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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.

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. 

Premarital Inventory

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 the Archdiocesan Online 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 the Archdiocesan Online Marriage Preparation Conference. The Online Marriage Prep Conference contains a series of pre-recorded videos. We recommend that you block off 3-4 hours to view the videos and have discussion time as a couple. We have provided a reflection guide that coordinates with each video to aid in that discussion. You don't have to do the conference in one sitting and you may log in and out as often as you like - we do periodically add new videos so come back and check them out! 

The Online Marriage Prep Conference includes formation in Natural Family Planning.

Marriage Preparation Conferences in Spanish will be done virtually through Zoom. Participants can register at this link.

If you prefer an in-person weekend retreat, Milwaukee Catholic Engaged Encounter is will offer in-person weekends in January and May 2022. To register go to for more details. Contact John and Louise Vos ( for more information. 

  Step 3. 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 4. 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

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  We want to get married in the Catholic Church. What is the first step?

Contact your local parish. If you do not currently belong to a parish, please reach out to the Office of Marriage and Family Life and we will happily help you find a parish or view our listing of parishes. Your local parish will help prepare you and your future spouse for your marriage and handle any paperwork that must be submitted to the Archdiocese. You will have meetings with the pastor or other parish staff as well as attend an Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference. You will also attend a workshop on Natural Family Planning and be assigned an established married couple to guide you through your premarital inventory.

See our diagram above for a general outline of the steps, but always follow what your parish suggests. 

  What are the requirements to get married in the Catholic Church?

One party must be a baptized Catholic. The wedding would ordinarily be presided over by a Catholic priest or deacon. The spouses must not have any prior marriages that have not been reviewed by Church officials. Your parish will assist you with that referral if needed. Both parties must be mature and capable of consenting to the marriage and understand what the Catholic Church teaches on marriage (this will be covered during your marriage preparation).

  What documents will we need to give our parish?

The Catholic party or parties will need to provide a baptismal certificate (this can be obtained by calling the parish where you were baptized). Baptismal certificates must be obtained and dated within six months of your wedding date, so you do not need to request them before that point.  

If your spouse is a non-Catholic Christian he or she will need to provide evidence of baptism via a certificate or affidavit signed by an adult who was present at the time of baptism. Your local parish will help you determine what may be necessary.

  How long before our desired wedding date do we need to begin marriage preparation?

It is recommended that you contact your parish as soon as possible to begin the process with at least six months notice. This includes reserving a date that the Church will be available and scheduling marriage preparation sessions.

  Can we choose a priest from another parish or diocese to marry us?

Yes. Contact the parish where you are getting married, and they can assist you in the process. Be sure to be in conversation both with the priest celebrating the wedding as well as the parish. 

  I am marrying a non-Catholic Christian. Can his/her minister be a part of our Catholic wedding ceremony or can we have another ceremony in that church?

A non-Catholic Christian minister may be involved in the wedding in a very limited capacity. In no way may it appear that this minister is the main celebrant, nor may both ministers receive your marriage vows. The minister may be invited to offer a blessing or reading. Be sure to discuss any involvement with your priest before inviting another minister to participate.

There cannot be any type of second ceremony at a different church. A couple with one Catholic party may be granted permission to be married in another setting instead of the Catholic church. This can be discussed with your Catholic parish and will still require marriage preparation through the Catholic Church.

  I am marrying a non-Christian. Can we have a second ceremony in his or her religious tradition?

No, Canon Law does not permit this. There may only be one wedding ceremony. If a Catholic wishes to get married in the religious tradition of the other party, permission may be granted. This can be discussed with the Catholic parish and will still require marriage preparation through the Catholic Church.

  Can we do our marriage preparation in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee but get married at a church outside of the Archdiocese?

Yes, simply inform your parish here in the Archdiocese and they will assist in preparing the paperwork to send to the diocese in which you will be married.

  Do Catholic parties need to be Confirmed in order to get married?

While Confirmation is encouraged, it is not a requirement. To learn more about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation as an adult, visit our RCIA information page.

  What is required for planning my wedding Mass?

Visit our wedding liturgy resource page to learn more about planning.

  Do I have to be a member of the parish where I am getting married?

As long as a Catholic party has received permission from his or her proper pastor / parish to be married in a parish church other than the one to which he or she belongs, there is nothing that would impede a parish from allowing a non-parishioner to be married in that parish. Please contact both the priest marrying you, and the parish where you are hoping to be married. 

  Can I get married in the Catholic Church if I am not attending Sunday Mass regularly?

Attending Sunday Mass is the obligation of all Catholics, whether pursuing the Sacrament of Marriage or not. While marriage will not be withheld from someone who sincerely desires a marriage recognized by the Church, the Church realizes that the grace of Holy Matrimony will be most fruitful when someone is living in a state of grace and regularly receiving the Eucharist at Sunday Mass. 

  Can I get married in the Catholic Church if I am currently living with my fiancé?

(Taken from If you are a cohabiting couple who has chosen to marry, the Catholic Church welcomes your decision to marry. Because cohabitation can have an effect on the marriage, couples are encouraged to explore certain questions with the pastoral minister who is preparing them for marriage. These include:

  • Why did you choose to live together?
  • What did you learn from the experience of living together?
  • Why did you decide to marry?
  • Why do you wish to marry in the Catholic Church?
  • What does marriage as a life-long, faithful commitment mean to you?

Pastoral ministers may encourage cohabiting couples without children to separate for a period before marriage as a sign of their free, loving decision to follow the Church’s vision of marriage and sexuality. Couples are also encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. People have a right to marry; therefore, cohabiting couples cannot be denied marriage in the Catholic Church solely because they are cohabiting. However, cohabitation may raise questions, for example, about the couple’s freedom to marry, that need to be explored.

  Can I have multiple priests participate in my wedding?

Yes, you can. One priest would be the main celebrant, and the other priests would concelebrate. Only one priest may perform the Rite of Marriage, but you may choose to have a concelebrating priest preach the homily if you prefer. 

  I am in a civil marriage and want to make things right in the eyes of the Church. What do I need to do?

Congratulations on your willingness to take this step! The process of bringing a civil marriage into the Church is called a validation. Your parish will be your main point of contact in preparing you for a valid marriage. While every parish is different, you will meet with a priest or a parish staff member to discuss marriage preparation and the details for planning your wedding. If you are not currently a member of a parish, please contact the Office for Marriage and Family Life and we will help you find a parish nearby.

  Do I have to participate in marriage preparation if we are seeking a convalidation?

While we recommend couples participate in the diocesan marriage preparation, we also recognize that everyone seeking a validation of a civil marriage is coming from a different background, and we leave the specifics of the preparation to the priest or deacon who will validate the marriage. The priest or deacon may determine the appropriate preparation in addition to the prenuptial questionnaire. 

  Do I have to participate in marriage preparation if I have been married in the Catholic Church previously?

Your new marriage deserves all the proper preparation so that it can be beautiful and successful. We ask that you fully enter into marriage preparation as you enter into your new marriage in the Catholic Church.

  We are beyond childbearing years. Do we have to participate in a Natural Family Planning Workshop?

While we encourage all married couples to learn more about the beauty of fertility in God’s plan through learning NFP, we understand that the actual process of monitoring fertility signs does not apply directly to some engaged couples who are no longer within childbearing years. Please speak with your pastor if you feel that participating in an NFP Workshop does not apply to you as a couple.

  We are unable to participate in FOCCUS couple meetings or a Marriage Prep Conference before our wedding because of our work schedules/deployment/etc. Can we do those things online?

With the permission of whoever is preparing you at the parish, you may participate in the Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference online. FOCCUS meetings can take place virtually with a facilitating couple and should be set up directly with them.

  We are struggling financially. Is there any assistance available for us so we can participate in a Marriage Preparation Conference?

Yes. Please contact Emily Burds (, Associate Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, to discuss options.

  Can we get married on a Sunday or a weekday?

Marriages may be celebrated on any day during the week. However, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee celebration of weddings on Sundays is discouraged. Special permission is to be sought from the Chancery Office for celebration of marriage on a Sunday. The restriction on Sunday weddings does not apply to simple validations.

Resources and Tips



NFP Brochure



Be Devoted by Dr. Schuchts

Dynamic Catholic’s Marriage Prep Videos “Better Together

For Your Marriage

Forever by Jackie and Bobby Angel

Happy Together by John Bosio

Heaven’s Song by Christopher West

How to Love your Wife” by John Buri

Invited by Stephanie Calis

Just Married by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak

Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri

One Body by John and Claire Grabowski

Podcasts and Videos on Marriage from Ascension Presents

Spoken Bride

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Three Secrets to Holiness in Marriage by Dan and Amber Dematte


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 ( or visit their web page for more information.


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