Marriage and Family Life

Catholic Wedding

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Worldwide Marriage Encounter

Encuentro Matrimonial Mundial


Natural Family Planning

Respect for Life

Walking with Moms in Need

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Ministry Contacts

To contact the Office of Marriage and Family Life, please use our Archdiocesan Contact Form (under “Directory,” select Deacon Mick Fornelli). Your message will be forwarded to the proper point of contact.

  • Director of Marriage & Family Life: Deacon Mick Fornelli
    • Archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry: eacon Mick Fornelli
    • Couples for Christ: Fr. Luz Flores
    • Engaged Encounter: Chris & Jennifer Robertson
    • Engaged Encounter (Español): Deacon Gabriel Ruiz
    • NFP: Rachel Fogal and Judy McCarthy
    • Project Rachel: Deacon Kurt Adler or
    • Retrouvaille: Gregory & Kathleen Fast
    • Worldwide Marriage Encounter: Deacon Bill & Sherry Tunilla

News & Resources

The USCCB provides two blogs, ForYourMarriage and PorTuMatrimonio, for ongoing enrichment for couples. In addition, a five-night Date Night Series is available from Witness to Love.

What is Marriage?

Love is our origin. Love is our constant calling. Love is our fulfillment in heaven. Everything the Catholic Church teaches about marriage begins with this proclamation.”³

Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan of creation¹

Marriage is the matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life…cc 1055

In addition, the Catholic Church teaches that the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament – a saving reality and a symbol of Christ’s love for his church (see Ephesians 5:25-33)¹

Marriage Preparation Guidelines

Pastors hold primary responsibility for ensuring proper formation of couples for marriage. Pastors may seek assistance from parochial vicars, deacons or trained layperson.

A minimum six-month preparation period is required. Consult your parish priest at least six months prior to your anticipated date. (it is strongly discouraged to schedule a reception before consulting with your parish priest.)

Marriage preparation is a process for determining the couple’s readiness for marriage and should include the following;

  • Discussion and completion of pre-marital documents and assessment tools, ie Focus, Prepare and Enrich
  • Attendance of an Engaged Encounter Weekend or other method for addressing focus areas determined from assessment tool and church teaching.
  • Resolving marriage impediments such as addressing any and all previous marriages or unions.
  • Acquiring necessary permissions or dispensations when a Catholic is marrying someone of a different religious tradition
  • Preparing documents necessary when a marriage is being prepared in one diocese and celebrated in another or when the celebrating minister is from another diocese.
  • Catechesis regarding the Sacrament, Theology and Teachings of a Catholic Marriage
  • Gathering all pertinent sacramental certificates, such as baptismal, confirmation, etc…

Marriage preparation will be parish-based whenever possible. Couples preparing for marriage within the parish have a greater opportunity to develop stronger ties with a local faith community.

If a couple are seeking a Catholic Marriage and are already civilly married to each other, preparation is still required as the catholic marriage is considered a new consent.

The Celebration of Marriage – “The Wedding”

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the priest or deacon, the two official witnesses, and the congregation all witness the exchange of consent by the couple who themselves are considered to be the ministers of the sacrament. 1

  • When planning the wedding ceremony, the couple should work with the preparing minister to ensure the ceremony reflects their love and commitment as a couple and in accordance to the Rite of Marriage of the Catholic Church;
  • Respect for cultural and family traditions is important in the planning of the wedding and should be done within the Rite of Marriage of the Catholic Church.
  • The Norm of this Archdiocese is to have a Catholic Wedding celebrated in a Catholic Church. If there are family and religious considerations that would warrant a request for the celebration to be held in a different setting or by a non-Catholic Minister, this must be discussed with the preparing minister as soon as possible in the planning.
  • A Catholic has the right to celebrate their marriage within Mass if desired, and no couple should be denied a Catholic wedding because of financial burdens.
  • The Catholic Church makes no provision for witnessing or recognizing the union between two individuals of the same sex.
  • When individuals or couples who have been previously married and divorced seek a new marriage, proper resolution of the prior marriage must be determined through the Archdiocesan marriage tribunal whether the individual is or was Catholic at the time of the marriage or if they had a Catholic Marriage or not.
  • A marriage license for the State of Alaska must be obtained prior to the church wedding and clergy who preside at weddings must make sure the paperwork for the State of Alaska is filed promptly.

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