Congratulations on your engagement! Your decision to enter into marriage is a wonderful sign of hope and strength to our faith community. You have reached your decision after much discussion and prayerful thought, but it is just the first step in the process of building a successful marriage. With your family and friends, you will share your commitment with the community and become a sign and symbol of God’s great love for the human family.
We are honored that you have chosen to marry in the church and want to help you make that happen. We are a church of Yes! At St. Monica, all are welcome. No matter your circumstances or background, we want to say this to you: welcome home!
We want to celebrate your decision to marry and the love that you share. We want to serve you in our ministry – to help you have a day of great celebration and a lifetime of happiness together. We want to support you in this process and beyond, inviting you into our faith community.
Couples will fall into one of these two groups:
Preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage with St. Monica is a two-fold process:
Please be sure to thoroughly read the content below. Start with the Overview, which will also tell you where to start. We prepare many couples to marry every year and have developed a comprehensive program that our couples come back and tell us they love. Please don’t see this as hoops to jump through. Rather, view it as an opportunity to plan a great wedding and build the foundation for an even greater marriage!
After attending the Marriage Information Night, you will be given the booklet, Preparing for Marriage, which will provide more detailed information about the process and fees associated with your preparation and wedding ceremony. You can use Preparing for Marriage as your guide.
Most importantly, enjoy this time of engagement! Wedding planning can be a stressful time – try not to get too caught up in it. Remember why you’re here. Take time to connect with each other. Celebrate your love. And have fun!
And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
1. Marriage Information Night
Those wishing to be married at St. Monica Catholic Church, or prepare for a wedding at another Catholic Church, must attend one of our Marriage Information Nights that are generally held on the 4th Wednesday of each month, lasting approximately 1 hour. Attending is the first step in marriage preparation at St. Monica and must be completed before any specific wedding arrangements can be made.
During this meeting, you will be given an overview of the marriage preparation process, as well as information about the FOCCUS communication survey and counseling sessions, Engaged Encounter weekend and The Foundation communication workshop. There is also a brief presentation on the Catholic Theology of Marriage. You will also hear from a recently married couple who will speak about their experience of preparation at St. Monica.
Marriage Information Night is held in person at St. Monica's. Zoom is also available for anyone needing to attend remotely.
You must pre-register for the event.
Marriage Intake Form Please type your information into the form before you print.
Schedule for 2024
Dates and times are subject to change.
2. Meet with a priest
After you have attended Marriage Information Night, our sacrament coordinator will contact you to set up your first appointment with one of our priests--at which time, if you are free to marry, you will set a date for your wedding.
For those marrying at St. Monica, you will have a second meeting with your priest closer to the time of the wedding. If you are marrying at another Catholic Church, we encourage you to really get to know the priest who will be marrying you – and allow him to get to know you. That will allow him to best support you and make for a more personal wedding.
3. Our Sacraments Coordinator
There are three components to the Marriage Preparation program here at St. Monica:
1. FOCCUS Inventory & Meeting with FOCCUS counselor
The Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study (FOCCUS) Inventory is a great conversation starter. You will complete the inventory online and then have two premarital counseling sessions with one of our therapists.
4. Engaged Encounter
Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat to help couples prepare for marriage. In Los Angeles, you can sign up for the engaged encounter weekend at www.ceeofla.org. You can also visit the website of Catholic Engaged Encounter at www.engagedencounter.com for retreat opportunities throughout the country, including online. After completing the retreat, you will submit a copy of your certificate to Dorothy.
3. The Foundation: Wisdom & Tools to Build a Conscious Marriage
The Foundation is a one-day workshop held at St. Monica designed to help strengthen your companionship, communication and covenant for marriage. The workshop hones in on the all-important area of communication, giving you tools to strengthen your connection and address tension.
For couples who will have their wedding at St. Monica, your priest will provide guidance as you plan for your liturgy. Your Wedding Coordinator will be the primary person helping you plan your liturgy. In addition to the priest and Sacraments Coordinator, you will also have the support of the following two persons who will be assigned to you approximately 3 months prior to the wedding:
1. Wedding Coordinator
The wedding coordinator will help you plan and be with you from your rehearsal through the end of your wedding.
2. Music Coordinator
The Music Coordinator will help you select the music and musicians for your ceremony.
After Marriage Information Night, you will be given a booklet that will provide complete details for planning a wedding at St. Monica w/marriage preparation AND marriage preparation with a wedding planned at another Catholic Church. The details will include a checklist of all legal documents and fees.
1. Baptismal Certificate
A newly issued (within 6 months of your wedding date) copy of your baptismal certificate (with notations regarding confirmation and prior marriages) is required for those who are Catholic. If you are a baptized Christian (non-Catholic), then a photocopy of your baptismal certificate is acceptable.
2. Letters of Freedom (forms provided by the parish)
This is a sworn statement, typically completed by a parent, attesting that you have never been married before, in either a church or civil ceremony, and that there is no known impediment to the marriage.
3. Permissions and Dispensations
These forms are required for special circumstances, including when a Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic. If you have a previous marriage which has not been annulled, please let us know right away so we can address this with you. This must be resolved prior to marrying in the church.
4. Civil License
You will obtain a civil marriage license through the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk with 90 days of your wedding.
5. Pre-Nuptial Inquiry
This takes place with the priest and is for the purpose of determining your freedom and appropriate intentions in your preparation for marriage.
In its wisdom, the Catholic Church has long required couples to engage in preparation for the sacrament of marriage. Contemporary research as borne out the benefits of this requirement. Couples who partake in formal marriage preparation report greater satisfaction and lower divorce rates in the first five years of marriage – a time with a surprising spike in divorce rates.
We have three components of the marriage preparation program that we ask you to complete. We encourage you to start this process soon, usually by taking the FOCCUS and setting up your counseling sessions. This will allow you to make the most out of your preparation before you get into those last couple of months when you will be in wedding mode! If you have any concerns, please speak directly to your priest.
1. FOCCUS Inventory & Meetings with FOCCUS counselor
The Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study (FOCCUS) is an online Inventory that identifies strengths and areas for discussion in your relationship. It is not a test, but rather, a conversation starter to help you explore many important dimensions of your relationship and married life together.
After attending Marriage Information Night, you will receive an email from FOCCUS inviting you to login and complete the inventory online. When both of you have completed the FOCCUS, you will be assigned to work with one of our certified Imago Relationship Therapists – Michael DiPaolo, Ph.D. or Morella Hammer, LMFT. You will have two counseling sessions to review the FOCCUS. Know that Michael and Morella are a resource for you throughout this process and into your marriage.
2. Engaged Encounter
Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat to help couples prepare for marriage, learn more about each other and gain important relationship skills to build a successful marriage. The weekend is led by two married couples and a priest who will present on a wide variety of topics including your family of origin, values, intimacy, raising children, and the Sacrament of Marriage. The focus of the weekend is on giving the two of you time to reflect, journal and share with each other. Your personal discussion will always be from the viewpoint of your own relationship.
In Los Angeles, you can sign up for the engaged encounter weekend at www.ceeofla.org. Know that you may take Engaged Encounter anywhere as it is offered throughout the country. You can visit the website of Catholic Engaged Encounter at www.engagedencounter.com for more information.
Couples who've previously been married in a civil ceremony or couples where one or both have been previously married may attend special workshop designed to address the situations. Contact Dorothy () to find out about these programs
3. The Foundation: Wisdom & Tools to Build a Conscious Marriage
The Foundation is a one-day workshop held at St. Monica which hones in on the all-important area of communication. Informed by modern neuroscience, you will learn essential communication tools – including the Imago Dialogue – to reinforce your strengths, dissolve tension, and deepen your connection.
“...one of the best things you can do as a couple. Communication is the main reason why conflict occurs - and this workshop gave us the tools to improve how we speak to each other and care for one another. Invaluable!”
The Foundation is designed and led by Dr. Michael DiPaolo with assistance from Morella Hammer, LMFT. The workshop is offered five times a year. For more information, workshop dates, and registration, please visit www.DrMichaelD.com/the-foundation or contact Dr. DiPaolo at 310-268-7792 or .
We want you to have a day of great celebration, wherever you will marry.
For couples marrying at St. Monica:
Your priest will provide guidance as you plan for your liturgy – choosing to have a full mass or just the wedding ceremony. Get to know your priest and allow him to get to know you. It will make for a more a personal and fulfilling wedding!
Your Wedding Coordinator will be the primary person helping you plan your liturgy. We will give you the booklet, Together for Life, which will guide you through planning your liturgy, e.g., giving you the typical readings to choose from for your wedding. Click the following to download an outline of the wedding ceremony
In addition to your priest, you will also be assigned the following two coordinators to assist you.
1. Wedding Coordinator
You will be assigned a Wedding Coordinator 3 months prior to your wedding. The Wedding Coordinator will assist you in planning your entire ceremony. This includes planning your liturgy, choosing your readings, floral arrangements, decorations, and photographs. The Wedding Coordinator will be with you at both your rehearsal and wedding to assure everything runs according to plan.
Even if you have an outside wedding coordinator, the St. Monica Wedding Coordinator is required in order to facilitate both the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.
2. Wedding Music Coordinator
Our Music & Media Coordinator will contact you 3 months prior to the wedding. She will assist you in planning the sacred music for your liturgy. We encourage you to have great music! Attend our different services to hear the many wonderful voices and musicians at St. Monica – most of whom would be excited to be a part of your wedding.
You can schedule your rehearsal 3 months prior to your wedding. Most rehearsals are held Friday afternoon or early evening. We need to wait until 3 months prior as we must hold the dates open for other church events and weddings.
When you consider the flower arrangements for your wedding, know that the church is very spacious and very beautiful. Not many arrangements are needed to create a great atmosphere. Know too that flowers are a gift to the church so they remain in the church after your wedding, with the exception of arrangements on the pews which you may take with you. We will connect you with other couples getting married on the same day as you so that you may share the cost of flowers.
Since marriage celebrates the unbreakable commitment between a man and a woman who are free to make this mature decision in the community of believers, certain documents are required to establish your sacramental status within the Church, your freedom from any previous unions, as well as sworn statements attesting to your clear understanding of the nature and responsibilities of Marriage. When a Catholic prepares to marry someone from another faith tradition, a specific document or "dispensation" is also required. The following items are required documents (whether you are marrying at St. Monica or elsewhere).
1. Can I get married at St. Monica? What are the requirements?
Anyone can get married at St. Monica, as long as either the bride or groom is baptized Roman Catholic. If you do not live within the parish boundaries and/or are not a registered parishioner, you CAN be married at St. Monica. Preference of wedding dates/times is given to registered parishioners.
2. Where do we begin?
Began by attending Marriage Information Night where you will get chance to meet our team who are there to support you and couple who has recently gone through the process. You will also receive an overview of the process of preparing for marriage.
3. What are the first steps after the Marriage Info Night?
After attending Marriage Information Night, wedding arrangements begin with an interview of the couple by one of our priests. Our sacrament coordinator will contact you to set up an appointment. This is for all couples whether you are getting married at St. Monica or at another Catholic church. At this meeting, the priest will fill out the Pre-Nuptial Inquiry, one of the required documents.
We also ask that you start preparing by taking the FOCCUS inventory, the first component of the Marriage Building program.
4. When do we set the date?
Provided there are no special circumstances that arise, a date and time of the ceremony will be set at the first meeting with a priest. There is at least a six-month preparation time required for marriage.
5. What if one of us has been married before?
If you’ve been previously married and it has been annulled by the Church, submit your A Declaration of Nullity (annulment) at your first meeting. If your marriage has not been annulled by the Church, we can help you with the necessary steps before you can marry in the Church.
6. What are the times available for Weddings?
Weddings are celebrated on Saturdays at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, as well as on Fridays at 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Preference is given to active, registered parishioners for the 3:00 pm Saturday wedding slot. Weddings are not celebrated on Sundays at St. Monica.
7. Who will answer our questions about the wedding itself?
The questions which specifically deal with the liturgy itself, i.e., the choice of readings, whether or not to have a "full Mass" or a "ceremony", etc., will be answered by the priest you have chosen to witness your marriage or your wedding coordinator. Questions concerning things like planning the ceremony, music, floral arrangements and decorations, photographs and the like is explained by our wedding coordinators. Our wedding coordinators provide an invaluable service to each couple, making sure everything runs smoothly at the rehearsal on the day of your wedding. You will be assisted by our wedding music coordinator in planning the music for your wedding 3 months prior to your wedding.
8. What if we are getting married at another Catholic Church?
For those couples being married in a Catholic Church outside the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we are happy to assist you. Everything listed in the overview – aside from the Wedding Planning process applies for you. This means we will help you by: connecting you with one of our priests, collecting all of your required documents, and supporting you through the Marriage Preparation Program.
Our Sacrament Coordinator, Dorothy Butcher, will collect all of your documents for your wedding file. When everything is completed, we will send your wedding file to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who will send them to the diocese in which you will marry, and from there to the church at which you will marry. Because of this process, we ask that you complete your preparation at least 2 months prior to your wedding. If you are getting married out of the country, we will also give you a packet with a copy of the documents to take with you just to ease your worries.
9. Is the difference between the Engaged Encounter and The Foundation Workshop?
Yes. The two programs are very different and complement one another.
The Foundation is a professionally led workshop where you will learn new tools and skills, especially in communication. It is based on Imago Relationship Therapy, and you will learn its core process, the Imago Dialogue. In addition, you will create a toolbox of things that will help you build a great marriage, including a marriage vision, an appreciation exercise, and how to understand and address tension in your marriage.
Engaged Encounter is a retreat experience led by two married couples and a priest. They will share about their experience on a wide range of topics important in marriage, including parenting, finances, religion and preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. The thrust of the weekend is to create opportunities for the two of you to reflect on these topics and share with one another.
10. Are there any fees?
Yes. There are two separate fee schedules – one for those marrying at St. Monica and one for those marrying elsewhere. For those marrying at St. Monica, there are also fees associated with your wedding day.
Fees are outlined in the guide Preparing for Marriage that we will give you.
11. If we get married at St. Monica, do we have to have a full Mass?
There are two different forms of the Rite of Marriage: the Rite of Marriage with Mass, and the Rite of Marriage Outside Mass. With a Mass is the preferred form of Catholic wedding liturgy when both the bride and the groom are Catholic. The Rite of Marriage Outside Mass is preferred when a Catholic person marries a baptized person who is not Catholic or an unbaptized person.