Preparing For Marriage
Preparing for Marriage
Congratulations on your engagement! The sacrament of matrimony is a wonderful gift and vocation to holiness. The Church wants to assist you with this calling to a life of self-giving and commitment, and so each couple participates in marriage preparation programs.
This often is called “Pre-Cana,” a reference to the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus transformed water into wine at the request of His Mother (John 2:1-11). This was the first manifestation of his glory. Christ will be present not only at your wedding, but also throughout the sacrament and ministry of your marriage. The Church is asking Him to renew the sign of Cana in your lives.
Learn more here:
We're engaged. Now what?
What does marriage preparation involve?
What are "pre-marital inventories"?
Do you have any tips for the wedding itself?
How can I assist with couples getting married?
Pray! Now that you have made the first step toward your life-long commitment to one another, build your newly formed relationship on prayer. Take a few minutes each day to pray as a couple that God will bless your relationship and your preparation process. Engagement is a time for many blessings, and to grow closer to one another and to the Lord who brought the two of you together.
Contact your priest or deacon. He will discuss your marriage plans with you, including
- Wedding date and time (please do not reserve a reception facility until you know when the wedding will be)
- Marriage preparation
- Paperwork you may need, such as your baptismal certificate
Participate in a marriage preparation program, ideally in the first few months of your engagement. It will assist you in getting to know your fiancée/fiancé at a deeper level.
Attend Natural Family Planning classes. NFP is a series of classes that provides you with the information needed to understand and interpret natural signs of fertility and infertility to either achieve or avoid pregnancy. Natural Family Planning has the added benefit of strengthening your marriage through enhanced communication and intimacy.
Plan your wedding liturgy with the priest or deacon, musicians, etc. The sacrament of marriage gives you the unique opportunity to minister the sacrament to each other. You are able to select from a variety of readings and prayers throughout the ceremony. Once the liturgy is planned, set the date and time for the rehearsal.
Obtain your marriage license.
Celebrate your blessed wedding day!
- Attend marriage enrichment workshops during your marriage or join a marriage enrichment group to gain support in your new vocation (see marriage enrichment).
For further information about marriage preparation, contact your parish priest or deacon.
There are several options available for marriage preparation, which the priest or deacon who will witness your marriage will discuss with you. These may include any or all of the following: parish-based programs; meetings with the priest, deacon or members of the parish marriage prep ministry; and/or a weekend program sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington or another Catholic organization.
- Archdiocese of Washington Marriage Preparation Program
This two-Saturday marriage preparation program seeks to empower couples to live out their sacramental union through the use of all the skills and graces they will receive in marriage. The practical aspects of marriage (such as communication, finances, parenthood, etc.) are discussed within the framework of the spiritual realities of marriage (biblical foundations of marriage, sacrament of marriage, prayer in the family, etc.).
A Catholic understanding of sexuality is presented along with a basic introduction to Natural Family Planning. The cost is $205 per couple. For more information or to register, please contact the Office of Family Life. Find Natural Family Planning classes.
- Information on additional marriage preparation programs in the area:
- For Your Marriage
Online tools for both engaged and married couples to enrich their relationship. While not a marriage preparation program, this site has excellent resources, tips for marriage and more. Engaged couples can explore a variety of key aspects of their relationship that will help them prepare for the sacrament and their lives together. A resource of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops
Office for Evangelization and Family Life
Associate Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life
A pre-marital inventory, such as FOCCUS or Prepare and Enrich, assists a couple in determining areas of compatibility and where potential difficulties may arise. After each member of the couple takes the inventory, the results are discussed with your priest/deacon or a mentor couple, typically over three to six meetings, to help you realize and affirm the strengths in your relationship while discussing and working on areas of potential difficulty.
If an inventory is not required as a part of your marriage preparation program, feel free to ask about how you can take one or contact the inventory websites for people in this area who can administer the inventory for you.
When two Catholics marry, the celebration of marriage normally is during Mass.
When a Catholic and baptized person of another faith marry, the rite for celebrating within Mass may be used.
If either the bride or the groom is non-Christian, Mass is not permitted.
At a wedding Mass, the exchange of vows takes place just after the Liturgy of the Word and just before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Only those formulas for the declaration of consent that have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops may be used for the Rite of Marriage.
Weddings are not encouraged during the season of Lent.
When one or both of the parties have had a previous marriage, it is necessary to ascertain if there has been a thorough recovery from that past experience.
If one of the parties has been divorced, it is necessary to determine what kind of an annulment process is called for and for the process to be completed before setting a date for a wedding.
If a marriage is being validated in the Catholic Church, there is a need to review with the couple their relationship with the Church, the religious training of any children and their motives for the requested validation.
There are three ways:
Marriage Preparation Leadership Training is offered by the Archdiocese of Washington to prepare parishioners to assist the priests and deacons in providing marriage preparation. Parishioners can be trained as group presenters or as individual one-on-one mentoring couples. Contact the Office for Evangelization and Family Life at 301-853-4546 or by e-mail.
Clergy, religious and parishioners can be trained to administer and facilitate the FOCCUS pre-marital inventory and the RE-FOCCUS inventory for married couples. These tools help couples discover strengths in their relationship and aspects of their relationship they need to discuss further. Call the Office for Evangelization and Family Life at 301-853-4546 for more details.
- Clergy, religious and parishioners can be trained to administer and facilitate the Prepare pre-marital inventory and the Enrich inventory for married couples. These tools help couples discover strengths in their relationship and aspects of their relationship they need to discuss further. Call the Office for Evangelization and Family Life at 301-853-4546 for more details.