John Paul II Center - Milwaukee

Marriage Preparation

Preparation for a Sacramental Marriage

The Church must therefore promote better and more intensive programs of marriage preparation, in order to eliminate, as far as possible, the difficulties that many married couples find themselves in, and even more to favor positively the establishing and maturing of successful marriages. Marriage preparation has to be seen and put into practice as a gradual and continuous process. It includes three main stages: remote, proximate, and immediate preparation. (Familiaris Consortio, 66)

The USCCB has produced a video about What Happens at a Catholic Wedding. This new video resource walks you through the Rite of Marriage, whether you’re marrying another Catholic, a baptized person who is not Catholic, or someone who is not baptized. It also answers several FAQs about Catholic weddings. Ideal for engaged couples, their families and anyone who is involved in Catholic marriage preparation.

Remote Preparation

Remote preparation for marriage begins in early childhood and continues through the teen years. Such preparation is accomplished through the examples of family life and through the Teaching Office of the Church. The primary responsibility for remote preparation lies within the context of the family and parish community. The Office for Marriage and Family Life seeks to support families and local parishes with age-appropriate formation.

Proximate Preparation 

Proximate preparation for marriage begins when a dating relationship becomes serious and marriage becomes a real possibility. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has set forth specific guidelines regarding marriage preparation programs, and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference has adapted those guidelines for particular use among the Dioceses of Wisconsin. The Offfice for Marriage and Family Life is responsible for insuring that proximate preparation in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee meets these pastoral guidelines (In Perfect Union - Wisconsin Catholic Marriage Compendium).  A minimum of six months preparation is required for all marriages in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The booklet In Perfect Union can be ordered in English or Spanish by contacting Jenni Oliva at 414-758-2213 or by email:  Cost of the booklet is $1.50.

As with all of the sacraments, preparation is essential if the sacrament is to have its full meaning and effect. The Marriage Preparation Program provides the opportunity for engaged couples to explore the meaning of a committed sacramental relationship and to explore strengths and limitations in a caring manner to solidify and deepen the future marriage relationship. As part of the preparation process, engaged couples have the option of attending a Marriage Preparation Conference, a Marriage Preparation Day, a Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat or Marriage Preparation for Remarriage. A description of each is below. Please choose one program that best fits your needs.

2018 Marriage Preparation Dates and Locations

Marriage Preparation Site Location Directions


Marriage Preparation Program Overview


Marriage Preparation Conferences

Marriage Preparation Conferences take place on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at sites throughout the archdiocese. This large venue, conference-style program includes keynote speakers and a variety of workshops. The Marriage Preparation Conferences are a great option for couples who enjoy meeting other couples, and the experience of a large conference. If one of you is unbaptized, not Catholic, or has been away from the Church, you’ll find the Marriage Preparation Conference to be a good fit.

Marriage Preparation Days

Marriage Preparation Days take place on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and are hosted and planned by several of our parishes. Marriage Preparation Days include large group presentations and time for interaction between couples. The Marriage Preparation Days are a great option for couples who prefer large group presentations, and like to connect with smaller groups of couples in a parish near them. If one of you is unbaptized, not Catholic, or has been away from the Church, you’ll find the Marriage Preparation Day to be a good fit.

Marriage Preparation for Remarriage

Marriage Preparation for Remarriage takes place on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and is designed for couples remarrying with the Church’s approval. Remarriage is a blessing, but can also be challenging! These days for remarrying couples are part of several of our Marriage Preparation Conferences, with special workshops offered by couples who have remarried and blended families.

Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat away with other engaged couples with plenty of time alone together. An atmosphere is created for the two of you to concentrate exclusively on each other, free of the distractions of daily life and wedding preparations. There are no group dynamics. Instead, it is a quiet weekend designed to give the two of you the opportunity to talk honestly and intensively about your future together – an opportunity to discover a deeper appreciation of your relationship, and God’s call to unite in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Interfaith couples are very welcome to attend this weekend! This weekend is especially recommended for couples who are looking for the greatest opportunity to take their relationship to a new level spiritually.  The retreat begins on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and concludes Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.  Sunday mass will be celebrated.

What will you experience on a Catholic Engaged Encounter Retreat? - view this short video to find out

What to know more about Catholic Engaged Encounter's Mission and Vision? Please "click here" to find out more

2018 Dates:  April 20-22, 2018; November 2-4, 2018
Place: Schoenstatt Retreat Center - Waukesha   Cost: $250.00 per couple
Contact:  John or Louise Vos  - Call (262) 439-8559 or by email  if you are interested in attending a Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend.

Immediate Preparation (Parish Based)

Immediate preparation for marriage takes place in the parish setting. While The Office for Marriage and Family Life does not directly engage in immediate preparation, we do support parishes and clergy with necessary resources.

FOCCUS Inventory for Marriage Preparation


Make your house - your family - another Nazareth where love, peace, joy and unity reign, for love begins at home!
~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta 


St. John Paul II Office for the New Evangelization

3501 South Lake Dr.
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912


© 2018 John Paul II Center • 3501 South Lake Dr. • PO Box 070912 • Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912 • 414-758-2201
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