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Get ready for the journey of a lifetime.

Marriage Preparation

at St. John XXIII

Congratulations! Your parish community rejoices with you as you plan your wedding. We will try to make your day as meaningful and beautiful as possible. Here is some church information that may answer most of your questions.

Setting the Date and Time

Couples are to schedule an appointment with a priest at least SIX MONTHS or more prior to your wedding. This gives us the needed opportunity to plan the details of your special day.

A venue SHOULD NOT be booked prior to the couple meeting with a priest and there is confirmation with the church.

Marriage Preparation

The heart of Marriage Preparation (Pre-Cana) in the Catholic Church is the realization that;
“ Your wedding is one day, but your marriage lasts a lifetime.”

Our parish is convinced that all couples need some special time to reflect upon the deep significance of the steps that they are making together.

The Diocese of Venice has transitioned to a wonderful, new marriage preparation program called, Witness to Love. Please download the Witness to Love – Sacrament of Marriage Preparations Steps for more detailed information.

Document Needed

  1. Baptismal Certificates. Please contact the church where you were baptized and request a current, updated copy of your baptismal certificate. The church can send it directly to the priest who is working with you here at St. John XXIII.
  2. Marriage Preparation Forms – A Forms. These are forms provided by the Diocese and will be completed with the assistance of the Parish priest.
  3. Letters of Freedom – B Forms. The Diocese of Venice requires that we obtain two signed statements from a family member or a close friend of the bride and groom. It should be someone who has known you for at least 5 years, stating they know you are free to marry in the church.
  4. Florida Marriage License. You can attain the license at any of the Florida County Clerk’s Offices. The license is valid for 60 days after it is being issues. It is important you bring the license to the Parish Office one week prior to your wedding. The principal witnesses will be asked to sign the license following the wedding ceremony.

Witness to Love

“Your wedding day is one day, but your marriage lasts a lifetime.”

Witness to Love (WTL) is a virtues-based model of marriage renewal and preparation that integrates modern principles of psychology and the virtues to help couples facilitate and talk about their relationship. All built on the rock of True Love, “God”.

What makes WTL unique is that the engaged couple chooses their own mentor couple. This is a couple they both admire and see as a source of faith formation. This mentor couple gives them a connection and integration into the parish. Through the sharing of the mentor couple’s own marriage journey, the engaged couple inherits a “lifeline” of support in their commitment to Jesus and His Church.

The Sacrament of Marriage Preparation Steps

  1. Contact the Parish Office Manager.
  2. Complete Parish and Diocese required paperwork.
  3. Engaged couple meets with Clergy (Priest/Deacon) and completes Premarital Inventory Questionnaire (or Prepare-Enrich or FOCCUS). Schedule a second meeting to review results of the pre-marital questionnaire.
  4. Engaged couple choses a mentor couple to work with for the WTL program.
  5. Engaged couple attends a coaching session with the WTL Parish Marriage Prep Coordinator and Mentor Couple.
  6. Engaged couple and mentor couple have monthly meetings using WTL Workbooks and Videos. (Completing all six WTL Chapters)
  7. Engaged couple attends a Parish or Diocesan Couples Retreat (Mentor Couples invited to attend).
  8. At WTL Chapter 5 dinner and meeting at the Mentor Couple’s home, the Deacon is invited to provide the Theology discussion.
  9. Natural Family Planning (NFP) on-line course is recommended.
  10. Both Couples welcomed to the Parish and invited to small groups/Parish ministry opportunities.
  11. Wedding Day!
  12. Continued accompaniment by Mentor Couple and Parish Community with newly married couple.

Theology meeting with Priest/Deacon

  • Engaged Couple and Mentor Couple will meet with Priest/Deacon to discuss the Theology behind the Sacrament of Matrimony.
  • Purpose of this meeting is two-fold: 1) deepen the understanding of the Church’s theology of marriage for the engaged couple and 2) reawaken an appreciation for the Church’s understanding of marriage for the mentor couple.

Follow-Up Meetings

  • After the wedding, the now newly married couple and their mentor couple are urged to continue meeting at least once every two months at Sunday mass to continue their discussions of marriage and marital spirituality.
  • The engaged couple is encouraged to turn to their mentor couple whenever the need arises to address any struggles or disagreements they may have.
  • The relationship between the couples can continue indefinitely.

How Do I Obtain Materials?

Check with the Parish office to see if WTL materials are in stock. If they do not have materials on hand simply click on this link: “Couple’s Marriage Prep Bundle” and order a set of materials. Make sure to order them well before you schedule your first meeting with your Marriage Prep Coordinator to ensure that the materials arrive in time.

Marriage Prep Bundle:

More information about the WTL program, please contact:

Carrie Harkey, DOV Family Life Coordinator,, or call 941-484-9543

Witness to Love, St. Martha’s Church – Diocese of Venice Coordinators Jim and Agnes Rutushni at ; or call them 941-960-5128

Preparing for the Ceremony

A TIME OF SPIRIT & GRACE: Your marriage is a sacred sacrament in the eyes of the Church and with each other. Opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) should be discussed with your priest.

“TOGETHER FOR LIFE”: This is the name of the booklet that the parish provides to assist you with the planning. It contains a selection of appropriate Scripture readings that you may choose for your ceremony. The priest will choose the Gospel reading and assist you in selecting the other readings.

CHOOSING LECTORS: Couples occasionally decide to ask friends or family members to proclaim the Word of God at wedding ceremonies. This is an important responsibility and rarely can be performed well by children or those not accustomed to speaking publicly. If you would like to have your own lectors, adults are preferred.

PRINTING YOUR OWN BOOKLET: Occasionally, couples decide to print their own small booklet as a keepsake of the ceremony and to aid the congregation in following the Liturgy. If you are planning to make a booklet, please be sure to discuss it with your priest.

WEDDING CORDINATORS AND MUSIC DIRECTOR: After your initial interview with the priest, you will contact one of our Parish Wedding Coordinators and Music Director to plan the details of your wedding ceremony. Contact information will be provided upon your meeting with the priest. *If you have your own wedding coordinator/planner, they will not be permitted to be involved with the Church ceremony.

Download the Wedding Music Selection

REHEARSAL: The date and time for your rehearsal will be arranged through the Parish Office along with the Parish Wedding Coordinator. Only the Parish Wedding Coordinator will conduct the rehearsal. It is extremely important that the rehearsal, as well as the wedding, begin on time.

FLOWERS: It is traditional for couples to arrange for appropriate floral arrangements at a wedding. If your wedding takes place during a special season of the Church year, i.e. Easter / Christmas, you may not need to supply floral displays for the Church. Please keep in mind, flowers are not permitted during Lent.

UNITY CANDLE: The lighting of a unity candle is NOT permitted at St. John XXIII during Mass. We suggest it be done at the wedding reception.

Special Notes and Ceremony Reminders

The Church is a House of God. All persons entering should conduct themselves in a quiet, reverent manner. The following policies provide a better understanding of how the ceremonial arrangements will be conducted.

  • Access to the Church will be available one hour prior to the ceremony. Rehearsals and wedding ceremonies MUST begin on time.
  • The wedding party should arrive fully dressed for the ceremony 45 minutes prior to the ceremony.
  • The bride/bridesmaids will gather in the Family Room at the rear of the Church to allow for final dress and make-up adjustments.
  • No floral arrangements are to be attached to the pews other than with elastic bands. Tape, tacks, nails, or wire are not allowed.
  • Due to liability issues, nothing is permitted in the center aisle. NO runners or flower petals, unless they are silk or otherwise.
  • No child under the age of 5 is permitted to act as the flower girl or ring bearer.

Photography Policies:

  • Photographers must meet with the Parish Wedding Coordinator prior to the wedding.
  • Photographers and their assistants must dress appropriately.
  • Photographers are NOT allowed in the Sanctuary area during the wedding.
  • Photographer’s “shutter click” must be kept to less than 1 per 5 seconds during the exchange of vows and rings. “Burst mode” shutter noises are extremely distracting to the celebrant.
  • Group photographs in the Church will be limited to a 30-minute time period following the completion of the ceremony.

NO alcoholic beverages are allowed in, or to be consumed in the Church. Excessive intoxication of the bride, groom, or bridal party could invalidate the Sacrament.

Rice, bird seed, balloons, or bubbles may NOT be used inside or outside of the Church.