These are the steps to follow to meet the requirements for Catholic marriage preparation in the Archdiocese of Chicago. We work together so you will have every opportunity to build a marriage that echoes the love that God has for us; a happy, healthy, and holy marriage; a marriage that is truly a marriage in the Lord.
1. Introductory meeting with your parish priest or deacon.
Meet with your priest or deacon before you commit to a wedding date and to learn about your parish's guidelines for marriage. You can ask about appropriate music for the ceremony, and begin to fill out some of the required paperwork.
2. Premarital evaluation and discussion.
The premarital inventories recommended by the Archdiocese as being both research and scientifically based with a Catholic understanding of marriage are The Catholic Couple Check Up or FOCCUS. Both inventories are taken online, and both are accepted. If you take the Catholic Couple Checkup, the results are available as soon as you finish and you can discuss them together or with the person preparing you for marriage. If your parish requires FOCCUS, talk to them about how to take it.
3. Attend a marriage preparation class.
There is education and preparation for receiving all the sacraments of the faith, including the Sacrament of Matrimony. Sign up for your marriage preparation class.
In addition to taking a PreCana class, you may also be interested in our supplemental videos for engaged couples to customize your marriage prep based on your circumstances. There are downloadable resources and worksheets available as well. The videos cover specialized topics that may be appropriate for your unique circumstances, such as Cohabitation, Children of Divorce, Forming a Stepfamily; and Second, Military, Interchurch and African American marriages. Watch them here.
4. Attend a Natural Family Planning class.
You will learn how you can remain faithful to God’s plan for marriage with the only method of family planning morally acceptable to Catholic teaching by taking a class in person or online at learnNFPonline.com. Natural Family Planning (NFP) teaches you to read and interpret signs of fertility and infertility to achieve, space, or avoid a pregnancy, strengthening the marriage, the couple, and the family. Go natural!
5. Consult with your priest or deacon.
Discuss any issues or concerns raised in your marriage prep class, share the results of your premarital inventory, and finalize the ceremony details. Finish your paperwork and review the readings and music you've chosen.
6. Buy a marriage license and attend the wedding rehearsal.
Be sure you buy your marriage license at least one but no more than 60 days before the ceremony. For information on purchasing a license in Cook County, click here. For Lake County, here. Check ahead of time; they close early before holidays. The wedding rehearsal takes place at your church with those involved in the ceremony as determined with your priest or deacon.
7. Enjoy your wedding day as you receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Your big day is finally here. Enjoy this day with family and friends as you begin your lifetime commitment to one another, your own marriage in the Lord.
8. Attend newly married continuing education workshops in the first year of marriage and receive a monthly newsletter. Now that you're married, keep enriching your marriage by attending continuing education workshops. These two hour workshops cover topics of interest to newlyweds, concentrating on the main problems of the first five years of marriage: time, sex, and money. Workshop A covers expectations, adjustments, time, and building strengths. Workshop B covers finances, sexuality, and faith. C covers communication and gender differences, D resolving conflict and forgiveness, and E discusses prayer, faith, sacrament, and the Catholic vision of marriage. These classes are free as part of the fee you paid for PreCana. Take 2 or all 5! Sign up here. These are not marriage counseling classes, they are marriage education classes that will help keep your marriage on the right course. You will also start receiving a monthly Newsletter with articles written that should be helpful to you in your first years of marriage.
Frequently asked questions about planning for a Catholic Wedding