Marriage Preparation


First and foremost: Contact your parish and your diocese to determine the required marriage preparation procedures (sometimes called Pre-Cana). Typically, Catholic dioceses and parishes require some or all of the following:

  • 6 months’ notice before your wedding
  • meeting(s) with the pastor of your parish
  • a workshop/retreat with your diocese
  • a FOCCUS Survey
  • a workshop on Natural Family Planning

Below are supplemental materials about Catholic marriage, and the domestic life. This list is not comprehensive.


Huesman, Rose M. Saints in Aprons. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1962.

Kelly, George Anthony. The Catholic Marriage Manual. Random House, 1958.

Knox, Ronald Arbuthnott. 1957. Bridegroom and bride. London: Sheed and Ward.

Sheen, F.J. Three to Get Married. Catholic Insight Series. Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1951.

Van Zeller, Hubert. Holiness for Housewives (and Other Working Women). Manchester, N.H.: Sophia Institute Press, 1997.

Von Hildebrand, Alice. By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride. Sophia Institute Press, 1997.

Lewis, C. S. The Four Loves.

Pieper, Josef. Happiness and Contemplation. Regnery, 1966.

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. “A Defence of Rash Vows.” In The Defendant, 1901.

Popes and Catechisms

Pope Leo XIII. “Arcanum Divinae,” February 10, 1880.

Pope Pius XI. “Divini Illius Magistri,” December 31, 1929.

“On the Sacrament of Matrimony.” Catechism of the Council of Trent, pp. 225-236.

“The Sacrament of Matrimony.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1601-1666.

Baltimore Catechism: An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine, no. 288-289.


Fenner, Kay Toy. American Catholic Etiquette. Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1965.

Broderick, Robert C. The Catholic Layman’s Book of Etiquette. Minnesota, 1959.

Bugg, Lelia Hardin. The Correct Thing For Catholics. New York, Cincinnati Benziger Bros., 1892.

Page 41 is missing, with the crucial heading, “It is not the correct thing to…”. Page 45 is also missing. There is good practical advice in here, but with a heavy caveat that the author had some strong materialistic opinions, like the reception and the engagement ring should be as expensive as possible.

Prayer books and manuals

Heuser, Herman J. The Parish Priest on Duty : A Practical Manual for Pastors, Curates, and Theological Students Preparing for the Mission. New York : Benziger Brothers, 1904.

Klauder, Alexander Laurence Alphonsus. Catholic Practice at Church and at Home. The Parishioner’s Little Rule Book, a Guide for Catholics in the External Practice of Their Holy Religion. Boston, Mass., Angel Guardian Press, 1898.

Coomes, A. Francis, and Mary Katherine Murphy. Mothers’ Manual: A Manual of Devotions for Mothers and Expectant Mothers. St. Louis, Mo.: Queen’s Work, 1957.

Pius, Franziskus, and Bertin Roll. Mother Love: A Manual for Christian Mothers. New York: F. Pustet, 1951.

Scheuber, Joseph K. Nazareth: A Book of Counsel and Prayer for the Married. Dublin, 1948.

Lelen, J. M. Bride’s Manual : A Manual of Catholic Devotions with Mass for Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing. Catholic Book Pub. Co., 1942.

———. Marriage Sacrament : A Manual of Catholic Devotions with Mass for Bridegroom and Bride. United States: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1947.

Dating and Engagement

“Marriage Preparation Program.” CatechismClass.

Relyea, Father Isaac Mary. Honorable Courtship: The Way to a Happy Marriage. Fatima Youth Conference: Cleveland, OH: The Fatima Center, 2019.

Solaro Della Margherita, Giulia, and Charles Constantine Pise. The Catholic Bride; or Moral Letters Addressed to Julia, Daughter of Count Solaro Della Margarita, on the Occasion of Her Marriage with Count E. Demorri Di Castelmagno. Translated from the Italian, by C. C. Pise. Baltimore, 1868.

“How to Get Married.” The Catholic Columbian, 1881.

de Blanc, Irvine. Engagement: The Catholic Way and Engagement: A Guide for Catholic Couples. 1956.

Grant, Dorothy Fremont. So! You Want to Get Married. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1953.

Kelly, George A. Dating for Young Catholics. Garden City, N.Y.: Echo Books, 1965.

Marks, Frederick W. A Catholic Handbook for Engaged and Newly Married Couples. 2014.

McEvoy, S. J. Hubert. “Before You Wed.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1947 1947.

Miller, D. F. How to Behave with Girl Friends. 1957.

Miriano, Costanza. Marry Him and Be Submissive. St. Benedict, 2016.

———. Marry Her and Die for Her. TAN Books, 2017.

Sainte-Foi, Charles. Mission and Duties of Young Women. New York: P.J. Kenedy, 1896.

Semmler, Nerius. For Bride and Groom: A Pre-Nuptial Instruction Based on the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius Xi, Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930. Our Sunday Visitor, 1950.


“Holy Matrimony.” Fish Eaters (blog).

Solaro della Margherita, Giulia, and Charles Constantine Pise. The Catholic Bride; or Moral Letters Addressed to Julia, Daughter of Count Solaro Della Margarita, on the Occasion of Her Marriage with Count E. Demorri Di Castelmagno. Baltimore, 1868.

Vuarin, M. Familiar Instructions on the Holiness and Dignity of the Sacrament of Matrimony: Addressed to Parents and Christian Youth. Philadelphia : H. & C. McGrath, 1851.

Walter Jewell. Tell Her You’re a Catholic, 1949.

Cassidy, N. Cronin. The Nuptial Mass. The Paulist Press, 1947.

Coakley, Thomas F. “How Catholics Get Married: The Nuptial Mass Explained.” International Catholic Truth Society.

———. The Nuptial Mass : Explanation of the Beautiful Rites and Ceremonies of a Catholic Wedding. Catholic Truth Society, 1939.

Kwasniewski, Peter, “New Liturgical Movement: Problems with Weddings and How We Might Remedy Them,” New Liturgical Movement, 2019,

A Vincentian Father. Vocations Explained: Matrimony, Virginity, the Religious State and the Priesthood. Benzinger Brothers, 1897.

Cowan, Louise. “Marriage as a Creative Work.” Newsletter of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts 21 (2003/11/).

The Domestic Realm

“The Christian Home: A Guide to Happiness in the Home: Chapter I.” Fish Eaters (blog).

“The Domestic Church: The Catholic Home.” Fish Eaters (blog).

Ellis, Alice Thomas. Home Life. Royal National Institute of the Blind, 2004.

Trapp, Maria Augusta von. Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family. Sophia Institute Press, 2018.

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. “The Free Family.” In What’s Wrong with the World, 392: Cassell, 1912.

Drouet, F. Mothers of the Saints. New York: Paulist Press, 1915.

Gerrard, Thomas J. Schmiedeler Edgar. Marriage and Parenthood: The Catholic Ideal. J.F. Wagner: New York, 1937.

Jarrett, O. P. Bede. “The Catholic Mother.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1958.

Leifeld, Wendy. Mothers of the Saints : Portraits of Ten Mothers of the Saints and Three Saints Who Were Mothers. Manila: Paulines, 1991.

Lejeune, P. Ryan Francis A. Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers. St. Louis: B. Herder, 1913.

Fertility, Health, & Intimacy

“Allay Women and Family Resources.”

Weschler, T. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control and Pregnancy Achievement. HarperCollins, 2001.


Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. What’s Wrong with the World. Cassell, 1912.

Pieper, Josef. Happiness and Contemplation. Regnery, 1966.

Louise Cowan, “Marriage As a Creative Work,” Newsletter of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts 21 (November 2003),

Canon Law

Ayrinhac, H. A., and P. J. Lydon. Marriage Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law. New York : Benziger Brothers, 1918.

Boyle, David J. The Juridic Effects of Moral Certitude on Pre‑Nuptial Guarantees. The Catholic University of America Press, 2014/03/31/, 2014.

Viscont, Antonius. De Matrimonio Rato Et Non Consummato. Rome, 1928.

Wells, Samuel Roberts. Wedlock; or, the Right Relations of the Sexes: Disclosing the Laws of Conjugal Selection, and Showing Who May, and Who May Not Marry. 1869.

White, Robert J. The Legal Effect of Ante-Nuptial Promises in Mixed Marriages. American Ecclesiastical Review, 1932.

———. “Canon Ante-Nuptial Promises and the Civil Law.” Vol. 91, Wash., D.C.: Catholic University of America Canon Law Studies, 1934.

Woywod, Stanislaus. The New Canon Law: A Commentary and Summary of the New Code of Canon Law. J.F. Wagner, 1918.

Wraszczak, Chester Francis. The Betrothal Contract in the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1017). Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1954.

Mixed Marriages

A mixed marriage is a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic. Before the 1960s, mixed marriages were strongly discouraged across the board by the Church, and required a dispensation. The 1917 Code of Canon Law lists additional requirements (commonly called “The Promises”), such as: a promise from the non-Catholic spouse that any future children would be raised Catholic with no interference, and a promise that the Catholic spouse would do their best to convert the non-Catholic spouse. These conditions, albeit significantly watered down, still appear in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

A wonderful example of how grave mixed marriages were considered can be found in Walter Jewell’s book (citation below).

Walter Jewell. Tell Her You’re a Catholic, 1949.

Fish Eater also includes a discussion of mixed marriages on their “Holy Matrimony” page.

“Holy Matrimony.” Fish Eaters (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019.