The Sacrament of Marriage

The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since ‘their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament.

Pope Francis

Congratulations on your Engagement!

We are glad that you are considering preparing for the sacrament of marriage at St Mary Magdalene! The Diocese of Phoenix, under the direction of Bishop Olmsted, is committed to providing you with a preparation process that will enrich and equip you to experience a joy filled marriage. After reading the following information about the marriage preparation program, we invite you to contact us to begin the process.

Marriage Preparation in the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church firmly believes in helping couples prepare for the lifetime commitment of marriage. In order to be married in any Catholic Church in the Diocese of Phoenix, a couple must first complete all the steps of the marriage preparation process. The requirements for marriage preparation in the Diocese of Phoenix may be viewed on the Diocese's website.


When should we begin our marriage preparation?
The Diocese of Phoenix currently requires a minimum of nine months of preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony.  We encourage you to consider beginning the process a year or more before your anticipated wedding date.

What if one of us isn't Catholic?
Only one of you is required to be a baptized Catholic as long as you both agree to raise your children in the Catholic faith. As part of your preparation you will be encouraged to discuss the challenges that differing faith practices and traditions can bring to your spirituality as a couple and as a family. Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience. (Canon 1065.1)

What if one of us has been previously married?
If either of you have been married before, whether in the Catholic Church or by any other civil or religious authority, even if you are not Catholic, you will need to obtain an annulment before being married in the Catholic Church.  For more information please contact us at

Can we bless our civil marriage?
You may validate your civil marriage.  In most cases, preparation for convalidation is very similar to the marriage preparation process.  On a case by case basis, it can be customized to best serve the needs of each couple. 

It is customary to give the priest or deacon a stipend for officiating at your wedding. The Diocese of Phoenix recommends $100, but the amount is left to your discretion and is considered a gift. If you choose to give your priest or deacon a gift, it must be written directly to him.

How do I schedule my wedding?
After the Prenuptial Inquiry meeting, a wedding date can be secured with a signed contract and non-refundable deposit. Weddings are not celebrated at St Mary Magdalene during the season of Lent.

I have more questions! Who can I contact?
Please call the Parish Office for more information: 480-279-6737.

Marriage Preparation Timeline

9 Months before the Wedding

  • Submit all necessary premarital documentation. The following items must be submitted to the Office of Marriage and Family Life:
    • The Pre-nuptial Inquiry interview (PNI): During this meeting with the Deacon, it is determined if both parties are free to marry or if impediments exist that need to addressed
    • Baptism Certificates: For Catholics, the Baptism Certificate must be issued within 6 months prior to the wedding date. You can request the certificate from the church where you were baptized and have it sent directly to you or to St. Mary Magdalene. Baptized non-Catholics may provide a copy of their baptism certificate. Non-Catholics may submit a copy of their original Baptismal Certificate.
    • Annulment copies. If any party has had an annulment, a copy of the final decision page must be provided to the parish.
    • If a couple is marrying at St. Mary Magdalene, a signed Marriage Preparation Policy contract, plus a $150 1st Half of the Facility Fee is required before the parish can reserve a date

8 Months before the Wedding

  • God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage: This is a program designed to get everyone on the same page spiritually. It is based on John Paul II's Theology of the Body and it will teach you not only what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality, but why she teaches it. To register for this course visit the diocesan website.
  • Natural Family Planning Course: To ensure that you have the tools to plan your family effectively and in accord with God's plan for marriage, you will have the opportunity to learn about Natural Family Planning, an effective and safe method of family planning supported by the Catholic Church. Class locations, dates, and times are available here.

7 Months before the Wedding

  • Fully Engaged Inventory. Fully Engaged is an online assessment that identifies the couple's strength and growth areas. The program is custom tailored to a couple's relationship and provides exercises and activities to build their relationship skills. After registering to complete marriage preparation at St Mary Magdalene you will be given pass codes to take the online version of the Fully Engaged premarital inventory, Click here for more information. After completing the inventory, you will be paired with a Mentor Couple to meet and discuss some of the areas from the Fully Engaged inventory. The program cost is $150.

5 Months before the Wedding

  • Affidavits of Free Status: These are sworn sealed statements, usually by parents if they are living, that you have never been married before and have no impediments to marriage in the Catholic Church. Instructions for this form will be given to you at the marriage seminar.

2 Months before the Wedding

  • Obtain a Traditional Marriage License. For more information please visit
  • Set up meetings with the Wedding Planner, the Director of Music, and your presider. (The Wedding Planner will collect the $150 2nd Half of the Facility Fee and her own $100 Fee. The Music Director will collect her fee at the Music Planning Meeting.)

One Month before the Wedding

  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.