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What do Catholics do to prepare for marriage?

Getting married is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. As a Catholic, the preparation for marriage is not only about finding the right partner, but also about ensuring that you are ready to make not just a commitment to your partner, but to the sacrament of marriage itself. In this blog post, we will explore what Catholics do to prepare for marriage.

Marriage Preparation

Most dioceses require at least six months of marriage preparation that could include classes, mentoring, or seminars. This is known as Pre-Cana, and it is mandatory for all Catholic couples who wish to get married in the Church.

Pre-Cana sessions aim to provide the couples with an understanding of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life, to explore the practical realities of living together as a married couple, and to prepare them for the challenges that may arise in their future life together. It is also an opportunity for them to get to know the priest who will be marrying them and to discuss the ceremony and any special readings or traditions they might want to include.

One of the core aspects of Pre-Cana is examining the couple’s readiness for marriage. This involves looking at their relationship, their expectations, and their communication skills. The couple will also explore how their faith will play a role in their married life. They will discuss how they plan to approach shared decision-making, conflict resolution, and intimacy.

Engaged Encounter

Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat that many dioceses require engaged couples to participate in as part of their Pre-Cana. The retreat is designed to give couples time to reflect on their relationship and their upcoming marriage.

The retreat comprises of activities and discussions to help the couple learn more about each other, communicate better, and explore issues such as intimacy and faith. The weekend retreat is an opportunity for the couple to bond and strengthen their relationship in preparation for their future life together. It also provides them with an opportunity to meet and socialize with other soon-to-be-married couples.

Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling is an option that some Catholic couples may choose in addition to their Pre-Cana requirements. It can be beneficial for couples who have issues in their relationship that they wish to address before they get married. The counseling sessions offer an opportunity for the couple to work through any problems and discuss ways to improve communication and strengthen their relationship.

The counseling sessions can also be helpful for couples who have experienced trauma or have other emotional challenges that may impact their marriage. Counseling allows them to work through these issues and learn healthy ways to cope with them.

Pre-Marriage Inventory

A Pre-Marriage Inventory is a questionnaire that is designed to help couples identify their strengths and potential areas of conflict in their relationship. The inventory provides an opportunity for couples to discuss their differences and find ways to work through any potential issues that may arise in the future.

The Pre-Marriage Inventory is administered by a trained facilitator who reviews the results with the couple and helps them to identify areas that may need further attention. It can be an effective tool for assessing the couple’s readiness for marriage and can help them to identify any issues that they need to work on before getting married.


Preparing for marriage is an essential and exciting journey for every Catholic couple. It involves more than just planning the wedding day. It also means preparing for a lifetime commitment to each other and to the sacrament of marriage. Pre-Cana, Engaged Encounter, and counseling sessions are just some of the ways that Catholic couples can prepare for their future life together.

By taking the time to undergo Marriage Prep and other forms of relationship strengthening together, Catholic couples will be equipped with the tools needed to navigate the ups and downs of married life. These preparation methods are less about perfect couples and more about giving even the perfectly imperfect couples a chance to thrive in the context of marriage.


What is involved in a marriage preparation course?

A marriage preparation course is a program designed to prepare couples for the realities of married life. The course is usually taken by engaged couples before they get married, although some couples do take it after they are married. The course covers a wide range of topics, including communication, conflict resolution, intimacy, finances, and children.

One of the main features of a typical pre-marriage course is that you and your partner are hosted by a married couple. The couple acts as your facilitators and guides you through the program. They speak from their own experience of marriage and offer insights and advice on how to build a strong and lasting relationship.

The course usually consists of several sessions, each lasting a few hours. Each session may include food, a practical talk, and a time for discussion between you and your partner. The topics covered in each session depends on the course provider and the specific needs of the couples in attendance.

In most courses, the first session focuses on communication. This is because good communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. The course will teach you and your partner how to communicate effectively, how to express your feelings, and how to listen actively.

The following sessions will cover topics such as conflict resolution, intimacy, finances, and children. You will learn how to manage your money as a couple, how to negotiate disagreements without fighting, and how to maintain a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship. You will also learn about the challenges of parenthood and how to prepare for them.

Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and share your own experiences. The course is designed to be interactive, so you will be encouraged to participate and engage with the other couples in attendance.

A marriage preparation course is a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of married life. The course offers practical advice on how to build a strong and lasting relationship, and provides you with the tools you need to overcome the challenges that all couples face.

When should a Catholic consummate a marriage?

In the Catholic Church, consummation refers to the completion of a marital union through the physical act of sexual intercourse. According to Catholic canon law, a marriage is considered to be consummated when the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.

The Catholic Church highly values marriage and views it as a sacrament that symbolizes the union of Christ and the Church. Therefore, it is essential that a Catholic marriage be consummated as soon as possible after the wedding ceremony. Canon law requires that spouses have the right to sexual intercourse with each other, and the failure to consummate the marriage can be grounds for annulment.

However, the Church does not impose a specific time frame for consummation. It is ultimately up to the couple to determine when it is appropriate to consummate their marriage. Catholic teaching emphasizes that sexual intimacy should be viewed positively and be mutually satisfying for both spouses. The Church also recommends that spouses avoid engaging in sexual relations until after the wedding ceremony, as sex is meant to be an expression of a lifelong commitment to one another.

Furthermore, the Catholic Church holds that sexual relations should be open to procreation. The Church teaches that the conjugal act is ordered toward the creation of new life, and that spouses should be open to the possibility of bringing children into the world. Therefore, the use of contraception or other methods of artificial birth control is not in line with Church teaching.

A Catholic marriage should be consummated as soon as possible after the wedding ceremony, but the Church does not impose a specific time frame for this. Spouses are encouraged to view sexual intimacy positively and to avoid using contraception. The Catholic Church places a high value on marriage and holds that sexual intimacy is an important aspect of a healthy and mutually fulfilling marital union.

How long is Catholic wedding preparation?

In order to get married in the Catholic Church, there are certain requirements that must be met. One of the main requirements is marriage preparation, which can take anywhere from six months to a year. According to Father Paul Scalia, the Episcopal Vicar of Clergy at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, the required waiting period in their diocese is six months. This means that a couple must begin their marriage preparation at least six months before their desired wedding date.

However, Father Scalia recommends that couples give themselves more time for marriage preparation, suggesting nine months to a year. This extra time allows for more thorough marriage preparation and gives the couple time to fully understand the commitment they are making to each other.

Marriage preparation in the Catholic Church typically involves a few key components. These can include a pre-marriage inventory, counseling sessions with a priest or deacon, a marriage preparation retreat or workshop, and attendance at a Natural Family Planning class.

The pre-marriage inventory is designed to assess the couple’s strengths and growth areas, as well as to identify potential areas of conflict. Counseling sessions with a priest or deacon allow the couple to talk through any specific concerns or questions they may have about marriage. The marriage preparation retreat or workshop provides a space for couples to learn more about the sacrament of marriage and to work together on communication and relationship skills. Finally, the Natural Family Planning class teaches couples about the Church’s teachings on sexuality and family planning.

The length of Catholic wedding preparation can vary depending on the requirements of each diocese and the recommendations of the priest or deacon overseeing the marriage preparation. However, it is generally recommended that couples give themselves at least six months to complete their marriage preparation, with nine months to a year being the ideal timeframe. This preparation involves a few different components, including a pre-marriage inventory, counseling sessions, a marriage preparation retreat or workshop, and a Natural Family Planning class.