God just as we do on Sunday, or at other sacramental events such as First Communion or Confirmation.
There are some new (though optional) things we can also do: we can sing an acclamation or hymn of praise after the rings are blessed and exchanged-a sign of everyone's joyful witness. This is optional, but we have decided that we will try to implement this over the next few years and see what works for our parish. For your granddaughter's wedding, we chose an acclamation that actually comes from of the Rite of Baptism. Since Baptism is the sacrament from which all other sacraments proceed, it seems fitting to echo that covenant between God and the people on the occasion of a wedding. In preparing the wedding with your granddaughter and her fiancé, we discussed singing a familiar hymn at that point, but chose the acclamation instead.
The new rite also allows some cultural adaptations. An example is the arras. In some cultures-especially Spanish, Latin American, and Filipino-the giving of coins (and later, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the placing of the veil) is customary. These time-honored customs are now officially included in the rite.
Your granddaughter and her fiancé chose not to have a unity candle, and no visit to the Blessed Mother. These are not official parts of the rite, though if they had chosen to include them, it would not have been forbidden. In my experience, when couples learn that these are not part of the rite, they are inclined to omit them.
It was a great joy to meet with your granddaughter and her (now) husband during the past few months, and to preside at their wedding. Congratulations to all of you!
God bless you and God love you.