Marriage and Marriage Preparation


It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes is all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can witnesses to God’s faithful love. Spouses who with God’s grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.

Whether you are newly engaged or are wanting a sacramental marriage in the Church it is our privilege assist you. This is such a wonderful and exhilarating period in your life and we are delighted for you! The sacrament of matrimony is incredibly powerful and has the effect of forever joining you together in an unbreakable bond of love. Your marriage will also be a daily witness of God’s love in our parish and our world. The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Military Catholic Community is eager to help you prepare for your future life as a spouse and parent, so please contact us as soon as possible so that we can help you to approach the sacrament in a good way and provide everything you need to fulfill all that the Church expects of you as a couple.

Marriage Preparation

The Archbishop for the Military Services has established that the period of preparation prior to the celebration of marriage in the Archdiocese is six months. As the outline of the process below indicates, much work must be done in this time.

The celebration of marriage is entrusted to the pastor of either Catholic party (c. 530, n. 4). Indeed, the permission of a Catholic party’s proper pastor is required if the marriage will not take place in his parish (c. 1115). For subjects of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the proper pastor is the AMS priest assigned to their military installation.

If you or your intended spouse is a subject of the AMS, then you can begin to prepare for your marriage by contacting the AMS priest assigned to the military installation where you serve.

If you and your intended spouse are not subjects of the AMS but would like to celebrate your marriage in a chapel on a military installation, then you must contact the pastor of your civilian parish to begin marriage preparation according to the process established in that civilian diocese.

At the initial meeting with the civilian priest, please inform him of your desire to celebrate the marriage on a military installation.

General Process for Celebrating Marriage in the AMS

The following outline contains the basic elements and steps that form the period of Catholic marriage preparation. The AMS priest preparing you for marriage can provide more details.

Schedule an appointment with your AMS priest
As soon as possible after you and your intended spouse have decided to marry, contact the Catholic priest at your military installation to begin the marriage preparation process. At this initial meeting, the priest will:

  • Give an overview of the process to marry in the AMS.
  • Ensure that each party is free to marry (i.e., each party has never been in a marriage before or, if married before, that the properecclesiastical process has been completed).
  • Explain the Church’s understanding of marriage.
  • Explain the options for the catechetical formation for marriage.
  • Collaborate to set the date and place of the marriage.
Pre-Marital Catechesis
Just as with other sacraments in the Church, Catholic and non-Catholic parties preparing for marriage in the Church are to be formed in Christian marriage. Several options are available for this catechesis.

  • Weekends for the Engaged
  • Weekly Marriage Preparation Classes
  • Online Marriage Preparation (consult with the Catholic priest prior to choosing this option)

Depending on the locations of the parties, one type of formation program may work better than the others. Your AMS priest can help you choose the program best suited to your situation.

Introductory Natural Family Planning Session
The Archbishop requires that all couples celebrating marriage in the AMS participate in one introductory session on Natural Family Planning (NFP). This requirement is met when both parties participate in one session either in-person or online.

An in-person NFP session can be arranged with the assistance of the AMS priest. He will have a sense of NFP opportunities in the local area and can put you in contact with an area facilitator.

An online NFP session can be beneficial for engaged parties separated by distance, e.g., when one party is deployed.

Pre-Marital Investigation
Before a party can enter marriage in the Catholic Church, it must be determined that he or she is free to marry and free in marrying. The priest or another pastoral minister will interview each party separately, completing a document that the party will sign. Catholics and other Christians will be asked to submit recent original copies of their baptism certificates (with notations). Also, a witness for each party (e.g., a family member or close friend) will be interviewed to testify that the party is free to marry and free in marrying. Finally, and if needed, a petition for any dispensations and/or permissions will be completed and sent to the AMS in Washington, DC.
Preparation for the Liturgical Celebration of Marriage
In the weeks prior to the marriage, the priest or deacon assisting at the wedding will meet with the parties to prepare the liturgical celebration.
Celebration of Marriage
Enjoy your wedding day, rejoicing in the Lord with your family and friends.

Learn more about catechesis for marriage on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site, For Your Marriage available en espanol, Por Tu Matrimonio.


Frequently Asked Questions

Scheduling a Wedding?

Before any wedding is scheduled you must contact the Pastoral Life Coordinator or one of the priest chaplains. Only then will the chapel staff schedule your wedding. 

Visiting Clergy?

All visiting clergy must be registered in the Commonweath of Virginia before performing weddings. Families brining their own clergy must ensure they contact the Arlington County Couthouse for registration procedures. 

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