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Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being incomprehensible to himself, his life is senseless, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in LOVE.” –St. John Paul II

Dear Friends,

Congratulations on your engagement! As you look forward to sharing your life together as husband and wife, you undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. We would like to share with you the rich depth and beauty of what it means to be married in the Catholic Church. Here are some steps to help you begin planning your wedding. After having read and reflected upon this information, if you have any questions, or if you are prepared to formally inquire about the possibility of celebrating your wedding in Grand County, please contact one of our priests.

Step 1: Reflect together on the importance of faith in your life.

Before making any concrete plans for your marriage celebration, you should ask yourselves some questions: “What place does God have in our lives?” “What place does the Church have in our lives?” “Are we striving to practice our faith?” “What sort of faith do we want for our children?”

Your answers to these questions should directly affect where and how you choose to celebrate your wedding and live your marriage. For a Catholic, a desire to be married in the Catholic Church should indicate an acceptance of the teaching of Jesus Christ as handed on to us by His Church.

Jesus, in response to very specific questions about how we are to live, gave very concrete answers. He summarized his teaching in the twofold Commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. He gave further concrete expression to His teaching by reaffirming the Ten Commandments. From the beginning, the Church has proclaimed and defended these truths taught by Jesus, and urges couples to live in true love according to God’s plan for marriage.

Step 2: Make a decision about where you are in your faith, and where God wants you to be; then ACT on that decision.

Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacred covenant freely accepted by a man and a woman that is ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. Marriage is about cooperating with God to help each other and future children get into Heaven. It is by its very nature a bond that cannot be broken. It is a life-long commitment to another person that promises exclusive fidelity.

Marriage requires incredible unselfishness and hard work, but promises God’s help. For those who accept God’s invitation, it promises eternal life. During the wedding ceremony, the couple is asked to affirm this faith. The desire of a couple to marry gives witness to their love. The desire to be married in the Church should also give witness to their acceptance and living of the teaching of Jesus Christ as handed on to us by the Church.

Step 3: Contact the Church

Having reflected together upon their faith, couples who wish to profess their love for each other and affirm their faith in God and the Church should first contact the parish in which the Catholic party is a registered and practicing memberNote: Ideally, you should get married in the Church where you attend so that the local community can welcome you into your new vocation. Because of this, we rarely let people get married in our churches from outside the Archdiocese of Denver.

So, if you do not live in Grand County, you must first contact your Catholic Church where you live. Nothing can move forward without you getting permission from your pastor to get married outside your boundaries, and us giving you permission to get married within our boundaries. Please do not make any other arrangements (reception hall, attendants, etc.) until you acquire the proper permissions.

If the Catholic Church has not been a significant part of your life, we would be glad to talk to you! Even if a wedding in the Church is not appropriate or possible at this time, we would like to share with you our Faith!

Common Questions

What if we’re not registered in a Catholic Church?

Every Catholic is called upon to assume an active and supportive role in a specific parish community. If you are a practicing member of another parish, please call the office and register at your local church.

What is a practicing Catholic?

A practicing Catholic is someone who accepts and strives to live the teachings and Commandments of Jesus Christ and His Church and who regularly participates in the worship of the Church. This means receiving the Sacraments regularly, and supporting the Church financially. This means practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

What if we’re not practicing?

Now is the time to begin. Seeking a Catholic wedding presumes that a Catholic is striving to live his or her faith. We would be glad to give you ideas. We know that some people were not raised in a practicing home.

What if one of us is not Catholic?

The bishop can grant permission for a wedding ceremony between a Catholic and non-Catholic. The Church presumes that the faith of the Catholic party is of such importance that he/she will strive to live that faith and pass on that faith to any children the couple may have. It is very difficult on the children if both parents are not going to Mass together.

What if we’re already living together?

Choosing to live together before receiving God’s blessing is a public statement that is inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus and the Church. Living together is not a good preparation for the life-long commitment of marriage. Secular studies, confirming the wisdom of the teaching of Jesus, show that cohabitation before marriage drastically increases instances of infidelity and divorce. We urge couples to publicly affirm their faith by separating until after they have publicly committed themselves to each other before God and His Church.

There are 73 books in the Catholic Bible. Eleven of them have statements saying not to cohabitate before marriage. Cohabitation weakens the faith of society. You have a chance to separate and to set a good example and thus strengthen the faith of others. If you choose with God to do the right thing, you will reverse the damage caused and you will be evangelizing for God!

I’m divorced. Can we get married?

Following the teaching of Jesus, the Catholic Church considers any previous marriage(s) of the bride or groom, whether contracted in a religious or civil ceremony, binding unless shown to be invalid. We are unable to set a date for a wedding until all previous marriages have been declared null by the authority of the Church. This is true even for parties who are not Catholic. The time and effort needed to acquire an annulment varies depending upon the circumstances. For further assistance and information on annulments, please contact your local parish office.

Marriage Prep Steps

1. Call Your Parish (8-12 months before the wedding)
Call as soon as you get engaged! A member of the parish staff will schedule a meeting with you to discuss your wedding preparations as soon as possible.
2. Initial Meeting (8 months before the wedding)
At this meeting, you’ll learn about the preparation process for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the necessary paperwork  for your marriage, and set your tentative wedding date.
3. FOCCUS Inventory (7-8 months before the wedding)
The FOCCUS Inventory provides you with a personalized profile of your relationship. Your parish will set up your inventory session and, upon completion, the follow-up  sessions needed to review your results. These sessions aim to  facilitate communication between you and your future spouse.
*Note: Some parishes use inventories other than FOCCUS
4. Marriage Prep Program (6 months before the wedding)
Various programs are available within the Archdiocese, all of which focus on the theology of Catholic marriage as well as important life skills. You’ll receive help identifying a prep program that best fits your needs. If your parish doesn’t offer a  program, see the list on this page under “Marriage Preparation Classes”.
5. Natural Family Planning  (5 months before the wedding)
NFP respects the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, and enriches the bond between husband and wife. This course gives couples a natural approach to  understanding the cycles of fertility and infertility. Course listings found here.
6. Final Meeting  (2 months before the wedding)
This meeting will review your previous preparation, complete all of your paperwork, and plan your wedding liturgy. You’re  getting close to celebrating this beautiful sacrament!
7. Sacrament of Reconciliation  (1 week before the wedding)
Catholics preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony  are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Reconciliation and the Eucharist are invaluable sources  of grace and healing. Celebrate this sacrament with your  spouse-to-be!