Marriage Preparation for the Engaged

For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.
— Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:29-32

Congratulations on your engagement! You are in one of the most exciting (and hectic) stages of your life. Beyond the wedding day there is married life. Let us help you get ready. Please contact our Office to make an appointment with one of our priests!

Formation:

God who is love and who created man and woman for love has called them to love. By creating man and woman he called them to an intimate communion of life and of love in marriage: ‘So that they are no longer two, but one flesh’ (Matthew 19:6). God said to them in blessing ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28). Christ not only restored the original order of matrimony but raised it to the dignity of a sacrament, giving spouses a special grace to live out their marriage as a symbol of Christ’s love for his bride the Church: ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church’ (Ephesians 5:25).
— Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 337; 341.

Given the beauty of the Catholic understanding of marriage and the ever-increasing threats against married life in our culture, the Catholic Church understands the great importance of preparation for Holy Matrimony. To this end, there is a necessity for formation and commitment, which seek to lead the couple to a conversion of life that allows for full knowledge of oneself, of the other, and of the Sacrament of Marriage, as well as to the freedom to give consent on their wedding day.

This formation takes place in the following way:

  1. There is a minimum time period of eight (8) months of Marriage Preparation. Throughout this time the couple has at least five meetings with the priests in order to build a relationship, study the different aspects of the preparation, and plan the liturgy.
  2. In addition, the couple will attend an eight-week class in March or November, which concludes with a weekend retreat at the end of the month. This class seeks to deepen the couple’s Christian identity through study of the Catholic understanding of marriage and the beautiful meaning of human sexuality, and includes instruction about Natural Family Planning.

We invite you to keep in mind the following that the priest is responsible to witness on behalf of the Church that the wedding is in fact Catholic. He reserves the right of conscience to not marry the couple if at any point during the preparation process he has not ascertained concretely that they are sufficiently engaged in mind and heart with the preparation process for the Sacrament of Marriage.

Liturgy:

Regarding the preparations for the liturgy itself, we invite you to keep in mind the following:

  1. Catholic priests are unable to celebrate weddings outside of Catholic churches because of the particular nature of the sacrament. 
  2. The marriage of two Catholics is typically celebrated with a Nuptial Mass. To respect both families of a mixed marriage, the marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic is a two-part ceremony, which consists of the Liturgy of the Word and the Rite of Marriage.
  3. If the couple is to be married in another parish, the priest will transfer the paperwork to the location of the wedding once the preparation is completed, at least one month prior to the wedding date.
  4. The Church does not charge for the Sacraments. There is a suggested donation of $500 for parishioners and $600 for non-parishioners to help cover expenses associated with the use of facilities as well as stipends for the minister, musicians, wedding coordinator, and the cost of the marriage preparation process.

Logistics:

  1. Catholic parties are asked to acquire an official copy of their baptismal certificate from the parish of origin, dated within six months of the marriage. Your assigned priest will help with the other paperwork necessary for the preparations.
  2. By state law, the marriage license must be dated within 30 days of the wedding, and should be brought to the Parish Office no less than three days before the wedding. Following the wedding, the priest will collect the signed license, and the couple will be issued their own copy after it is submitted to the State. 
  3. All other parish considerations and liturgy planning will be facilitated during the Marriage Preparation process.