The Essential Guide to Pre-Cana: Everything You Need to Know

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Marriage Prep

When it comes to planning and preparing for your wedding day (and your lifelong marriage) the list of tasks, to-dos, and choices to make, can often leave you feeling overwhelmed. We’re not just talking about napkin colors or veil length or honeymoon stays, but about choosing the right Pre-Cana course for you and your future spouse.

What is Pre-Cana?

The name “Pre-Cana” is derived from John 2:1-12 which tells the story of Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine, at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.

Pre-Cana is pre-wedding preparation that is required by the Catholic Church to be completed prior to getting married. Pre-Cana has also been colloquially adopted as “marriage prep” among dioceses and parishes.

When you begin the process of preparing for your wedding, you’ll talk with your parish priest who will let you and your fiancé(e) know the requirements for Pre-Cana within your parish as it can vary. However, most parishes require one-on-one meetings with your priest, a pre-marital inventory such as Prepare/Enrich or Fully Engaged, a Catholic marriage preparation course, and occasionally supplementary workshops or videos related to specific topics (i.e. natural family planning, Theology of the Body, etc.)

Types of Pre-Cana

Some parishes have a specific marriage preparation course they require while some might allow a variety of courses for you to choose from. Yet what are the most common Pre-Cana course options?

Pre-Cana Retreats

Pre-Cana retreats are an option as churches can often host retreats in-parish allowing the couples to mingle with fellow engaged couples within the diocese or parish. This is a nice way to meet others and socialize. However, many couples have expressed this format does not allow for them to express their thoughts they consider to be private.

Pre-Cana Video Courses

Pre-Cana video courses can be taken as a standalone Pre-Cana or oftentimes as supplementary materials for the engaged couples. Ministries provide video courses, covering a range of topics that engaged couples can watch together. Video-based courses are less engaging than a mentor-led, interactive course. Having live mentors available for further explanation or to answer questions is beneficial and provides for a dynamic experience.

Online Pre-Cana

The most popular and fruitful option for Pre-Cana is online, mentor-led, Catholic marriage preparation. Online non-video-based courses allow the engaged couple the opportunity to complete the course anywhere and anytime with the added benefit of privacy to discuss personal topics. All while having direct access to an assigned mentor couple for questions and guidance.

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Benefits of Online Pre-Cana

While the idea of attending a Pre-Cana retreat or watching a video-based course may seem appealing, these options don’t create a suitable environment for deep spiritual and emotional intimacy between you and your fiancé(e). With retreats it can often be difficult to coordinate schedules or get time off work.

While Pre-Cana may not seem like the most fun part of your wedding preparation journey, it is the most important. Without properly completing Pre-Cana, couples often meet challenges quickly once they’re married whether it’s about finances, how to raise their kids, work, etc. This is why online marriage prep courses, like Catholic Marriage Prep, not only give you the opportunity to discuss serious topics you may not have thought of before, but the space, time, and privacy to discuss them in-depth with your future spouse.

Catholic Marriage Prep

Founded in 2004, Catholic Marriage Prep was the first online marriage preparation course of its kind. Over the last 20 years, and having served 60,000+ couples worldwide, Catholic Marriage Prep is a tried, true, and trusted resource for online Pre-Cana.

Once you have received approval from your priest and signed up for Catholic Marriage Prep, you and your fiancé(e) will be specifically assigned to a certified mentor couple whose background relates closely to yours. Whether you’re both working full-time jobs, one or both of you are in the military, you’re separated by state or country, or you speak different languages, Catholic Marriage Prep will ensure your instructor couple is the best match to guide you towards marriage.

With nine assignments covering a wide variety of topics such as Theology of the Body, Natural Family Planning, forgiveness, life skills, etc., and averaging four to six weeks to complete (depending on your personal pace), Catholic Marriage Prep prepares you not simply for your wedding day, but for the lifelong Sacrament of Matrimony.

In the midst of wedding preparations, ensuring you and your fiancé(e) are equipped for the highs and lows that marriage brings is crucial. By choosing a comprehensive, accessible, and flexible online Pre-Cana course like Catholic Marriage Prep, you are allowing yourselves to take the time you need to work through the different aspects that make up your future life together. Catholic Marriage Prep will help you build a solid foundation and ensure that your marriage is as beautiful as your wedding day.

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“[Catholic Marriage Prep] significantly enhanced our communication by providing us with tools to discuss important aspects of our relationship openly and honestly.” – Christopher and Gabrielle*

*Names changed for privacy. Image provided with permission by Catholic Marriage Prep couple.

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