Planning Your Catholic Wedding
So you're engaged to be married (or thinking about it, anyway). What happens next?
If you aren't engaged yet, but are thinking about
it, you may want to take a closer look at whether you are ready for
marriage. Various books and online resources can help you make a
decision. ForYourMarriage.org, an initiative of the U.S. Catholic
bishops, offers a personality audit as well as "Ten Important Research
Findings on Marriage and Choosing a Marriage Partner," along with other
tools (see links below, under "For more information").
The Church presumes that baptized Catholics have a right to receive the sacraments, unless there is something that would prevent them from doing so (an "impediment"). If one of you is Catholic and this is the first time both of you will be married, then it is very likely that you can be married in the Catholic Church.
If you still have questions about whether you can be married in the Church, check out these articles:
- Can we get married in the Catholic Church if we are living together (cohabiting)?
- Can we get married in the Catholic Church if one of us is divorced?
- Can we get married by a justice of the peace in a civil ceremony and then have a Catholic wedding?
- Can I have a Catholic wedding even if I do not attend Mass?
Even if you meet the minimum requirements for
receiving the sacrament of Matrimony, however, the Church requires a
period of preparation for marriage.
Although the wedding industry promotes the engagement period as a time to prepare details of the wedding and honeymoon, the Church encourages couples to use this time to prepare for a lifelong marriage. For Catholic couples, the engagement period is a time to deepen faith, especially personal and interpersonal spirituality (Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage #17). Most Catholic dioceses require couples to complete a formal marriage preparation program for this purpose. But the Church encourages couples to prepare for marriage in other ways, too.
Why is spiritual preparation for marriage so
important? Simply put, your love for one another will be stronger,
deeper, and more enduring when it is rooted in the One who is the source
of all love. When couples enter the sacrament of
marriage, their love for one another is "caught up in" divine love; it
reflects and becomes a part of Christ's love for humanity (Familiaris
Consortio #13). Preparing for marriage spiritually helps
couples become more open and receptive to this spiritual dimension of
marriage. Learning to love and be loved by God helps Christian spouses
love one another more and more deeply—and that makes for a stronger,
Blessing your engagement is a good way to start. “The betrothal of a young Christian couple... is a special occasion for their families, who should celebrate it together with prayer and a special rite,” says the Church’s official Book of Blessings (#195). That book contains the Blessing of an Engaged Couple, which may be led by a priest, deacon, lay minister, or one of your parents. Your parish will have a copy of the Book of Blessings, or you can find the blessing online (see "Other Websites"), in the Order of Celebrating Matrimony (#218-236) or in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers (see the "Books" section below.
For more information
Readiness for Marriage
Are you ready for marriage? Check out these articles:
Blessing of An Engaged Couple
The complete text of the blessing, along with other Blessings and Prayers appropriate for engagement, weddings, and anniversaries, from ForYourMarriage.org.