Marriage Preparation Requirements
The Catholic Church takes marriage and family very seriously, and stands ready to support you in this commitment. The requirements for marriage in the Church are intended to strengthen and support the promises you will make, to give yourselves completely to each other for the rest of your lives.
Preparing for Marriage:
- Schedule initial meeting with priest or deacon. This should be done 8-12 months in advance of your proposed wedding date. Please do this before you book a reception hall, etc. This meeting is to get to know you, and to determine your freedom to marry. For the meeting, you will need to bring a recently-issued (dated within six months before the wedding) copy of your baptism certificate, with notations. To request a copy of your baptism record, contact the church where you were baptized. If one party is baptized in another Christian tradition, provide a letter attesting to the baptism.
- Schedule and take the FOCCUS inventory. Do this after meeting with your priest or deacon, 6-9 months in advance of your wedding date. This is done at the parish where you intend to marry. FOCCUS is an inventory to show areas of agreement and possible concern over a wide range of topics related to your marriage.
- Register and take a marriage preparation class. This should be done at least 6 months before your scheduled wedding date. Your priest or deacon can help you choose the option best suited for you – a list of marriage preparation programs is available. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure adequate time for a couple to participate in and benefit from the marriage preparation process. If any problems or obstacles surface, this allows a couple more time to resolve the difficulties before their wedding.
- Schedule and begin a class in Natural Family Planning. This should be done 3-6 months in advance of your wedding date. This is optional, but strongly recommended; couples who use natural family planning report a very high rate of marital satisfaction. More information is available here.
- Schedule and meet with a parish wedding coordinator to discuss the wedding liturgy - music, readings, attendants.
- Secure a wedding license from the city or county where the marriage will take place. Licenses are typically available the same day – you may need to make an appointment ahead of time.
- Schedule a final meeting with your priest to discuss your marriage preparation experience, receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, and go over remaining details for the wedding liturgy.