Sacrament of Marriage - what do I need to know to prepare?


Hi all! My boyfriend (I guess now he’s my fiance!) proposed to me over the holidays. We’ll be waiting for him to finish school before we get married (1.5 to 2 years). I’m looking for any advice/suggestions you want to share!

I’m a practicing Catholic and he’s in RCIA. Assuming his Baptism certificate comes through, he’ll be getting Confirmed this Easter. :slight_smile: I recall that there are classes and a retreat that engaged couples are supposed to go on prior to getting married. What other things do I need to know? (I’m also going to be in contact with the woman who helps engaged couples at my home parish, but I want to cover all my bases.)

Thanks and may God bless you!


First, congratulations on your engagement.

The preparation will vary by diocese. In addition to precanna and engagement retreats your diocese might also require NFP (natural family planning) classes, meeting with mentor couples, taking something like a FOCCUS couples inventory, meetings with a deacon or priest, etc. Like I said, it really depends on the diocese.

That being said the thing you can always do now is pray. Marriage is a lifetime vocation and prayer is a stone foundation. If you are not already doing so, try to spend time with your fiancee praying together about your call to marriage and your future family.

May the Lord bless you and your fiancee as you start this journey.


The format and content of marriage prep vary by diocese. So, talking to the people in the parish where you will be married is the first step.

On a practical level, there are many things you can do such as discussions on finances, child rearing, housework/duties, and other aspects of forming a household and living with another person.

Certainly, taking an natural family planning class well in advance of your wedding would be smart. Take it and chart you cycles for a year, and you will know your cycles really well and have no trouble discerning fertility. It can also alert you early if you have any problems that need addressing with a physician.

On a spiritual level, there are some really good books out there on the sacrament of marriage and engagement such as Three To Get Married by Archbishop Sheen, For Better… Forever by Greg Popcak, and many others.


Thanks for the replies! I’ll check out my diocese’s site and see what they’ve got there for marriage.

Usige, I will be in touch with the person at my church involved with marriage prep. I hadn’t thought about taking NFP classes so early, but I suppose having lots of time to get comfortable with it is a good thing!

1ke, we’ve talked about things here and there. Thanks for the suggestions. I’d forgotten about the practical bits, such as chores.


Glad to be of help. The reason I mentioned NFP is because I used to be an instructor for the diocese. We were supposed to meet with clients a minimum of 5 times (1 training + 4 monthly follow ups) so we always tried meeting a minimum of 6 months before the wedding. Couples were alway scrambling to do the classes a month before their wedding.

In general try to complete all precanna 2 or 3 months before the wedding if at all possible.


A very practical (and very reasonably priced) book to get is called "Together for Life. It contains a guide for planning a Catholic wedding, including the texts of all of the readings. There’s also a companion website:


Do the official preparation as early as possible. That will give you time to fix anything that needs fixing or even call the whole thing off if truly unfixable differences are revealed. When couples wait until a lot of money is already spent on the wedding, they will rarely act wisely if red flags pop up.


Pro tip, get the NFP classes done as soon as you can so that you can start charting. Armed with the information charting will provide you’ll be able to plan your wedding and honeymoon.

A lot of brides have forgotten little details like when their monthly cycle begins due to the excitement and end up having their period during the wedding and honeymoon. Others, who didn’t plan on starting a family right away, find themselves on their honeymoon during their fertile period and have to abstain from sex. If you are aware of your cycle you can plan to marry and honeymoon without those worries.


Congratulations on your upcoming marriage.

I highly recommend Bishop Fulton Sheen’s book “Three to Get Married”

Both of you should read it …together if possible …if independently then read and discuss each chapter.



There are really TWO things you are preparing for, the wedding and the marriage. The second is FAAAAR more important than the first. Keep that in perspective.

Here are a few things for each that you can consider in no particular order:


  1. Attend RCIA with your fiance if you aren’t doing so now. The more you both learn about the faith, the better.
  2. Begin discussions about finances, debts you have, who will pay bills, how you will budget. Too many couples get married and have never discussed finances and never even know how much debt the other has. And each of you work on a plan to be out of debt as soon as possible (hopefully before the wedding). If not, work on a plan to get out of debt quickly. The more debt you have, the tougher the marriage becomes.
  3. When children arrive, what will be the work situation? Who will stay home? Can you afford to stay home? Etc
  4. Do you both understand that the word “love” is not an emotion? (It is a VERB). You CHOOSE to love your spouse, even when you are mad at them or don’t like them right now. Even if you don’t “feel” love for them, you still LOVE them.


  1. Scheduling the date with the parish and the reception location is always the toughest. The further out you do it, the more availability you will have. (side note, we got married the Saturday after Easter, and the Church was still decorated with all the Easter flowers, so we didn’t have to buy any)
  2. Speak to your priest about having Confession available after the rehearsal so you can celebrate the sacrament completely pure in soul. :slight_smile:
  3. Use the time now to buy things for the wedding so you don’t have as much expense hitting you at the end. My wife and I were able to pay for most of our wedding months before the date.
  4. There are budget spreadsheets online that you could use that will help you plan. I suggest you work together to set a reasonable budget. It will be good practice for when you have to budget together as a couple.

Good luck and God bless.


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