Marriage Preparation

build a foundation to withstand each season of life


Congratulations on your upcoming wedding in the Church! Whether you’re engaged or civilly married and seeking convalidation the Life & Family Evangelization Office is here to offer support and guidance- not only in preparation for the big day, but for a lifetime together as husband and wife.



He bent down on one knee. She said yes. You’ve announced it to your family and friends. Now what? You may already be overwhelmed with wedding planning details or completely in the dark about how to get started but the Catholic Church is here to help!

Civilly Married

Were you married outside of the Catholic Church? Would you like to have your marriage blessed by the Church?

Couples may find themselves in this situation for a variety of reasons. It may be that a Catholic entered into marriage outside the Church and did not realize that the Church asks us to marry in the Church. Alternately, it might be because one, or both parties, was not free to marry in the Catholic Church due to a previous marriage or because he or she was awaiting an annulment. No matter the situation, now is a great time to explore the convalidation process.



Si son una pareja bilingüe y prefiere la preparación matrimonial en español, por favor visiten nuestra página en español.

Marriage Preparation Process in the Diocese of Rockford

Step 1

Contact your parish

You should contact your parish within the first few weeks of your engagement. Most parishes ask couples to contact them at least six months prior to the date that they would like to set for their wedding. The sooner, the better.

When you call your local parish office, you will likely speak with the parish secretary. Let that person know you would like to get married in the church. They will have some questions to ask you, and this will get the process started.

Step 2

Register for Diocesan Marriage Preparation

We recommend completing this step at least 4 months prior to your wedding. Ideally, between 12 to 4 months prior to your wedding date. At this time, you may complete diocesan marriage preparation either in person or online.

Completion of the online program OR attendance at the Hybrid Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation seminar is required for all couples preparing for marriage in the Diocese of Rockford.

Step 3

Ongoing preparation & formation

The priest or deacon preparing you for marriage will be able to give you specific details about what this entire process will look like for you and your fiancé. This will be based on your parish’s guidelines and what he determines will be most formative and helpful for you as a couple.

This can include multiple meetings with a priest or deacon, meeting with a mentor couple, completing a pre-marital inventory, or instruction on Natural Family Planning.

Step 4

Plan the ceremony

You will have the opportunity to select which scripture readings you would like to have as part of your wedding ceremony, as well as music for the liturgy. Finalizing these decisions will probably involve meeting with your priest, deacon, parish liturgist and/or music director. This is a great opportunity to go over any guidelines your parish has regarding flowers, candles, aisle runners, photography, etc. Make sure to get your wedding rehearsal scheduled as well!


Marriage preparation is avaliable in person and online

There are two ways to fulfill the diocesan requirement. Both options provide an opportunity to grow in your relationship with one another and in your relationship with God. They have a time commitment of approximately ten hours and have a both have an equivelent cost.

In Person

This is a great option for couples seeking to step away from the hustle and bustle of ever day life (including wedding planning). The Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation seminar includes the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, short presentations with time for reflection and discussion. This seminar has temporarily been modified to be a hybrid event. It includes a very brief online portion which must be completed before meeting in person. The in person portion will be on a Saturday from 2:00pm-8:00pm.

At this time, seminars are subject to cancelation. If needed, our office will reach out to you two weeks prior to the in person date to assist with rescheduling.


This is a great option for couples separated by distance or for those who are not yet comfortable gathering in large groups. The online option allows you to access the program 24/7, with the ability to pause and restart at your convenience. Based on the details provided in your registration, we will direct you to the best online course for your specific situation. Our team will contact you with further instructions about the online course within two business days of receiving your registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may switch to in person/hybrid if you have not yet created an account with SmartLoving-Engaged Online. Unfortunately, if an account has been created we cannot switch your program.

Although they cover similar topics, the online only programs and the hybrid seminar do not share the same material.

We strive to be as cost effective as possible. After reviewing several online programs (some of which cost up to $300) and working to minimize in person costs we were able to bring down the price to our current registration fee.

SmartLoving-Engaged Online and the Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation hybrid seminar are equivalent in length. Both require a time commitment of approximately 10 hours.

Beloved is slightly shorter. It is primarily for couples who are seeking convalidation.

A certificate will be issued at the completion of your course.

You will need to obtain a marriage license from the County Clerk Office in the county where your wedding will be taking place. To explore the current procedures and contact information for each County Clerk Office in the state of Illinois, visit the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders website.  Specifically here →

  • May 21, 2022 – St. Bridget, Loves Park
  • September 24, 2022 – St. Mary, Huntley
  • November 5, 2022 – Christ the Teacher, Dekalb

Still have questions? Contact the LiFE Office!  |  815.399.4300 

We're here for you!

Still have questions? Contact the LiFE Office by email or phone 815.399.4300 Our office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm.