Planning your Wedding

6 Steps to a Rewarding Marriage Preparation Experience

Step 1 – Meet with your Pastor or Deacon

When: Before Setting a Wedding Date

Marriage Forms

After you become engaged, you should contact your parish as soon as possible to set up a meeting with a priest or deacon to assist you in your marriage preparation. The priest or deacon will determine if you and your fiancé(e) are free to marry in the Church (i.e., confirm no canonical impediments exist). He will also provide you with the information needed to complete Steps 2-6 of the marriage preparation process.  At this time, your priest or deacon will also discuss the required documents, which are outlined below the 6 Steps.

Step 2 – Marriage Preparation Inventory

When: After meeting with Pastor or Deacon

The inventory is a series of questions, usually taken online and individually, designed to assess each of your habits, expectations and values, providing a personalized profile that will be reviewed with you by your Pastor or Deacon.

Step 3 – The Marriage Preparation Course

When: Ideally, 6-10 months before your wedding

The Diocese of Raleigh offers an excellent educational component designed to introduce you to the rich teachings on the sacrament of matrimony, as well as important life skills.

Step 4 – Fertility Awareness / Natural Family Planning Course

When: 6-8 months before the wedding

When you begin to start a family, you may have difficulties in trying to conceive or may want to learn how to space your children naturally. Fertility Awareness is not only effective for postponing pregnancy organically, it also is highly effective in overcoming obstacles that inhibit becoming parents. Contact our Married Life coordinator for more details. 

Step 5 – Sacrament of Reconciliation

When: Before the wedding, as necessary

The Church invites all Catholics to prepare themselves spiritually prior to marriage by celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation. Non-Catholics will benefit from spiritual direction from a Priest or Deacon.

Step 6 – Final Meeting with Pastor or Deacon

When: Before the wedding, as necessary

Regularly communicate with your Priest or Deacon, and meet with him just prior to your wedding.

Required Documents for Marriage in the Catholic Church

Various documents are required. It may take a few weeks or even months to acquire these, which makes planning ahead important. Depending on the local parish or diocese customs, all or some of the following list may be needed:

  1. Baptismal certificates of both parties (even non-Catholics) issued no earlier than six months prior to the wedding. (If these are absolutely not available, due to a fire or other viable reasons, a sworn statement may suffice.)
  2. Marriage license from the civil registrar's office, which includes the application of the two parties (sometimes called the “long form”). This is obtainable from your local government; visit your county website under "marriage licenses."
  3. Letter of freedom of pastors and parents.
  4. Permission of parents if a party is under eighteen years of age.
  5. Certificate of completion of a marriage preparation process.
  6. For widows and widowers, an authentic certificate of death of their departed spouses with whom they were married and a marriage certificate of the previous wedding.
  7. Declaration of Nullity, if previously married.