Engagement can be one of the most exciting times of your lives – and rightfully so. You are preparing not just for a ceremony but for a lifetime together as husband and wife. By professing your vows before Christ and the Church, your two separate lives will become a single, intimate union, indissoluble until death.
Because of the sacredness and the seriousness of this sacrament, the Church offers you tools to lay a solid foundation to help you not only survive in marriage, but attain all the joy and fulfillment for which your sacramental union was designed.
The information below is for general reference. For a complete list of diocesan requirements, please contact your local church.
Steps for Getting Married
These steps are a general guide and not an exhaustive list of everything you need to do in the Diocese of St. Augustine to prepare for your marriage.
1. Notify the Parish
Contact the parish and request to meet with a priest or deacon. He will set a course of marriage preparation for you and provide you the necessary materials, forms, and resources. He may also assign you to a marriage sponsor (or mentor) couple if your parish has this ministry.
You should be prompt in arranging your first meeting with your priest or deacon. The Diocese of St. Augustine requires at least 8 months of marriage preparation before the actual wedding. This means that the date set for your wedding must be at least 8 months from the date of your first meeting with the priest or deacon, regardless of how long you have been engaged prior.
2. Take a Relationship Inventory (FOCCUS or PREPARE/ENRICH)
There are two relationship inventories available that will help an engaged couple identify and address key issues that may need to be worked through prior to marriage. They are not compatibility tests or a predictor of marital success. They are simply tools designed to strengthen your relationship by promoting discussion about important aspects of married life.
It is highly recommended that you take FOCCUS or PREPARE/ENRICH as soon as you possibly can. The later you wait and the closer you get to your wedding date, the less effective it will be. The results of the questionnaire will be sent to your Priest, Deacon, or another qualified facilitator for discussion.
3. Attend a Marriage Preparation Course
There are two primary marriage preparation courses in the Diocese of St. Augustine: Pre Cana and Engaged Encounter. These courses differ in format, but each is designed to help engaged couples grow in their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage by covering such topics as sexuality, family, and their role in the Church.
Click here for more information about Pre Cana.
Click here for more information about Engaged Encounter.
4. Attend a Course in Natural Family Planning
There is one thing that Natural Family Planning (NFP) is, and two things it is not.
What it is. It is a low-cost, modern method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy in which a couple learns to observe and chart the woman’s naturally-occurring, biological indicators of fertility.
What it is not. 1) It is not the much-criticized “rhythm” method of yesteryear. NFP is at least as effective in avoiding pregnancy as the most effective modern methods of contraception. 2) But it is not contraception. In using NFP a couple works with the sacredness, beauty and goodness of their fertility. In using contraception they work against it.
Couples who use NFP tend to have healthier, stronger and happier marriages than couples who use contraception. God wants every couple to have this NFP advantage, and so, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, the Diocese of St. Augustine asks every engaged couple of child-bearing years to complete a full course of NFP instruction before their wedding.
Because this full course of NFP instruction requires meetings spread over several months, couples are urged to sign up for it as soon as possible. There are several different methods, instructors and locations of NFP instruction available in the Diocese.
Visit the Natural Family Planning section of the website to search for an instructor by either location or method.
5. Planning of the Liturgy/Wedding
Your decision to be married within the Church is a serious one. Marriage is one of the seven Sacraments and is a visible manifestation of an invisible grace that transforms you – it is the beginning of your life together as one. Your wedding within the Church is a very sacred event and so the planning of the liturgical celebration should reflect this.
The Priest or Deacon will provide you the resources you need to prepare for your wedding celebration and will guide you according to the norms of the Church.
6. Become One!
Profess your vows to one another before the altar of God and, with the exchange of the rings, unite yourselves as husband and wife, to have and to hold until death do you part.
Then celebrate with friends and family this new Sacrament that you have become!