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Marriage Preparation (Pre-Cana) / Marriage Enrichment

Prayer and Relationship with Christ




“Among the many blessings that God has showered upon us in Christ is the blessing of marriage, a gift bestowed by the Creator from the creation of the human race… It is a source of blessing to the couple, to their families, and to society and includes the wondrous gift of co-creating human life.”

U.S. Catholic Bishops, 2009 Pastoral Letter: Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan

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Marriage Preparation Program Options
Marriage Enrichment Offerings
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Clergy Portal


Pre-Cana marriage preparation sessions are currently being added to the schedule. If you don’t see what you need, please check back often to see if any additional sessions have been added. Calling or emailing the Office will not provide any additional session information. There will be many sessions available in English and Spanish added soon. 

Congratulations on your decision to get married in the Catholic Church! The marriage preparation/formation period is a time to not only prepare for your wedding day, but also for your marriage. 

The archdiocesan marriage preparation program is composed of a set of integrated components including an online relationship inventory, online learning modules, and a one-day Pre-Cana (in-person or virtual). The following steps below are your starting point on this journey. 

However, you also have the option to attend Catholic Engaged Encounter, a pre-cana marriage prep weekend to help you and your fiancé prepare for your life together as husband and wife. This in-person retreat is an alternative program that fulfills the pre-cana requirements of the Archdiocese of New York and other Dioceses. To learn more, see below.

Any Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation questions and concerns related to registration, venue, or other issues, please contact [email protected]. Please contact the Office of Family Life at 646-794-3185 or email [email protected] only with non-technical issues.

Premarital/Relationship Inventories

We are excited to offer an online relationship inventory as part of the Archdiocese of New York Marriage and Convalidation/Re-Marriage Preparation Program. Please discuss which inventory to take with your priest/deacon as you will be prompted during your online registration to choose the Catholic Couple Checkup (CCC) or Prepare/Enrich (P/E) inventory.

Catholic Couple Checkup (CCC) and Prepare/Enrich (P/E) are in the same family of premarital [relationship] inventories. The main component of each program is an online survey you each complete in 30-45 minutes. The items you respond to are based on research and are intended to help you identify the unique strengths and potential growth areas of your relationship.

Catholic Couple Checkup is the “light” version of Prepare/Enrich and does not require a couple to meet with a trained facilitator (usually a priest/deacon) to go over the results. Couples complete the inventory individually online and then receive a 15-20 page report on their relationship. They can also download a free discussion guide, designed to help them learn relationship skills. Research has shown this process improves relationships by stimulating honest dialogue, increasing understanding, and empowering couples. It does not require facilitation, but it is recommended that you share it with your priest/deacon.

Prepare/Enrich is a comprehensive relationship inventory and skill-building program. It is built on a solid research foundation and significantly improves a couple’s relationship. Prepare/Enrich is custom-tailored to a couple’s relationship and provides exercises to build relationship skills. It requires facilitation. Your priest/deacon may direct you to choose Prepare/Enrich during your initial meeting.

Marriage Prep Option 1: Archdiocese of New York Marriage Preparation Program

Click here to register (or login) for the Archdiocese of New York Marriage Preparation Program.

Any Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation questions and concerns related to registration, venue, or other issues, please contact [email protected]   Please contact the Office of Family Life at 646-794-3185 or email [email protected] only with non-technical issues.

Marriage Prep Option 2: Catholic Engaged Encounter

What is Catholic Engaged Encounter? A pre-cana marriage prep weekend to help you and your fiancé prepare for your life together as husband and wife. Our in-person retreat is an alternative program that fulfills the pre-cana requirements of the Archdiocese of New York and other Dioceses. Catholic Engaged Encounter of Lower Hudson Valley has been supporting engaged couples for over 45 years. “A Wedding is a Day, A Marriage is a Lifetime®”

Download the brochure.

Learn more at

Marriage Prep FAQs

For questions on marriage preparation, choose from the frequently asked questions below.

Any Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation questions and concerns related to registration, venue, or other issues, please contact [email protected]. Please contact the Office of Family Life at 646-794-3185 or email [email protected] with any other non-technical issues.

1. What’s the purpose of marriage preparation?

Because of marriages’ importance, the archdiocese requires and regulates an intentional marriage preparation process. Our goal is to help you to grow in love and be open to God’s graces in preparation toa happy and fulfilling marriage. There are several components to this:

  • To determine whether you have the basic elements of a psychological, intellectual, moral and legal capability for marriage and family life
  • To foster a clear awareness of the essential characteristics of Catholic marriage: unity, fidelity, indissolubility, and fruitfulness
  • To offer an opportunity for deepening your personal faith and to help you discover of the value of the sacraments and the experience of prayer
  • To offer practical advice and assistance on married love, including marital communication and overcoming challenges
  • To provide education and support on Catholic values concerning human life and married sexuality, in keeping with the authentic teachings of the Church.
2. What are the requirements for Catholic sacramental marriage?

According to the Canon Law (the law of the Church), for a marriage to be valid:

  • At least one of the spouses must be a baptized Catholic (Confirmation is not required, but recommended. Reach out to your officiant if you are interested in RCIA.)
  • The wedding must be celebrated in Catholic church in the presence of a Catholic priest/deacon/bishop and two other witnesses
  • The spouses must be free to be married (e.g., no prior valid marriages)
  • They must be psychologically mature and capable of consenting to the marriage
  • They must understand the nature of Catholic marriage (i.e., exclusive, permanent, and open to having children)

A marriage that doesn’t follow the Canon Law requirements (e.g., a civil marriage) is not valid in the eyes of the Church. If you are civilly married, and would like to be married in the church you can! Find more information about convalidation here.

Under the regulations of the archdiocese, the spouses must also meet several times with the priest/deacon who will be witnessing their marriage, and they must attend a marriage preparation program. Find out more here.

3. Why does the Church have so many rules about marriage?

Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man, a woman and God. It is a tremendous gift and a visible sign of God’s love and commitment to His people (Eph 5:31-32). This sacred relationship is the foundation of the family and society and the life of the Church. This  public act is celebrated as part of the Church’s liturgy and introduces couples into a  new and special stage of life in the Church. It creates a permanent and faithful bond between husband and wife and establishes significant rights and responsibilities between a couple and, eventually, their children.

Because marriage is so  important, the Church wants to make sure couples are properly prepared and fully aware of what is involved. . The Church’s special obligation to take care of the spiritual health of all of God’s people informs this robust and intentional preparation process.

As a result, marriage preparation is regulated and overseen by Canon Law (the Church’s universal law),  the archdiocese, liturgical rules and pastoral requirements of individual parishes and priests.

Our goal is for couples to enter this process with an earnest and open heart and  face issues and answer difficult questions of critical importance in advance of their marriage. These conversations, often with priest/deacon, are intended to open lines of communication and hopefully avoid problems in the future ultimately resulting in a firmer sense of confidence in their love and in the love of God.

4. What documents do we have to submit to our officiant?

If you’re Catholic, you’ll need to have the following documents:

  • A certificate of baptism, dated within six months of your wedding date
  • Evidence of your first communion and confirmation if applicable
  • If you’re not getting married in your home parish, your freedom to marry must be established by either a statement of “no notations” (prior valid marriages, religious vows, etc.) on your baptismal certificate (e.g., that there are no prior valid marriages, no religious vows, etc.) or a letter from your pastor

If you’re a non-Catholic Christian, you will need evidence that you were baptized (e.g., a recent baptismal certificate). Some priests/deacons will ask for a letter from a parent or other adult stating that you are free to be married (no prior marriages).

You will usually be asked to have these documents at the time of the Pre-Marital Interview (PMI). See question 13 for more information.

5. What if one of us is Catholic and the other is not?

A marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, can still be a sacramental marriage. The preparation process for the marriage remains the same except the Catholic spouse must obtain a formal permission from his/her bishop for the marriage. This is formally called “dispensation” due to “disparity of worship”.

The priest or deacon overseeing your marriage preparation will help you obtain any documents you may need. If your home parish is not within the Archdiocese, please contact them to obtain these documents.

The processing and approval of these dispensations take time, so you should start the process early (at least 6 months before the wedding is recommended.)

Please see the answer to the following question if you are curious about getting married outside of a church.

You should also be aware that there can only be one marriage ceremony. If the wedding is celebrated in the Catholic church, the priest presides, and a non-Catholic minister can offer prayers and ask a blessing on the couple. If the wedding takes place in a non-Catholic church, the minister presides, and a priest/deacon may be present to offer a prayer and blessing.

The Catholic spouse is also under serious obligation to ensure their children are raised in the Catholic faith — indeed, during one of your interviews with the priest/deacon who is overseeing your marriage preparation, the Catholic spouse must make a formal promise to that effect, and the other spouse must be made aware of that promise.

It is crucial to have open and honest communication about differences in faith and what that may mean for your future lifestyles. The robust marriage preparation process should start those conversations and help mitigate and avoid potential problems that they may cause. There are many wonderful and strong interfaith relationships in which the couples, based on their love and mutual respect, grow closer to God and each other; this is what we wish for you. Holiness is the goal, and a married couple with religious differences can still get there — and be joyfully married as well — by helping and supporting each other.

6. Can we get married in a place other than a church?

The answer to the question depends on whether a marriage is between two Catholics, between a Catholic and another Christian or between a Catholic and a non-Christian.

Marriage Outside of a Church — Between Two Catholics

Under Canon Law, a marriage between two Catholics must be celebrated in a parish church. The only exception is for a marriage in a Catholic chapel if one of the spouses is a student, graduate, faculty member, or has some other significant connection to the institution. Permission must be requested from the local pastor. Your priest/deacon will help you obtain permission.

Under the regulations of the Archdiocese of New York, permission is never granted for a marriage between two Catholics to be celebrated in such places as parks, restaurants, catering halls, hotels, cruise ships, or the beach.

Marriage Outside of a Church — Interfaith Situations

Out of respect for other faith communities, permission can be obtained for a wedding to celebrated at another house of worship. The Catholic spouse must obtain a “dispensation from canonical form” (a release from the formal requirements that the wedding occur in a Catholic Church, witnessed by a Catholic priest, deacon or bishop) from his/her bishop. Your priest/deacon will help you to obtain this dispensation from the Chancery Office. Obtaining the dispensation can take time, so you should start the process early.

Permission can only be granted for a wedding between a Catholic and another Christian outdoors or in a non-religious location only if the circumstances merit special permission, reserved to the judgment of the Chancery. However, permission may be given for a wedding between a Catholic and a non-Christian in a non-religious building if there are truly extraordinary circumstances.

7. What if one of us was married previously?

Because the Catholic Church recognizes marriage as a permanent and sacred bond between a man and woman “until death,” a person cannot enter into a second marriage while his or her previous spouse is still living.

Yet, certain personal and spiritual elements required for a valid marriage may have been missing before the previous wedding ceremony took place. After an annulment investigation, the Church may conclude with moral certitude that no valid marriage had taken place, and the parties are free to marry someone else.

The Annulment process can bring tremendous self-healing to individual whose marriage ended in divorce.  It is best to contact your parish priest to begin the annulment petition process, and he will direct you to next steps.  For additional information on annulments, visit this article.  In the Archdiocese of New York, you can also visit our website here, or contact us via email [email protected] or call 646-794-3200 for more information.

8. What if we’re getting married outside the Archdiocese of New York?

If you’re getting married outside of the Archdiocese of New York you should speak to the priest or deacon who will be witnessing your marriage about your marriage preparation. Often, they will be satisfied if you attend a marriage preparation program here. They also may ask you to work with a priest or deacon here regarding your marriage preparation (e.g. he may ask that a priest in your local parish do a Pre-Marital Interview). See question 13 for more information.

The spouse who is a native of the archdiocese will have to make sure certain documents are sent to the priest or deacon who will be officiating the marriage. Your local priest will send the necessary documents to the other diocese after having the Chancery Office endorse them with the archdiocesan seal.

Any dispensations or permissions required by Canon Law must be granted by the bishop of your home diocese.

9. What if we married civilly and want to marry in the Church?

For various reasons, a couple may have chosen to marry civilly instead of getting married in the Catholic Church.  No matter the circumstances, we eagerly invite you to bring your marriage into the Catholic Church!  The process to do this is called convalidation.

Even if there is not explicitly wrong with or negative about your family life and marriage dynamic, there is a tremendous beauty and strength in a Catholic and sacramental marriage that we encourage you to explore.  As spouses, you can enter into a deeper and more grace-filled relationship with each other and with God by having your marriage convalidated by the Church.

Convalidation is a relatively simple process, particularly if neither of the spouses was in a prior marriage before joining their current partner.  If one or both of the spouses was in a prior marriage, the partner in the earlier union must have died, or the Church must have issued a declaration of nullity (commonly called an annulment) before the convalidation process can begin.

In either case, the first step is to contact a local parish or your own parish, and make an appointment to thoroughly discuss your situation with the pastor or his delegate and determine the steps to follow.

10. What should we do if we’re living together?

Despite common misconceptions, the Church does not promote or permit couples to move in together before they are married. This is not without good reason, though. Studies show very clearly that living together is not good marriage preparation, but instead hurts relationships:

  • The divorce rate for couples who have lived together is much higher than for other couples (some studies report that couples who lived together before marriage are twice as likely to divorce within the first ten years of marriage).
  • In the case of men who have lived with a series of women, the divorce rate is even higher.
  • The longer the couple lives together, the higher the divorce rate.
  • Couples who cohabit typically have worse communication and conflict resolution skills than those who do not, and a reduced sense of commitment.

Because of the moral and spiritual problems, speak honestly and openly to your priest/deacon about the situation. Go to confession, and seek God’s forgiveness and healing.

Take a serious look at your motivations and expectations about marriage considering the current state of your relationship. Ask yourself: Am I really ready for a life-long, exclusive commitment? Am I feeling pressured to get married because of my current situation?

The best thing is to move into separate living quarters and be chaste until your wedding night. If that’s not possible because of financial concerns, you can still agree to be chaste until marriage.

11. Does the Church have a position on prenuptial agreements?

The question of prenuptial agreements frequently arises today. These agreements are basically a contract between prospective spouses about how their property and other rights will be handled within their marriage and how they would be handled in the event of a divorce.

The Catholic Church does not have a blanket prohibition against prenuptial agreements. There may be some cases where they are perfectly legitimate. For example, if a widow with adult children marries a widower who also has adult children, a prenuptial agreement can be a legitimate way to preserve the inheritance rights of each spouse’s children to the property of the prior marriage.

In most cases, however, prenuptial agreements are a bad idea, and may even call into doubt the validity of the marriage.

When a couple enters into a prenuptial agreement, they implicitly foresee the break-up of their marriage,  It suggests their consent is to be married until it doesn’t “work out,” and that they are more committed to their possessions than to the marriage. This is not compatible with Catholic marriage. . For a marriage to be valid, the couple must both fully understand what indissolubility means and they consent to it.

Our advice is that couples should avoid prenuptial agreements. We would also recommend that couples talk seriously about why they would contemplate a prenuptial agreement and whether they are truly ready to make the commitment to a full, permanent marriage.

12. Do we need to get a marriage license?

Yes.  It is your responsibility to obtain and present a valid marriage license to the priest/deacon who is presiding at your wedding before the marriage ceremony. For more information about the current requirements for a marriage license, visit the  website of the New York State Department of Health.

13. What is the Premarital Interview (PMI)?

This is the meeting at which the priest/deacon will make sure all Canon Law requirements have been met… This brief process is another way we ensure open lines of communication and speak to the priest/deacon about anything on your mind.

14. Where can we get a Papal blessing for our marriage?

Many people desire a blessing from the Holy Father in anticipation of their wedding and marriage. For information about how to obtain this blessing, click here.

15. Where can I find more information on wedding liturgy readings and information?

Contact your officiant for a personalized selection of readings and music selections. You can find popular reading selections on this site.

16. Where can we find support for living this married lifestyle?

Marriage preparation is not limited only to the required courses. We should never want to  stop learning how to love each other better.

There are many opportunities for marriage enrichment, through various programs like the one-day Celebrate Marriage Day or a Marriage Encounter Weekend retreat.

Don’t forget that the family that prays together, stays together.

There are lots of ways to grow together spiritually, such as praying together as a couple and celebrating the liturgy together.  For other opportunities and programs see the Family Life Office Marriage Enrichment webpage.

Mentoring engaged couples and lending a helping hand in the marriage preparation process will also help you grow closer by sharing your lives with engaged couples. After you have been married for a while, call us at 646-794-3188 or email us at [email protected] and find out how you can help.


For Your Marriage helps couples at all stages of life to understand and live God’s plan for happy, holy marriages by providing educational and spiritual resources.

For Your Marriage

For Your Marriage is a resource provided by the USCCB to help you and your spouse deepen your connection to each other and your faith as part of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. Whether you are looking for advice and information on dating, your wedding day, married life, parenting, caregiving, or consolation, there is support from real couples like you and experts from professions and the Church alike at

Visit their website for blogs, columns, resources, and more. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


Married civilly? Consider Convalidation!

For various reasons, you may have chosen to marry civilly instead of getting married in the Catholic Church. Whether there were complicating factors, or you simply did not understand the value of marrying in the Church, or you did not have a connection with Christ and the Church, we eagerly invite you to bring your marriage into the Catholic Church! The process to do this is called convalidation.

Your family life may be going just fine, and your marriage may be satisfying and content, but there is a tremendous beauty and strength in a Catholic and sacramental marriage that we encourage you to explore. As spouses, you can enter into a deeper and more grace-filled relationship with each other and with God by having your marriage validated by the Church. “The benefits of convalidation are enormous: peace of heart, oneness with the Church, reception of the Sacrament of Matrimony and God’s special blessing upon the marriage.” [“Bringing Your Marriage Into the Church,” Msgr. Joseph M. Champlin, Catholic Update, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2004.]

If you and/or your spouse were baptized in (or received into) the Catholic Church, and you were married in a civil ceremony or under another religious denomination, your marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church (unless you received a dispensation). That said, you may want to look into the possibility of validating your marriage.

Convalidation is a relatively simple process if neither spouse was married before. If one of the spouses had any kind of prior marriage, and the prior spouse is still living, that marriage must have received a declaration of nullity (commonly called an annulment) from a Catholic tribunal before the convalidation of the present marriage can take place. In either case, the first step is to contact your parish (or, if you are not currently enrolled at a parish, then the one where you or your spouse currently reside) and make an appointment to thoroughly discuss your situation with the pastor or his delegate. The priest or deacon assisting you will advise you about any documents needed.

Convalidation is not simply a blessing of an existing union, but the true exchange of consent of the spouses. As such, there will be a period of preparation and formation prior to your ceremony to exchange vows in the Church. Your priest or deacon will guide you in the preparation and/or program he recommends.

The Convalidation/Re-marriage preparation/formation period is a time to not only prepare for your Catholic wedding day, but also for your marriage. Click here to view the steps for your starting point on this journey.


In 2021, Pope Francis declared the fourth Sunday in July as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in the Church. The date was chosen to be near the liturgical memorial (July 26) of Saints Anne and Joachim, grandparents of Jesus. Due to the secular celebration of Grandparents Day in the United States, the Administrative Committee of Bishops transferred the Church’s celebration to coincide with that of the nation’s on the Sunday after Labor Day in September. Since 1978 many American local communities, schools, and parishes have been accustomed to observing the September celebration. That said, it is appropriate to include grandparents and the elderly in NFP Week celebrations. Please see the resources below as you plan your activities for NFP Week.

For information about World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly Day, please visit the Vatican website.

Visit the USCCB’s page about Grandparents and the Elderly Day.

NFP Week Graphics

These graphics are provided by the USCCB for use by your parish. Please feel free to download and distribute.



Welcome to the Clergy Portal. It was created with you in mind. We hope to provide you with resources that will assist you with the important work you are providing for your parish. We will continue to add clergy-only content. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at 646-794-3185 or [email protected].

Pre-Cana Dates

During the COVID-19 period, we have modified the in-person Pre-Cana Day (English and Spanish) to be a virtual experience for our couples. The virtual Pre-Cana features the same Pre-Cana facilitator couples, and includes the same content as our in–person Pre-Cana, with the key exception of the priest content (e.g. talk, blessing, confession).

Your couples can register for the virtual Pre-Cana days in their marriage prep account, or you can have them email us at [email protected], or call us at (646) 794-3188.

Marriage and Re-Marriage / Convalidation Preparation Resources

Preparation Programs: Marriage, Re-Marriage and Convalidations

The Archdiocesan Marriage and Convalidation/Re-Marriage Preparation Programs include a format that combines multiple content-delivery methods (online, video and in-person) with a one-day Pre-Cana experience. This approach provides significant benefits:

  1. Online components will provide couples and priests/deacons with tangible insight into a couple’s relationship and faith.
  2. The in-person or virtual day is an experience of faith, witness, and community that provides practical advice for the engaged couples on topics including self-awareness, communication, commitment, and addressing common challenges. It is also designed to help couples understand and embrace a Catholic vision of married love, sexuality, and spirituality. The day is meant to help couples grow in love and be open to God’s grace so they can have happy and fulfilling marriages.
  3. The cost of the program is $150.
  4. Online engagement will help us stay in touch with couples, engaging them further after their wedding with enrichment events, faith experts and marriage mentors.

Responsibilities for Priests and Deacons

Each couple is required to select an online relationship inventory when they register for the Archdiocesan Marriage or Convalidation/Re-Marriage Preparation program.  They will need to select either Catholic Couple Checkup (CCC) or Prepare/Enrich (PE).  Your responsibility as the priest or deacon preparing the couple is to direct them to take one or the other when you initially meet with them.

  • Catholic Couple Checkup (CCC) and Prepare/Enrich (PE) are relationship inventories that the Archdiocese of New York endorses when we work with our couples. Used as both premarital assessments as well as marriage enrichment tools, these two inventories are designed to help couples discover their unique relationship strengths, which enable them to enjoy and continue developing a healthy relationship. They also address areas of growth and help identify issues threatening the vitality of the relationship. CCC and PE are in the same family of relationship inventories, and the main component of each program is an online survey that the couple completes. 
  • While Catholic Couple Checkup (CCC) is taken without clergy facilitation, Prepare/Enrich (PE) requires you or another trained facilitator to administer and interpret results. (With CCC, couples have the option to share their 15-20 page report with you, so be sure to ask them for a copy of it – either printed or digital.) If you would like to be trained to be a PE facilitator, contact the Family Life Office at 646-794-3188, or email [email protected]. Clergy PE trainings are scheduled by the Family Life Office throughout the year. Note: If you are already a PE facilitator, you can contact our office and we will set you up for free PE scorings.
  • Both CCC and PE are informative and easy to complete, and are tailored to the unique stage and structure of each couple’s relationship, whether dating, engaged or married. Some of the key scales that are assessed include: Communication, Conflict Resolution, Partner Style and Habits, Financial Management, Leisure Activities, Relationship Roles, and Spiritual Beliefs.  
  • The Archdiocesan Tribunal has affirmed that CCC and PE results can be helpful both immediately and in future counseling or even annulment cases. You may therefore keep a copy in the couple’s file.