Finding a partner to share the rest of your life with is a blessing. If you’ve recently gotten engaged and are planning to be married in the Catholic Church, there are a few steps to do so. Catholics recognize marriage as a Sacrament, so taking these important steps will prepare you for the lifetime of love and commitment that you are now embarking on.

1. Fulfill Important Requirements

In order to be married within the Catholic Church, there are a number of important requirements that must be fulfilled before you are even able to be considered.

  • Baptized Christian
    One of the partners need to be Catholic and if the other is not Catholic, he or she need to be a baptized Christian. If you were not baptized as a child, you may go through the process of becoming a Catholic as an adult.
  • Not closely related
    Both partners cannot be closely related and this includes being cousins.
  • Free to marry
    In order to be married in the Catholic Church, both spouses may not be currently married. If they were previously married, the previous spouse must either be deceased, or there must have been a declaration of nullity from the Church. In order to get this declaration, there needs to have been contractual defects in the marriage.
  • Be of the opposite sex
    The Catholic Church only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman, so partners need to be of the opposite sex in order to be married in the Church.
  • In good standing of the Church
    The definition of “in good standing” will differ from Church to Church. Basically, you do need to have regular attendance at your Church and have no scandals or immoral behavior. If you are currently living unwed with your partner, you will need to discuss this with the priest.
  • Free consent
    Both parties must freely consent to the marriage and have already worked out any issues that might cause one party not to freely consent.

2. Contact your Parish

Once you believe that you meet the requirements as stated above (or if you need to discuss them), you should contact your Parish to discuss your wedding. You will need to obtain permission to be married in the Church, whether it is at your current Parish or elsewhere.

While it is not required that you be a registered member, it is definitely helpful in the process. You will meet with the clergy and get to know them and they’ll get to know you and you can discuss any issues you may have with getting married in the Catholic Church. If they have any requisite fees, you will pay them at this point or give a monetary gift.

3. Take a marriage preparation program

In order to recognize if you are ready for marriage and to prepare you for issues that you’ll inevitably face in your marriage, taking a marriage preparation course is mandatory for most marriages that occur within the Catholic Church.

During the course, you’ll learn about balancing values, money, the role of family, healthy sexuality and intimacy, planning a family and parenting, communication skills and the theology of marriage.

Fortunately, there are online courses that you can take that will suit your busy schedule and allow you learn about marriage, fulfilling the Catholic Church’s requirements.

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

4. Provide your certificates to the Church

There are a number of documents that the Church will want to see before granting you permission to marry. These include:

  • Baptismal certificates
  • Certification of Holy Communion and Confirmation
  • Affidavit of Freedom to Marry
  • Civil marriage license
  • Marriage Preparation Course Completion Certificate

5. Get married!

Once you’ve fulfilled all of the important steps to getting married in the Catholic Church, you can now choose your date and get married.

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 marriage prep, or Pre-Cana class, to be married in the parish. But what exactly is Pre-Cana?

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.”
Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

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.

What’s the point?

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.

Interested in Online Pre-Cana?

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana