In order to avoid frustration or complication, please contact the priest or deacon you wish to preside over the marriage at least 6 months before you hope to be married. In addition, please do not book a reception hall, honeymoon, or anything else related to the marriage until you have begun the procedure for marriage within the Church.
During the six months (or more), the couple will prepare for the sacrament of marriage by entering into dialogue with one another and with the pastor, by attending some sort of marriage preparation (such as a weekend retreat), and by entering into prayer. As we see in Scripture, marriage is for a lifetime, so the Church encourages couples to take their time and properly prepare for the wedding so as to be better equipped for the journey.
|From Seven Sacraments Altarpiece|
- Certified copies of Birth Certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the City or State of your birth.
- Marriage License
- Baptismal Certificates dated within six months of the wedding day.
- Initial interview with priest at least six months prior to the planned marriage date.
- Completion of Pre-Marital Inventory.
- Certificate of Attendance at one of the five qualified Marriage Preparation Programs.
- Pre-Marital Affidavits (in some cases).
Marriage Preparation Retreat
The Archdiocese of New Orleans sponsors a program called Engaged Encounter and encourages couples to attend a weekend retreat as a part of their marriage preparation. If the schedule of weekend retreats makes it impossible for a couple to attend, there are alternatives, such as the one day mini-retreat (Day for the Engaged). In addition, some couples prepare for marriage by meeting with another married couple at their home in the evenings for a number of weeks. The point of these programs is to help the couple enter into dialogue and prayer about their relationship and some of the spiritual as well as practical issues that will strengthen their marriage.
Visit the Family Life Apostolate website for more information concerning the Engaged Encounter program.
What is Marriage?
Marriage is a life-long covenant of a man and a woman who freely give their life to their spouse in the presence of God and the Church. It is a sacrament of the New Covenant that Christ instituted in order to give grace.
The Church teaches that the goal of marriage is the sanctification of spouses and the procreation and raising of children. Marriage is a call to love another perfectly, as God loves us. This is why it is one of the sacraments of service. In a marriage, a husband and wife are called to serve one another. Baptism is a sacrament an individual receives for his own soul’s benefit. The same is true of confession and communion. But marriage is not received for the self; it is received for the spouse. It is about making a total gift of self. Vatican II said that man cannot understand himself unless he makes a gift of himself. Marriage is the normal way in which people do this.
In Scripture, marriage is like a golden thread running from start to finish. Genesis gives the primordial account of marriage between Adam and Eve, who become one flesh and are given the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” The Bible closes with the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” In the Old Testament, God uses marital imagery to describe his relationship to Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding “in Cana in Galilee.” Jesus himself speaks of the great good that marriage is, and particularly of the permanence of a Christian marriage in the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 19.
Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man must give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
Marriage is a beautiful sacrament and a great way to grow and increase in faith, love, and hope. In fact, it is a tremendous source of grace for those prepared to receive it faithfully. “It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.” (CCC #1615)