AboutMarriage PreparationMarriage MattersMarriage CareMarriage EnrichmentRetrouvailleLIFEFertility CareGrandparentsInterchurch FamiliesSeparated & DivorcedDomestic AbuseAmoris Laetitia 2022Resources

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
Hallam Pastoral Centre, St Charles Street, Sheffield S9 3WU
0114 256 6412
[email protected]

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.

Once you have made contact with the priest then  please complete this form  for up to date information about marriage preparation courses in the Hallam Diocese.

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.

For up to date information about marriage preparation courses in the diocese of Hallam please fill this formhttps://forms.gle/QkVLne3mWctvqJpJ6 or contact us on the email [email protected]

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


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: [email protected]

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.

Preparing for a Lifetime Together - The Diocese of Hallam own marriage preparation programme

The 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

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. If you want to use this programme you must register at least 6 months prior to your wedding.
For up to date information about courses please fill this form: https://forms.gle/QkVLne3mWctvqJpJ6 or contact us on the email [email protected]

Other Marriage Preparation Opportunities

Engaged Encounter

Engaged Encounter is the sister organisation of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Engaged Encounter is a Movement within the Catholic Church which provides couples, who are engaged to be married, with a formal course in marriage preparation.

The design and content of the marriage preparation course follows the “Guidelines for the Preparation of Couples for Marriage” as set down by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales.

The Engaged Encounter marriage preparation courses are held over a weekend or over a series of online sessions (NEW in 2020). Couples receive a certificate of attendance which is normally required by the priest who is officiating at their wedding.

There are several EE Online courses available throughout the year, it costs £75

Book and find out more at: https://engaged-encounter.org.uk/book-a-weekend/

The next EE weekend in Hallam is the 16-17 November 2024, it costs £175

 Book and find out more here

Marriage Care
Marriage Care offer two forms of Marriage Preparation: Preparing Together and FOCCUS©, both available in-person (face-to-face) or via zoom, subject to availability.

When registering for any Marriage Preparation course, you will be asked to make a payment online. This is a one-off fee to secure your place, consisting of the course fee and booking fee.

The list below offer you a brief description of each modality:

Preparing Together (In person): This is a one day, face to face, skills-orientated group course and is suitable for couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church. Preparing Together has been awarded an Imprimatur from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and upon completion of the course we will provide couples with a certificate to show to your Priest as verification of attendance on this approved marriage preparation programme.

Click here to search for Preparing Together (in person) courses.

Preparing TogetherAnywhere (via zoom): This is an interactive, skills-oriented, group course facilitated live using Zoom. The course is delivered over weekly sessions of 90 minutes over a period of 3 consecutive weeks, and is suitable for couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church. Preparing Together Anywhere has been awarded an Imprimatur from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and upon completion of the course we will provide couples with a certificate to show to your Priest as verification of attendance on this approved marriage preparation programme.

Click here to search for Preparing Together Anywhere (via zoom) courses.

FOCCUS Anywhere (via zoom): This is a bespoke, questionnaire-based exploration of your relationship expectations, provided for individual couples over 2 or more one-hour sessions; just the two of you and a skilled facilitator using Zoom. This resource was developed by FOCCUS Inc., an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and is suitable for couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church. Upon completion you will be provided with a certificate to show to your Priest as verification of attendance.

Click here to search for Foccus Anywhere (via zoom) courses.

FOCCUS (In Person): Extremely limited availability as we are just beginning to offer our in person courses again. This is a face to face, bespoke, questionnaire-based exploration of your unique relationship, provided for individual couples over 2 or more one-hour sessions; just the two of you and a skilled facilitator. This resource was developed by FOCCUS Inc., an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and is suitable for couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church. Upon completion the course you will be provided with a certificate to show to your Priest as verification of attendance.

Click here to search for Foccus (In Person) courses.

Smart Loving
SmartLoving Engaged is an Online Catholic Marriage preparation for couples preparing to marry in the Catholic Church. It allows you to complete your Catholic marriage preparation in your own space, and at your own pace!

The SmartLoving Engaged curriculum has ecclesiastical approval and is approved for use in numerous dioceses throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK, USA and Asia. It has been favourably reviewed by the Pontifical Council of the Family. It is the fruit of three decades of experience working with engaged and married couples.

The course is comprised of 9 Lessons of approximately 1.5 hours each.
Ideally, one lesson per week gives you and your fiancée time to practice the tools and form new habits over a 3 month period. It can also be fast-tracked when required. At the end of the course, you will be emailed a certificate and course report to give to your celebrant.

There is fee of £75

Book and find out more at: https://smartloving.org/engaged/

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  weekend on 14-16 June 2024

Call or text 0788 7296983 or 0797 3380443 - or Email [email protected]  or visit www.retrouvaille.org.uk.

LIFE Pregnancy Matters, Life Matters


Life is a UK pregnancy support charity.

Through their services, they help more than 45,000 people each year meet pregnancy or pregnancy loss with courage and dignity so they can flourish.

The services include:

  • Free emotional help, counselling, and skilled listening via phone, text, email, or in person.
  • Housing and community support around the country for mums and their babies.
  • Free pregnancy tests and baby supplies.
  • Crafting content that educates the public about pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and our work.


Email: [email protected]
Phone: Helpline 0808 802 5433
National Office 01926 312272 (Use the Helpline number if you have space limitations)
Website: lifecharity.org.uk
Address: Life, 4 Jephson Court. Tancred Close, Leamington Spa, CV31 3RZ

Fertility Care Centres

FertilityCare Centres Great Britain (FCCGB) is a non-profit organisation that has been established to:

- Unite all qualified practitioners of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System in England, Scotland and Wales.
- Provide the public with natural fertility awareness education though the service delivery of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System.
- Maintain the recognised standards required in the service delivery of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System in Great Britain.
- Raise awareness and understanding of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and human sexuality, through the service delivery of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System.
- Support the evaluation and diagnosis of gynaecological health by specialist healthcare providers, including professionals trained in the medical application of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System, for the purposes of restoration of reproductive health, natural conception and live birth.
- Promote and facilitate research of the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System and its application to health or family wellbeing.

Visit www.fccgb.org 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.