A Guide to Marriage and Marriage Education in the Diocese of Sandhurst

To all couples preparing for marriage


You have decided to be married and you have chosen to celebrate the sharing of your vows to each other in a Christian Community.

You will no doubt be busy preparing for your wedding so that it is one of the most special days of your life together.

As part of your preparation it is now the ideal time to plan for your marriage ... your life together.

As you are marrying in the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst it will be important to know its policy and requirements to help your planning.

The Diocesan Policy

According to our diocesan policy, a couple intending to celebrate their marriage in the Diocese of Sandhurst needs to participate in:

A Interviews with the priest who is to witness the marriage or the parish leader to:
 • Complete church and government documents (see check list)
 • Share time with the priest exploring the sacramental nature of marriage and the meaning of commitment
 • Prepare of the wedding liturgy

B Pre-Marriage Education Programs.
 • Participate in a recognised Pre-Marriage Education group program, incorporating these key areas: communication skills, problem solving strategies, exploring marital goals and expectations, family background influences, staying close as a couple and many more. These programs are presented by trained facilitators committed to adult learning principles and to ongoing best practice and professional development.
 • Participate in FOCCUS - a program based on a set of statements designed to assist individual couples to communicate at a deeper level on expectations, family, friends & interests, religion, sexuality, relationship and communication skills. FOCCUS is of greatest benefit to the couple when followed by a group pre-marriage education program.

Prepare Early

Allow plenty of time to attend marriage education and to book the church and celebrant. Ideally couples should give twelve months notice of intention to marry to the celebrant. A minimum amount of notice is six months.

Couple Check List

1. Pre-Marriage Education

It is most beneficial to participate in pre- marriage education 6-12 months before your wedding.
 •FOCCUS - a pre-marriage inventory
 •A Pre-Marriage Education Program
 •Spiritual preparation

2. Documentation
Depending on your circumstances you will need to provide the following:
 • Birth Certificates or Passports
 • A recent copy of Baptismal Certificates for both persons.
 • Letters of freedom to marry from both persons where applicable

3. To be completed with the priest
 • Notice of Intended Marriage (Government)
 • Two Marriage Declarations (Government & Diocesan)
 • Form for permission or dispensation in cases of interfaith marriages

4. The Ceremony
 • Choose place, date and time
 • Choose Rite of Marriage within or without Mass
 • In consultation with your celebrant prepare the liturgy including scripture readings, prayers, participants, music and singing, and any other symbolic gestures you may like to include.

Costs of Your Wedding

Fees are payable for pre-marriage education and for FOCCUS. Marriage education fees are low comparable to other services and wedding costs and help support the development of marriage education services.

Fees may also be payable for use of the church and for the musicians. Please check with your church about fees and please consider an offering to your priest as a sign of your appreciation.

Pastoral Care of the Couple

1. The couple can expect that:
 • The priest and parish will be welcoming and affirming, prepared to listen to them and walk with them in their journey to marriage and beyond.
 • The priest will complete the necessary church and government documents and provide an understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage
 • The priest will put the couple in contact with Centacare or local marriage educators who can provide Pre-Marriage Education.

2. The Celebrant can expect that:
 • The couple will be involved in preparation concerning their wedding liturgy.
 • The couple will spend time with the priest in a pastoral context.
 • The couple will be prepared to participate in the Pre-Marriage Education Programs as outlined in the Diocesan policy.

This policy respects the guidelines and procedures of individual parishes and it is anticipated that couples will be guided by these individual parish policies.

As a Diocese, we believe in the sacred union of marriage and will do all in our power to offer pastoral care, support and resources to couples who are preparing for, and living out their commitment to each other in marriage.

Approved by Bishop Joe Grech
Bishop of Sandhurst, September 2002


For more information regarding the Diocesan Programs offered by Centacare contact your local priest or:

Amanda Lomax
Family Relationship Education Coordinator
Centacare PO Box 255 (65 Baxter St)

Tel: 03 5438 1329
Fax: 03 5438 1314

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Further information: Centacare Relationship Education Website

Updated May 2006