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Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. 
(Mark 10:9)

 Question 1: What are the requirements for marriage?

Answer: Since marriage is one of the most important steps a man and a woman can take during their lifetime, it is crucial that they be prepared and certain requirements need to be met before they can marry in the Church. First of all, they will need to meet with a priest or deacon, at least six months in advance, who will give them instructions for their wedding and marriage preparation. They must have their baptismal certificates ready, which must be issued no more than six months before the wedding. It is an essential requirement that they both attend a marriage preparation program (also known as pre-Cana). They will also both be asked to take a written test known as a Focus Report. And last, but not least, they will need a marriage license from the city where the wedding will take place, making sure the license doesn’t expire before their wedding date.

Related information: Getting Married in the Catholic Church

Question 2: What about Co-Habitation?

Answer: Co-Habitation means living together before marriage.  And by living together, that also means sleeping together. This is a bad idea from several points of view. First and foremost, it is not marriage. God has not joined a man and a woman together in a sacramental bond. Remember, sex is a renewal of the sacrament and, in this case, there is no sacrament to renew. Second, living together before marriage is not good for relationships. In fact, studies show a much higher divorce rate for couples who live together before marriage. And lastly, for a woman, it is especially a bad idea because it tells a man that he does not have to make any real commitment to her.

Related information: Intimacy and Co-Habitation

Question 3: What is engagement?

Answer: The engagement period is a time to truly and virtuously get to know one another and to see how well a man and a woman are both suited for each other. True romance develops out of friendship and trust. And being happy at this time is no guarantee of a successful marriage. But once a couple decides to spend the rest of their lives together, then it is time to make preparations for the wedding. (Courtship is a preliminary step leading to engagement.)

Question 4: Why do we have to participate in a pre-Cana?

Answer: The Church sponsors these Pre-Cana conferences in anticipation of your Church-approved wedding, and it is imperative that couples planning to be married in the Church attend them. During these conferences, you will be presented with systematic presentations by a priest, trained married couples, and others to lead you to a more profound appreciation of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. In preparation for your marriage, there will be discussions on communication in marriage, the Christian understanding of sexuality, the sacramentality of marriage, marital and family spirituality, and the wedding liturgy itself. In the United States, successful completion of the Pre-Cana conferences before the wedding ceremony is required. Engaged couples may choose from several options regarding how they will satisfy this requirement, including the Engaged Encounter.

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