Guide to Planning a Catholic Wedding

Offers the step-by-step process for couples planning to wed in a Catholic parish in Arkansas

Follow These Steps

Getting 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. (Leer en Español.)

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. To learn more, see 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. For more information, contact the Family Life Office at (501) 664-0340. Go to step-by-step guide to getting married in the Catholic Church in Arkansas.

1. 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. To learn more, see Marriage Preparation Policy and Procedures.

2. Take FOCCUS Inventory

You 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. To learn more about these programs or to register for one of them, go to Marriage Education Programs

4. Learn Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning (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. Couples may use these methods to avoid pregnancy by abstaining from sexual intercourse during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. To find registration information, visit Natural Family Planning.

5. Set the Date and Plan the Wedding

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.  For Your Marriage, an initiative from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offers several resources to assist couples in planning their wedding ceremony including: options for the ceremony, considerations for interfaith marriages, details on the rite of marriage and how that would differ with or without a Mass, suggested readings, music and even a recommended budget for the wedding. There is also a list of 10 Tips for Planning Your Wedding.

6. Pray Together

If you aren't already, start praying with each other, for each other and for your upcoming marital life together. For Your Marriage also offers a great list of prayers, including a prayer of a future wife, prayer of a future husband and a blessing for the engaged couple.  After the wedding, be sure to carry the habit over into your marriage. Prayer is a powerful way to enrich and care for your marriage. We also invite you to ask others to pray for you. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor offers up the prayer requests from our Prayer Book of Intentions Online when he celebrates Mass at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. You are welcome to Submit a Prayer Request.

Return to Top

Additional Resources

The following resources may also be helpful to you in planning your Catholic wedding.