Sacrament of Marriage

9 Steps to Receive the Sacrament of Marriage

in the Diocese of San Bernardino

Step 1: Contact your parish and arrange to meet with your Priest or Deacon

    When: BEFORE you set a wedding date or begin any other steps

When you become engaged, you first point of contact should be your parish, your home of faith. They are the ones who will guide you through the entire marriage preparation process from start to finish, whether or not you are being married at your home parish. At that time, you will schedule a time to meet and begin walking together on this joyous journey and receive the guidance and assistance you need to complete steps 2-7, keeping in mind they may even have specific recommendations as to which courses or tools listed below are best for the couple to follow. You can ask about appropriate music for the ceremony, and begin to fill out some of the required paperwork. You may also want to take a moment to plan out a timeline for completion of these steps and other wedding arrangements.

Step 2: Take a Premarital Inventory and discussion

A Premarital Inventory is a powerful tool to help you get to know each other even more deeply, and reveal relationship strengths so you may capitalize and grow in them while proactively helping identify areas that may need attention before they turn into issues later.

This step is completed through your parish. Therefore, be sure you’ve completed step 1 before you move to this step. Your parish will then oversee the process then use the results to help guide your preparation process. This is a sampling of marriage inventory tools currently approved for use in the Diocese of San Bernardino. Keeping in mind that some of the tools are intended for special circumstances, and always with prior parish approval:

The premarital inventories recommended by the diocese as being research and scientifically based with a Catholic understanding of marriage are The Catholic Couple Check Up,  FOCCUS, and Fully Engaged. All inventories are taken online, and are accepted. If you take the Catholic Couple Checkup, the results are available as soon as you finish and you can discuss them together or with the person preparing you for marriage. If your parish requires FOCCUS or Fully Engaged, talk to them about how to take it. (If you are a parish reading this and need to have your facilitators trained on any approved inventory, please contact the office of Marriage and Family Life Ministry for training assistance and information at

Step 3: Take your Marriage Preparation Course

A variety of programs to prepare couples for the Sacrament of Marriage are offered throughout the Diocese of San Bernardino in English and Spanish. Keep in mind that a parish may have specific recommendations as to which courses may suit a couple best. Make sure you talk to the Priest, or Deacon, or Wedding Coordinator about their recommendations. Find programs available local or on-line. 

Step 4: Learn about Natural Family Planning

Part of a good marriage preparation process is receiving the gift of learning about what some have said may be one of the best kept secret treasures around, Natural Family Planning (NFP). NFP uses great science to plan our families while doing so in accord with God’s plan, and 100% naturally! . You can learn about the only method of family planning morally acceptable to Catholic teaching by taking a class in person or online at Natural Family Planning (NFP) teaches you to read and interpret signs of fertility and infertility to achieve, space, or avoid a pregnancy, strengthening the marriage, the couple, and the family.

 Couples may access a wealth of information from class registration to local support contacts basics on the various NFP methods and much more via our Office of Marriage and Family Life Ministry at 909-475-5390 or you may contact any of our NFP Instructors.  In-person Introduction to NFP - In-person Introduction to NFP in Spanish.


Step 5: Sacrament of Reconciliation

Give yourselves the blessing of coming into your special day prepared spiritually by receiving the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the wellspring of grace it provides. But why wait until just before the wedding when it is there for you always?  The Office of Catechetical Ministry will be happy to share resources about this beautiful Sacrament and other marriage topics if desired.


Step 6: Final Meeting(s) with your Priest or Deacon

As you continue to keep in touch with your parish and working together to prepare your special day, you should meet with the Priest or Deacon who will be celebrating your wedding 4-6 weeks before the wedding.

Discuss any issues or concerns raised in your marriage prep class, share the results of your premarital inventory, and finalize the ceremony details. Finish your paperwork and review the readings and music you've chosen.

If you are getting married at a different parish, do keep in close touch with your home parish and embrace any opportunities they may offer for you to receive spiritual guidance and final wedding tips there as well. They are your family of faith!   


Step 7. Buy a marriage license and attend the wedding rehearsal.

Be sure you buy your marriage license at least one but no more than 60 days before the ceremony. For information on purchasing a license in San Bernerdino County, click here. For Riverside County, here. Check ahead of time; they close early before holidays. The wedding rehearsal takes place at your church with those involved in the ceremony as determined with your priest or deacon.


Step 8. Enjoy your wedding day as you receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Your big day is finally here. Enjoy this day with family and friends as you begin your lifetime commitment to one another, your own marriage in the Lord.


Step 9: Keep Connected! Be part of the Marriage Initiative 

Your journey is just beginning, and there are plentiful resources and opportunities available to continue enriching your lives and marriage. By keeping connected and involved, first with your parish and second with any of the other great groups and ministries in the diocese, you tap into one of the greatest resources of all: a family of faith with whom to walk and find mutual inspiration, encouragement, support, while making great new friends in the process! Last but not least, count on our Office of Marriage and Family Life as another support source. We are here to serve you!