Marriage Preparation Program

Congratulations on your decision to be married in the Church! We, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Community, are pleased to assist you with your marriage preparation and plans for a meaningful, prayerful and joyful wedding celebration. The following is a general overview of what is involved in preparing for your marriage.

In the Diocese of Phoenix the program for marriage preparation takes at least NINE MONTHS. Additional time may be required in some cases. This is to allow time for a thorough preparation for the sacrament. For more information on the policy you may visit the diocesan website at

At St. Francis, the program follows the 7 steps outlined in the Diocesan Program. The following steps guide you through a program to help you understand and be prepared for your married life in the church:

  • Meet with your marriage preparation minister
  • Take the FOCCUS Inventory
  • Take a Married Life Skills class
  • Take the God’s Plan for a Joy Filled Marriage class
  • Take the classes in Natural Family Planning
  • Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Meet to plan and finalize your ceremony

A more detailed outline of the program can be found by clicking here for our Marriage Preparation checklist. More detailed information about marriage preparation and weddings at St. Francis can also be found in our Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage.

We want to meet with you

Your first meeting will be with a mentor couple who will guide you through the steps you must take, answer your questions, and give you all the necessary information for your marriage preparation and wedding. There are some steps that must be completed through the whole preparation program, and this couple will be available for questions and help throughout the entire planning process. Their goal is to help your wedding day be a very happy and special moment in your life. We hope to reduce your stress matching you with a knowledgeable married couple.

You will need to provide some documents and information

You will need to provide a copy of your baptismal certificate (issued no longer than six months prior), which should record all the Sacraments you have received. You can obtain a copy of that certificate by requesting it from the parish where you were baptized. For those baptized in another Christian faith, a copy of the original certificate will suffice. If one of you has not been baptized, just let us know.

We also will need to know whether either of you have ever been married before, either in the Catholic Church, in another denomination, or civilly. If you have been married before, we will provide you with the necessary information for continuing with the process of preparing for your marriage.

Time to take the FOCCUS Inventory

The next step will be for both of you to take the FOCCUS inventory. This inventory is designed to help you to better understand each other and to enter into greater communication as you approach the sacrament of matrimony. After the FOCCUS inventory, both of you will meet with a couple to discuss any important issues that need care and attention and/or clarification.

Classes to get you ready for your marriage

You will also take a series of classes, including a Married Life Skills class, a class session on “God’s Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage” ( and a full course in Natural Family Planning ( As you finish these classes, please give copies of the certificates of completion to your mentor couple so they can make sure that all of the necessary paperwork for your preparation is placed in our church files, or sent to the parish where your wedding will take place.

Planning your ceremony

When these steps are complete the couple meets with the marriage preparation coordinators to plan your wedding Mass or Ceremony. We will help you:

  • Select Scripture Readings and other Prayers for your ceremony
  • Choose any optional components to the Wedding ceremony
  • Provide information on Church Decorations
  • Provide information on Photography at the Wedding
  • Provide information and contacts on music selections

When these items are completed, the marriage preparation coordinators will inform the wedding coordinator and music director.

You will need a marriage license

Finally, you must obtain a civil marriage license from the County. No marriage can be performed without a license, and the priest or deacon in Arizona signs the license as a minister of the Church and of the State of Arizona. Information on how to get a marriage license can be found at