The first step in preparing for marriage is to contact your local parish and set up your first meeting to begin the official process. It's best not to book your wedding or reception until you've had this initial meeting, where you will be given information about the general requirements of Catholic marriage, guidelines for Catholic marriage in New Jersey and specific instructions from your own wedding parish.
Marriage Prep Timeline
Click here for our useful step-by-step guide of the entire marriage preparation process in the Diocese of Trenton.
Church Documents Needed
You should be prepared to present the following documents to your parish priest or deacon during your sessions:
- Certificate of Baptism: A recently issued copy dated no earlier than 6 months prior to the wedding date with a raised seal (available from the parish of Baptism).
- Certificate of First Communion.
- Certificate of Confirmation.
- A letter of testimony, indicating one’s freedom to marry, may be requested by the priest/deacon or pastoral minister.
- A Pre-Cana, Engaged Encounter Certificate or valid completion of a marriage formation program.
- If a person has been previously married, even if not celebrated before a Catholic priest or deacon, he or she must present an annulment decree or the death certificate of the former spouse, before the priest or deacon can set a wedding date.
Taking the FOCCUS Pre-Marital Inventory
FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study) is a tool designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. The pre-marital inventory provides each couple and a facilitator with a personalized profile of areas or issues that may need to be addressed. The content covers a range of elements necessary for a successful marriage. It initiates a process in which clergy or trained pastoral ministers facilitate discussion between the couple. Upon completion of the FOCCUS process, couples often experience a noticeable increase in their understanding of the marital commitment and readiness for marriage.
Couples are encouraged to complete FOCCUS with their pastoral minister before attending the marriage preparation workshop of their choice. If you are interested in taking the FOCCUS pre-marital inventory but it is not offered in your parish, please contact the Department of Youth, Marriage and Family Life, 609.403.7151, to make arrangements.
Marriage Preparation Classes
Because the Catholic Church believes that marriage is not only a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, but also the foundation of healthy communities, all Catholic dioceses around the world offer engaged couples an opportunity to learn all they can about what it takes to build lasting marriage that gets better all the time.
Couples who are adequately prepared for marriage learn how to communicate in loving ways, resolve conflicts effectively, and begin to create a marriage built on respect, trust, intimacy, forgiveness, faith and unconditional love.
The Diocese of Trenton offers a variety of marriage preparation classes to suit the individual tastes and needs of today's engaged couples. These include Engaged Encounter weekends, Parish Pre-Cana Conferences, diocesan Pre-Canas ("God's Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage" Diocesan Pre-Cana), and other selected programs offered by individual parishes for their parishioners. Couples in which one or both parties are remarrying in the Church after the death of a spouse or annulment must attend our To Trust Again remarriage workshop.
Parish Pre-Cana Conferences
Pre-Cana conferences in the Diocese of Trenton are designed to help engaged couples prepare for the everyday challenges of lifelong, sacramental marriage. Through married couple witness presentations, private couple dialog and group interaction, the Pre-Cana experience helps couples develop better relational skills, including healthier ways to communicate and resolve conflicts. The spiritual components of the conference strengthen and nourish the faith of participants, enabling them to joyfully embrace their new vocation of marriage.
Pre-Cana classes are offered in selected parishes at various times and locations throughout the year and are open to all couples preparing for Catholic marriage. Couples find participation in Pre-Cana conferences to be a positive, enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
Check out must have conversations for dating and engaged couples from foryourmarriage.org for ideas and resources to better prepare you for Pre-Cana and your future marriage. Please be aware that, while some Pre-Cana programs are completed in one day, others are scheduled in segments over a two or three day period. To get the most out of their Pre-Cana experience, couples will attend all segments and participate in the program in its entirety. Important: Couples for whom either party has a prior marriage must attend the TO TRUST AGAIN remarriage workshop in lieu of Pre-Cana.
Check out our marriage preparation events to find a list of Pre-Cana classes and register online.
Pre-Cana in Spanish
This Pre-Cana program, presented entirely in the Spanish language, is for those of Hispanic descent and includes a whole support system for the Hispanic community. The registration fee is $115. Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. To register for a Pre-Cana in Spanish conference, please contact the Department of Youth, Marriage and Family Life, 609.403.7151.
Overwhelmed by work and wedding planning? Feel like there's no time alone for the two of you to ponder the profound adventure you are setting out on? Come away, beloved...
Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) is a unique marriage preparation retreat designed to set aside a quiet place and a solid block of time for busy couples to put away distractions and communicate honestly and intensively with each other about the important things in life …about knowing and loving ourselves and our fiancés, about God, about ambitions and goals and attitudes toward things like money, sexual intimacy, children and family.
Your weekend will be guided by married couples who share their own life experiences. Engaged couples are given ample opportunities to think about and discuss their own unique backgrounds, experiences, hopes and fears in a gently structured program based on reflection, writing and private dialogue between fiancés. [All couples gather for presentations, meals and the celebration of Sunday Mass.]
Check out "Dating and Engaged: Must Have Conversations" from foryourmarriage.org for ideas and resources to better prepare you for your Engaged Encounter weekend and your future marriage. Engaged Encounter weekends are held at Stella Maris Retreat House located on the Atlantic coast in Elberon, New Jersey, which provides a beautiful, prayerful setting to draw close to each other and to God. The Encounter weekend begins on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. and concludes approximately 4 p.m. on Sunday. The cost is $395 per couple, which includes meals and lodging. Reservations are limited.
Check out our marriage preparation events to find an Engaged Encounter weekend and register online.
GOD'S PLAN FOR A JOY-FILLED MARRIAGE DIOCESAN PRE-CANA
God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage Pre-Cana is a marriage preparation workshop which offers a more complete understanding of God's glorious plan for marriage and human sexuality than perhaps any program available in the Church today. Based on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB), this program is intended to enhance key components of marriage readiness, such as learning about the beauty of marriage and the gift of human sexuality, as well as practical skills for day-to-day living. View this You-tube video to get an idea of what TOB is all about.
Check out must have conversations for dating and engaged couples from foryourmarriage.org for ideas and resources to better prepare you for Pre-Cana and your future marriage.
The cost to attend a "God's Plan" diocesan Pre-Cana is $150 per couple.
Check out our marriage preparation events for available God's Plan Pre-Cana workshops and to register online.
To Trust Again
This Catholic remarriage preparation program, offered twice a year, is designed to meet the pastoral needs of couples in which one or both persons are marrying after the loss of a spouse through death or divorce. The program addresses specific issues these individuals face as they enter into the new relationship. Couples are invited to explore issues between themselves and within small group settings.
Check out this section from foryourmarriage.org for ideas and resources to better prepare you for To Trust Again and your future marriage.
Check out our marriage preparation events to find a To Trust Again workshop and register online.