Marriage Preparation Policies and Guidelines

Based on the key areas of marriage preparation, outlined by the United States Bishops in the National Directory for Catechesis, the Office of Pro-Life and Family Life suggests three guiding principles for formation and catechesis of engaged couples prior to their wedding ceremony:

  1. Catholic Vision of Love and Marriage: Sacramental marriage as permanent, covenantal, and exclusive.

  2. Catholic Understanding of Sexuality: Marriage as life-giving, unitive and procreative.

  3. Skills of Love and Marriage: Skills component which addresses communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, personality and self-awareness, finances, stewardship, career issues, family of origin, and extended family issues.

For a list of recommended programs please click here.

The marriage preparation process should be initiated when a couple presents themselves to their pastor and requests to be married in the Church.  The following is a list of the steps in this process and a provisional timeline for completing each step:



    1. The Initial Interview with Priest, Parish Life Coordinator, or Deacon.

    9-12 months prior to the wedding ceremony

    2. Completion of Inventory (and sponsor couple program if possible)

    6-12 months prior to wedding ceremony

    3. Preparatory Marriage Formation program (Pre-Cana, One In Christ, Tobit, or other approved program)

    Ideally 6-8 months prior to wedding ceremony

    4. Catholic Sexuality Course (Course in Theology of the Body or NFP)

    Ideally 6 months prior to wedding ceremony

    5. Additional meetings and/or final meeting with the priest


    As needed/Determined by clergy or Parish Life Coordinator

    6. Sacrament of Penance

    At least once during marriage preparation

    7. Ongoing Marriage Enrichment program

    Within the first year of marriage

Marriage Forms for Pastors (Web link)

Priests, Deacons, and Parish Life Coordinators can find the complete Guideline document here.



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