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Preparing for Marriage

When Two Become One Marriage Preparation Course

What is Marriage Preparation and why should we do it? 

The period leading up to a marriage is a busy, exciting and often stressful time. While your engagement, wedding preparations, reception and honeymoon are all important, the marriage ceremony – the gift of your promise to one another - is at the centre of the Christian celebration.  Whilst your wedding day will be long remembered and cherished, your marriage - the daily reality of living out that promise - will continue long after the last piece of cake is eaten.

Preparation for marriage involves a process of discernment. It should be an affirming experience, as you and your fiancé develop a deeper understanding of one another and your readiness to enter married life.

What’s different about getting married in the Catholic Church?

Marriage in the Catholic tradition is a covenant – a sacred vow which, like God’s promise of love to us, can never be broken. From the beginning, God created man and woman to be joined as a sign of His love both to each other and to the world.

In the Catholic Church, Marriage is one of seven Sacraments - a sacred sign that presents to the world a deeper spiritual reality. A man and woman in marriage reveal the full, free, faithful and fruitful love that Jesus Christ has for each of us.

What do we need to do to get married in the Catholic Church?

Couples are asked to give at least six months notice to the officiating priest or deacon. One month notice is obligatory by law, but the longer notice requested here allows for a calm and serious preparation for marriage.

Couples are counselled by the priest before marriage and are asked to attend a marriage preparation course. (See “When Two Become One” Marriage Preparation Course information below).

Sometimes people who have not been to Church for a while can be apprehensive about approaching the Church for a wedding. Since marriage can be a time of rediscovering one's faith and making a new start, you should not hesitate to discuss your situation with the priest.

Documents required for marriage in the Catholic Church

When you wish to be married in the Catholic Church, you need to provide the priest with the following documents:

A Pre Nuptial Enquiry Form - can be completed as early as eighteen months before the wedding but, at a minimum, must be signed at least one month prior to the wedding day. This form is available from the priest.

Each will also need to present the following documents:

Birth Certificate - Available from Registrar of Births & Deaths

Baptism Certificate - This must have been issued in the past six months and is available from the parish where you were baptised. Send the parish your full name, estimated date of baptism and a stamped self-addressed envelope.

If either party has been married before, you must provide:

The Death certificate of their former spouse

A Decree of Nullity (from the Catholic Marriage Tribunal) AND Civil Divorce Decree

Mixed Marriage

A mixed marriage is where one party is a Catholic and the other party is not a Catholic, whether baptised or not. A Catholic, even when entering a mixed marriage must be married before a Catholic priest.

Permission can be given for a Catholic to marry one who is not Catholic provided that the Catholic promises to safeguard his/her own Catholic faith and to do all in his/her power to have the children of their marriage baptised and raised as Catholic.

The partner who is not a Catholic, though not required to make a promise must be properly informed before the wedding of the obligations and expectations the Church has of their Catholic spouse.

Place of Marriage

Since the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage has an important religious message it is normally celebrated in the Catholic Church. Where one of the partners is not a Catholic and has a strong connection to his or her own church, the Bishop may give permission (known as a dispensation) for the marriage to take place in the other church.

Any Catholic wishing to be married in a place other than a Catholic church needs to make a request to the Archbishop. This can be done through your priest. Dispensations to be married outside a church are not common.

Marriage Preparation in Melbourne

In an effort to better serve the needs of couples preparing for marriage, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is currently reviewing the marriage preparation course opportunities on offer. While it is anticipated additional marriage preparation programs will be offered later in 2020, no further When Two Become One seminars are scheduled for 2020.

While work is being done over the coming months, there are other options for couples in Melbourne (please discuss these other options with the priest who will be witnessing your marriage to agree on the preferred option):  
  • FOCCUS is an inventory is done with the couple and a facilitator. Bookings can be made by phone through local CatholicCare centres listed here.
  • Smart Loving is a flexible online program for engaged couples. Register here.
  • Partnerships is a one-day seminar offered through CatholicCare. Bookings can be made here.
  • Transformed in Love is a two-day seminar offered at St Mary’s, Star of the Sea Parish, West Melbourne. For more information, contact the parish via: or (03) 9328 3474.

If you have any further questions, please contact us on: or (03) 9926 5761.


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