Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q. What’s the difference between the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church and civil marriage?

The difference is that in a Catholic sacramental marriage the couple enters into a life-long, unbreakable sacramental covenant with each other and God, whereas civil marriage is a legal contract between two individuals that can be broken in the future. However, when a couple celebrates the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church, the state also recognizes this marriage as a legal contract.

Q. If we want to get married in the Catholic Church, what do we need to do first?

There are a few steps that you need to take, please refer to Steps to Marriage.

Q. What if one of us is not Catholic?

After meeting with you, the priest or deacon will fill out the necessary forms for the required dispensation. If this is an interfaith marriage we recommend attending a marriage preparation program and listening to the information with an open heart and mind. Asking questions of the facilitator(s) and clergy is very helpful for both parties.

Q. What does Marriage Preparation Together in God’s Love (TIGL) include?

Marriage Preparation or TIGL includes 8 hours of marriage preparation sessions, which are held on weekends, and/ or four consecutive Tuesdays. The sessions include presentations by facilitators; time for you and your fiancé(e) to discuss important topics such as faith, communication, conflict resolution, sexuality and stewardship.

Q. Why is marriage preparation necessary?

Marriage preparation is necessary because the church has learned over the years how crucial it is, especially in our society today, to give engaged couples the support, formation and instruction they need to meet the many challenges of living out the Sacrament of Marriage. We know that the family is the building block of our society and our church, and the foundation of the family is a strong, healthy, and holy marriage.

Q. Are there one–day marriage preparation programs?

No. Research and our experience have found that one-day programs are not long enough to fully absorb all of the information to give you an understanding of what a sacramental marriage entails.

Q. How long before our wedding do we need to take a marriage preparation course?

It is important for you to complete the preparation six months to a year before the wedding. Marriage preparation is a discernment opportunity for the engaged couple to understand more about their vocation to marriage and family life.

Q. What is included in Prepare-Enrich or FOCCUS?

Both are pre-marriage inventories (surveys) that include such topics as communication skills, life style expectations, finances, spiritual values, financial issues, career and children. Each of you responds SEPARATELY to the questions in the inventory in an online format. After the inventory is scored, a trained facilitator presents the results and discusses them with you at a separate session or during the marriage preparation session.

Q. Why is it necessary to participate in Prepare-Enrich or FOCCUS?

These two assessments bring up topics that the couple needs to address before marriage. It focuses on strengths and growth areas that a couple has. It is a tool for the couple to access and communicate openly about the different topics that a couple should discuss prior to marriage.

Q. We have much to prepare for our wedding day, but what are the most important ways we can prepare for a whole lifetime of marriage in the Catholic Church?

The most important ways you can prepare for married life in the Catholic Church is to renew your own life of faith and prayer by regular attendance at Sunday Mass, personal prayer, living out your faith in your day–to–day life, and by learning more about the spirituality of marriage in the Church.