Marriage Preparation (also called Pre Cana*)

What is involved in marriage preparation in an Archdiocese of Washington parish like our own? See for an introduction.

First things first.

You first come in and meet with the pastor (or someone he’s delegated to see you) about your upcoming wedding/marriage.

Down the road… You will be meeting with the Music Director to talk about choices for music in your wedding ceremony or Mass.

Different Paths

You may be coming for plans for a wedding here at St. Edward the Confessor church, or, you may be coming for plans for a wedding in some other church.  If it’s the latter, then you may use our preparation program to suffice for the requirements of that other church.

We serve registered members of the parish. You can also come in and talk with the pastor if you are not registered here, or if you are registered elsewhere and have that pastor’s approval. Some inter-faith weddings to marriage may need to use both churches for preparation.

The Date and Good Timing

You may have a date in mind for your wedding, but don’t commit to halls and plans until you have the church(es) on board.  The most important part is the church aspect (it’s where the wedding part is held!) so you need to co-ordinate with us (or them) our availability to host you and accommodate you and the have time to give you a marriage prep. program. Normally, six months is the proper notice.

Your marriage preparation program will be suited to your own situation: such as if you are young or older, local or out of town or both Catholic/or mixed in faith or religion, and long-time together or still ‘new’ in relationship.  If you have a strong faith formation for Christian life and marriage, then the program may be adjusted to your background, too.

**Pre-Cana is a term referring to Cana and the wedding that happened in the Bible in John chapter 2, which involved Jesus and his disciples and his mother Mary. It was a happy wedding and the place of Jesus’ first major miracle. The miracle was a needed gift (immediately need) of the couple of the wine, which He made out of the water. The Lord is also interested in supplying your before wedding needs of marriage preparation so that the marriage following the great wedding will be a ready-to-be one-and-stay one marriage.

Getting Counsel for Your Upcoming Marriage

We have recommended books, CD/DVD tapes, and exercises and discussion guides for you to use. 

We also have a list of organized area Marriage Preparation Retreats and Programs for you to consider and to go and attend.  When you come in for the pastor’s appointment, he can talk to you about which one you might be interested. You can check the recommended ones out (below) ahead of time:

Our Lady of Bethesda Three to Get Married Retreat

Go to to see about their marriage prep retreats, held over in a pretty area of Bethesda/Potomac Md. It’s usually a program involving a Thurs. night session through the weekend. (You don’t stay at the retreat center overnight.)

Engaged Encounter  

Go to  You can look at the program and then decide if the DC or Baltimore area programs or other ones in the country fit your schedule and location and budget The program involves overnight stays at the host hotel or retreat place.

The Archdiocese of Washington Marriage Prep Program

Go to to see what programs our Archdiocese Marriage and Family office some parishes are sponsoring.  They hold the retreat at a parish or at our Archdiocesan Pastoral Center for couples in marriage preparation.  (The Pastoral Center is on the northeast border of DC and Maryland—a few miles from Catholic University.)

Go to to find an online program of preparation from Agape Catholic ministries.  It is especially useful for out-of-town persons who are trying to prepare for a wedding here.

Other Helpful Websites

You can find some nice assistance at Catholic Wedding Help which gives general details on Marriage Prep requirements, how inventories are used, on what various preparation programs are ‘out there,’ and about Natural Family programs. 

For Wedding Liturgy assistance (choices of readings and prayers and rituals for your Wedding Ceremony or Nuptial Mass), you can find some nice assistance at

You can also go to

Wedding Readings

The parish has a nice guidebook of Bible choices for weddings. It suggests only the better and more popular and suitable texts for a wedding.  (Most booklets and sites have too many choices.  The Rite of Christian Marriage has lots of suggested texts, but so many are never chosen.  We save you from reading the unpopular ones.)

An Old Testament reading and a Psalm (normally sung/played by music ministry) and a New Testament epistle and a Gospel are the four choices for the Liturgy of the Word .