Here’s how to prepare for your Catholic wedding at a parish in the Diocese of Wilmington


By Nancy Burke


Engaged couples marrying in the Diocese of Wilmington participate in a formal process to prepare for Christian marriage and family life.

Because Christian marriage is a sacrament and a holy vocation, the Catholic Church wants couples to be well-prepared. Marriage preparation programs help couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament; evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple.


Contact your parish

The first step in preparing for the sacrament of matrimony is to contact your priest/parish at least one year prior to the anticipated wedding date.

The priest or a deacon will assist you in fulfilling the formation requirements, and guide you through this special and enriching time of preparation for a life-long Christ-centered marriage.

These preparation meetings with your parish clergyman are Stage I of the diocesan marriage process.


Pick a program

At your first meeting you will be given the diocesan marriage preparation registration brochure. The brochure will help you pick the appropriate marriage preparation program that is facilitated by family life educators, Stage II.  Some parishes include a 1:1 meeting or small group mentoring with a married couple from the parish as part of the marriage preparation process, Stage III.

The diocese offers several marriage preparation options with a variety of dates and locations, which are designed to provide flexibility for couples and their schedules.


Pre-Cana programs

Locations in New Castle County, Dover, Bethany Beach, and Ridgely, MD.

Pre-Cana groups meet on specific Sunday afternoons, Wednesday evenings, Monday evenings or at an Annual Engaged Enrichment Day Conference in the spring.

Engaged couples meet in a group setting with family life educators, and in some cases, others who have some specialty in matters relating to marriage and the family.

Pre-Cana programs include:

St. Margaret of Scotland, Glasgow: Oct. 5 & 19.

St. Joseph on the Brandywine,  Greenville: July 3 & 27; Sept. 7 & 21; Nov. 2 & 16.

St. Mary of the Assumption, Hockessin: June 8 & 22.

Office for Marriage and Family Life, 1626 N. Union Street, Wilmington: May 7, 14, 22; June 4, 11, 18; July 9, 16, 23; Sept. 10, 17, 24; Nov. 5, 12, 19.

St. Ann Church, Bethany Beach: May 5, 19; Oct. 6, 10.

Holy Cross Church, Dover: Oct. 5, 19.

St. Benedict Church, Ridgely, Md.: Sept. 7, 21; Nov. 2, 16


Engaged Encounter

This option is held during a fall weekend in Wilmington.

Married couples help run the program that starts on a Friday evening and ends at noon on Sunday at the Jesus House in Wilmington. Mass is celebrated on Saturday evening.

The next Engaged Encounter Weekend is Nov. 14-16.



Remarriage classes are held in Wilmington for couples in which one or both people were previously married, that marriage having ended in divorce/annulment, or death of one of the partners.

The program is held on three Wednesday evenings in January, June and October.

The program this fall is scheduled for Oct. 8, 15 and 22 at the Office for Marriage and Family Life, 1626 N. Union Street.


For more information on registration and costs, contact your parish or the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life, 302-295-0657.