Congratulations on your engagement! We are so pleased you have decided to marry in the Catholic Church. The following checklist will guide you through the marriage preparation process from now until your wedding day, the beginning of a marriage to last a lifetime!
At least one year before you wedding. . .
As soon as your engagement is official, you should call the parish office and schedule your first meeting with the priest or the deacon, who may also serve as the celebrant for your wedding.
What should happen at your first meeting at the parish office:
- If you are newly registered in your parish or have been away from the area for some time, this is a getting-to-know-you session. It’s also a time to discuss your hopes and dreams about marriage.
- Catholic persons should be prepared to present a recent certificate of Baptism with notations of all other sacraments (communion, confirmation and any prior marriages in the Church).
- Marriage preparation in the Church requires a pre-nuptial investigation (PNI), which is all about your marital readiness.
The Catholic community is responsible for your sacramental preparation and concerned with your future welfare as a married couple. You’ll work with your pastoral minister to reflect on the special qualities of Catholic marriage: fidelity, permanence and openness to children.
You’ll be asked a series of question from Part 1 of the standard PNI form, which is completed by the pastoral minister. Parts 2 and 3 are completed following your instructional sessions (see below).
When Part 1 of your PNI is complete, you should register for a marriage preparation program at www.dioceseoftrenton.org/precana and schedule your wedding date. Program options include:
- Parish Pre-Cana Conferences
- Diocesan Pre-Cana “God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage” (based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body)
- Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends
- To Trust Again Remarriage Workshop (for all couples in which one or both parties has a prior marriage)
Whether you’re both Catholic or of different faith traditions, your Catholic parish encourages you to attend Sunday liturgies together and become actively involved as a couple in your parish community. All Catholic persons are invited to receive the Eucharist for spiritual nourishment.
By nine months before your wedding. . .
It is recommended that all couples take a pre-marital inventory such as FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study), and discuss the results with your pastoral minister. (www.FOCCUSinc.com)
If FOCCUS is offered, you’ll need to schedule a date to complete the FOCCUS inventory at your parish. Once your pastoral minister receives your FOCCUS results, you’ll want to schedule a few sessions to discuss your responses. If FOCCUS isn’t offered, you’ll have sessions with your pastoral minister to discuss the important elements of Catholic marriage as they apply to your relationship.
By six months before the wedding. . .
You should plan to complete your marriage preparation program by six months before the wedding if possible, and certainly no later than three months prior.
Once you have completed your marriage preparation program and have received your certificate, you will need to meet with your pastoral minister again to discuss what you have learned at your workshop, and complete parts 2 and 3 or your Pre-Nuptial forms.
If your meetings with your pastoral minister begin to uncover some serious concerns in your relationship, you may wish to schedule additional sessions, consult with your pastor, or ask for a referral for a professional evaluation. The Church’s primary concern is a fulfilling, lifelong marital relationship for both of you.
By two to three months before the wedding. . .
Once the Pre-Nuptial forms have been completed and you have worked through any preparation issues with your pastoral minister, you should begin planning your wedding liturgy. Your goal is a ceremony that reflects the sacredness of your marriage and the uniqueness of your relationship.
If you are both Catholic, a nuptial mass is recommended. If you are an interfaith couple, a nuptial ceremony may be a better option. Your parish may have a wedding planner to assist you in planning your wedding liturgy. Catholic persons should plan to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the wedding to fully prepare you for the graces of sacramental marriage. It is highly recommended that all aspects of marriage preparation at the parish be completed by six weeks before the wedding, allowing you to focus on personal reflection and last minute details.
After the wedding. . .
After the wedding festivities and honeymoon, when it is time to settle into the business of daily married life, be sure to set aside Sunday as a day of rest and renewal, and make Mass a priority in your lives. The graces and blessings you will receive as a couple are immeasurable, a source of strength to meet the challenges of daily married life.
Plan to get involved in your parish community together as a couple. Your marriage is a vocation and a call to loving service. Always remember that your marriage is a sign of Jesus’ unending love for his people. May your marriage always be blessed by his presence.