Marriage Preparation

Congratulations! Celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church is a joyous experience for the bride and groom, their families, their friends, and also the Church. One of the most important aspects in planning your wedding is your Marriage Preparation. This process will begin when you as a couple contact the pastor and set a tentative wedding date.

1Initial Interview

  • Contact your parish priest four to six months before the intended date of the wedding. Your wedding date should not be set until you have met with the priest.
  • Meet with your parish priest. He will assess your readiness for marriage and will answer any questions you have. He will discuss marriage as a sacrament, values, the wedding ceremony and the other steps for the process. He can then determine if your particular circumstances require the assistance of the Marriage Tribunal. You will begin to fill out some of the required documents. You will receive parish marriage ceremony guidelines regarding the use of the facilities, appropriate music, decorations, flowers, etc.
  • A tentative wedding date may be set at this time and is contingent on the presentation of necessary documents to the priest/deacon, and fulfilling the marriage preparation.

2Assessment Process

Take a premarital inventory. The Diocese of Savannah recommends FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study).
FOCCUS - a pre-marriage inventory for couples with a follow-up session with a trained facilitator provides insight and helpful tools for a couple at the beginning of their married commitment. The results of the inventory point to issues or areas that may need to be addressed. This can be done before or after attending the Pre-Cana workshop.
Couples make arrangements to take a premarital inventory with their parish priest.

3Educational Process

Attend a marriage preparation program. Diocese of Savannah offers a variety of programs that provide input from experienced couples and opportunities for couples to reflect together before undertaking such a serious lifetime commitment. Varied formats include one day, a day and half, a weekend workshops or a series of evening sessions. Advance registration is required.
Participation in a preparation program of at least six hours under the leadership of a priest with a lay couple team or a licensed counselor or social worker qualifies the couple for a discount on the marriage license in Georgia.
Visit Programs tab or call Office of Family Life at 912-201-4068 for additional information.

4Liturgical Preparation

Plan the Liturgy. You are invited to be personally involved in the preparation of the Liturgy, not only for its beauty and solemnity, but also as a means of becoming more aware of the mystery of unity and fruitful love which is the true focus of this celebration.
Several weeks before the rehearsals, the priest will meet with you to select the readings from Scripture, various prayers and other options for the Liturgy.
Prepare spiritually during these time by reading the Bible and praying together. The Church encourages Catholics to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation as a means of entering more fully into the holy mystery of marriage.   

5Apply for a marriage license

Be sure to apply for your marriage license at least 60 days before the ceremony.
Participation in a preparation program of at least six hours under the leadership of a priest with a lay couple team or a licensed counselor or social worker qualifies the couple for a discount on the marriage license in Georgia.

6Consult with Priest

Talk to your priest if you have any concerns raised during the marriage preparation class, review the ceremony details, complete the required paperwork and prepare for the rehearsal.

7Wedding and Marriage

Profess your vows to one another before the altar of God and unite yourselves with God as husband and wife, to have and to hold until death do you part.

Then celebrate with family and friends this Holy Sacrament of Marriage you have become!

Marriage Preparation programs are designed for engaged couples who believe they are ready for marriage in the Church because that have a growing, positive relationship. The goal of these programs is to provide an opportunity for engaged couples to continue discovering practical ways to enhance their communication with one anther and God.
PRE-CANA is a one day or two day pre-marriage preparation program. Pre-Cana is led by a trained married couples. Pre-Cana is presented through short talks by the facilitators who share about their own experiences, group exercises and personal reflection. The program include presentations on the following topics:
Sacrament of Marriage Communication skills
Intimacy and Sexuality Christian Family Values
Domestic Violence Finances
Family of Origin Natural Family Planning
Interfaith marriage Parenting
  • Parish or Deanery Marriage Preparation programs: These programs are offered by trained lay couple leaders and a priest. Most begin on Friday evening and end on Saturday afternoon. 
    • “Your Marriage” is the Savannah Deanery Program designed for individuals marrying for the first time and is offered three times a year at St. James Church in Savannah by a team of volunteer couples and a deacon. It is given on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. A similar program is offered in several other parishes of the diocese.
    • “Bodas Sencillas” and “Y Serán los Dos Unos” are pre-marriage programs for Spanish-speaking couples offered in the parishes in Augusta, Metter, Tifton and Warner Robins as retreat days or with sponsor couples. Visit the Spanish Programs webpage for more information.
  • On-line Marriage Preparation program - with marrying priest approval only
    •  is for couples who have already started their wedding file with their home parish. The course consists of a total of nine assignments (worksheets) and costs $195. Couples go directly to the webpage to register for the course which may take between one week and three months to complete.The work is done in two steps:
      • The couple access their first form and the first worksheet through the links they receive in their instruction email when they register. They fill them out and submit them.
      • Their instructor couple reviews their work and uploads their personal answer key on their profile. They must read it before moving to the next step. Their answer key contains the link to their next assignment.
        At the end of the course, the couple's certificate of completion is uploaded onto their profile.

The Family Life Programs calendar provides a listing of available marriage preparation and enrichment programs in our diocese and in the surrounding dioceses including Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter weekends.

Participation in a preparation program of at least six hours under the leadership of a priest with a lay couple team or a licensed counselor or social worker qualifies the couple for a discount on the marriage license in Georgia.

Additional resources that provide good practical suggestions for your wedding preparations:

Marriage Preparation Leaders Training - This training is offered to lay couples who are on the marriage preparation teams in a parish or deanery.

FOCCUS Facilitator Training Program - FOCCUS, Inc. USA offers both online and in-person training courses to prepares facilitators to administer the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory to couples, receive and interpret the scored FOCCUS© Couple Report, and discuss the results privately with couples.. You may also bring a National FOCCUS Trainer to your area for customized training just for your organization.

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