If a man and a woman marry in order to be companions on the journey from earth to heaven, then their union will bring great joy to themselves and to others."
—  St. John Chrysostom

Marriage Prep

The Sacrament of Matrimony is a vocation – a public commitment between a man and a woman to spend a lifetime together – creating and nurturing life, and helping each other to become their best self in Jesus, in life and to others. The sacrament is a visible sign of God’s unconditional love for us and brings grace and joy to the new couple. To start the marriage process, contact your parish priest six to nine months before your anticipated wedding date. Learn more about marriage preparation below.

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Marriage Preparation Steps

Step 1: Contact your parish

Contact your parish to establish your freedom to marry and to register for marriage preparation. You should receive a copy of the Celebration of Matrimony Workbook and a current archdiocesan marriage preparation brochure during this first contact with the parish.

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Things to Keep in Mind:

Couples most benefit from marriage preparation if their FOCCUS facilitation and CEE retreat or MAJ workshop are completed 6 months prior to their wedding day. Please plan so that you are not rushed to complete the 7 Steps. The Archdiocese of Omaha requires a minimum of 6 months of preparation time before the scheduled wedding date.

  • If the bride or groom will be less than 19 years old on the date you plan to marry, a wedding date will not be set until the preparation process is complete.
  • If either the bride or groom or both have previously celebrated any type of wedding whatsoever, a written decree of nullity (annulment) is required prior to registering for marriage preparation.

Step 2: Select a formation program

The next step in the preparation process is to register and pay for one of the formation programs listed below.

  • Marriage: A Journey for Life (MAJ)
    A Saturday workshop with presentations, individual couple discussions, and reflection time on topics important to marriage. Meals included.

  • Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE)
    An overnight weekend retreat with other engaged couples consisting of presentations, individual couple discussion and reflection time, confessions, and Mass. Meals and lodging included.

Find out more

Step 3: FOCCUS facilitation

After registering for your choice of formation program in Step 2, you will each receive your own FOCCUS username and password by email within five business days.

Please complete the FOCCUS™ Pre-Marriage Inventory immediately upon receiving your login information. Allow 45 – 60 minutes for completion. As soon as both of you have completed the inventory, a personalized Couple Report will be delivered to your priest.

You can expect to meet with your trained FOCCUS facilitator weekly for 4-6 one-hour sessions. Your facilitator may or may not be your priest. These sessions are intended to facilitate discussion between the two of you on areas of strength and opportunities for growth identified by the FOCCUS™ Pre-Marriage Inventory. Your results and your facilitated discussion are kept confidential.

You can expect to receive b’tween™ resources for use during and after your FOCCUS sessions along with a FOCCUS Certificate of Completion.

Step 4: Attend your formation program

Attend either Catholic Engaged Encounter or Marriage a Journey for Life as selected above. The priest or deacon at your parish will receive written notification when you have completed all marriage formation requirements.

Step 5: Take a Natural Family Planning course

Natural Family Planning (NFP)/ Fertility Awareness assists couples as they plan to welcome children and/or identify and address infertility concerns and maintain systemic health. While an introduction to NFP is covered at CEE & MAJ, couples are highly encouraged to take a full course from one of our many NFP providers. We recommend classes offered by Couple to Couple League, Family of the Americas, Feminine Genius Ministries and FertilityCare.

Step 6: Reconciliation

One of the greatest ways to prepare for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is to receive the gift of God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If it has been a long time since your last confession, simply ask the priest to help you along in the process. Remember to maintain the practice of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis throughout your married life as well.

Step 7: Meet with your priest

After completing FOCCUS sessions, MAJ or CEE, and NFP, additional formation will be provided by the priest or deacon at your parish. This will include planning the Rite of Matrimony.