Here’s an outline of the steps you will take in preparing for marriage within the Catholic Church:
Contact your local parish
This is the first step in order to be married in the Catholic Church. As soon as you can, contact the parish closest to either of the Catholic parties, whether you celebrate Mass there or not, and regardless of whether the wedding will take place at the parish. This pastor is responsible for the completion of all necessary documentation. Similarly, this pastor will make the necessary arrangements for the wedding to be celebrated in another parish if so desired.
To avoid possible complications, no wedding dates should be booked until after the completion of the first meeting with the parish minister. This ensures that you have a full understanding of all of the requirements necessary for celebrating your wedding in the Catholic Church, and prevents you from losing any non-refundable costs if the wedding date needs to be postponed.
This initial meeting is designed to explain the requirements needed to be married in the Catholic Church; begin the necessary dialogue to learn about your personal histories (e.g. possible prior marriages); and create an opportunity for you to reflect more seriously on the meaning of marriage in the Church; and allows the priest or marriage minister to guide the couple through the marriage preparation process.
The formal preparation for marriage is to begin at least twelve months prior to the anticipated date of the wedding.
Participate in a Catholic marriage preparation program
You are required to attend a Catholic marriage preparation program. It is strongly recommended that the marriage course be taken at least 4-6 months before the wedding date. This will avoid the hectic time before your wedding and allow you to have a more fulfilling and pleasant experience. After the completion of the program you will receive a certificate of completion which needs to be submitted to your pastor.
You can find a list of programs approved in the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton on our Marriage Preparation Programs page.
You are also strongly encouraged to attend a formation class on Natural Family Planning.
Follow-up meetings with your priest
The second meeting is to take place after the completion of an approved Catholic marriage preparation course and is to be conducted by the priest or deacon. Its purpose is to give you, the couple, the opportunity to reaffirm your decision for marriage and in particular for marriage in the Church. Each party will meet individually with the priest or deacon and be interviewed separately.
The third meeting is to help you both prepare together for the liturgical celebration of your marriage.
Choosing the date for your wedding
Weddings can be celebrated on any day of the week. If a wedding is celebrated on a Sunday, it would have to be at the usual time of the Sunday Eucharist.
Weddings may not be celebrated during Holy Week or on any day of the Easter Triduum.
Weddings during Advent and Lent are not encouraged. If a wedding is celebrated during Advent or Lent, the wedding ceremony should reflect the special nature of this liturgical season and avoid too much pomp and display, in order to keep the focus of the season on solemn preparation for Christmas or Easter.