How do I get married in the Catholic Church?

Marriage is a vocation, the most important lifework for those who embark upon it. Therefore, weddings in the Catholic Church require several steps to be completed:

  1. Complete six months of marriage preparation with a priest
  2. Attend a marriage preparation conference, such as a Conference for the Engaged.
  3. Complete a FOCCUS premarital inventory
  4. Attend a Natural Family Planning (NFP) class

For Christians, it is the way their public life of belonging to the Lord is made specific and concrete. It is the primary way they will care for the sick and evangelize the world.

What is marriage preparation, and why do we have to do it?

Because Christian marriage is a sacrament, the Catholic Church wants couples to be well-prepared. Marriage preparation is less like counseling and more like spiritual direction. Your wedding lasts a day, but your marriage lasts a lifetime. The Church wants to aid you in that preparation process by ensuring you are well-prepared to spend the rest of your life with your future spouse.

What’s the difference between a Catholic marriage and other marriages?

A Catholic marriage encompasses everything involved in any marriage: the irrevocable union of a man and a woman in exclusive, intimate love. Jesus restored the original nature of marriage, and the Church alone continues to hold the same standard for all marriages, that they be permanent and naturally ordered to the procreation of children.

Our Lord also raised the marriages of Christians to the dignity of a sacrament. As a sacrament, marriage communicates sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. Whereas in a natural marriage the husband and wife contract a marriage with each other, in a sacramental marriage the husband and wife are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage to each other.

What’s the difference between a sacramental marriage and a natural marriage?

A marriage between two baptized Christians is a sacrament. Otherwise, when two non-Christians marry each other or when a Christian marries a non-Christian it is a natural marriage.

What does it mean to be “married in the Church”?

It simply means that the Catholic(s) is (are) married with the permission of the Church. It doesn’t refer to the fact that the wedding physically took place inside a Catholic Church.

To learn more about the marriage preparation process and what it means to get married in the Church, please contact the office or see our Matrimony page.

Photo courtesy of Emily Alyssa Photography.

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