A UD Marriage Preparation Guide

A UD Marriage Preparation Guide


First, congratulations and may God bless you on your engagement!  Campus Ministry and the Church of the Incarnation are pleased to provide this service to students, staff and faculty.  If you are graduating soon, please ensure that you complete Step 1 before graduation, as we are not able to prepare alumni.

This page will be long, but it walks you through all the steps that we will take on your journey towards entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony!  My goal is to ensure there are no surprises in this process.  In your initial meeting with me, we will go over these steps together, and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Before we jump into the process, I did want to briefly touch on the date of your wedding.  Most churches request that you start marriage preparation 6-12 months before your intended wedding date.  Others will recommend that you NOT set a date until you have completed the marriage preparation process.  Campus Ministry does not set hard rules on this, however, please note that if you approach us with less than 6 months until your wedding date, you may not be finished in time. 

This process is for marriage preparation.  If you are being married at a church other than the Church of the Incarnation, please note that each church has a different process for booking the church, securing the official church witness (priest/deacon), musicians, etc.  Please contact the church you intend to be married at as soon as possible (even if you don’t have a date) to have them walk you through the booking process/timelines/costs, etc.

Now, let’s walk through the marriage prep process.

Our first meeting is a meet and greet.  This is an opportunity for me to get to know you and your love story.  At this meeting, we will also go over the marriage prep process, including the investigation of impediments and the quality of your consent.  This meeting can be held in my office at SB Hall (Room 254e) or the Capp Bar.  The link to book this meeting is at the bottom of this page.  For this meeting, you can anticipate one hour.

Prior to our second meeting, please fill out our Google form, as this will speed up the process significantly:

Prenuptial Preparation Form

Additionally, you will need to fill out an Adverse Childhood Experience questionnaire.  This questionnaire can help us in identifying if there are any events that occurred in your childhood that may impact your ability to consent to the marriage OR may be putting pressure on your marriage.

Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire

After this session, each of you will be emailed an "Affidavit of Freedom to Marry" form.  Each of you will give this form to someone (does not have to be Catholic, but certainly ideal) who has known you for 10 years or more.  It is our preference that you have one of your parents perform this duty.  If you intend to use someone other than a parent, please discuss it with me first.  This person does NOT fill out the form themselves: they take it to any Catholic church, and either a priest or someone he has delegated will ask your friend/relative the questions on the form.  They will sign it, affix the parish seal, and send it back to me.  I need the physical form, not a .pdf or copy.  Please give them this mailing address to send it to:  Deacon Ryan Sales, Church of the Incarnation, 1845 E Northgate Drive, Irving, TX 75062.  If they take it into a parish and the parish staff state they do not know what to do with the form, please feel free to give them my cell number 469-231-6365 and they can call me. Every once in a while they will get a new staff member who isn’t aware of how to process these forms.  However, this is a standard procedure and most parishes are familiar with it.

Please note:  Obtaining the affidavit of Freedom of Marry is one of two steps that often delays the completion of your file.  Do not delay.  Get this done asap.

If you are being married at a location other than the Church of the Incarnation, I will need you to fill out the Marriage Location Information Form.  It will provide the Tribunal the information they need to process your paperwork properly (such as where you are getting married, the priest who will witness the wedding, etc.).  Again, this is only in cases where you are getting married at a church other than the Church of the Incarnation.  This is the one document that does not need to be sent to me in hard copy, nor do I need an “original”.  Often the easiest way to fill this out is to send it to the wedding coordinator at the church you are being married in.  You can have them email it to me directly or send it to you and then you can forward it on.

Marriage Location Information Form

Please ensure you have submitted the Prenuptial Preparation Form and th adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire prior to attending this meeting.

This questionnaire, which takes the form of an interview, must be completed to see if there are any dispensations or permissions that are needed before getting married.  It is also a time for me to assess the quality of your consent and determine if there are an impediments to you getting married.  I conduct the interviews here at my office in SB Hall (Room 254e).  The interviews are conducted individually, and then you are brought back together to conclude it.  For this meeting, you can anticipate one hour.  However, each marriage case is unique and it can sometimes take longer.  Bring a book or something to keep yourself occupied during the interview process. 

In our third meeting, both of you will return to my office and complete a FOCCUS Questionnaire.  Each of you replies to a series of statements about marriage.  This questionnaire should not be viewed as a "compatibility test".  Rather, it's an opportunity for you to come to know each other even deeper, and to determine if there are any important areas of married life that you may have missed talking about.  You will not receive the results of the questionnaire at this meeting.  Rather, your results are sent directly to your sponsor couple (see Step 5 below).
Once you have completed your FOCCUS questionnaire, typically within 24-48 hours you will receive an email introducing you to your sponsor couple.  They have all been delegated and trained to facilitate a conversation between both of you about your answers on the FOCCUS questionnaire and go through material provided by the diocese.  While each sponsor couple works through the material in different ways and each engaged couple is different, the standard is four meetings with your sponsor couple.  In addition to being a catalyst for conversations about marriage, these sessions with the sponsor couple also provide an opportunity for the Church's teaching on marriage to be explained/clarified.  The sponsor couples have been trained to integrate “engaged couple encounters” into these sessions.  Please look at this as an opportunity to have an experienced married couple invest in your marriage, to build friendship, and to develop a resource for your marriage.  Many couples maintain long and fruitful relationships with their sponsor couples.

The timing of Step 6 is dependent on when you are going to be married.  We cannot start this step until we are within 6 months of your wedding date (ie if you are being married on July 1, we will not start this process until Jan 1).  I will advise you when each of you needs to contact the church where you were baptized and request a “baptismal certificate with notations for marriage purposes”. This is not the same as the baptismal certificate you received when you were a baby.  This one includes "notations" indicating any other sacraments that you have received. If you were NOT confirmed OR if you were confirmed at a different church from where you were baptized, please notify me immediately. 

Even if one of those seeking marriage is not Catholic, if they have been "baptized", we need to have a copy of that record. The baptismal status of the couples determines which dispensations or permissions we need, and even influences the actual marriage ceremony itself.  If you are struggling to obtain these, please contact me for assistance. This baptismal certificate must be dated within 6 months of the wedding date, have the parish seal affixed, and be sent to me at the address noted above (Step 2).  Photocopies, scanned copies, old certificates, or ones without notations are not acceptable.

Please note:  Obtaining your baptismal certificate is one of two steps that often delays the completion of your file.  Do not delay.  Get this done as soon as you hit the 6 month mark.

Natural Family Planning (fertility awareness) training is not required by the Diocese of Dallas, but is required by the Church of the Incarnation.  Going through NFP classes together will help you to understand the reasons for the Church's teaching on being open to life/contraception. 

From experience, if you are not using a fertility awareness method presently, I highly recommend that you start asap.  It can take some time to become comfortable and accurate with these methods, and it is better to be familiar with them prior to the wedding.

Please contact Deacon Ryan if you need assistance with finding an in-person provider or an online option.

It is YOUR responsibility to obtain the necessary civil licensing for marriage.  Please do your research in advance to ensure you know what is required.  This marriage license must be obtained in the state (and possibly county) in which you are getting married.  Do not get a Texas marriage license and then try to get married in Virginia! 

  1. For marriages at the Church of the Incarnation:  After all these steps AND if you are being married at the Church of the Incarnation AND any necessary permissions are obtained, I will advise you that your marriage has been approved and you can move on to Step 10.
  2. For marriages at any other church or if a dispensation is required:  After all these steps are completed we will forward your file to the Diocese of Dallas Tribunal.  For marriages in the Diocese of Dallas, they will complete your file.  For marriages in any other diocese, the Tribunal will forward your file on to the Chancery or Tribunal of the diocese where you are being married, and ultimately it will be forwarded to the church where your marriage is occurring.

If you are being married at the Church of the Incarnation, a few months before the wedding date, in collaboration with the priest or deacon who will be present for your vows, you all will choose the readings, music, and other options for the liturgy.  Contact Karen Bless (kbless@udallas.edu) to schedule a date and time for the marriage liturgy and wedding rehearsal.

Please note:

For weddings at the Church of the Incarnation, your completed paperwork is due to me 30 days prior to your wedding date.

For weddings within the Diocese of Dallas, your completed paperwork is due to me 45 days prior to your wedding date.

For weddings outside the Diocese of Dallas, your completed paperwork is due to me 75 days prior to your wedding date.

For weddings outside the USA, your completed paperwork is due to me 105 days prior to your wedding date.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  If you look at this process and think, “oh my goodness, this is much more involved than I thought, I think I'll go to a different church so it's easier”, please know that this process is standard across the Church.  The difference is, Karen Bless and I have taken the time to prepare this guide for you so that you know what to expect in advance (sorry if you are the type of folks who like surprises!).  

Let’s get started:

Once you have reviewed this page, please head over to https://calendly.com/dcnryan and select Marriage Prep - Meet and Greet.  Look for a time that matches your schedule.  If you cannot find anything that works within the next 3 weeks, please contact me at 469-231-6365 (my cell phone) and we will see about booking a spot outside my regular office hours.

Again, congratulations and I look forward to journeying with you.

-Deacon Ryan