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Marriage preparation guidelines

Couples contemplating marriage in the Diocese of Jefferson City are encouraged to contact the pastor or pastoral administrator of the parish where they would like to marry six months (minimum four months) prior to the desired date of the wedding. This notification is not to take place by way of a third party relative.

  • The pastor, parish administrator, or delegate, will meet with the couple to explain the marriage preparation process.
  • All Roman Catholics are required by church law to be married in a church building. To fulfill this expectation a Catholic must be a registered practicing member of a local parish, have received the sacrament of confirmation, and must be of legal age by church and state law.
  • Marriage preparation will include completing a relationship assessment instrument, e.g. FOCCUS, which assesses the couple’s communication skills in varying areas of their relationship, as well as surfacing attitudes about marriage and the Christian faith. The results of the assessment are discussed with the couple.
  • The couple is highly encouraged to attend a program such as Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter, depending on which is available in their respective area.
  • During the pastoral meetings, the couple will establish a date of marriage and discuss the details of the wedding ceremony itself, such as the music, scriptural readings, decorations, etc., with the pastor or parish administrator or delegate.
  • If one or both parties are under the age of 19, an additional special process for “teenage” marriages is required before approval can be given for the wedding to take place in the Catholic Church.
  • If either of the parties intending the marriage has been a part of a previous marital union, no date can be set for a future wedding until the previous bond has been set aside through a process conducted by the Matrimonial Tribunal. This process, sometimes called the “annulment process,” can take more than one year. Please let the pastor or parish administrator know in the very first meeting if any previous marital bonds exist.