Marriage Preparation
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Marriage Preparation

Congratulations on your Engagement!


We're so happy you are interested in entering into marriage in the Catholic Church! At this point, we know you have a lot on your mind: venues, dresses, invitations, and more. You want your wedding to be beautiful and perfect and so do we. Your wedding day, in all its beauty, points to a deeper reality - the joy-filled, solid marriage you are entering together.

Engagement represents a time of preparation - not just for your big day, but also also for building the foundation for a lifelong, faithful marriage rooted in Christ. In a world filled with temporary fads and enjoyments, the Catholic Church offers you a process to prepare for a lasting marriage open to the graces and blessings God wants to give you through this sacrament. While there are a million things on your Wedding To-Do List, we encourage you to use this time and process to deepen your love and commitment to each other, to God, and to His Church.

The steps below outline the various steps in the Marriage Preparation process. Some parishes might have slight differences in the process, but in general, this gives an overview of what you can expect. 


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Step 1: Contact Your Parish

(6-12 months before wedding) 


Marriage Preparation takes place primarily through your parish (the local Catholic Church you belong to). As soon as you are engaged, contact your parish and set up a meeting with your priest, deacon, or wedding coordinator. In this meeting, you will learn about the preparation process, particular steps to take at your parish, and what you can expect moving forward.

If you currently do not have a parish home, find one near you and get connected!

Because each couple is different and has different needs, please contact your parish at least 6 months before your desired wedding and before booking a reception venue.

Step 2: Take a Pre-Marital Inventory

(4-6 months before wedding)


Soon after your first meeting at your parish, you will also be invited to participate in a "premarital inventory." This inventory is not a compatability test or relationship success indicator, but rather a tool to help each of you learn more about yourselves and your relationship. Most inventories consist of a series of questions that help identify areas of strength and areas of growth in your relationship. 

Once you take the inventory, your parish will connect you with a married couple or other parish leader to help walk through and discuss your responses. Some parishes assign couples and start meetings before Step 3 below, and others start meetings after. Your parish will help guide this process for you.

Step 3: Complete the Joy-Filled Marriage Program

(Finish at least 3 months before wedding) 


A key component of Marriage Preparation is building the skills necessary for a successful marriage, as well as learning about the Catholic Church's teachings on Marriage. To accomplish this, all couples participate in the Joy-Filled Marriage program, which also includes specific formation in Natural Family Planning.

In order to have enough time to complete preparations for your wedding, we recommend all couples complete the Joy-Filled Marriage program at least 3 months before their wedding date.


We offer multiple ways for couples to complete the Joy-Filled Marriage program:



Weekend Retreats

Step away from the hustle and bustle to focus on the intimacy and joy you want in your marriage. Couples spend a weekend together hearing the Joy-Filled Marriage program in-person along with opportunities for deeper discussion, Mass, Reconciliation, and more. 

Cost: $350 per couple

Upcoming RetreatsNovember 8-10, 2024 and February 28-March 2, 2025


Online Marriage Prep

Couples register for an online course version of Joy-Filled Marriage. This is self-paced and takes about 8 hours to complete through watching videos and couple dialogue. An online workbook is included; printed workbooks may be ordered at registration.

Cost: $125 per couple



Parish-Based Preparation

Some parishes offer the Joy-Filled Marriage program in-person. This might happen through small groups of couples learning and discussing together, or through couple-to-couple meetings with a married couple from the parish. If interested, ask your parish if they offer this kind of formation.

Contact your parish for more information

Step 4: Plan your Wedding Liturgy

(2-3 months before wedding) 


Creating time to plan your wedding liturgy is a beautiful way to intentionally include the Lord in your wedding and ensure preparedness and peace on your big day. Once you complete Steps 1-3, your parish will schedule a meeting to go over your choices for Readings, music, and plan your rehearsal.

Find resources to help you plan a beautiful Catholic wedding here.

Step 5: Go to Confession

(0-2 weeks before wedding) 


Sacraments (like Marriage!) infuse God's divine life into our souls. In our fallen nature, each of us (in large and small ways) falls short of the life God calls us to live, weakening that life of grace within us. To help restore and strengthen that divine life, the Church gives us the sacrament of Reconciliation. As you approach your wedding day, we encourage you to take advantage of this great gift of God's mercy and prepare your soul to receive all the graces poured out in your marriage. 

Check with your parish about their Confession times, or find other times here. And if it's been a while, never fear! Check out these helpful tools to help you prepare.

Step 6: Get Married

(and stay married!)


Congratulations! You made it! We are so happy for you and are praying for both of you, your families, and your marriage on your big day. 

Once the wedding is over, the real work of marriage begins. You'll quickly discover that while the grace of marriage is real, it still takes a lot of work. Don't let Marriage Prep be the end of working on and deepening your love with each other. 

Your parish and the Archdiocese provide several ways to help support your marriage. Be sure to check this page for updated information and opportunities


Contact Us


Doug Ulaszek
Associate Director of Evangelization & Catechesis
 Adult & Family


Tori Franke
Natural Family Planning Coordinator

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408