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Planning a Roman Catholic Marriage

Preparation is important in planning the wedding ceremony for any marriage, but it is essential in planning a Roman Catholic marriage and wedding ceremony, because applicants for marriage in a Roman Catholic church in the United States face a mandatory waiting period of 6 months to 1 year, to allow time for the parish priest to proclaim the “banns of marriage” on three successive holy days, and to allow time for the applicants to  participate in a diocesan-sponsered, group wedding-preparation program.

Mode of Publication of the Banns of Marriage:

“The parish priest or his representative (vicar, curate) announces in an audible voice, usually before or after the sermon, for each of the contracting parties the baptismal and family name, names of parents, place of birth or residence, age, condition, (single or previously married, and according to the Roman Ritual * * * the name of the woman’s former husband). It also should be stated whether the actual proclamation is the first, second, or third, and whether there will be a dispensation from further publications. The priest adds that a serious obligation rests on everyone to reveal to him any known impediment to the proposed marriage. The parish priest is expected to keep a record or register of all publications of banns made by him, also the certificates of publications made at his request in other parishes, the fact and consequences of which he is entitled to know.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento maintains a marriage preparation webpage that is both illustrative of similar webpages of other dioceses and instructive of Roman Catholic doctrine regarding marriage and the Roman Catholic wedding ceremony, known in the Roman Catholic church as the sacrament of matrimony.

The Diocese of Sacramento offers a one-day marriage preparation conference known as “Pre-Cana,” so named after the biblical wedding at Cana, attended by Jesus and at which Jesus transformed water into wine. Information and participant’s opinions about the Pre-Cana program are online, including Weddingbee, Marriage,, and Catholic Answers.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on November 17, 2009, issued a pastoral letter captioned “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” In that pastoral letter the United States Roman Catholic bishops proclaim the divine nature of heterosexual marriage and declaim both homosexual marriage and the practice of birth control by heterosexual married persons, asserting, among other reasons, that both practices abate the procreation of children.

Inside Planning a Roman Catholic Marriage