Congratulations! You just got engaged and you are excited to begin planning your wedding. You’ve talked with your priest or deacon and they told you that you need to take a Pre-Cana course to be married in the parish. But what exactly is it?

Simply put, Pre-Cana is a marriage preparation course, class, or consultation for couples who will be married in a Catholic church.

Cana is the name of the town in which performed the miracle of turning water into wine; see John 2:1-11.

While most dioceses and parishes still call it Pre-Cana, there are a growing number that are beginning to refer to it as the more modern term, “marriage prep.” So what are these classes actually like?

There are a few different ways a parish may have you take your Pre-Cana including one or more of:

  • A course taken during a single day, usually on the weekend
  • Meetings with your priest or deacon over the span of a few weeks
  • Meetings with a sponsor couple, who is a married couple that acts as mentors to engaged couples
  • An Engaged Encounter weekend retreat with other engaged couples
  • A Pre-Marital Inventory such as FOCCUS, Prepare/Enrich, or Catholic Couple Checkup
  • An online version of the in person classes, usually on-demand and self led

While the exact format for these courses varies from parish to parish, the concept and content is consistent, with the most common topics discussed being: Spiritually and Faith, Conflict Resolution, Careers, Finances, Intimacy and Cohabitation, Children and Parenting, Commitment, and Family of Origin.

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

Most couples will already have had these conversations before even getting engaged, so what’s the point of the Pre-Cana then? The purpose of marriage preparation is not to be another hoop to jump through, but it is meant to facilitate discussions about important topics that you will be facing as a married couple.

Look at your marriage prep process as an opportunity to look forward toward your new life together, make sure you are on the same page as a couple, and ready to face this exciting journey as one.