“Love is not easy, it is not easy, but the most beautiful thing is when a man and a woman can offer each other true love and offer it for life.”
Pope Francis, Meeting with Families, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, Feb 15, 2016
Congratulations on your decision to get married in the Catholic Church! The marriage preparation process is designed to guide engaged couples towards a sacramental marriage celebration and provide essential tools to live out this lifelong covenant. These guidelines for marriage preparation apply to all Catholics in the Diocese of Orlando.
A. Preliminary Interview
The first step is a meeting with the parish priest or pastoral minister to begin the wedding planning and preparation for married life. This should take place between six to twelve months prior the anticipated wedding date and before any arrangements are made or a wedding date is set. During this interview, the pastoral minister will provide an explanation of the Pastoral Guidelines for Marriage Preparation. Please discuss if:
- One or both are under the age of nineteen;
- There is pregnancy involved;
- You are presently living together;
- One of the engaged is not Catholic;
- One or both have been married before in any type of ceremony or common law union;
- You are now civilly married and wish to have your marriage validated by the Catholic Church.
B. Assessment for Determining Readiness
The pastoral minister will use a variety of methods to assist in determining the maturity of the couple and their readiness for marriage. A premarital inventory (FOCCUS or Fully Engaged) will be administered and diocesan forms will be completed.
C. Setting the Date
The final date for the wedding is not to be set until the entire assessment process
(A & B) has been completed and a decision to proceed has been made.
After the readiness for marriage has been determined, the couple will finalize the wedding date and begin the instruction process. The pastoral minister will outline the sacramental preparation required (Pre Cana, Pre Cana Weekend Retreat, Remarriage, Convalidation, interviews with the priest, etc.)
E. Required Documents
Before the wedding ceremony can take place, the prenuptial file must be completed with the following documents:
- Certificate of Baptism for each Catholic party (less than six months old).
- A Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire (Form A) is to be completed with a priest, deacon or church representative and signed by all parties.
- A Letter of Freedom to Marry (Form B) is to be completed by two witnesses on behalf of each engaged person (i.e. two forms for each engaged). Forms are available at the parish.
- A Certificate of Completion from the Diocesan Marriage Preparation Program.
- A valid Florida Marriage License. Visit your county’s web site for more information.
- Death Certificate of previous spouse or Annulment Decree if you were previously married.
- Canonical Dispensations and Permissions (if necessary).
F. Wedding Liturgy
The couple will plan their wedding liturgy with the priest. Areas for liturgical planning include the selection of the scriptures, music, liturgical ministries and other related issues.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding marriage preparation, call the Family Ministry Office at 407-246-4882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.