Blaen Cwm Penant, near Porthmadog
Marriage is the bedrock of society; the place where couples work towards each other’s salvation and where the next generation is nurtured so as to become, in their turn, valuable citizens.
As such it has huge importance for the couple themselves and for wider society. It can’t be taken risks with; it has to be provided with all the tools it needs to succeed and thus endure, ‘till death do us part’ (not least for the sake of any children of the marriage.)
For this reason the Catholic Church, and many other churches, do expect that couples will attend a marriage preparation course before their wedding. Indeed, it should be many months before the wedding lest the course throws up any potential difficulties that the relationship might (otherwise unwittingly) be heading towards.
Just a note that on first meeting with the clergyman whom you wish to officiate at your service (and it MUST be YOU, the couple, who approach him; NOT just your Mum or Dad!) you can expect to be asked whether you have ever married before. If that partner is still living then it may be necessary to seek whether a church annulment can be granted on that first relationship before you are free, in the church’s eyes (and God’s!) to enter what is hoped would be an enduring marriage.
While there are various organisations in Britain who, with the welfare of married couples in mind, run effective preparation courses I, like many Catholic priests, have been offering engaged couples marriage preparation for many years; in my case, right since ordination in 1985. The preparation can either be for a group of engaged couples, or simply one couple at a time- ‘two-to-one.’ (It is strongly recommended that both partners attend the course together, unless that is completely impossible, whereupon separate arrangements will need to be made for each to attend separate courses, possibly many miles apart.)
The course I usually run covers four one-hour meetings. As the final hour is used to jointly plan the couples marriage service, then this will most likely be best taken by the clergyman who will be officiating at your wedding service. If it is not myself, then by the other cleric, separately. He will be the one who knows what is possible in his church building.
With your carefully chosen partner and suitable support marriage is, while challenging, the most wonderful state in which to pass human life. It would be my endeavour to enhance that for you as far as I possibly could.