Marriage Guidelines


The Second Vatican Council teaches us that Christian marriage  “is a reflection of the living covenant uniting Christ and the Church.” In Catholic tradition a man and a woman establish a sacramental relationship by their decision – witnessed by the Church – to model their lives and their love on the unconditional and never ending love of Christ for each of us. This “communion of life and love” (Vatican II) is a unique relationship. Like two pillars that need each other to hold up a structure, yet must each stand on its own strength, a couple in a sacramental marriage becomes one in heart and mind (“one flesh”) while also preserving their individuality. This kind of giving of self and acceptance of the other, which is of mutual benefit to both persons, can be achieved only by couples who have grown to an adult level of spiritual and emotional maturity sufficient to perform the responsibilities of Christian marriage.

Vatican II’s presentation of marriage in “Gaudium et Spes”, states: “Marriage is brought about through the consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons who are capable according to law of giving consent…Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman, through an irrevocable covenant, mutually give and accept each other in order to establish marriage” (Code of Canon Law, 1057).  This “covenant or community of life and love” is meant to be a stable, permanent and faithful bond.

Preliminary Guidelines

Contact the Pastor. In order to assure ample time for the proper preparation for and full appreciation of the sacrament of marriage, it is strongly recommended that under normal circumstances preliminary arrangements for marriage be made with a priest or deacon of the parish at least 6 months prior to the wedding.

Marriage Preparation

Freedom to Marry

No date should be set unless the priest has the assurance that the couple is free to marry. It must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration (Code of Canon Law, 1066), have sufficient intellectual and spiritual appreciation of Christian marriage, are emotionally mature enough for marriage, and that at least one has some attachment to a Catholic worshipping community. If one or the other of the above is lacking, a sacramental marriage is to be delayed until the lack is addressed.

Once the Freedom to Marry has been established, couples will take a FOCCUS test. FOCCUS stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study. This is a Pre-Marriage Inventory instrument useful in helping couples address issues that may need further discussion. FOCCUS can be used by the pastor as part of his assessment process in determining the couple’s readiness to marry in the Church, or it can be used as a beginning of series of marriage preparation programs.

Sponsor Couple program

This parish-based program has the advantage of being the most personal because it is couple-to-couple and can more easily cater to the individual needs and interests of the engaged couple. Couples are required to meet with the presider to ensure their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage and prepare for the liturgy.

Natural Family Planning

Couples preparing for marriage should be introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP).  NFP is the practice of achieving or avoiding pregnancies according to an informed awareness of a woman’s fertility. Participation in a session will give the couple the kind of information they are lacing and provide a forum for private dialogue to make conscientious decisions about the gift of their own fertility.

What do I need to do in order to get married at Santa Barbara Church?

Couples are asked to visit the parish office to begin the preliminary paperwork for marriage and to schedule an appointment with the pastor to begin marriage preparation.