Getting Married...How much does the priest need to do and when?


My fiance and I are getting married next May. We really love our home parish but it will not fit all of our guests so we have asked the priest to perform our wedding at a different parish. He said we could do the paper work with either church. We decided to complete the paperwork at the larger church and that has all gone well. We did the intake interview and are signed up for Marriage prep in the fall, but I feel as though we are missing something. I am an eager bride that really wants to be prepared. Maybe this is me just being to eager but when does he start to ask us what readings we have picked? When does he start counselling us, or asking questions about our relationship? or does he? I am not really that concerned because we both have a lot of things organized and both are practicing Catholics (he just completed RCIA this past Easter). So maybe I am just crazy but I feel as though there is more to this… Is there? This favourite priest of ours is very busy but I feel like there are steps that are being missed. Please help??:hmmm:


he will start talking to you during the marriage prep. you will take a lil test that quite frankly dont show a whole lot about things but i guess its better than nothing, just dont get to offended by this test,its very in your face,and very nosey on personal things, it assumes you and fiance have been intimate and wants to know all about it, there really are no right or wrong answers ( so they say) I will give you the heads up on one of the questions and it will appear on the test in a few places always reworded ( lots of repeat,reworded questions on this test) anyways the jist of the question is if your spouse has an affair will you forgive him? chances are good if you dont answer yes they wont marry you,
they expect you to give permission ahead of the marriage to have an affair just so you have the heads up on it…the basic answers for the test are yes, no and unsure sometimes they throw in different things but they are multiple choice questions, after the test is when you usually get talking to priest,
also keep in mind during these “talks” that he is going to try and bring up potential “issues” you may feel he is trying to talk you out of marriage, that is not generally the case but does very much come across that way, he is trying to get you to discuss things you probablly have not thought about or seem to trivial
But cause lots of trouble down the road…so dont get to defensive, offended or clam up. Its all part of the process…

good luck to you


John -this is the first time I’ve heard of such questions on the test but I’m sure it’s not there to “give permission for you spouse to have an affair.” That would be outrageous. My guess is it’s pointing to the fact that the sacrament is permanent -for better or worse.


Not all diocese use a test. Some do, some don’t. If they do, it is usually either Myers Briggs or FOCCUS.

I don’t know what test you took, but there were no “nosey” questions on the ours. And, if the priest discusses personal things with the couple, that is certainly within his domain. He is the pastor.

This is completely untrue.

Wow, maybe you got married in some other denomination rather than the Catholic Church?

I think the OP needs to disregard this reply since it is not true at all.

Someone is quite bitter, uniformed, and/or imaginative.

Well, this is certainly true-- it is important to discuss many issues prior to marriage, some of which the couple will not have thought of themselves.

But, back to the OPs questions:

(1) The Liturgy is typically discussed just prior to the wedding, a few weeks before. If you want to be prepared ahead of time, I suggest you get a copy of the book Together For Life by Fr. Champlin (there are two versions so get the one that applies to you-- one for marriage in the mass and one for marriage outside the mass). It’s a workbook and you can pick out all your options. I did this,and then brought it all typed up to my deacon.

(2) As for marriage prep-- you need to call your pastor and make sure you are both clear on who is doing your prep. Since you signed up in the other parish he may assume you are meeting with someone there for prep, and vice versa… the parish may assume the priest who will conduct the ceremony is doing the prep. Call both your priest and the parish you will be married in and find out. Each parish does it differently regarding the # of meetings you have with the priest, and what other sort of prep you are required to do-- such as retreat, married couple sponsors, FOCCUS test, or whatever.


The test is called the FOCUS Test. The intended purpose of the test is to determine you and your fiance’s view on a variety of different personal and moral items. I don’t remember any of the questions about the affair. But it is trying to point out areas that you and your fiance have differences of opinion that you haven’t discussed yet. For us this was done at the start of the marriage prep classes.


can’t answer for any other parish but here you would register at least a year before your planned date, have an initial interview, as a couple, with the deacon. This interview is very exhaustive and designed to uncover any issues that must be addressed first–annulment, need confirmation, any dispensations needed etc. Special cases will be referred to the pastor. Then you will have another meeting to introduce the focus test, take that inventory, and return for a third meeting to discuss the results. You will be signed up for an Engaged Encounter retreat weekend (or similar retreat depening on yoru needs, re-marriage etc).

You will also be assigned a sponsor couple with whom you meet for several weeks, using as an aide a marriage prep workbook. You will meet again with the deacon closer to the wedding to finalize dates and times, rehearsal, type of serviice (Mass or service) readings, music and such details. The workbook used for the sponsor couple meetings has suggestions for these. If you are having a full nuptial Mass you will have at least one meeting with the priest to go over details. If at any time you have questions, pose them to the person overseeing your marriage prep, don’t wait.

In this diocese you would need a letter of permission from your home pastor to marry at another parish (this is routine, but required that you ask for it). You would complete all your marriage prep in the parish where you will marry, because that is where all the record keeping is done. If you wish your “home” pastor or any priest of your choosing to actually preside, he gets the permission of the pastor of the church where the actual wedding will take place.

sounds like you have already done this, but you also need recent baptismal certificates (within 6 months) showing all sacraments received, and any deposit required for use of the church.

If for some reason (away at school ie) you do some of the marriage prep someplace else, make sure the person who guided you in this presents proof to the pastor or person in charge at the parish where you are getting married. don’t assume this gets done, follow up on it.


actually that particular question and yes its there 3 times all worded differently, is to make sure there are NO so called deal breakers, which could nullify a marriage so to speak, it was one of my biggest pet peeves about the test I would have no problem not holding a grudge over something like that But I know many people would…and to me the way I seen the question its giving permission in advance to have an affair that did bug me…
lets see i have taken that test twice once when I got married in 1987 the Lutheran church gave that test back then, the Catholic church started using the Identicle test in the 90s
they will ask if you are comfortable being naked in front of your “soon” to be spouse ( thats the nicest question they ask in that area, like i said it can be humiliating, even demeaning to some people if not darn right insulting BUT it does get some things out that you may have never thought about, I found it much better than the engaement 2 weekends they made us waste learning that how you put TP on a roller is a major cause of divorce rofl and yes I am serious multi hours discussion on that alone.
spent less than an hour over the course of 2 weekends on the single most important thing for a marriage and thats communication how sad was that?

Oh and the test was foccus


before you reference me as a liar or claim the Catholic church didnt give us this test you would be farther ahead to actually get check into it, everything and I mean everything I posted in that response is 100 factual ,truthful and was given by our Catholic Priest in a Catholic church, I relize many areas do the tests at an engagement weekend our diocese does not I will ask my ex fiance for the questionaires so i can reference complete with the question numbers, dont tell me or anyone else its untrue! she and I spent 14 weeks going over that test with our priest ( one night a week) and no not all the time with him was over the test
Normally I dont hold what a Preist says about marriage as worth more than a few cents However we were extremely lucky to have had a priest that had been married for 45+ years, he became a priest after his wife passed away so he was chock full of very excellent and valuble info maybe you were married in another
denomination! Because our Catholic church uses this particular test and its very “nosey” about anything remotely sexual
of 200 or so questions at least 75 were sexually related
another 50 about religion ( which at the time we didnt score very well ( i was a non attending Lutheran at that time) matter ofr fact between attending church , and her rcia classes together and talks with priest in the premarriage sessions thats what got me wanting to convert…

and yes this post started very heated over being referenced a liar but by time i reached this point I calmed down. People can call me most anything but a liar is not one of them I get steamed over that sorry


our diocese does not require the sponsor couple ( thank God)
we did have to do 2 weekends at a preschool classroom they called it something along the lines of engagement encounter but seeing what others have had to do with same name ours was quite different, we didnt stay overnight, we also didnt have to meet with a deacon ( course our church only had a person training to be a deacon at the time.But admittedly we are in a fairly remote low population area as well

also there are onther threads with the encounter topic, and the foccus test topic on here I am not the only person that was offended by the affair question, I will be fair and assume ( i hate that word always comes back to bite you) anyways that there are different version FOCCUS tests its possible some areas dont use the ones I have taken here
I will add I passed that question because I was willing to forgive
she however was given quite the lecture over her response.
but because of differeing answers our total score for compatibility was degraded a bit.and I was much nicer when i took this test compared to the same test i took with first marriage…
I actually answered all the questions and didnt put a sidenote of “NOYFB”. needed a stamper with that for first time lol
(None Of Your Fatherly Buisness):thumbsup: ha bet you thought it meant something else huh?


I think the use of the focus instrument is a bit off track of OP’s question, which is specifically what role does the priest play in marriage prep, if I understand properly. around here, the answer is very little, except for a few pastors who reserve for themselves the responsibility of intereviewing engaged couples (and new parents seeking to baptize babies, confirmation candidates etc.). If you guys want to debate the focus issue, why not start a new thread.


My appologies you are correct, here priest played a huge role, as far as counceling us, administering test, setting up our 2 weekend waste of money/time,He even sponsored me for decree of anullment. But again small area so must make a huge difference…
So i guess answer will depend on area and population she is in,


Respect God,

First, I think you might want to check with both the parish and your particular priest and make sure that they don’t think that the other is taking care of your marriage prep. Just because you do paperwork at one does not mean that they will take care of doing your prep, and vice versa.

If your particular priest is so busy, find one that isn’t and ask for help. Of course, do the diocesan requirements, but you don’t have to stop there!!! Design your own sacramental preparation: Instead of doing one of the three choices (pre-cana class, engagement encounter, or mentor couple), do all 3!

Find a couple you look up to that can talk to you about marriage. Find a personal spiritual director for each of you, and then one together. Pray together, A LOT. Make sure that your wedding party is praying for you, becuase that is why they are there. Ask your wedding party to hold you accountable in your preparation (like a confirmation sponsor), so that on your wedding day, they can say that you are adequately prepared.

Anyway, just some thoughts.


Thanks for all the advice. Even though some of this was quite off topic, I found it interesting and heart-warming all the people who want to help.

God Bless you all.


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