Marriage Formation

Welcome to the Journey of Your Love, a lifelong process of opening ourselves to God’s love through the Sacrament of Marriage in order to bring life and grace to the world. This page offers resources and guidelines to couples who desire to receive the Sacrament of Marriage.

Upcoming Events

Congratulations on your engagement!

We’re so glad that you’ve chosen to marry in the Catholic Church. We are privileged to accompany you on the Journey of Your Love, and honored that you have entrusted us with equipping you to traverse both the joys and the inevitable challenges that married life brings. Our great joy, above all, is to assist you in encountering Christ’s love and its power to nourish and transform relationships.

May the Holy Spirit guide and direct you on this journey of love for each other, for your families, and for your extended family of faith, the Church. May this process of marriage preparation be one of enrichment, formation, and growth in faith, hope, and love.

– Most Rev. Robert McElroy
Bishop of San Diego

Marriage Formation Process


We invite you to pray together as you begin, and all throughout this once-in-a-lifetime period of your relationship. You’re no longer dating, but you’re not yet married. Pray in thanksgiving for this special time, and savor it! Offer communion, pray the rosary together, light prayer candles, fast, offer every little suffering of your day for your fiance(e). This will help you to keep God at the center of your marriage, and allow Him plenty of opportunities to pour His love into your relationship. Ask your loved ones (both in Heaven and on earth!) to pray for you, too. St. Valentine, St. Agnes, St. Joseph and St. Mary, pray for us!

Meet With Your Marriage Formation Minister

As soon as you are ready to begin preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage, and before setting a date, call your parish to schedule a meeting with your marriage formation minister (typically your priest or deacon), who may also serve as the celebrant for your wedding.

Take the FOCCUS Inventory

FOCCUS (Facilitate Open Caring Communication Understanding & Study) is meant to facilitate communication and conflict-resolution skills before marriage. A REFOCCUS inventory is available to couples who have been civilly married for at least a few years. Your parish/formation minister will provide directions for completing the questionnaire.

Choose A Mentor Couple

Couples will choose a mentor couple who can support, encourage, and pray for them throughout—and beyond— the marriage preparation process. Marriage formation ministers can help engaged couples select a mentor couple. Witness to Love is the recommended diocesan process for guiding the couple-to-couple encounter.

What makes Witness to Love unique is that the engaged couples choose their own mentor couple. This is a couple they both admire and see as a source of faith formation. This mentor couple gives them a concrete connection and integration into the parish. Through the sharing of the mentor couple’s own journey of love, the engaged couple inherits a “lifeline“ of support in their commitment to Jesus and his church.

Participate in one or more of the following Marriage Formation Programs/Retreats:

Celebrating Your Love (CYL) Diocesan Day A one-day retreat held on Saturdays at locations throughout the Diocese. Explores Catholic teaching on marriage and provides an overview of practical and valuable skills for marriage. Go to for dates and registration.

Catholic Engaged Encounter This inspirational weekend retreat provides engaged couples valuable space and time to explore the depth of marriage. Married teams, partnered with a priest, guide couples on a journey of preparation for their upcoming sacrament. Through personal sharing and Catholic theology, the weekend challenges couples. They explore essential topics such as: communication, understanding “love” as a decision, true intimacy, forgiveness, and living as a sacrament in order to build a strong marriage foundation. Young civilly married couples (married less than 2-3 years) are encouraged to attend to explore the sacrament they will become with their marriage in the Catholic faith.”
Go to for dates and registration. For Spanish, visit

A New Beginning For couples entering a second marriage after the divorce or death of a former spouse (only one party needs to have been previously married). Topics of discussion are geared towards blended families, children of a previous marriage and grieving loss.
For retreat dates and locations, visit

Worldwide Marriage Encounter Similar to Engaged Encounter, but for couples who have already been civilly married for more than a few years. Go to for dates and registration.

Parish-Based Program Parishes may offer local and applicable parish-based formation programming for couples. Check with your marriage formation minister.

Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Go to Confession!)

Know that Jesus loves you and cannot wait to share God’s mercy through this beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation. Go together – make it a date. If you attend the Catholic Engaged Encounter Retreat or Celebrating Your Love Day, there will also be an opportunity for confession then.

Wedding Plan

This can be done simultaneously with your marriage prep, but shouldn’t be the forefront of your engagement – JESUS should be!
Remember to pray along the way. God will open doors for you with venues and vendors, etc. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut (it’s likely the Holy Spirit stirring inside you!!).

Bonus-Faith Filled Ideas!

Looking for ways to include intentional Catholic choices into your wedding planning? Look no further! Below is a compilation of things we did to make our weddings extra special, as well as things we WISH we had known about when we were in your shoes. Enjoy!

  • Have a Rite of Welcoming – Ask your priest if you can be introduced to the parish community during a Sunday Mass to formalize the beginning of your marriage catechumenate journey.
  • Pray a novena – During the 9 days leading up to your wedding, pray a novena together. The final days before your wedding don’t have to be stressful! Give it to Jesus and He will carry you.
  • Incorporate your faith in your invitations – Include a favorite wedding bible or saint quote and/or sacred symbols – the possibilities are endless!
  • Flowers to Mary – Honor our Blessed Mother with a single bloom or small bouquet offering during your wedding ceremony. This is traditionally done after Communion while “Ave Maria” is sung by your cantor or choir. Use this time to ask the intercession and example of the ONLY perfect woman there ever was!
  • Holy Home Decor – Consider adding beautiful religious items to your wedding registry such as statues, sacred art, rosaries, prayer candles, holy water fonts, etc.

(Credit to Maria from Our Lady’s Roses for these suggestions!)


Wendy Baez
Associate Director
Phone: (858) 490-8295
wbaezEmail at
Janelle Peregoy
Associate Director, Separated and Divorced Ministry
Phone: (858) 490-8292
jperegoyEmail at
Vivian Toscano
Administrative Assistant
Phone: (858) 490-8299
vtoscanoEmail at

Married life is a process of growth in which each spouse is God’s means of helping the other to mature. Change, improvement, the flowering of the good qualities present in each person—all these are possible. Each marriage is a kind of ‘salvation history,’ which from fragile beginnings—thanks to God’s gift and creative and generous response on our part—grows over time into something precious and enduring.”
– Pope Francis, The Joy of Love