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bringing marriage into the sacrament of marriage

Congratulations on taking your first step to bring your marriage into the Catholic Church! Whatever circumstances or life situation has brought you to this point, we’re glad you’re here!

If you haven’t already, please contact your local parish to get the processes started. A priest will be your official guide during the convalidation process. He will seek to get to know your story so he can accompany you in a more helpful manner on your journey toward a full sacramental marriage. This will include compiling the necessary paperwork for your marriage file. If an annulment is needed, he can also assist you with that process. If you have any questions along the way it is always better to ask than to guess so feel free to ask him any questions you may have!

Marriage Preparation Process in the Diocese of Rockford

Marriage Preparation? Even for us?

Yes. Convalidation is not simply a renewal of the previous intention to marry but the creation of a valid marriage in the Church. The priest will guide you through a preparation process to help you prepare to make these new vows to one another.

Step 1

Contact your parish

When you call or visit the parish, you will likely first speak with the parish secretary. Let that person know that you would like to set up a meeting with a priest to talk about marriage convalidation. 

You should contact your parish as soon as you are able. Most parishes ask couples to contact them several months prior to the date that they would like to set for their wedding. The sooner, the better.

Step 2

Register for Diocesan Marriage Preparation

We recommend completing this step at least 4 months prior to your wedding. 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

Your priest will be able to give you specific details about what this will look like for you and your spouse. This will be based on your parish’s guidelines, your specific situation, and what he determines will be most formative and helpful for you as a couple.

This process can include some paperwork, ongoing conversations, meetings, attendance at an event, prayer, instruction on Natural Family Planning, etc. Again, this will be tailored to your unique circumstances.

Step 4

Plan the ceremony

Some people prefer to keep their convalidation ceremony very simple and small; others like to plan a larger celebration and invite their family and friends. It’s totally up to you!

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 likely involve meeting with your priest, deacon, parish liturgist and/or music director. Be sure to ask about any guidelines your parish has regarding photography, flowers, candles, aisle runners, etc. 

Marriage preparation is avaliable in person and online

There are two ways to fulfill the diocesan requirement (step #2 in the overview above). 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. The Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation seminar includes the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, short presentations with time for reflection and discussion, as well as a very brief online portion which is completed before meeting in person.

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 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

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

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.

The priest who is preparing you may have you wait. It is very important to be in conversation with him. We also recommend staying in contact with the Tribunal Office

Still have questions? Contact the LiFE Office!  |  815.399.4300 

We're here for you!

Contact the LiFE Office by email or by phone 815.399.4300. Our office hours are Monday – Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm