God's Plan for Marriage

Your Guide To MARRIAGE PREPARATION In The Diocese of Palm Beach

The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church.  It gives the spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life. (cf. Council of Trent: DS1799)

Congratulations! You’re engaged to be married. This is one of the happiest times of your life as you enter the mystery of the Sacrament of Marriage. Your marriage preparation is a serious and joyous time of formation guided by the Church in the family of faith.

Coordinating wedding plans can be time consuming and at times overwhelming. Sacramental Marriage Preparation is meant to provide the focus couples need to recognize the wonderful Sacrament of Marriage, and to take seriously the spiritual foundation which will set the tone for your lifelong commitment. Give yourself time to appreciate the wonder of God's love for you and the joy that your vocation of love will bring to you, your future spouse and the Church.

Answers to some common questions:

  • If two baptized persons wish to marry it must be done in a holy place (not on the beach).
  • If you plan to marry in a Church outside of the Diocese of Palm Beach but your residence is here, contact your parish here to begin the marriage preparation and documentation process and in order to obtain the necessary dispensations for celebrating your marriage outside of your home diocese.  Contact the parish where you hope to marry in order to set a date and determine any additional requirements.
  • If you are marrying out of the country, please allow two additional months for processing and mailing of documentation & forms. 


Below are some helpful links to assist you as you prepare for your marriage in the Church. 

Click below to watch the video: Saying I Do: What Happens at a Catholic Wedding? 







Click on image below (either English or Spanish) for important practical and spiritual information and ideas related to marriage plus “must have” conversations you should consider both before and after your wedding. 



Steps to the Altar 


Step 1:  Schedule a meeting with your parish priest or deacon.

Contact your parish where you reside as soon as possible after your engagement and at least six months before your expected wedding day.  Your parish priest or deacon will explain all of the requirements for your marriage in the Church.  All requirements should be met and your completed file provided to your parish at least one month prior to your wedding date. 


Special Circumstances should be addressed with the priest or deacon.  Please discuss if:

  • One or both of you have been married before, even civilly
  • One or both of you are or have been in a “common-law” union
  • You are now civilly married to each other and wish to have your marriage blessed (validated) by the Catholic Church
  • You are presently living together
  • Either of you is a teenager
  • A pregnancy is involved


Caution:  To avoid possible disappointment, do not book your reception until you have a confirmed date from the Church.


Step 2:  Prepare Documentation

Your priest or deacon will explain the required documentation you need to be married in the Church:

  • Baptismal Certificate obtained within the last six (6) months (no photocopies)
  • Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire for both bride and groom (Form A)
  • Witness Questionnaires (Form B)
  • Proper dispensations, permissions or delegations as needed
  • Civil marriage license

If either of you has been married before, even in a civil ceremony, please check with your priest regarding possibility of annulment.  Take care to provide accurate information and documentation regarding any past marriage(s).  If you need to petition for a Declaration of Nullity, you will need the final decision before proceeding with the following steps.

Step 3Take Premarital Inventory

A Premarital Inventory addresses issues engaged couples need to consider for their marriage.  You will be guided by your parish regarding which Premarital Inventory you will take, either FULLY ENGAGED, FOCCUS or PREPARE/ ENRICH.  Once you have completed the inventory, you will meet with your parish priest, deacon or sponsor couple to discuss the results.  These inventories are designed to reveal more about relationships and compatibility. 


Step 4Schedule Marriage Preparation Program

Preparation, including education, is necessary for all the sacraments of the faith including the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Marriage preparation is not just a “requirement” to be fulfilled before you can have a Church wedding.  Rather, the Church offers this time so you can step away from the details of the wedding day and focus as a couple on nurturing a lifetime commitment to each other with God. 


For Programs in English
Programs are held on Saturdays about once a month at various locations around the diocese, usually from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Advance registration is required.  Classes fill up quickly, so register early to obtain your choice of date.  It is best to attend a workshop as early in your preparation as possible but no later than 2 months prior to the wedding. 

Click here to see schedule and register

For Programs in Spanish
Weekend programs are held throughout the year. Click here for more information. 


Step 5:  Attend Natural Family Planning (NFP) Instruction

Basic NFP concepts are included in all Marriage Preparation Programs.  A full course on NFP is highly recommended for engaged couples prior to marriage.  NFP helps build the marriage relationship and strength of character necessary for lifelong marriage.  This modern method of family planning is in harmony with Church teaching and is a safe, healthy, effective and very low cost way to plan your family. Click here for more information. 

Step 6:  Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation

As Catholics, the Sacraments of Reconciliation (Penance or Confession) and Holy Eucharist should be vital aspects of your growth as a disciple of Christ and His Church.  Receiving these sacraments will help prepare you for a more meaningful experience of your wedding liturgy and to enter into your marriage covenant with your future spouse and God. 


Step 7:  Plan Your Wedding Liturgy

Meet again with your priest or deacon to plan your wedding liturgy.  Use the Wedding Liturgy Guide provided by your Parish to help you choose your readings and music.  The care you place into making these choices will help the liturgy be a meaningful expression of yourselves and your love as a couple.