Marriage Preparation

Congratulations on your engagement!

We are so happy you are considering getting married at St. Joseph. To learn how to get married here see the steps below and contact us for more information.

Step 1: Contact Us

Send basic contact information: approximately when you would like to be married and what type of ceremony you would like. If you don’t know what type of ceremony you would like, that is, a Mass or a shorter ceremony, we can discuss it. Please contact us at least six months before your ceremony date so you will have sufficient time for your marriage preparation and other planning.

Step 2: Meet with a Priest or Deacon.

Once we have gotten some basic information from you, we will contact you to schedule a meeting with a priest or deacon. At the meeting, the priest or deacon will interview you about your intentions and your understandings about marriage. This is called the Prenuptial Investigation – but don’t be afraid. It will be a friendly discussion to explain the Church’s view of marriage and to make sure both of you are on the same page. As Shania Twain put it, “If you’re not in it for love…I’m outta here.”

Step 3: Marriage Preparation.

Did you know the most frequent problems newlyweds face in the first five years of marriage are: money, time management, and sex? That is why the marriage preparation course is an important part of your wedding plans. It is a time for you to reflect on what’s important to you, talk with other couples who have been down this road, and it is a great way to prepare you for the challenges of day to day life after the honeymoon. The marriage preparation is offered in three formats:

  • Pre-Cana classes: You attend four sessions at the church for two and half hours with other couples preparing for marriage. Topics include finances, dealing with extended family, conflict resolution, communication, spirituality, sexuality, and children/birth control.
  • Home class with a sponsor couple: You attend the four sessions at the home of a married couple. This is a more personal type of discussion format as you develop a relationship with your sponsor couple. You will cover the same topics as the classes above.
  • Weekend engaged encounter: You go on a weekend retreat nearby and cover all the discussion topics in one weekend

Step 4: Planning the ceremony and meeting with the Presider

At this time you will meet with the priest or deacon who will perform the marriage ceremony (the presider). You will select readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospel to be read at the ceremony. You will also select music, prayers, and petitions as desired.
You will have been instructed to obtain your marriage license and current copies of your baptismal certificates. You will bring these to this meeting or be in the process of obtaining these documents. For a “FAQ” about Marriage in Maryland, please visit

Step 5: Documents and Fees.

If you have not done so in Step 4, present your marriage license and certified baptismal certificates. The offering for the use of the church for your wedding day is $300 for registered parishioners and $500 for non-parishioners. Fees for the organist, cantor, and others who provide services will be discussed with you as you plan your ceremony.

Step 6: Rehearsal and Wedding Day!

The bride and groom, wedding party, readers, and presider will go through the ceremony at the church, usually the day before, or a few days before the wedding day. Then, it’s your wedding day . . .   and happily ever after.

More information on planning your wedding at St. Joseph Parish

General information on wedding planning