Marriage Preparation Program

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Dear Friends in Christ,

Congratulations on your decision to marry in the Catholic Church. As you approach this special time in your lives you will become more and more aware that marriage is not just a “ceremony” but the beginning of a holy way of life! For those of us who are baptized, marriage is also a sacramental way of life given to us by Jesus Christ.

For Catholics and their spouses, marriage is a serious commitment—a covenant between them and God. We spend most of our lives educating ourselves to be prepared for life long work and career. So, in the Catholic Church, we must spend time educating others and ourselves about the many gifts from God, especially the holy gift of marriage.

The Diocese of Boise, under the spiritual leadership of Bishop Michael Driscoll, has established Marriage Preparation Guidelines to help you become aware of the responsibilities of Christian Marriage. These guidelines are not meant to hinder or burden you as a couple, but to help foster the necessary communication and understanding needed to make a life long commitment.

The Marriage Preparation Program established by Sacred Heart Church in collaboration with other parishes in the area has been designed to help you prepare for your marriage in the Church. The normal preparation period is 6 months.

There are three distinct stages during this period:

  1. The investigation stage is where you as a couple meet with the Marriage Preparation Coordinator and/or the priest or parish life director to help determine your readiness for marriage and to work out any concerns you or we may have. We will review Church guidelines, and “investigate” anything which may cause an unexpected delay in your planned date for marriage; i.e. previous marriages, conflicts in dates or times, no parish or church affiliation, etc…
  2. The next stage is the actual preparation period. In our parish you are asked to attend a series of classes OR an Engaged Encounter Weekend. Both the classes and the Engaged Encounter are offered at various times throughout the year. We encourage you, if possible, to do both.
  3. The final stage of preparation is the actual planning of the Wedding Liturgy/Ceremony. Because you have asked to be married in the Church, you need to know that there may be a few things that might be different from what you have envisioned for your “special day!” The Catholic Wedding Liturgy is a beautiful opportunity to express your faith and love with each other and with your Church. Each ceremony is as special as the couple chooses to make it. Normally, the priest or deacon requires a planning sheet and rehearsal so that he can conduct the ceremony as you wish. Further suggestions for scripture readings, music, prayers, and planning for Mass (if you desire) are all done during this final preparation stage.

Once all three stages are complete it is hoped that each couple is well on their way for a joy-filled life with each other. We feel that this preparation period strengthens the grace, the love, the hope, and the commitment needed as you begin this new way of life … for life!

To begin this process, or learn more about what you need to do for your marriage preparation, please contact the parish office. May God bless you as you grow in love with God and each other.

Preparation Time

Sacred Heart parish requires six months preparation for your “marriage” calling attention to the fact that the preparation is much more important than the planning of the wedding ceremony. As such, it will be important for you to attend the Marriage Preparation Formal Classes or another approved program. Attendance at an Engaged Encounter Weekend is also required. A member of the Parish Marriage Preparation team will begin helping you and your partner by administering a pre-marital inventory (FOCCUS) which will help you assess the areas of strength and areas of weakness in your relationship. With this knowledge it is our hope that you will come to understand and relate to one another even better.

Setting the Date and Time

All wedding and rehearsal arrangements need to be made in consultation with the priest/deacon from Sacred Heart who is officiating at your wedding. Do not set a firm date or time without consulting with the priest/deacon first! We will do our best to give you the date and time you prefer, but that will not always be possible. Weddings may be celebrated any day of the week, but are discouraged on Sundays. Weddings on Sundays, major feasts and during Lent involve certain restrictions. Saturday wedding times are 11:00 a.m.and 1:00 p.m. Friday evening Masses are recommended as another option for couples. Rehearsals are generally held the evening before the wedding.

The Wedding Coordinator

It is important to contact the parish Wedding Coordinator as you begin planning the ceremony since she will direct many of the details. She will help you focus on the “Sacrament of Marriage” whether your wedding is simple or somewhat elaborate, formal or informal. She will be available to take care of any logistical or liturgical questions or concerns you may have, and will be the person to coordinate the following areas of your wedding with you and the minister officiating at your wedding.

The Liturgy

According to diocesan guidelines two Catholics are encouraged to be married with a Mass. In the case of an interfaith marriage, a Mass is optional.

We will use the book, Together for Life, to aid in planning your ceremony. We will be available for any other help you might need in this area. You will need to meet with the officiating minister (priest or deacon) to confirm the plan for the actual wedding ceremony.

Family or friends who are ministers from other faith denominations are welcome to participate in the liturgy as is appropriate.

The Music

It is important to have appropriate liturgical music at your wedding. Sacred Heart has many very talented musicians who are anxious to assist at weddings. Regardless of who is doing your music, arrangements need to be made through and approved by the Wedding Coordinator.

The Rehearsal

The Wedding Coordinator will help facilitate your wedding rehearsal which will last 30 minutes to an hour. Because your rehearsal is usually only one of a number of commitments the coordinator and priest/deacon have scheduled, please be prompt for your rehearsal and the wedding itself. Often the Church is also scheduled for use immediately after your rehearsal or wedding. Bring the marriage license to the rehearsal and give it to the minister. We encourage only those who are in the immediate wedding party (bride and groom, attendants, parents, ushers, and lectors) to attend the rehearsal.


The Wedding Coordinator will work with you and your photographer in selecting the most appropriate times and places for photographs or video-taping.

Wedding Supplies

There are vases and baskets available for your use. If you wish the candelabras, we will supply the candles (seven for each holder) for a fee of $30.00. If you choose to use a unity candle, you will need to purchase it separately.

Wedding Room

The key for the wedding room (used by the bride) is available for you the day before the wedding. You may return it to the Wedding Coordinator or the parish office after the wedding. The men use the Library (Tom's Room) for their preparation before the wedding. If the wedding party is large, we will open Hope Hall for you, if available.

Sorry, No Rice!!

Insurance, liability and other concerns prohibit the throwing of rice or birdseed on church property.


You may not remove or move anything in the Sanctuary. We are always mindful that our environment is for the prayer of the entire community worshipping at Sacred Heart.


Fees and Deposits

Marriage Preparation Fee $20
For the Wedding Ceremony  
Fee for the Church $300/$500 for non-parishioners
Fee for the Chapel $200/$300 for non-parishioners
Minister Stipend (Please give what you feel is appropriate.) $100 - Recommended amount
For the Reception  
Faith Hall $200/$400 for non-parishioners
Refundable Cleaning Deposit $100
Diocesan Insurance (Required & payable to the Diocese no later than 15 days prior to the event.) $105

Marriage Preparation

We welcome you to the Marriage Preparation Program for Sacred Heart Church. We are here to help you learn more about your future spouse, yourself and God (the third member of your marriage).

Premarital Inventory

You will be asked to take a Premarital Inventory (FOCCUS) at the beginning of the preparation process. This inventory is not a test but more of a way to identify areas where further discussion and understanding need to take place. Hopefully, this will aid in recognizing your level of maturity and compatibility.

Engaged Encounter Weekend

This weekend retreat is a vital part of the Marriage Preparation Program and has been designed to help strengthen your communication skills, as well as, help you to learn much more about each other. The Engaged Encounter weekend is a spiritual experience that you are not likely to ever forget. Please reward each other with the quality time to build yourselves as a couple. The weekend is $250.00 per couple, which includes two night’s lodging, all meals Saturday morning through Sunday morning and all supplies, handouts and administrative expenses. Scholarship applications are available.

Marriage Preparation Classes/Discussion Groups

You are asked to attend eight (8) classes or discussion groups on topics directly related to the Christian married life. The topics covered are: Sacrament of Marriage, Communication, Intimacy, Spirituality, Finances, Parenting & Family Issues, and Decision Making and Family Planning. These classes are primarily taught and facilitated by married couples. Occasionally, experts in the field of Marriage and Family Relationships will be invited to speak.

The classes are designed so that mature Christian individuals and couples can share some of their personal experiences with you and give you an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences, understanding and readiness for marriage. You will never be required to share anything with the team or with the group. We do encourage you to participate to the degree with which you are comfortable, and to concentrate on any area of your relationship that you believe needs improvement.

As a team of ordinary people, few (if any) are experts who have all the answers. They are simply Christian couples who are willing to provide you with some answers that have worked for them. They may challenge you with some difficult questions, in the hope that some doors may open up to new aspects of your relationship. This will enable you, as a couple, to explore further these questions on your own. The team will give you some materials to help you find the answers for your own unique relationship.

Our Intention

It is our intention that your wedding be a beautiful, memorable and grace-filled event that not only expresses your commitment to each other, but will also draw you and all who celebrate this sacrament with you closer to our Savior Jesus Christ. In the celebration of your marriage in the Church, you are inviting the Lord to be present to you as a full partner in your life together. He will honor that invitation and bring you much happiness, joy and peace. Please be assured of our prayers for you during this time of preparation.

Suggested Audio and Reading Materials

  • Catholic Updates (Available at the parish office):
  • Cohabitation Before Marriage
  • Sacrament of Marriage: Sign of Faithful Love
  • Spirituality of Marriage
  • Ten Commandments for "Fighting Fair"
  • Ten Things You Should Discuss Before Marriage
  • How & Why of Natural Family Planning
  • Sacraments: It all Starts with Jesus
  • Preparing for Marriage
  • Helping Our Children Grow in Faith
  • Discerning Marriage by Fr. Michael Sweeney (Available from the parish library)

Contacts and Resources

Sacred Heart Parish Marriage Preparation Team

Click for Staff Listing Page 

Other Marriage Preparation Contacts/Resources