Congratulations on your engagement! The Church rejoices that you have decided to give yourselves to each other in a loving, life-long commitment and to enrich the Church and the world through your marriage and family. Your marriage preparation began a long time ago when you were a child, learning examples of love from those around you. You began to form friendships and to learn what it meant to love, forgive, listen to, converse with, and simply be with another person. These experiences helped to make you who you are today and perhaps led you to your fiancé.
Preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony begins at least six months prior to your wedding and consists of a seven-step process.
Step 1: Meet with your Pastor
When: BEFORE you set a wedding date.
Meet with your Pastor at least nine months before your desired wedding date. After you become engaged, you should contact your pastor right away to set  up a meeting. During this initial meeting, the pastor can discuss with you the  marriage preparation process. He will also provide you with the information  you  need to complete Steps 2-6 of the process. Setting a schedule to complete the individual components during or shortly after this meeting is strongly advised.
Step 2: Marriage Preparation Inventory
When: As soon as possible after meeting with your pastor.
After meeting with your pastor, you will complete a marriage preparation inventory, which is a series of questions designed to assist dialogue with your fiance regarding goals, habits, expectations and values. Your answers are then assessed and provide you with a personalized profile of your relationship's strengths and weaknesses. The inventory is an important starting place for couple discussion and a map of what issues need affirmation, time and attention, and/or problem solving.
Step 3: Married Life Skills Workshop
When: Seven to eight months before the wedding.
In addition to a marriage prep inventory, you will complete an educational component designed to fine tune practical skills such as conflict resolution, decision-making, financial management, and communication. This will build on the  knowledge you gained from your marriage inventory. There are various educational  programs available in the diocese, with formats varying from a weekend retreat  to multiple evening meetings. Your priest or deacon can help you select the  program that best fits your needs.
Step 4: God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage
When: Six to seven months before the wedding.
God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage is a program based on Scripture and John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," and it will teach you not only what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality, but why she teaches it. A beautiful vision of the meaning of marriage.
Step 5: Natural Family Planning Instruction
When: Four to six months before the wedding.
To ensure you have the tools to plan your family effectively and in accord with God’s plan for marriage, you will have the opportunity to learn about Natural Family Planning by taking a full course in an approved NFP method. The diocese has classes scheduled in over 30 locations in the diocese. To search for classes by city, parish or NFP method and to register for classes on-line, please visit the Office of NFP website:
Step 6: Sacrament of Reconciliation
When: Before the wedding, as necessary.
The Church invites all Catholics to prepare themselves spiritually prior to their marriage through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Step 7: Final Meeting with your Pastor
When: Six to eight weeks before the wedding.
Those working with you in your parish will help you prepare the liturgy for your wedding day, which will start you on the road to a lifetime of marriage.