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Guide to Planning Your Catholic Wedding

weddingGetting married? Congratulations! This is a wonderful time of joy and anticipation. It is also a time of preparation. Many decisions must be made from choosing the wedding dress and planning the honeymoon to picking the flowers and a photographer. These are all important in planning your special day.

But the kind of marriage preparation discussed on these pages focuses not on your wedding but on your marriage. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman.

When two baptized Christians enter into marriage freely, understanding its sacredness, permanency and indissolubility, their marriage is a sacrament, a sacred covenant between them and God that can only be broken by death. Learn more about Catholic Marriage

Because marriage is lifelong, the Church wants to help you build a strong, lasting marriage. For this reason, couples seeking marriage in the Catholic Church are asked to spend several months in marriage preparation. The following is a step-by-step guide to getting married in the Catholic Church in Arkansas:

ring1: Contact Your Pastor

Contact your local parish and make an appointment to speak to your pastor at least six months before your tentative wedding date. During your initial meeting with the pastor, the necessary paperwork and assessment of preparation for marriage will begin.

Special circumstances, such as being underage, pregnant, from different religious backgrounds or previously married, will also be addressed. See Marriage Preparation Policy and Procedures

2: Take FOCCUS Inventory

foccusYou and your fiancé will take a premarital inventory designed to help you learn more about each other and your unique relationship. In the Diocese of Little Rock, couples take the Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study (FOCCUS). Then you will spend time with your priest or deacon reflecting on your responses and how they affect your relationship and might carry over into your married life. Learn more about FOCCUS

3: Attend a Marriage Education Program

Together you will participate in a formal marriage preparation course, such as Pre-Cana Day, Sponsor Couple or another program approved by the Diocese of Little Rock. Which program you attend is determined in consultation with your pastor. Learn more about our Marriage Education Programs

4: Attend a full course of Natural Family Planning

Together you will participate in a Natural Family Planning (NFP) course. NFP is an umbrella term to describe the methods used to achieve or avoid pregnancy based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Choose a Method

pray5: Set the Date and Plan the Wedding Liturgy

You will have additional meetings with your priest or deacon to complete the process, including final paperwork, setting the wedding date, planning the wedding liturgy, etc.

6: Pray Together

The wedding day and forever. Couples should pray with each other and for their upcoming marital life together. After the wedding, couples should continue to enrich, pray and care for their marriage.