Pre-Cana FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation. For more information about classes, visit our diocesan Pre-Cana website, call us at 718-281-9540 or email us at

We just got engaged. What should we do next, to plan our wedding?
The first step is to contact your parish to check availability of the date you have chosen for your wedding. Then make an appointment with a priest or deacon from that parish to start your Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation process.

Our priest told us we need to attend Pre-Cana; what is that?
Pre-Cana is the name given to our Marriage Preparation Program. Our office provides marriage preparation programs that fit the many different needs of couples throughout the diocese. For more information, call 718-281-9540; to register, visit

What are the basic guidelines for marriage in the Church?
– Both the man and the woman must be at least 18 years old.
– You need to notify your home parish (of either the bride or groom) at least SIX to TWELVE MONTHS prior to the desired date.
– You need to attend a pre-nuptial interview with a priest or deacon from the parish.
– You need to gather the necessary documents.
– You need to participate in a Marriage Preparation Program/Pre-Cana recommended by the parish. The class should be taken as far in advance as possible, but not less than three months prior to the wedding date. To register go to
– You need to schedule a final meeting with the priest or deacon to reflect on your experience of the Pre-Cana Program, to prepare the wedding liturgy, and to present documents.
– You need to obtain a New York marriage license. For more information, go to and

Should we check our wedding date with a catering hall first?
No. Since you wish the Church’s involvement with your marriage, you should first check to see if the parish Church is available, and make sure that there are no obstacles to your Catholic wedding. Any previous marriage, religious differences, or serious personal problems, as well as inadequate religious education, are frequent reasons for delaying a wedding date.

Do we have any choice about the place of our wedding?
When two Catholics are getting married, they celebrate their sacrament of marriage in the parish church of the bride or of the groom. The parish church is the center of the spiritual life for Catholics. With very few exceptions, most sacraments and sacred events (baptisms, confessions, Eucharist, confirmations, weddings, ordinations, as well as funeral masses, etc.) are celebrated in a church.

Can we get married outdoors?
Outdoor weddings are not permissible places for two Catholics to be married in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Tents, gazebos, parks, catering halls, the beach, or city hall are not sacred places where the Catholic people come together to worship God in the presence of Jesus and each other. Therefore, you should plan your wedding reception at a catering hall, or any other place that suits your style, but the right place for your sacred exchange of wedding vows is a sacred place, a church.

Do we have any choice about the Church for our wedding?
It has been the custom for marriage to take place in the parish of the bride. Currently, the parish of the groom is also an acceptable choice. Two Catholics, however, are always obliged to be married by an authorized Catholic priest or deacon, and the wedding could take place at any parish upon the Pastor’s approval.

What documents do we have to present to be married in Church?
On your first meeting with the priest or deacon, you will need to bring:

– Certificates of Baptism issued within the past six months.
– If one of you has been married before, you need to present the death certificate of your spouse or the Church’s nullity decree.
– Any other documentation, as required by the parish.

Is meeting with the priest or deacon just a formality?
No. Before the celebration of any sacrament in the Church, some preparation is always needed to elicit the proper attitude and to make sure that adequate faith commitment is present. Marriage is no different in this regard. The need for marriage preparation has become more intense as the Catholic Church finds itself counter-cultural in American society, defending the permanence of the marriage bond and traditional family values.

Could any “minister” celebrate our marriage?
No. Two Catholics are always obliged to be married by an authorized Catholic priest or deacon. Weddings celebrated by clergypersons supplied by catering halls might NOT fulfill the requirements for being married in the Catholic faith, even when a willing non-Catholic clergyperson takes the consent and signs the license.

Are there special conditions if one of us is not a Catholic?
When a Catholic wishes to marry a non-Catholic, a dispensation or written permission must be obtained from the Bishop. You should let the priest or deacon know about the difference in religious practice at the first meeting so that additional attention can be given to this aspect of your relationship in the preparation of your marriage. The sacrament of Matrimony is administered by the two partners in marriage. That is why both parties must be baptized Christians (not necessarily Catholics) for there to be a sacramental marriage. When the two Christian spouses consent to one another and exchange their wedding vows, a sacrament is bestowed.

The priest or deacon (in the Latin Rite of Catholic Church) who assists at Catholic marriages by the law of the Church is only the Church’s official witness to the marriage. He does not administer the sacrament; he simply sees that it is administered by the consenting man and woman. The marriage of a baptized Christian with an unbaptized person cannot be a sacramental marriage, though it may be a perfectly valid and holy union. For more information on interfaith marriages, click here.