Couples wishing to be married at Our Lady of the Lake initially make the request through a conversation or meeting with Fr. Joe. There is a six-month preparation period before the scheduled wedding. The couples, through the assistance of staff members, plan their marriage celebration.
Marriage preparation begins with an initial conversation with Fr. Joe, followed by several conversations based upon a survey known as “Prepare/Enrich”. (For more information about Prepare/Enrich, see their website.) This helps us to tailor the marriage preparation to each couple according to their unique circumstances. After the “Prepare/Enrich” conversations, the couple works with Fr. Joe and a staff member to plan the wedding liturgy. The final preparation is the wedding rehearsal, which usually takes place a day or two before the wedding. Anyone involved in the ceremony in any way needs to be present for the rehearsal.
If someone has been previously married and seeks to enter another marriage, they may need to obtain an annulment (declaration of invalidity) of their previous marriage. There are many misconceptions about annulments, so it is very important to meet with Fr. Joe to help you determine the particularities of your situation. He will help you determine if you need an annulment and how to proceed.
It is not possible to predict accurately the time it will take to complete the case or to guarantee that the decision of the judges will be favorable to one’s petition. Church law calls for the process to be no longer than eighteen months.
If you are in a marriage that did not take place in the Catholic Church, you are encouraged to contact Fr. Joe to consider the possibility of having your marriage “blessed” or “validated” by the Church. This would involve a process similar to but simpler than the marriage preparation process outline above.