Marriage Preparation Resources for Priests and Parish Staff
Thank you for all that you do in preparing and accompanying our engaged couples toward the Sacrament of Matrimony! We couldn’t do this without you. You are the primary point of connection for these couples to the Catholic Church, and you have the unique opportunity to connect these couples to a parish community.
Even though you are the main touch-point for these couples, the Office for Marriage and Family still wants to support you and help you feel equipped in forming and accompanying these couples. We have compiled a timeline that we suggest for marriage preparation, as well as a number of resources for you that you will find below. Feel free to browse the resources yourselves, and consider sharing some of them with your engaged couples as additional preparation.
COVID-19 and Marriage Preparation
In light of the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, the in-person Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conferences in English have been cancelled until March 2021 at which time we will reevaluate our in-person events with the hope of returning to them in early spring 2021. Until then, the Office of Marriage and Family Life invites couples to participate in our newly created online version of marriage preparation. This is available to couples who need to participate in an Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference before March 2021. This conference includes the full NFP workshop that engaged couples are invited to attend as Step 3 of their Marriage Prep, as indicated on the Archdiocesan Marriage Prep timeline.
For those couples who can participate in marriage preparation after March 2021, we ask that they wait for further updates on when we'll be returning to in-person conferences. Please contact, or have a couple you're working with contact, Emily Burds (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further questions.
Marriage Preparation Conferences in Spanish will still take place on the same dates but will be done virtually through Zoom. Participants can register like usual, through clicking the registration icon at the bottom of this page.
Meetings to plan the wedding liturgy, meetings with the pastor/pastoral staff, and meetings to review the FOCCUS and other pre-marital inventories should still take place, either in-person or over Zoom.
We realize this is a heart-breaking time for so many engaged couples whose wedding plans have been significantly altered. We will pray for the peace of all the couples and those walking with them in their preparation.
Marriage Preparation Timeline
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Step 1. Contact the parish where you are getting married (as soon as you get engaged or at least 6 months before wedding).
This is essential to do as soon as possible to ensure that you have enough time to resolve any particular issues that may arise. Once you contact your parish, you will be invited to meet with a priest, deacon, or parish staff member to discuss the marriage preparation process.
If you don’t belong to a parish, please contact the Office for Marriage and Family Life and we can work with you on finding a local parish.
Initial meeting with your priest or parish staff member
While every parish operates on a slightly different timeline, in the early stages of your engagement you will meet with a priest or parish director who will walk you through the marriage preparation process and ensure that there is nothing standing in the way of a wedding in the Catholic Church.
You will also be invited to participate in a premarital inventory which you will be set up with at your parish. This inventory is not a test, but rather a tool to help you as a couple learn more about yourselves and the manner in which you relate to one another. FOCCUS and other similar inventories can be very useful for diagnosing areas of both strength and weakness in couple communication. You will be assigned a trained married couple to walk you through the responses from your inventory.
Step 2. Sign up for a Marriage Preparation Conference (6 months before wedding).
Once you have connected with the parish where you will be getting married, you will be invited into the parish’s process for preparation which will include your participation in one Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference. This day-long or weekend-long experience will give you the opportunity to encounter dynamic married couples who will share about the meaning of marriage, praying as a couple, and the powerful gift of sexuality and offer tips for a healthy marriage. Regardless of your faith or background, you are welcome at any of these preparation experiences. You will choose one program that best suits your needs as a couple.
Find out more information and sign up for a conference by clicking on the registration icon below.
Step 3. Sign up for an In-Person or Online Introductory NFP Workshop (6-3 months before wedding).
Natural Family Planning is a natural, scientific, holistic approach to fertility care. These workshops, taught by one of our local teachers, will introduce NFP in a broad sense and also explain the differences between the several NFP models. Following the workshops, a teacher will be available for follow up to serve your specific fertility needs. This could include navigating cycle irregularities and connecting you with specialists trained in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Anyone, whether single, engaged, or married, is welcome to join in this workshop. It's never too early or late in life to learn about NFP!
Find out more information and sign up for an in-person or online workshop by clicking on the registration icon below.
*PLEASE NOTE: The Online Marriage Preparation Conference includes the NFP Workshop within it. Therefore, couples who are signed up for the Online Marriage Preparation Conference do not need to sign up for a separate NFP Workshop.
Step 4. Plan your Wedding Liturgy (2 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. Resources are available to assist you.
You will plan the details of the ceremony with the parish where your wedding will take place.
Step 5. Attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation (1-2 weeks before wedding).
The Church welcomes and encourages all Catholics to spiritually prepare themselves for marriage through participating in the sacrament of Reconciliation. We invite you to receive God's mercy even if you have not gone to confession for some time. Find confession times near you here!
If it has been a while, don’t worry, you’re not alone! There are helpful tools to prepare you for Reconciliation.
Frequently Asked Questions by Couples
Resources and Tips
Convalidations and Annulments
Convalidations Information for Couples
Are you Catholic and were married outside of the Catholic Church? Did you have a civil ceremony or a non-Catholic one, but are now wondering if you could have your marriage recognized by the Catholic Church? The Church is here for you and wants to support you in your journey. We have a “convalidation process” for couples just like you.
While every couple’s journey is unique, we are here to help you through the process of having your marriage recognized by the Catholic Church. Maybe you didn’t realize that your civil or non-Catholic ceremony wasn’t recognized by the Church. Maybe you and your spouse have grown in your understanding of the importance of having Christ at the center of your marriage. Maybe you have been married for years and look back and wish you knew then what you know now. Alternatively, maybe one of you was seeking an annulment of a previous marriage when you decided to get married.
Whatever the situation you find yourself in, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is here to help you through the process, and we are ready to help you get started today!
Pursuing a valid Catholic marriage isn’t just a formality: it is a life changing and grace-filled decision that will bless and transform both you and your children. If something is stirring in your heart, we invite you to reach out to your home parish, or directly to our Marriage and Family office if you are not connected to a parish at this time.
A church annulment, or more properly a Declaration of Nullity, is an acknowledgment that a full marriage commitment was never achieved for a particular couple. The Declaration of Nullity process examines the marriage for the necessary elements of a valid union: permanence, fidelity, true companionship, love of the spouse, and fruitfulness in being open to the possibility of children.
The mission of the Metropolitan Tribunal is to provide justice for all persons who approach the Church's court system. This mission is fulfilled through the rendering of judgments concerning people's rights and obligations as well as their status in the Church. Such judgments seek to discern the truth about a matter and then initiate solutions that provide for justice based upon the law of the Scriptures, the Magisterial Teaching of the Church, and the Code of Canon Law. The tribunal seeks to determine if there was anything that prevented those elements from being present at the time of consent, even though both individuals may have entered the marriage in good will.
Please contact the Metropolitan Tribunal (email@example.com) or visit their web page for more information.