You’re engaged. Congratulations! The Church rejoices with you as you prepare to enter the Sacrament of Marriage and embark on this great vocation of love and service.
The Catholic Church has long been a leader in providing high-quality marriage preparation programs for engaged couples. These programs come in many forms: weekend retreats, a series of evening meetings, one-day events, online programs, or meetings with a mentor couple. But they all share the common goal of providing engaged couples with the knowledge, skills, and formation they need to have a happy, holy, lifelong marriage.
Each diocese has its own requirements for marriage prep, so check with the church where you’ll be getting married to see what program(s) are recommended or required in your diocese. Below are some widely-used marriage preparation programs and other resources for engaged couples.
Your engagement is also a great time to take Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes to learn more about the beautiful gift of fertility and prepare to live a marriage that is open to life and to God’s plan for your family.Disclaimer: Please note that the content on this page is provided solely for your information and should not be interpreted as an official endorsement of the organizations, programs, and websites listed. To the best of our knowledge, the information listed here did not conflict with Catholic teaching and was accurate at the time of posting.
Table of Contents
- Complete Marriage Preparation Programs
- Premarital Inventories
- Workbooks and Books for Engaged Couples
- Supplemental Curriculum
- Preparing for the Wedding Liturgy
- Prayer Resources
- Other Resources
Complete Marriage Preparation Programs
Agape Catholic Marriage Prep
A division of Agape Catholic Ministries, dedicated to the building of strong Christ-centered marriages since 2004. Online, interactive, and mentor-led Pre-Cana Program that can also be given in-person by trained instructors. Available anytime from anywhere. Based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Available in English, Spanish and French.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-425-7193
Catholic Engaged Encounter
An in-depth, private, personal marriage preparation experience within the context of Catholic faith and values. The weekend retreat offers a “time out” where engaged couples can dialogue intensively about prospective lives together and hear helpful presentations from married couples. Weekends are offered periodically throughout the country; map of upcoming weekends here.
Contact: fill out the form on the website
Catholic Marriage Prep Class Online
An online, on-demand preparation program based on videos from experts and married couples; interactive, convenient, and private. Available anytime from anywhere. Run by Marriage and Family Ministries in collaboration with the Family Ministries Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Available in Spanish: www.preparacionmatrimonialcatolica.com.
Contact: email@example.com, 1-855-PRE-CANA (773-2262)
For Better and For Ever
A parish-based “sponsor couple” approach to marriage preparation. Married couples of the parish are trained to meet the engaged “where they are” as the starting point for dialogue about the vocation of Matrimony. The sponsor couple hosts a series of 4-6 meetings with the engaged couple in their own home, then after the wedding they follow-up with the newly married couple through the first year(s) of marriage. Available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and French.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 210-534-1129
Includes a virtue-based life skills component (“Living a Joy-Filled Marriage”) and a component focused on the Sacrament of Marriage and the Theology of the Body (“God’s Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage”). Both components have Leader’s Guides. The two parts can be used separately, perhaps as a supplement to an existing marriage prep program, or together. Published by Ascension Press.
Contact: email@example.com, 1-800-376-0520
Preparing to Live in Love
This parish-based program combines personal mentoring with a marriage preparation curriculum that integrates Theology of the Body and practical life skills. A mentor couple guides the engaged couple through the curriculum in a series of meetings in the mentors’ home. Provided by the Pennsylvania-based Pastoral and Matrimonial Renewal Center.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 877-201-2142
Theology of the Body Marriage Preparation
This marriage prep program, which Dr. Janet Smith calls a “real contribution to the need for truly useful marriage preparation materials,” gives poignant, refreshing insights into personal growth, communication skills, finances, catechesis, and more, all from the perspective of the Theology of the Body. The unique diagrams and charts—which Dr. Peter Kreeft lauds as “delightful” and “memorable”—flesh out St. John Paul II’s insights, make tough concepts accessible, and offer food-for-thought for discussions by couples. This complete program comes with a slide show presentation with facilitator’s notes and three downloadable files (Facilitator’s Guide, TOBET Tips for Presenting, and Addressing Tough Issues: A Theology of the Body Pastoral Response). TOB expert Monica Ashour can be brought in to train the trainers. Written by Monica Ashour, MTS, M Hum, and members of TOBET (Theology of the Body Evangelization Team). Available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Transformed in Love: Building Your Catholic Marriage
Written with consideration of current pastoral challenges in marriage preparation, this program provides a reflective, formational experience for couples through activities, practice exercises, and quotes from Scripture and Church documents. Leader and Team Manual available. Developed by clergy and laity in the Archdiocese of Boston; published by Pauline Books & Media.
Contact: Craig Dyke, email@example.com
Witness to Love
Witness to Love is a tool for parishes that want to use the marriage prep process to benefit engaged couples by building a support system to accompany them before and after the wedding, integrating them into parish life, focusing on evangelization and getting the most out of the marriage prep process. This is not just a program but a system that will help enhance the current offerings that a parish, or diocese, already has in place and it is compatible with any PMI or marriage prep program listed on this page. Witness to Love was established in response to St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio and operates under the guidance of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Online or live training for clergy or marriage prep personnel available.
Contact: Mary-Rose Verret, firstname.lastname@example.org
A premarital inventory, or PMI, is a common tool in marriage preparation for an engaged couple to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and each other, and to identify subjects that may need additional discussion or consultation.
Catholic Couple Checkup
Catholic Couple Checkup is an online relationship assessment (powered by PREPARE/ENRICH) that couples can take without the help of a facilitator or counselor. Tailored to each couple and the Catholic faith, the computer-generated report helps couples discover their strength and growth areas across several relationship categories such as communication, conflict resolution, roles, financial management, personality and more. Couples can bring their results to a priest or premarital counselor to work through their results, or download the PDF Discussion Guide to unpack the results and build relationship skills on their own.
Premarital inventory that covers major areas engaged couples should discuss. Offers research and training that Facilitate Open, Caring Communication, Understanding and Study. After taking the FOCCUS pre-marital inventory, couples meet with a trained facilitator. Available in Spanish, Chinese, and for couples with English as a second language.
Contact: email@example.com, 1-877-883-5422
A Catholic catechetical pre-marriage inventory that carries a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. This comprehensive, catechetical tool forms engaged couples in the riches of the Church while equipping them with the essential skills necessary for a healthy marriage. This program utilizes a catechetical workbook for the engaged couple and contains a detailed Facilitator’s Guide for the Facilitator. Follow up formation emails are sent to the Engaged Couple for one year after their marriage. Fully Engaged also contains a complete Convalidation Inventory for civilly married couples.
For more information or to order a Preview Package, call 800-624-9019 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IPI Intercommunications Publishing
IPI was the first to offer pre-marriage inventories beginning in 1980. We have programs available for various premarital situations, such as never-married couples, couples entering a second marriage, couples having their civil marriage convalidated, couples from different faith traditions, and more. Inventories are available both in hard-copy and online with English and Spanish options.
An online relationship inventory and skill-building program based on a solid research foundation. Custom tailored to a couple’s relationship and provides couple exercises to build their relationship skills. Can be used both for engaged and married couples. After taking the inventory, couples meet with a trained facilitator.
Spirituality and Religion in Your Marriage: A Reflective Process for Engaged Couples by Dr. James Healy, Director of the Center for Family Ministry in the Diocese of Joliet
This booklet contains a short inventory that places the individual in one of four categories: 1) high in both Spirituality and Religion, 2) high in Spirituality and low in Religion, 3) low in both Religion and Spirituality, and 4) high in Religion and low in Spirituality. It affirms strengths and encourages growth in both the individual and the couple towards category number 1.
Workbooks and Books for Engaged Couples
The following workbooks can be used as a supplement to existing marriage preparation programs, or by engaged couples on their own for additional formation.
A Marriage in the Lord, 6th edition
This Catholic marriage preparation workbook helps couples to prepare for a lifelong happy, healthy, and holy marriage. Bulk discounts available. Provided by the Marriage and Family Ministries Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Contact: Frank Hannigan, email@example.com, 312-534-8351
The Mission of Love: A Sacramental Journey to Marital Success by John Curtis, Fr. Dominic McManus, O.P., and Mike Day
Focused on helping engaged couples embrace their mission and vocation in the Sacrament of Marriage. Book format and Couple’s Guidebook with exercises. Available in Kindle version.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-243-0011.
Theology of the Body Marriage Preparation
This marriage prep guide—which Dr. Peter Kreeft lauds as “delightful” and “memorable”—gives refreshing insights into personal growth, communication skills, finances, catechesis, and more, all from the perspective of the Theology of the Body. The unique diagrams and charts flesh out St.John Paul II’s insights, make tough concepts accessible, and offer food-for-thought for discussions by couples. Dr. Janet Smith calls this program a “real contribution to the need for truly useful marriage preparation materials.” Written by TOB expert Monica Ashour, MTS, M Hum, and the members of TOBET (Theology of the Body Evangelization Team). Available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
10 Great Dates Before You Say “I Do.”
Want to help couples discern if they are right for each other—even before becoming engaged? Then this video-based curriculum, disguised as fun dates, will help you help couples decide if they should take the next step toward marriage. You can also use this book as homework assignments for your parish marriage prep or mentoring couples, or combine them with the video date launches for the greatest impact. The DVD (with host couple Heather & Peter Larson) was a joint project with PREPARE/ENRICH and designed to help couples develop the skills and put into practice what they learned about each other after taking the PREPARE/ENRICH, Catholic Couple Checkup or FOCCUS Inventories. It’s a match made in heaven! For more information about 10 Great Dates Before You Say “I Do.”
Contact: Arps@marriagealive.com; 865-690-5887
Natural Family Planning Classes
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for methods of fertility observation used to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Couples preparing for marriage are encouraged to take an NFP class to learn this holistic way of respecting the life-giving nature of married love. Various methods are available, in both in-person and distance-learning classes.
Contact: USCCB Natural Family Planning Office, email@example.com
“Saying I Do: What Happens at a Catholic Wedding”
Produced by the USCCB. Walks the viewer through the Rite of Marriage both within and outside of mass, and answers FAQs about Catholic weddings. Designed for engaged couples, both Catholic couples and those marrying a non-Catholic.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-541-3013
“When Two Become One”
Produced by the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Office of Faith Formation. In this 25-minute DVD engaged couples learn about the sacrament of marriage, love, sexuality, natural family planning and more through the witness of four couples sharing their experiences, challenges and joys.
Contact: 516-678-5800 ext. 223
Engaged couples: you are invited to personalize your marriage preparation with videos that relate to your particular circumstance. Go to marriageboosters.net, register (no charge!), and you have access to videos that relate to your unique situation. Learn from other couples like you! Topics covered include the Unique Challenges of Military Families, Cohabitation, Forming a Stepfamily, Children of Divorce, Second Marriages, Interfaith and Interchurch Marriages, and Strengthening African–American Catholic Marriages. Developed by Marriage Ministries, a collaboration of the Archdiocese of Chicago and The Marriage Group.
Preparing for the Wedding Liturgy
The highpoint of a Catholic wedding is the Rite of Marriage, where bride and groom become husband and wife in the lifelong bond of marriage. The below resources assist engaged couples planning a Catholic wedding to understand and prepare for the wedding liturgy.
A Catholic Bride’s Wedding Planner, by Tracy Becker
Practical tool for Catholic brides (and grooms). Includes reflections on engagement and the Sacrament of Marriage, steps for getting married in the Catholic Church, a calendar with stickers to mark important moments leading up to the wedding, and an organizational section for wedding vendor contact information.
Catholic Wedding Help
A step-by-step guide to planning a Catholic wedding, including Scripture readings, the vows, various parts of the wedding liturgy, and information about Catholic marriage. Provided by Our Sunday Visitor.
Offers assistance for clergy and engaged couples to plan the wedding ceremony. Engaged couples can select prayers and Scripture readings for the liturgy, organize musical choices and create printed programs. Clergy can provide liturgical options to the couples they serve and receive a complete ceremony printout.
Together for Life: Celebrating & Living the Sacrament, by Joseph M. Champlin, with Peter A. Jarret, C.S.C.
With more than nine million copies sold, Together for Life provides all of the tools engaged couples and their ministers need to plan for the liturgical celebration of their wedding – prayers, Bible readings, vows, and sample intercessions. Together for Life also includes catechetical commentary to help couples deepen their understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The fifth edition includes all approved liturgical texts for planning weddings during Mass, outside Mass, or between a Catholic and an unbaptized person. The text is supported by Together for Life Online, which helps couples through their engagement, the first years of their marriage, and beyond. Also available in Spanish.
Contact: Ave Maria Press, 800-282-1865
“If we were to offer any advice to a couple preparing for marriage it would be this: Pray. Pray a lot.” – For Your Marriage blogger Sara (Suchy) Rennekamp
Advice about prayer from Pope Francis
“On this journey [of marriage] prayer is important, it is necessary, always: he for her, she for him and both together. Ask Jesus to multiply your love. In the prayer of the Our Father we say: ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. Spouses can also learn to prayer like this: ‘Lord, give us this day our daily love‘, for the daily love of spouses is bread, the true bread of the soul, what sustains them in going forward. … This is the prayer for engaged couples and spouses. Teach us to love one another, to will good to the other! The more you trust in him, the more your love will be ‘forever’, able to be renewed, and it will conquer every difficulty.” – from an address on St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2014
Catholic Households Blessings and Prayers
A book with numerous blessings and prayers that can be prayed at home in the domestic Church, including a blessing for engaged couples, prayer of a future wife and a future husband, a table blessing for weddings, and blessing of a son or daughter before marriage.
Available through USCCB Publishing: www.usccbpublishing.org, 877-978-0757
Reflections to Accompany a Rosary Novena for a Couple Preparing for Marriage by Dianne M. Traflet, J.D., S.T.D.
These beautiful reflections, based on the Mysteries of the Rosary, guide the engaged couple and those praying for them to a deeper appreciation of the sacrament and vocation of marriage.
The CatholicMatch Institute is focused on providing dating and marriage resources for singles, couples and church leaders. They publish online daily content as well as printed resources that are especially useful in parishes and dioceses. The resources encourage purposeful dating that helps increase the number of healthy marriages.
Contact: 888.267.8885 x3.