You have an engaged couple who wants to get married at your church. Wonderful!
As a pastor, you have lots of experience talking with people in various stages of life. However, this engaged couple does NOT have much experience talking with clergy. They likely have things on their mind that they don’t know how to bring up with you.
So how do you put them more at ease?
You can take the lead in handling topics they may not feel comfortable about introducing into the discussion. That takes the burden off of them. The more relaxed they feel, the more fruitful your marriage prep discussions will be.
Here are three things engaged couples want to know, but tend not to ask about.
1. Marriage Prep Resources to Help Them
There are so many resources out there geared to couples preparing for marriage. But you typically don’t look for something until you need it. So your engaged couple may not be aware of all the great stuff out there for their benefit.
You may notice a specific aspect of their relationship that could be helped by a resource you know about. You can point them in the right direction by compiling a few resources you know and trust, and you can give them a copy of or a link to them at your next meeting. It’s as simple as saying, “Here, you might find this useful.” That way, they don’t have to ask for “help.”
You may be surprised at how many couples really do look into your suggestions!
2. Natural Family Planning 101
NFP is one of those topics that many folks, couples and clergy alike, feel awkward introducing into the conversation. That makes it hard for couples to understand what it is and why it’s so important.
Many couples have heard of NFP but don’t know much about it. Or they may be open to learning about it, but they just need someone to take the initiative to put the right information into their hands.
As with other marriage prep resources, you can have NFP resources on hand for couples to look at on their own. That allows them to fully absorb it without the uncomfortable feeling of an in-person conversation.
You can point them to your diocese’s NFP resources and classes, older couples in the parish that could help, or online resources. Additionally, The Marriage Group’s “NFP Life” video course is a simple, accessible way for couples to learn about NFP and how to integrate it into their future marriage.
3. What They Can and Can’t Do At Their Wedding
Planning a Catholic wedding involves a lot of details, from the music to the readings to the photographer — and oh yes, all the decorations.
Your church probably has policies established for all these things. But that doesn’t mean your engaged couple knows them very well.
They might assume they can do things your parish policy doesn’t actually allow. Or they might wonder whether they’re allowed to do something, but they’re afraid to ask and hear you say “no.”
By communicating your church’s policies clearly and kindly up front, you can save them – and yourself – a lot of unnecessary stress, especially from having to tell them “no” later on (heaven forbid, on the wedding day!).
One Last Thing
As a pastor or ministry leader, you have a privileged role in preparing people for marriage. You may not see it in the moment, but your interactions with an engaged couple can make a long-term impact on their married lives, their family, and even the future of your parish. If that weighs on you as a heavy responsibility, we are here to help!
God bless you in your ministry.