Pope Francis recently advised engaged couples to take time to prepare spiritually for their lives together. Most brides-to-be are busy creating Pinterest boards and checklists of things that need to get done before the big day. Details such as flowers, colors, napkins, and centerpieces are painstakingly agonized over.
Grooms often get wrapped up in details of the bachelor party and honeymoon, as well as making final decisions over menu and cake options. There is no other season of life quite like the engagement period. However, many couples become so focused on the day, that they forget to plan for the lifetime.
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We have a checklist for you of the spiritual things you should be doing in preparation not just for your wedding day, but for your marriage.
From the date of engagement – 6 months before the wedding:
. Pray together. It can be as simple as saying, “Thank you God for the gift of my future spouse. Bless us and help us prepare for marriage.” Establish a routine of when and how you will pray together. Many couples find the good night phone call a great way to include a prayer and close the day.
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2. Recommit yourselves and keep praying for strength to remain pure until your wedding day. God wants you to have this gift to give to your spouse. If you have had difficulty with this in your relationship, go to Confession and begin again. God makes all things new.
3. Begin meeting with a priest to help guide your spiritual preparation for your marriage.
4. Find a mentor couple that can also help you prepare for marriage.
5. Start watching the Beloved dvd series created to help couples prepare for marriage.
6. Register to take a class on Natural Family Planning. Find out more information about the options.
3-6 months before the wedding:
1. Register and attend a retreat for engaged couples. This will be a special way for you to prepare spiritually for your wedding. The time away from the busy season of wedding preparation will be much needed for you and your future spouse. The Pre-Cana retreat offered by many parishes and the Engaged Encounter retreat are good places to start looking.
2. Read Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed” together. Pope Francis recently encouraged engaged couples to read this book, which he described as a “masterpiece”.
3. As you prepare your guest list, invite God to your wedding. Think about ways you can incorporate the witness of your love and your relationship with Christ into not just your ceremony, but your reception. A few ideas: Instead of having the groom remove the bride’s garter, have him wash her feet as a sign of Christ’s love for His Church; Instead of a traditional favor, give your guests rosaries or prayer cards; For a first dance, choose a song with lyrics that showcase your values.
1-3 months before the wedding:
1. Meditate on the scriptures that you have chosen for your ceremony. Incorporate them into your daily prayer.
2. Look for a Novena to begin to pray before your wedding day. We suggest a novena to either St. Joseph or St. Raphael. For a little help with this check out .
3. Prepare a prayer that you will be able to read at your wedding shower. This is a way to show others your love for God and appreciation for the gift of marriage.
4. Schedule a time to take each of your parents out to dinner. Take this time to honor them and to seek their advice for your future marriage. You may also wish to give them a special gift to say thank you for the many ways they have supported you through the years.
5. Plan a time to have your families gather to pray for you as a couple.
6. When buying gifts for your wedding party, try to incorporate something that will help them grow in their faith and relationship with Christ.
. Find a meaningful spiritual gift to give your future spouse on the wedding day. Take the time to write a love letter to him or her as well. This will be a cherished gift for years to come.
The Week Of The Wedding:
1. This will be a busy week, but plan in advance a time with your priest to go to Confession.
2. Make time to go to Adoration with you fiance.
3. Read the passages from the Catechism (1601-1666) on marriage and the graces that come with this sacrament.
. Choose something for both you and your future spouse to fast from (social media, tv, chocolate, etc) during this week.
5. Make God’s presence known at your rehearsal dinner. Write a prayer for the evening and honor Him for the joy He is bringing into your lives.
The Wedding Day:
1. Begin your day with prayer and praise. Relax and trust that God has all the details under control.
2. Many couples will find a way to pray together without seeing one another. Some use the confessional to do this, others find a wall and stand holding hands. This beautiful picture of this young bride and groom praying before their wedding has gone viral.
3. Participate fully in your ceremony. Don’t let your nerves distract you from the joy and grace being bestowed on you!
4. Be a witness to marital love and purity at your reception.
5. Prepare for your first night together as a married couple by starting it with a prayer. Read Song of Songs to one another. Rejoice in the gift God has given!
The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It’s just us sinners.” A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: “May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry” and “never, never, never end the day without making peace. Pope Francis. Meeting with engaged couples, Feb. 14, 2014.
I occasionally look back – always with fondness – on my engagement period to my husband.
It was a sweet time. One of excited anticipation and wistful daydreams, tempered by lots and lots of work. Between completing my degree, fulfilling the requirements for teacher licensure, student teaching, and planning a wedding – not to mention frequently making the six-hour round trip home from college to visit my beloved – I rarely had a moment to spare.
How I wish that I knew then what I know now: there is one needful thing, and it’s not working harder. It’s not doing more.
But unfortunately, the one needful thing is something that was lacking during that season of my life.
I wish I had prayed more – alone, with my husband-to-be, and even with others who cared about us and would’ve welcomed the opportunity to pray over us and our impending marriage.
If you’re engaged, I hope you’ll often take the opportunity to bathe your relationship in prayer by praying the Scriptures below. Because a wedding isn’t the finish line.
It’s only the beginning of a life devoted to serving your King together, as one.
And while that is a wonderful, beautiful venture, it’s no small feat, dear one.
Perhaps some of you will offer these prayers on behalf of an engaged couple you know and love. Thank you for your investment. Because time spent praying is never wasted time.
Prayers for Engaged Couples
Pray that you and your spouse-to-be would let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, and that the two of you would be firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). Ask the Lord to grant you even now a vision of the joint ministry He has planned for your marriage.
Acknowledge to the Lord that although your heart makes plans, the LORD establishes your steps (Proverbs 16:9). Ask Him to direct your path and that of your beloved, as you both trust in Him. Yield your will to His in all things.
Confess the truth that unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Share with God your heart’s desire that He would “build your house,” and be the foundation on which your home is established.
Recount back to God that without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22). Ask the Lord to place the right counselors into your life and the life of your betrothed; that He would give your advisers wisdom; and that He would grant you a teachable spirit.
Praise the Lord for the gift of His divine power which has granted you all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called you to His own glory and excellence! Revel in the His precious and very great promises granted to you, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Pray that you and your beloved would progress in spiritual maturity during the time of your engagement and in your marriage, making every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-8).
Ask that the God of endurance and encouragement would grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).
Dear Heavenly Father, how good You are to give us the gift of anticipation about joyous occasions to come! Thank you for the person You have ordained for me to marry, and for directing our relationship thus far. I pray that you would continue to make your will known to us, in big ways and small, as we pursue your will together. We long to glorify you in our relationship, now and forevermore. It’s in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I pray. Amen.
All ‘Engaged Couples’ should ask God’s blessing at this important stage of their lives as they prepare themselves for their wedding, and pray that their love may grow in the light and strength of the love Christ has for his Church.
Father, in my heart love has come alive for a person you made, and whom you too know and love. It was you who brought me to meet her (him) and come to known her (him), as once, in paradise, you brought Adam and Eve together so that man should not remain alone. I thank you for this gift. It fills me with profound joy. It makes me like you, who are love itself and brings me to the understand the value of the life you have given me.
Help me not to squander the riches you have stored in my heart. Teach me that love is a gift that must not be suffocated by selfishness; that love is pure and strong and must not be soiled or corrupted; that love is fruitful and should, beginning now, open up a new life for myself and the person who has chosen me.
Loving Father, I pray for the person who is thinking of me and waiting for me, and who has placed in me complete trust for the future. I pray for this person who will walk along the path of life with me. Help us to be worthy of one another and to be an encouragement and example to one another. Help us to prepare for marriage, for its grandeur and for its responsibilities, so that love which fulls us body and spirit may rule our lives forevermore, through Christ our Lord. Amen.