Marriage

The celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is an important and memorable occasion in the life of our parishioners, and the striking environment of our church only enhances the celebration. You already know all of the preparation that goes into organizing the wedding celebration, receiving out-of-town guests, and the attending hospitality. And that is only for one day! At Sacred Heart, our priority is helping to prepare couples for life-long marriage, even as we support your planning for the wedding day. We ask couples to be ready to actively participate in the marriage preparation process. To that end, we ask that the process begin at least nine months in advance of your planned wedding date.

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions about Marriages at Sacred Heart for more information on scheduling a wedding, securing a date, and all associated planning.

Once the date for your wedding is set and confirmed, here is what you can expect for the Marriage Preparation process. Please note, if you are registered parishioner, marriage preparation will be done here at Sacred Heart, generally by the priest assigned to celebrate your wedding ceremony.

Step 1: Initial Meeting with the Priest
The purpose of the first meeting is to get to know a little bit about the couple, in a relaxed and conversational manner. At the end of meeting, you and your fiancé(e) will complete a FOCCUS survey. FOCCUS is an “inventory” survey designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. The survey provides individualized couples feedback on where each partner stands in regards to topics important to the marriage.

Areas of coverage include: lifestyle expectations, problem solving, religion and values, personality match, parenting vision, communication, financial issues, careers, extended family issues, personal issues, marriage as a Covenant, as well as interfaith or denominational issues.

Step 2: Follow Up Meetings with the Priest
After the results of the FOCCUS have been processed, there are several follow-up meetings to go over the FOCCUS survey. The follow-up meetings are a facilitated discussion between you and your fiancé(e) based on the results of the survey. During these sessions, there will be ample opportunities to discuss the Sacrament of Marriage, the practical elements of a common life, and spirituality of Christian marriage.

Step 3: Pre-Cana 
As part of the Marriage preparation process, couples must attend a Pre-Cana class. The classes are an opportunity to delve into the sacramental and spiritual aspects of marriage. The Diocese of St. Petersburg offers a variety of programs that fulfill the Pre-Cana requirement. Descriptions of each program as well as brochures and registration forms for each can be found at the Diocesan Marriage Preparation page. The Marriage Preparation office can also be contacted by calling 727-341-6847.

Step 4: A Private Conversation
After the FOCCUS meetings and the Pre-Cana meetings, there is a private conversation between the priest and each of you individually. These are conversations intended to ensure that each of you has full freedom to give yourself in marriage.

Step 5: Planning the Wedding Ceremony
And finally, there is a meeting about planning the liturgical aspects of the wedding ceremony itself, music, details, etc. The priest helping prepare you will provide you with a booklet, which outlines the ceremony and will help you plan the liturgical aspects of the ceremony. The assigned musician will help you select music appropriate for your celebration.