Stages of Marriage Preparation
- Meeting with the Director of Faith Formation
- Primary Marriage Preparation Programs
- Follow-up meeting with the Priest or Deacon
- Wedding Rehearsal
Stage 1. Meeting with the Marriage Preparation Coordinator
Please call the Deborah Petasky at 817-421-1387 ext. 218 to set an appointment to meet with Tammy Sandoval, Director of Faith Formation. The first meeting normally involves about two hours of your time. It should be done at least nine to twelve months before the ceremony and before you set a wedding date and determine where the wedding will take place.
During this initial meeting, the Director of Faith Formation will get to know you and discuss your relationship, family backgrounds, religious beliefs and career plans. She will outline and explain their importance in the marriage preparation process. She will also interview you separately, relative to your freedom and readiness to marry.
Have either of you been married before?
If either one of the parties has been married previously, he or she must obtain a “Decree of Invalidity” from a marriage tribunal of the Catholic Church or a certified death certificate of the previous spouse. This must be completed before the Catholic Church, through its minister, may witness your marriage vows. If the process of invalidation has begun, the scheduling of a date for your new marriage must await the decision of the marriage tribunal. If there is good reason to expect that a decision will be rendered soon, you can be encouraged to remain in the marriage preparation process. It is also necessary for a person to take sufficient time for the healing process following separation or divorce before entering into a new marriage.
As a part of this interview the Director of Family Ministries will ask the Catholic parties for the names and addresses of the church in which each one was baptized. To expedite this matter please bring a copy of your baptismal certificate as well as First Communion and Confirmation certificates, if you have them. If one of you is from a church tradition other than Catholic and that church does not keep such records, a record in a family Bible or a letter of testimony written by a witness would be helpful.
Before this initial meeting is concluded, the Director of Faith Formation will administer the Pre-marital Inventory “Fully Engaged”. This is an instrument to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a couple, and to indicate those areas the two of you may need more conversation. Most couples find this experience very revealing and helpful in developing their relationship and their ability to communicate with each other.
Following the completion of the Pre-marital Inventory “Fully Engaged” at this initial meeting, the process of your primary marriage preparation begins. At this point the engaged couple may set a tentative wedding date which is confirmed once a deposit and completed contract is received for use of the Church. Michael Anne Vinez, the Business Manager, can discuss the fees with you.
The Director of Faith Formation will assign a Sponsor Couple who will review the results of the “Fully Engaged” inventory with you. You will be asked to register for an Engaged Encounter weekend. You will also be asked to choose the readings for your Wedding Liturgy from the booklet “Together For Life” and to contact the Director of Music Ministries, to guide you in your selection of music.
An actively tithing member of Good Shepherd Catholic Community is defined as someone who has been registered and has a record of tithing a minimum of $800 (envelope system, checks, electronic fund transfers) for at least one year before contacting the parish about setting a wedding date. The marriage preparation fee for actively tithing parishioners covers only a portion of the basic costs to the parish in recognition of the ongoing support already provided.
This fee includes the cost of staff time dedicated to your wedding and books/materials. The non-parishioner fee includes the above and the cost of building use. Two volunteer wedding ministers offer their time leading the rehearsal and providing assistance at the wedding. Fees for musicians are to be arranged with the Director of Music Ministries.
When can a wedding be scheduled?
A Wedding can be celebrated on Saturday with the exception of Christmas Eve and Day, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) and New Years’ Day due to the already full schedule of liturgical services on those days. Also, no Weddings are scheduled on Sundays throughout the year for the same reason. Weddings during Advent and Lenten seasons are discouraged due to the penitential nature of these seasons. Marriages may not conflict with the times of other scheduled church services such as the Rite of Reconciliation or the Saturday Evening Vigil Mass in anticipation of Sunday. Therefore, weddings at Good Shepherd Catholic Community are scheduled at least three hours apart and may not begin later than 2:00 PM on Saturday afternoon or earlier than 7:30 PM on Saturday evening.
Stage 2. Primary Marriage Preparation
The Marriage Sponsor Couple Program is specifically designed for all couples preparing for marriage. The Marriage Sponsor Couples at Good Shepherd Catholic Community are volunteers who have received special training to assist engaged couples in their primary preparation for marriage. These Sponsor Couples will share with you their own journey of marriage, its trials and triumphs, its stresses and successes. They will also receive a summary of your Pre-marital Inventory, “Fully Engaged”, which was administered at the time of your initial meeting with the marriage preparation coordinator. And, they will facilitate your conversation concerning those areas where you are in agreement, any areas of disagreement, and areas that require further discussion. The Sponsor Couple assigned to you will contact you and arrange for a mutually agreeable time when the both of you can meet in the Sponsor Couple’s home. Normally there are 4 to 5 meetings of two hours each with your Sponsor Couple. At the conclusion they will give the marriage preparation coordinator a brief description of their meeting with you.
Pre-Cana is a one day or two evening experience for engaged couples to begin their formal marriage preparation process. The class includes a series of talks and activities on topics such as: Marriage as a Sacrament, the Vows, Sexuality in the marriage as God planned it to be, Natural Family Planning and more.
All programs: the Sponsor Couple Program and the Engaged Encounter Program are required for the preliminary marriage preparation. Be sure that the Affidavit of Free Status has been completed by your witnesses in the presence of a priest, deacon or lay pastoral assistant and submitted to the Director of Faith Formation. No wedding will take place until certificates confirming your attendance at these programs and other documents are received.
Stage 3. Follow-up Meeting with the Priest or Deacon
Upon conclusion of the above programs and meetings, contact the priest or deacon for a meeting. He will bring together all of these earlier preparations and review with the both of you what has taken place. He will also review your plans for the Wedding Liturgy.
Those Catholics in the Wedding party: the Couple and their families and friends who have not yet made a confession of sin to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be encouraged to do so as their spiritual preparation for the Wedding celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.
Stage 4. Wedding Rehearsal
One hour is allotted for the wedding rehearsal usually on the evening before the wedding. The rehearsal time and date are scheduled when the wedding date is reserved.