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Marriage & Family Life

The Project  offers support and information at all stages of the family life cycle.

This ministry is informed and supported by the Bishops'  Conference for England and Wales https://www.cbcew.org.uk/marriage-and-family-life/

(Please noteby emailing us, you consent to your submitted details being collected, stored and used by the Diocese of Hallam only for the purpose or purposes for which you have provided them to us. Read more in our Privacy and Security Policy.)

Project Co-ordinator
c/o Hallam Pastoral Centre, St Charles Street, Sheffield S9 3WU
0114 256 6412

Marriage Preparation in a Catholic Church

To get married in a Catholic Church, at least one of you will be a baptised Catholic.

You should approach the priest of the parish where you intend to marry before you arrange your marriage preparation. The priest or Deacon will make the necessary arrangements for the ceremony.

The Diocese of Hallam has developed its own marriage preparation programme called Preparing for a Lifetime Together

The RC Diocese of Hallam has developed its own marriage preparation programme called “Preparing for a Lifetime Together” in co-operation with Marriage Care Hallam, Worldwide Marriage Encounter (England and Wales) and Prepare/Enrich UK, using research based information and the considerable experience of the Development Group.

The course is used throughout the Diocese, and has been bought by other Dioceses both at home and abroad.

“The course exceeded my expectations. I would recommend it to other people getting married and reassure them that it is probably not what they would expect! We were made to feel welcome and comfortable.”

Presented by trained married couples to small groups of engaged couples, the course covers a wide range of topics relevant to those about to marry. Part of the course is the “Prepare/Enrich” inventory, which helps couples to explore their own relationship strengths and growth areas, and offers its own workbook to reinforce and supplement our course material.

The course consists of five sessions of 1 1/2 – 2 hours:

1. Welcome; “Prepare/Enrich” Inventory (done online)

2. Communication

3. Managing Conflict (transitions and family patterns)

4. Sexuality and Parenthood

5. Marriage as Covenant and Sacrament

6. Prepare/Enrich feedback

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Why prepare for marriage?

Because it is a “natural” way of living doesn’t mean that it is always easy – but there are ways of getting over difficult times and enjoying the good times more.

We take marriage seriously and want to offer you support and encouragement before you make your public life-long commitment to each other.

What is marriage preparation?
An opportunity to explore your relationship in a confidential helpful and friendly environment.

Who will we work with?
A married couple who are trained to help you clarify for yourselves how you want to live your life together. You will work either in a small group of couples, or alone with the presenters.

What will we talk about?
Communication; Transitions; Conflict Management; Family Patterns; Sex and Sexuality; Parenting; and exploration of how we live out our wedding day promises .
There is a couple to couple session to explore together your relationship strengths and growth areas, using the results of the “Prepare/Enrich” inventory as a basis to work from.

How long does it take?
The course usually runs over five evening sessions of about 11/2 to 2 hours.

It can also be delivered over  is  two Saturdays or Sundays.

What happens?
Ideally, a group of 2 to 4 engaged couples meets with the trained married couple, who lead the sessions. Sometimes the course is offered couple-to-couple.
The atmosphere is welcoming, relaxed and confidential (apart from the legal requirement to disclose certain issues if they become known).

Where does it happen?
Normally in the home of the presenting couple. Sometimes in a parish room.
NB Presenters cannot take responsibility for childcare during the sessions.

What does it cost?
There is a £30 scoring fee for the “Prepare/Enrich” inventory and £20 charge  for the materials which you will us on the course

How do we start?
Before you make any firm arrangements contact your Parish Priest who will help you with the next steps and clarify anything you may be unsure of. You should do this if possible at least 12 months before your wedding date. Your marriage preparation should be started at least 6 months prior to your wedding.
For up to date information about courses please contact us on 0114 2566407 , email stym@hallam-diocese.com or visit the Latest News tab (above).

An alternative form of Marriage Preparation is to attend an Engaged Encounter Weekend.
This takes place in Hallam in November each year over a non residential weekend.

Places are limited and you will need to book online. Please visit wwme.org.uk/weekends/


Church Requirements
To keep this section simple only the priest is referred to, although parts of it may apply to lay people, parish sisters or deacons who have responsibilities in some parishes.

For more information about civil requirements click here.

Can we marry in a Catholic church?
You can marry in a Catholic church if either:
* You are both baptised Roman Catholics
* One of you is a baptised Roman Catholic and the other is a baptised Christian.
The Catholic partner will be asked to promise to uphold and preserve their Catholic faith, and to do all they can to bring up any children of the marriage in the Catholic faith.
The parish priest will ask the Catholic to sign a form to confirm this.
* One of you is a baptised Roman Catholic and the other is not a baptised Christian.
Special permission is required from the Bishop; your priest will advise you about this.
* Both of you are free to marry. That is:
One or both are widowed.
Neither of you has been married before.
If either of you has been married before, and your previous partner is still alive, contact your parish priest to discuss whether you are free to marry in a Catholic church.

Where can we marry?
* You should normally marry in the church of the parish where you live or where you regularly worship.
If you have special reasons, you may be given permission (a letter of freedom) by your parish priest to get married in a Catholic church outside your parish.
You should meet with him before you make any arrangements in any other parish.
* If you wish to be married in the eyes of the Church, your wedding should take place in a Catholic church.
In special circumstances where the partner who is not a Catholic is a practising member of another Church, or has some definite attachment to it, the Bishop may grant permission for the wedding to take place in that partner’s church.
Your priest will advise you about this.
Weddings in hotels etc and wedding packages abroad are generally not valid as Catholic marriages.
If you have any questions about the validity of your chosen venue, please contact the Chancellor of the Diocese on 0114 2566450 or email: tribunal@hallam-diocese.com

What documents will we need?
* Any relevant letters and permissions mentioned in the last two sections.
* Baptismal Certificates.
If you are baptised (Christened) you will need a Baptismal Certificate.
The Catholic partner:
Needs to provide one issued in the previous six months.
You can obtain this by writing to the church where you were baptised, stating that you are getting married. Give your full name and date of birth and approximately when you were baptised.
Your Baptismal Certificate should refer to your Confirmation. If you were confirmed in a different parish, you may need to get a separate Confirmation Certificate.
If you have not been Confirmed you should talk to your priest about this at your first meeting.
The partner who is not a Catholic:
Needs to produce or obtain a Baptismal Certificate from the church where you were baptised (Christened).
* A Certificate or Licence from the Civil Registrar.
You must give notice of your marriage at the Register Office where you live. If one of you lives in another registration district, you must inform that Register Office also.
You can give notice and apply for a “Certificate” up to twelve months in advance of your wedding but you must give at least 16 days notice.
You should take your Certificate(s) to your priest as soon as you obtain it.
Full details of civil requirements are on: www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/marriages/
* A Death Certificate or Decree of Nullity , should either be necessary.
* A Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form.
This brings all the “paperwork” together.
Your priest will supply this and you will complete it with him.

How much notice should we give?
* Ideally you should approach your parish priest twelve months before your proposed wedding date.
Confirming a date well in advance will give a greater chance of your choice being available.
It will also make co-ordinating all aspects of your wedding easier.
It will give adequate time to complete your marriage preparation before the business of arranging your wedding happens. Ideally you should start your marriage preparation at least six months before your wedding.
If, for any reason you cannot give the required notice, contact your parish priest as soon as possible.

How much will it cost?
* Your priest will advise you about about the cost of fees for the church.
He will also suggest what might be appropriate payment for the services of flower arrangers, musicians and altar servers, if you use them.
These fees will generally be only a small part of the average cost of a wedding.

What about our wedding service?
* Your priest will help you with the planning of your wedding service.
Talk to him about whether to have your wedding service with or without a Nuptial Mass.
Part of your Marriage Preparation is designed to give you a greater understanding of the wedding service.
Together with your priest you will make your final decisions about readings, the form of your service and who will do what.
He will also advise you about the practical arrangements such as flowers, musicians, whether you can video or photograph your service, where might be best to take photographs, whether confetti is allowed, and any other details which apply in that church.

Marriage Matters

Marriage Matters is a collection of 60 word snippets, adapted from the Sunday Mass Scripture Reading reflections found in I AM WITH YOU Year C. These can be placed in a Newsletter, Bulletin, Website or Blog.

The book is designed to support, encourage, inspire, challenge and motivate couples to deepen their relationship with one another and with God. Its sole purpose is to enhance relationships and heighten the profile of Marriage and its sanctity and significance in the life of the family, the Church, communities and Society as a whole.




Marriage Care

All relationships have ups and downs, but sometimes they can get a bit stuck and it’s hard to talk things through or get to a positive solution. That’s when help from a skilled couple relationship counsellor can make all the difference. Whether you are feeling things just aren’t quite right or whether you are encountering serious difficulties, we are here to listen and to support you towards a positive outcome.

For more information and to find a trained counsellor please visit:


Marriage Enrichment and Teams

As time progresses and the early romance begins to wear off, most married couples drift into taking each other for granted. Other things begin to take up more and more of their time and the vision they had for their marriage begins to fade. A marriage enrichment weekend gives a couple time alone together and helps them to rediscover that vision, no matter how long they have been married.

For more information please visit    https://wwme.org.uk  https://teamsgb.org.uk/


Stress in Your Marriage? Retrouvaille is a program for married couples that feel bored, disillusioned, frustrated, or angry in their marriage. Some experience coldness. Others experience conflict in their relationship. Most don’t know how to change the situation or even communicate with their spouse about it.

This programme has helped 6,000 couples who were experiencing difficulties in their marriage in the past year. There is no group therapy or group work

For confidential information about ‘Retrouvaille’ or to register for the programme commencing with a Virtual weekend on 1st – 4th July 20-21.

Call or text 0788 7296983 or 0797 3380443 - or Email retrouvailleukinfo@gmail.com  or visit www.retrouvaille.org.uk.

Life Fertility Care


The Life Fertility Care programme promotes and supports reproductive health and fertility. FertilityCare helps couples to understand their fertility potential before they try to conceive and offers evaluation and treatment for infertility or recurrent miscarriage for married couples.

We are a specialist programme for those looking for fertility related support and treatment that comes from an ethical perspective beyond what is generally on offer within the NHS currently or feel that the NHS is currently not sufficiently providing for their ethical needs.

We specifically hold:

1. A child is a gift from God

2. That the best place for receiving this gift is within marriage and within an act of natural intercourse.

3. That fertility is equally a beautiful gift from God and best never deliberately destroyed neither temporarily or permanently.

4. That life starts at fertilisation (when sperm meets egg) and lasts until natural death.

5. That all human life, whatever its stage of development or functionality, deserves equal respect and protection.

6. That medicine needs to respect (ie. not interfere with) the unitive bond of marriage at any time.

 Visit http://lifefertilitycare.co.uk/ for more information

Catholic Grandparents Association

The Catholic Grandparents Association is a group of people united by a belief in the importance of the vocation of Grandparents.

The CGA now has branches in Ireland, where Grandparents can meet to pray, exchange advice and information and support each other-more are in the pipeline.

It recently spread its wings to the United States of America. CGA also promotes an annual Grandparents Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, England.

CGA in England and Wales was launched on May 9th 2014.

For more information and to keep in touch about details of Pilgrimages visit: http://catholicgrandparentsassociation.com

Interchurch Families

Couples in which each of the partners belong to a different Christian denomination are often referred to as Interchurch Families, they can sometimes also be called mixed marriages. Usually these couples are Roman Catholic or Orthodox and another Christian Church tradition.

Read more about Interchurch Families on their website.

Support for  Separated and Divorced Catholics

The end of a significant relationship or marriage can feel completely overwhelming. Many people are in shock, feel isolated and don’t know where to start. If left unresolved the emotional effects of a separation or divorce can be felt for years afterwards but it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you aren’t sure where to start… start here!


Catholics Experiencing Domestic Abuse Resources

For resources, information and helplines


New Resource for Baptism Preparation

Baptism - helping your children get the most from life


New Scripture Resource for Families- Exploring Real Questions in Family Life

Bishop Ralph has purchased a copy for each parish in Hallam and a copy has been sent to Parish Priests.

It is a useful resource for parish groups

Counting our Blessings


National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW) Guide to the Annulment Process

Annulment Guide  4th edition


Mental Health

Download and print this resource for use in parishes

Lifting the Lid creating a space for churches to listen and respond

Catholic Mental Health Project

Notice board for latest news



Domestic Violence

A new guide, written for clergy, religious and laity by Dr Christauria Welland, on how we can help Catholic families troubled by relationship violence is FREE to download from www.paxinfamilia.org.


Mothers Prayers

Mothers Prayers was started in England in November 1995 and has spread rapidly throughout the world with contacts in over 100 Countries and has the approval, support and blessing of Christian leaders of all denominations.