What to Expect at Pre-Cana

test alt text
Read Time: 3 minutes

Are you recently engaged? Is your wedding day fast approaching? Either way, you are probably wondering what to expect at Pre-Cana. We have some insight on the types of programs and how they work.

When an engaged Catholic couple begins the marriage preparation process, one of the things they are required to do is complete a Pre-Cana program.

Pre-Cana consists of an in-person or online program, a class, a retreat or a series of meetings with a priest/deacon or a sponsor couple.

Whatever the format may look like, each option covers all the required topics for couples preparing to be married in a Catholic church.

Most will agree that couples should have a strong relationship before getting engaged, however a Pre-Cana is more than just seeing if the relationship is compatible.

The purpose of Pre-Cana is to take a deeper dive into the unique challenges that come along with being married, all through the lens of spirituality and practicality.

The bride and groom to-be, are encouraged to use this time as an opportunity looking forward toward their new life together. Each discussion helps to ensure they are on the same page as a couple, and ready to face the exciting adventure together, as one.

Here are a few ways of completing a Pre-Cana:

A Day-Long Event

These one-day gatherings are scheduled periodically throughout the year. Some dioceses offer an event on a monthly basis at different parish locations, while for others dates may be limited.

Registrations are on a first-come basis. Many church facilities have limited seating, and others may welcome 100+ couples.

During this in-person event, presenters use blocks of time to cover the required topics, highlighting the importance, relevance, and their experience in each conversation piece.

The event is typically a minimum of eight hours, with a lunch often served, and perhaps breakout sessions.


This option is available in all 50 United States, and many countries abroad. It’s popularity, approval, and necessity is vast, and continues to grow across the globe.

There is an ever-increasing number of parishes that have adopted this as their primary program, and most dioceses see this as a vital tool in their ministry “toolbox”.

The Marriage Group’s program consists of 100% online/on-demand formats, and can be used as either self-lead or mentor-lead depending on the needs of the couple.

After the couple has successfully completed the program, a certificate of completion is generated that shows that the couple has successfully finished the course.

Living Our Faith in Love - Online Pre-Cana

Weekend Retreats

A retreat is a time set aside from distractions to concentrate on prayer, meditation — or in this case, marriage preparation.

Many retreats ask couples to arrive on Friday late-afternoon (between 4pm-7pm), participating in a meet-and-greet, followed by dinner. An evening class often takes place to get the presentations started.

The couples then spend all of Saturday in a multitude of sessions, in-between the breakfast, lunch and dinner that is served.

On Sunday, there will be one more meal together followed by a few more presentations. The retreat comes to a close around lunchtime.

Options, Options, Options…

When deciding which program is the right program, we encourage you to consult with your priest or deacon, paired with whichever learning method works best for you and your spouse-to-be.

At the end of the day, be sure to make the most out of Pre-Cana. Participate, engage in conversation and, most of all, enjoy the process. Your experience will inevitably be filled with impactful moments that you will remember for the rest of your lives together.

Don’t rush it!