Congratulations on your engagement! You have made two great choices.
- You chose to be married – to commit yourself to a lifetime, loving relationship with the purpose of creating a family.
- You chose to be married in the Church – to make your Marriage not just a civil contract, but a Sacrament and a covenant.
We want you to know that the Church, your bishop, those of us in the Office for Marriage and Family Life, and your pastor not only support you in your decision, we will also walk by your side on your journey toward Holy Matrimony to help you more fully embrace the beauty and power of this Sacrament.
First of all, you might have some questions about exactly what the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is. You can get those questions answered here.
As you’re going through these initial steps of marriage preparation, we want to encourage you to focus on what you’re really planning. We know you’ll be stressed with all of the plans for the ceremony, dinners, reception and honeymoon. But what the Church is really helping you to do is to plan a lifelong Marriage, not just a wedding day.
Four main areas of your immediate Marriage Preparation:
1. Meet with your pastor or parish coordinator
If you have not yet done so, make an appointment with your parish for an initial meeting. If you don’t know your parish’s contact information, you can find it here. Your first meeting is a time to go over the entire marriage preparation experience and to begin the process of completing the necessary forms. One practical reminder is that you’ll want to bring a copy of your baptismal records for both of you.
To help you in keeping track of the many aspects of preparing for this vocation, download the chronological marriage preparation checklist.
2. Register for Natural Family Planning
An important part of entering into a sacramental marriage is embracing God’s complete plan for conjugal love. While there are many myths in the culture and even in the medical world about Natural Family Planning (NFP), the science of NFP has improved tremendously. It is the better moral and healthy choice. Your parish will ask that you take a course in Natural Family Planning early in your preparation so you can discover the full truth about the method and how following God’s plan for married love can increase your martial joy.
3. Complete a premarital inventory
You’ll probably meet with a married couple from the parish who will guide you through a premarital inventory. FOCCUS is the premarriage inventory used by most parishes. This is not a test or an instrument designed to measure your readiness for marriage. It is a means for allowing you, with the assistance of the mentoring couple or marriage preparation minister(s), to explore and strengthen your relationship with each other before marriage.
Expect to meet three or more times to go over your responses, fostering deeper dialogue and awareness of each other.
4. Register for Married Love, Two Becoming One
The Married Love, Two Becoming One program enables you to concentrate more intensely on the many facets of married life, making you more aware of all the dimensions of marriage. The program helps you understand the promises you will make to each other on the day that you are wed. Try to attend the retreat after you have taken the premarital inventory and done the follow-up.