Getting married?

Congratulations on your engagement!

Your marriage is cherished by the people of the Catholic Church. The decision to marry is truly one of the most important and joyful decisions of your life. Please use this time of engagement as an opportunity to prepare for marriage. Many couples look forward to the wedding day, and planning for that “perfect” day can easily consume most of your time and attention. All engaged couples need time to pray, reflect, and talk with each other in a time and a space away from other demands as they prepare for their new life as a married couple.

Marriage preparation in our diocese

The Catholic Church’s marriage-preparation process helps engaged couples assess their readiness for marriage and assists them in understanding that marriage is a vocation, a covenant, and a sacrament. The Diocese of Knoxville’s guidelines for the process are outlined below. Preparation starts at the parish level, with an introductory meeting with a parish priest or deacon, includes attending a weekend designed for engaged couples, and ends with final preparation back at the parish.


1. Contact the priest or deacon who will witness the marriage at least six months in advance of the wedding—the sooner after the engagement, the better.

Present baptism certificates
Obtain dispensations and permissions, if necessary
Don’t set the date of the wedding until freedom to marry is acknowledged

2. We encourage couples to take a pre-marriage inventory such as FOCCUS, which stands for “facilitating open couple communication, understanding, and study.” We recommend that engaged couples take it before attending a marriage-preparation weekend. For information on FOCCUS visit

3. Meet with a priest, deacon, or FOCCUS facilitator to take pre-marriage inventory and discuss your results.

4. Register and attend a marriage-preparation weekend:

5. We encourage couples to attend a natural family planning (NFP) training program. NFP is safe, extremely effective, and completely in harmony with the church’s teachings.

To find a NFP teacher in your area and online class info visit our Natural Family Planning page and scroll to bottom

Knoxville: Steve & Collette Souder, 865-984-4919 or (Couple to Couple League–certified instructors) or Jared & Monica Kimutis, 970-980-5009 or (Couple to Couple League–certified instructors)

Tri-Cities: Michael & Tina Kaul, 276-669-2305 or (Couple to Couple League-certified instructors) or Brian & Sarah Potter at 276-698-6244 or (Couple to Couple League-certified instructors) To get more information or register for a class click: Couple to Couple League

Stephanie Schweitzer at (423) 406-2028 or                                         Creighton Model Fertility Care System–certified instructor

Chattanooga: Judi Phillips, Creighton Model Fertility Care System–certified instructor) Distance learning available through Skype sessions.

6. Meet with the priest or deacon to complete the wedding plans. During this additional meeting you can discuss your marriage-preparation weekend, make final plans for the wedding liturgy, talk about your spiritual preparation (the sacrament of reconciliation is recommended), and ask any additional questions you may have.

7. Obtain your marriage license within 30 days of your wedding date. In Tennessee the marriage license is valid only for 30 days. To receive a $60.00 discount you must attend a marriage preparation weekend within 1 year of purchasing the license.

8. Have the wedding rehearsal.

9. Get to the church on time!

This process may vary slightly from parish to parish. Please contact your home parish to discuss its specific guidelines. Don’t know what parish you belong to? Click here to find your parish by ZIP code.

For more information on the diocesan marriage-preparation guidelines, contact Marian Christiana in the Office of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment at (423) 892-2310 or