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Lent in our lives is a time of preparation for the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has established this time as a period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so we can be spiritually ready to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

This time of preparation lasts 40 days. The number 40 is used in the Bible many times as a time of preparation for something else that is to come: in the story of the flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7: 4-12); Moses was in the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 34:28); the people of Israel wondered in the desert for 40 years (Joshua 5:6) and Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before beginning his public ministry (Matthew 4: 1-2).

Lent and Engaged Couples

If you are engaged to be married, Lent is a great time of prayer and reflection and a time of preparation. If you are wondering if you can be married in the Catholic Church during lent, click here to access a great blog that explains that.

Since Lent in our lives is a time of preparation for Easter, it is also an invitation for you and your fiancé to prepare for the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony.

Preparation takes different forms: you can attend a retreat organized by your parish or your diocese, you can attend marriage preparation classes either as a group or one on one with a sponsor couple, and you can also attend online marriage preparation classes here. All these forms of marriage preparation are accepted by the church and are available to you.

Read more about getting married during Lent here.

Lent and Married Couples

If you recently got married in the Catholic Church and you are starting to build your own family and your own family traditions, Lent is a great time to establish some practices that are spiritually important for both of you.

Start by telling each other how each of your families of origin prepared for Easter during this time of Lent.

Did you attend reconciliation as a family? Did you practice fasting and almsgiving in a special way? Once you have shared all these stories with each other, establish your own Lenten practices.

What do you want to do during Lent now that you are married? Make sure to include time for prayer, both as a couple and individually, fasting and almsgiving.

Lent and Families

Lent gives families an opportunity to come together for prayer and to reflect on the things we want to change. It is important to highlight the aspects of forgiving, reconciliation, and accepting one another in the family. Family prayer before meals is a special time to be thankful for what we have and to ask God to help us be aware of those around us who are less fortunate. Nighttime prayers are also a good moment to stop and reflect on what we did wrong and who did we offend during the day.

Practicing the corporal works of mercy as a family is also a good Lenten practice, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, etc., are all activities that the whole family can practice.

Lent in our lives is an invitation to all of us to change our ways (convert) and start a new life with the Risen Lord in the Resurrection at Easter. Let us make good use of these 40 days and really make a change in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Many blessings on this Lenten Season!

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There are many beautiful places a couple may want to celebrate their wedding.

Some of these places might even have a special meaning for them. Maybe that’s the place where they met, or maybe that’s the place where they dreamed of going together as a couple.

If you’re wondering if you can be married by a priest in a place that is not a Catholic parish or church building, it’s important to know the Church’s position on the celebration of weddings at places other than a Catholic church.

Weddings Celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage

To address this question properly, we need to remember that a wedding ceremony has many spiritual, theological, and ecclesiastical implications.

It’s easy to forget this when we focus so much of our attention on the beauty of the physical space, such as the floral arrangements or the decorations of the “wedding.”

Even with all the details involved in planning a wedding, a couple needs to maintain focus on the Sacrament of Marriage not just the physical details of the wedding ceremony.

Let’s remember that a Catholic wedding is the ritual through which a Sacrament takes place: the Sacrament of Marriage.

This is the reason why the Church requires that the ceremony be held in a proper space: a Catholic parish.

Christ, who honored the wedding at Cana with his presence, is also present in the Eucharist when the wedding ceremony takes place inside a church building.

Rules for Weddings Outside the Catholic Church

The Code of Canon Law says, “Marriages are to be celebrated in a parish where either of the contracting parties has a domicile… With the permission of the proper ordinary or proper pastor, marriages can be celebrated elsewhere.” (Canon 1115)

It looks like the Code of Canon Law may allow the wedding to be celebrated “elsewhere,” with the authorization of the local bishop, but it is almost impossible to obtain such authorization.

Bishops are very reluctant to grant authorization for outdoor weddings by a Catholic parish because they are concerned with maintaining a sense of the sacred, which is precisely what happens at a Catholic wedding ceremony — it is a sacred sacramental occasion.

The reasons why a local bishop may grant authorization for a catholic wedding to be celebrated elsewhere include political, cultural, or safety reasons.

One example may be when a church building planned for hosting the wedding ceremony has suffered structural damage due to an earthquake or other natural disasters.

However, as we stated previously, these circumstances are highly unusual.

Celebrating the Covenant of Marriage

A wedding is a special moment in the life of the new family that is beginning. It’s an opportunity to make a covenant with God and each other in the church with your loved ones as witnesses.

We encourage you to focus all of your attention and efforts in making it a memorable event that will emphasize the sacredness of the occasion through the exchange of the promises that will make this an everlasting covenant.

There may be unusual circumstances that would allow couples to have a Catholic wedding ceremony outside of a Catholic church, but that still remains the ideal location for celebrating this beautiful occasion.

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Marriage preparation? What is that? What’s the point of doing Pre-Cana?

“My fiance and I have decided to get married in the Catholic Church. Why are we being asked to take classes?”

These are all real and legitimate questions that many couples ask when they learn that they need to complete a marriage preparation program (Pre-Cana) in order to get married in the Catholic Church.

Let us examine some of the reasons why the Church asks engaged couples to take classes before they get married.

Why Is It Required?

Everything in life takes formation, preparation, and getting ready. Before we go on a trip, we pack our bags, we look at a map, we purchase airline tickets, etc. Before we graduate from college, we have to study and pass several classes — it takes years!

Important things in life take a time of preparation and formation in order for them to be successful. Same with marriage! It is a very important decision; one that will change the way we live our lives. Therefore, it is a decision that requires an important period of formation and preparation, both individually and as a couple.

First, let us look at the sacrament of marriage in the teaching of the Catholic Church. Marriage or Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, together with Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. Two of these are considered the sacraments of service (Marriage and Holy Orders). The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions them:

“Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.” (CCC1534)

There is a connection between marriage and service that we usually miss or that nobody explains to couples preparing for matrimony. Marriage consecrates us to serve others: our spouse and, if we have them, our children, and the rest of the community. Marriage is a ministry — our first ministry — and it is in their marriage where the spouses serve each other. Together, they serve their family and the whole community.

This is the reason why the Church takes so seriously the preparation for these sacraments. Priests have to study for years (six to eight years) before they receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Husband and Wife also need to prepare themselves to become fully informed of the commitment and the responsibility that comes with marriage.

Why Is It Important?

Marriage preparation is not only learning about the religious, spiritual, or theological aspects of the sacrament of marriage (even though these are important elements that are present in every marriage preparation course).

Preparation for marriage also includes practical elements that will help the couple in those “day-to-day aspects” of forming a new family. Family of origin, money matters, conflict resolution, intimacy and sexuality, and several more are important topics that will help the couple deal with important issues that we often forget to talk about before and during marriage.

Therefore, how can we answer the question that many couples ask, “What’s the point of doing Pre-Cana?” We understand that, because it is a sacrament and commitment for a lifetime that moves us to serve others, we need an appropriate period of preparation to be fully informed of what that entails. Also, the Church sees the time of immediate preparation (approximately six months before the wedding) as a time of discernment; a time to think and reflect on what the new life that a husband and wife are beginning together will look like.

Immediate preparation for marriage should include not only marriage preparation classes, but also a personal time of preparation. It is wise for each individual to take time alone to think and reflect on the important step that they are about to take. Take time to pray and talk with God about the future family about to be formed.

What’s the Point?

So, what’s the point of doing Pre-Cana? The points include:

  • Prepare yourself to serve your spouse
  • Prepare yourself to serve the family
  • Prepare yourself to serve the community
  • Time to talk to God
  • Time to think and reflect

It is our hope that this time of preparation for matrimony will be a joyful experience in your life and that, through this time, you learn to discover the beauty and wonder of the sacrament of marriage. Be blessed!

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“There are a number of legitimate ways to structure programmes of marriage preparation, and each local Church will discern how best to provide a suitable formation without distancing young people from the sacrament.” (Amoris Laetitia #207)

As diocesan or parish leaders, we are often faced with those “special cases”. There’s always someone who can’t attend our Pre-Cana workshops or Marriage Preparation retreats we prepared for them. Sometimes the schedules don’t work for everyone, or sometimes distance, professions, school and work can also be a factor.

When that happens and when those couples come to us requesting help with marriage preparation but, due to different circumstances, they can’t attend the diocesan or parochial programs we offer, the church calls us to offer them other options so they can complete their marriage preparation.

These options include online marriage preparation, so we don’t distance the couple from the sacrament of marriage but encourage them to get closer to God and the church.

In this blog post, we will explore our attitudes as ministers towards the utilization of methods of marriage preparation that may not be the traditional way in which we have always done things.

Let us open our minds and our hearts to new ways of reaching out to those who need our services.

Here are 3 Tips To Help Your Marriage Preparation Program

1. Be Open to Try Something New

New things always bring with them an element of fear of the unknown, this is completely normal. There are two attitudes we can have towards fear: we can either be paralyzed by it and do nothing, or we can face that fear and overcome it.

Remember what the Bible says so many times: “Be not afraid” (Joshua 1:9).

Fear can be transformed into fuel that will move us towards action. We usually fear what we don’t know, therefore, if we don’t know much about online learning and online marriage preparation, let us learn more about it. Ask the experts, ask the professionals, consult with your peers, those who have already used online marriage preparation programs, and see what their experience is with online courses.

Consult with us! At The Marriage Group we have a great group of friendly professionals with tons of experience who will be more than happy to answer your questions and enter into a conversation with you about what is the best course of action for the needs of your diocese or parish.

Most importantly look at the reality with a new set of glasses and be open to what technology offers us today, a whole new way of doing ministry and reaching out to even more people than before.

2. Get to Know Your Audience

The Millennial Generation.  Once you have overcome your own fears, it is time to get to know this new audience that also need your pastoral attention and care. They are called millennials; this generation grew up with digital devices that facilitate communication, learning and connectivity.

They not only expect technology to be present everywhere, but they also expect this technology to work for them, to facilitate their lives and solve their problems.  For the millennials, the online experience is real life experience, the world is smaller, the distances are shorter. They communicate with family and friends using technology. The sense of community and the concept of church for the millennials is completely different than that of other generations.

How are we, as ministers of the church, going to respond to the needs of millennials?

Are we brave enough to say “welcome” to a generation that uses technology as a way to communicate, learn, engage and interact? That’s exactly what online marriage preparation offers.

Online marriage preparation is an opportunity for millennials to engage in a church that welcomes them as they are and where they are at, with their busy schedules, with distance challenges, with work and study obstacles, etc.

For the millennials the online experience comes naturally. Watching a video and reflecting about it with their fiance via Facetime, reflecting about it and writing down their thoughts on their iPads, is as enriching for them  as attending an 8 hour talk may be for other generations.

Let us show millenials that they also have a place at the table and that they are also members of the Body of Christ!

3. Trust the Couple

One of the temptations that we may face when deciding to use online marriage preparation is to want to treat the couples as children subjecting them to “tests” or “quizzes”  to make sure they actually watched the videos and answered all the questions.

It is proven that in sacramental preparation (First Eucharist and Confirmation) testing the children or youth is actually counterproductive.

Can we measure and give a grade to our faith? Can we evaluate the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  Can we put a number on our conversion process?

If we have stopped testing children for First Communion and Confirmation, why do we still want to test couples who go through online marriage preparation?

We need to remember that these couples are adults and as adults we need to treat them with respect and trust.

The online experience of marriage preparation (videos, discussion guide and affirmation exercises)  gives us (ministers) the tools that will clearly show us if  the couple went through the contents of the videos and the questions offered for reflection and sharing. But we need to resist the temptation to submit the couple to a test and offer them a space where they can enter into an adult conversation about the contents of the online course and what they learned.

As ministry leaders we like the advantages of having a toolbox, a place where we can go and obtain answers to our questions without having to recreate the wheel.  Online marriage preparation can be a great tool in your ministry toolbox.

We realize that what you are doing in your ministerial setting, either diocesan or paroquial, is excellent! You are doing a wonderful job! But what are you doing for those couples that do not fit into the schedules of your class sessions? What are you doing for those who have valid reasons or conflicts with your marriage preparation courses?

We are here as an option for you and we are here to partner with you and to offer you one more tool for your toolbox. Let’s work together!

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In 2018 alone, over 5,000 couples from around the world enjoyed our online marriage preparation experience!

Having served more engaged Catholic couples than any other provider, we have learned a great deal about the couples themselves, how they found us, and their experience from start to finish.

We are excited to empower you with this knowledge as you minister to today’s Catholic couples!

The Average Age of the Bride and Groom on their wedding day is: 

  •  29 years old for the Bride
  •  31 years old for the Groom

According to the US Census Bureau the national average is 27 years for women and 29 for men. From this we can learn that Catholic couples are waiting almost two years longer than their peers to get married, showing that these couples are taking this important decision and Sacrament seriously.

The average length of engagement for couples who experienced our online program is 15 months.

On average, our couples began the course 106 days before getting married.

From there, the spent an average of 21 days navigating through the course:

  • 69% of them in the same location
  • 11% of them separated by distance
  • 19% of them – a combination of both

This is interesting, considering our program exceeds the 8-hour minimum and required topics as prescribed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Furthermore, based on the knowledge we have gathered from the thousands of Catholic couples who enjoyed our marriage preparation experience, the average time spent from start to finish was 21 days. This infers that our couples desire a more in-depth, immersive, and intentional marriage preparation experience.

Most couples are experiencing our program together in the same location, allowing them to pause the videos and have conversations as they are working through their marriage preparation. Couples regularly state that the “pause and discuss” feature has the most valuable benefit of allowing them to dive deeper on a given topic, and opens up discussions that would not normally take place in an alternative marriage preparation program, that is merely “meeting the requirement”.

We asked our couples, “What was the primary reason for choosing our program?”:

  • 69% indicated that it was the convenience of the online experience due to their challenging schedules
  • 16% indicated that they live far apart from each other
  • 7% indicated that we were the only available program that met their needs
  • 5% did not indicate any particular reason
  • 3% indicated that they enjoyed the privacy of having these discussions together, without an audience

This is interesting because more than half of the couples who chose our online course for marriage preparation did so due to their schedules making it difficult to attend a gathered event.

We also asked our couples, “How did you find us?”:

  • 61% were referred by Marriage Ministry Leaders, like you, either at their parish or diocese!
  • 31% found us by searching for “Online Pre Cana”
  • 8% had a friend refer them

By a landslide, couples found out about our course from you, more than any other avenue!  We appreciate your continued support and friendship!

For more information about couples in your region, and about how our programs are a powerful tool in your ministry’s toolbox, in addition to your existing traditional marriage preparation options, we would love to connect with you, and send you an informational packet in the mail!

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First Things First: Choosing Your Wedding Day

Be honest, you have most likely had the “when and where” picked out for your big day for about as long as you can remember. Am I right? Yes, of course, and so did I! We’ll save the “where” for another conversation. As for the “when,” let’s talk about choosing wedding dates for a moment.

Being from the Midwest, I understand that while planning events, each season plays a significant role in the decision making–especially for a wedding day. All things considered, it boils down to “wants” (the wedding of your dreams) and “needs” (the wedding you realistically can have, which I’d be willing to bet will ultimately be as good or better than your dreams).

Cost and Weather, Both Big Deals!

The most expensive weddings tend to happen during the peaks of each season. This is typically in hopes of steering clear of problematic weather, most specifically on the most popular weekends during that time.

  • Venues for your nuptials and reception should be your first phone call to claim your date. The availability and booking of your church, and then your hall second, will be setting the stage for every other arrangement that follows.
  • Seasonal weather conditions: this can most definitely have an effect on the cost of decorations, transportation, and certainly wedding attire and accessories–fancy umbrellas or faux-mink shawls will most emphatically be good additions during inclement weather, but will add to your expenses and to your bridal-party’s as well. I dislike having to mention this, but the potential for such bad weather (i.e. blizzards, etc.) can potentially cause you to consider altering the schedule of your day and/or your evening festivities, or unfortunately cancelling altogether and rescheduling for a later date.
  • Your favorite vendors (i.e. photographers, caterers, bands/DJs, florists, hair and makeup artists, etc.), will most likely price their services according to peak seasonality as well. Most specials or deals of any kind are typically to help fill their books during their slower times of the year when services such as theirs are in less demand. Remember, they are on the top of your “favorites” list for a reason; they’re THAT good! So, book them out as soon as your date is etched in stone… or someone else will!
  • Holidays seem like a no-brainer. However, many love particular holidays so much they envision their wedding themed and weaved around or into that holiday. Bear in mind the additional availability stressor on your parish and your loved ones. Good rule-of-thumb, check with your priest or deacon first, before having your heart set on a holiday wedding!
  • Loved ones: making plans that clash with the schedules of our family and friends can create some pretty awkward scenarios. You want to be there for them; they want to be there for you. Their weddings, baptisms, graduations, and milestone birthday or retirement parties are just some of the events that may already be in the planning stages. Stay in touch with your closest loved ones. Nobody wishes to unintentionally alienate the other.
  • And finally, your honeymoon. If you are planning on your honeymoon immediately to follow your wedding, you definitely will want to consider that particular time of year to travel. In order to have flexible travel time, stay away from “Spring Break” for example, while again remembering, traveling through a holiday season will be most expensive and chaotic, as many other travelers flood airports and any hot-spot destinations.

Here’s a couple 0f last quick-tips

  • You may want to visit The Weather Channel website for month-by-month average temperatures (highs and lows) for where you are marrying. This might help you to pick your “yes” season, and your “no” season.
  • Keep in touch with all of your favorite vendors. Follow them on their websites and social media platforms to pick up on their trends. And, sign up for their emails!

In order to stay within a budget, keep open-minded while selecting wedding dates. And just maybe, the date that fits into your season and budget ideal, will turn out to be the wedding of your dreams.

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First of all, congratulations on your engagement and soon coming wedding! What a very exciting, sacramental, and beautiful event in your life. Standing before God and man reciting your vows to your beloved is one of the most profound moments you’ll experience in your entire life. Along with all of the excitement, often times while planning a wedding, things can get pretty stressful. Most notably stressful would have to be, in my opinion, finding the right date to have your ceremony. One of the most common questions about the date of the ceremony for Catholics is, “Can we get married during Lent in the Catholic Church?”

The short answer? It all depends on your Parish and/or your Diocese.

Years ago, having a large ceremony with everything included during Lent was not very accepted by most Parishes and Dioceses. Due to the solemn nature of the Season of Lent, as well as how much happens during the liturgical seasons, a ceremony such as a wedding placed into the mix might have made things a bit more complicated.

The last thing you want is something as solemn and holy as the celebration of a Marriage to be indirectly regarded as not as important as it should be due directly to the business of the season.

However, in recent years, more Parishes have been open to celebrating a wedding during special liturgical seasons (not just Lent, but Advent, also).

As with every other important and/or unique question, we always err on the side of caution: talk to your Priest or Deacon before assuming anything. That’s what they are there for.

Even if you know that you can get married during Lent at your church, it’s always best to still ask about the ceremony because your church might have some unique rules surrounding the ceremony.

For instance, they might want you to have minimal or almost no flower arrangements. They might let you have the ceremony, but they might not allow a full Nuptial Mass. The point is, it’s always best to seek the counsel of the Clergy before jumping in with both feet to something that might have restrictions, or worse, not allowed at all. You don’t want to fully plan something that might not be able to happen due to the season!

Again, I wish you all the best during one of the most important and beautiful seasons of your lives together, and I pray that God would bless you more abundantly than all you ask or imagine.

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

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When a Catholic and a non-Catholic marry one another, obvious differences in doctrine, worship, or personal piety inevitably lead to tension. So how can an ecumenical marriage thrive?

You were drawn to this person in particular, not their religion in general.

A few years ago, Annie and Stephen met while dancing like fools at a friend’s wedding. As time went on they bonded as fools for Christ, she a Catholic and he a Protestant. Despite denominational differences, they both cared about healing the world, finding joy in every day, and earnestly doing the will of God. Last year they were married, and sharing their life in marriage has only intensified their common commitments.

We aren’t always attracted to people in our churches. Religious compatibility and marital compatibility are two different things. Even spouses of the same religion enter into a marriage because this particular person helps the other become holy.

No matter how much religion unites us, we must also remember that every person’s prayer life is radically unique. Each of us has a mysterious relationship with God that no one else can ever enter into. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect, and greet each other.”

Your denomination is an adjective, not a noun.

Fundamentally, we are all Christians. “Catholic”, “Protestant,” “Orthodox,” or any other denominational names just specify what kind of Christian we are. Often we assume we have different faiths rather than different expressions of the same faith. But long before spouses had any kind of romantic commitment, they were already committed to one another through a common baptism.

Within a healthy marriage the man and woman both make up what the other lacks: the same goes for an ecumenical marriage. The spontaneity of Stephen’s Protestant background enlivens Annie’s contemplative Catholic piety, just as much as Stephen finds grounded-ness in the order and symbolism of Annie’s Mass. Each tradition has something to give to the other.

Getting involved in each other’s communities especially helps unite spouses if one cannot participate fully in the other’s liturgy. Helping with coffee hour, weekday Bible studies, or volunteer events help everyone set aside denominational differences in order to grow together as Christians.

Resist the desire to change the other person.

ecumenical marriages

Annie and Stephan, photo courtesy of Caedy Convis Photography

Stephen said that whenever the phrase “I wish you would just…” comes into his head, he kills it immediately. Often ecumenical spouses entertain fantasies that this spouse will enter RCIA and receive communion with the rest of the family, or that this spouse will embrace the other’s style of worship. But do we really want the other person to grow, or do we just want them converted to our way of doing things?

You can’t build a relationship with someone you’re trying to fix. Don’t enter an ecumenical marriage with a chip on your shoulder or a passion for apologetics. Remember, marriage exists for your salvation and healing—you’re the one who needs to change.

Ecumenical marriage thrives for the same reasons any marriage thrives.

We aren’t supposed to run from difficulties, but nor should we shrug and belittle them. “It pains us to talk about this, because these are real struggles for us,” Stephen said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone,” said Annie, “unless it’s the will of God.” No matter the religion, all spouses need to hear the other person out, set aside their preoccupations or anxieties, and be sure that, as Annie says, “this is what God wants for us.”

Article contributed by Thomas Whitman. Photography by Caedy Convis Photography.

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When you take the ultimate commitment plunge – getting engaged — there are an increasing number of deep waterways you may have to navigate together. To name a few, there’s adjusting to your new relationship status, making decisions together, planning the wedding, and navigating your future in-laws. While every couple wants to enjoy this special time, you may need a few tips to keep your head above water and achieve engagement happiness:

Practical Tips for Engagement Happiness


1. This too shall pass

  • Your fiancé’s/fiancée’s bad mood.
  • The fact that someone messed up the booking for the wedding venue.
  • Bridesmaid drama.
  • The pressure to find the perfect dress.
  • The never-ending wedding costs.

These are all temporary stressors and it’s important to remember that you will come out on the other side.

Try not to lose perspective as things get stressful during the wedding planning.

Make sure you come back to the most important thing: you have each other and that’s all you ever really wanted.

2. Don’t go to bed angry

Not just applicable during the engagement stage, for many, this is solid marital and life advice.

Going to bed refusing to speak to each other other, and retreating in anger is not going to solve anything.

It’s okay to disagree or not come to a happily ever after ending, but you can’t let your anger fester when you both go to sleep for the night. Agree to disagree or call a temporary truce until you can revisit the issue in the light of day.

3. Have alone time

Set boundaries.

Don’t allow yourselves to get too caught up in the early love stages of wanting to always be together, always be in the same room, or always talking to each other on the phone.

It is important for you both to continue to foster your own sense of self, away from the relationship, as well as maintain other friendships outside of each other. Together, these personal activities allow you to both show up better as a person and as a partner.

4. Be open to change

It might be as simple as a change in the font on the wedding invitations, to something as big as making adjustments to your daily routines to accommodate each other and your families.

Whatever the case is, the need to be open to change is a common theme as you embark on a new relationship, a new lifestyle, and something as big as planning a wedding.

Start with small steps by simply agreeing to be open to listening to new ideas.

Gradually work up to adopting, offering and embracing change.

Remember that you are changing to become better people together than you were when you were apart.

Ultimately, marriage is designed to help you become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously helping someone else do the same. Don’t spoil this special time with silly fights over flowers and cake flavors. Instead, keep perspective of what’s important to enjoy your days as you prepare to spend the rest of your lives together.

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With 21% of Americans getting married abroad in 2015, the destination wedding is becoming more attractive.

This is in the face of the increasing cost of domestic weddings. Apart from the financial benefits, couples may also envisage the beautiful wedding photos, perfect weather and gorgeous surroundings of the destination wedding.

But, there are also sacrifices to be considered if choosing to tie the knot abroad.


First thing’s first – the legitimacy of the marriage may be questioned once back home.

Marriage abroad, even in a Catholic church, is likely to be more complicated than getting married in your local church.

Couples would be well advised to consult their state attorney-general to explore their options. This should happen before the planning process has gone too far. When selecting a church to get married in, it would be wise to check if they have experience in marrying citizens from abroad.

The soon-to-be happy couple should also check the travel documentation required by their preferred country and any documentation or pre-marriage checks that may be insisted upon. Although the church may be able to offer some advice on this, it is always wise to follow up with the local authorities.

On top of the legalities, a bride needs to consider how much involvement she is willing to give up. If organizing a local wedding, the suppliers and church can all be within easy reach during the planning process — not so with the wedding abroad.


When most couples choose how to theme a wedding, the question of location is usually tied firmly into this.

Barn-style receptions tend towards natural themes with use of wood and twine in their decorations.

Coastal receptions may have a nautical theme featuring driftwood and seashells.

The church will usually allow for some of the theme to be incorporated in the form of color choices for floral arrangements.

Many brides spend hundreds of hours putting together a theme for their wedding appropriate to the location and enjoy doing so. However, this may not be so easy when getting married abroad.

For the crafty bride, transporting beautiful but fragile hand-made decorations and wedding stationery for the reception is not practical. If they choose to get married abroad, they may have to choose to be “hands off” in this area and order decorations and table stationery from a supplier abroad.

Likewise, the hairdresser, catering team and entertainment may not fall into step with the precise and uniquely themed wedding. It will not be as easy to involve them all fully in the planning process.


The most difficult consideration for many couples choosing to marry abroad is their guests.

Some couples take the opportunity to marry abroad to avoid family politics and only invite a select close few.

But if there is a larger guest list, it is inevitable that some will not be able to attend.

Attending a wedding abroad is more time consuming, incurs a larger travel spend and no matter how close to the couple, some guests may find these factors prohibitive.

The other consideration is — who will carry out the service? Some would not even consider getting married abroad as they have had visions of themselves getting married in their family church with a familiar face officiating. If abroad, they are unlikely to have met the priest carrying out the service.

Once contact is made with the officiating church, couples have found the priest usually very accommodating. For some who have grown up in the same local church community, however, the thought of not having their family priest officiate can become a real barrier to marrying abroad.

Choosing to get married abroad is a huge decision with many consideration. It may or may not be the right choice for the right couple.

If they are willing to accept an unfamiliar priest, be relaxed about theming and contact, and can prepare themselves to encounter a few surprises on the day, then the decision might pay off.

For the couple who have a larger guest list, however, or have a close relationship with their local priest it may be more prudent to choose a home wedding. This can help avoid the emotional heartache of missing friends and family on their big day.

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor