In the Catholic Church, marriage preparation is known as Pre-Cana. This term is a Biblical reference to the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine as depicted in the Basilica stained glass window below.
In the Diocese of Charlotte, there is a six month minimum time-frame for Pre-Cana. The priest in charge of your Pre-Cana directs the spiritual formation of the couple during this time. While formats may vary from parish to parish, or diocese to diocese, all instruction should include Catholic teaching on marriage. Couples are encouraged to discuss key marital issues such as religious differences, child-rearing, decision making, finances, etc. In addition, the priest oversees the completion of various forms and documentation that become a part of the couple's wedding file.
Refer to the Pre-Cana Checklist (Documents Link) to the right for more information about these documents.Marriage Preparation takes time, especially when so many personal and work schedules must be considered. We strongly encourage couples to begin this process as soon as the wedding date is confirmed and certainly no later than six months prior to the wedding date.
It is the couple's responsibility to advise us when their Pre-Cana has been completed and when their Priest has mailed the Wedding File to the appropriate location for review and approval so that it reaches our office in a timely manner. Pay particular attention to the instructions on the Checklist (right) as to where your Wedding File should be sent.
Call or email our office no later than one month prior to your wedding date to be sure that we have received your approved Wedding File.
You need to be registered at a Catholic church where you currently live. Make an appointment with your priest to begin the Pre-Cana process. All Pre-Cana documentation must be given to the Priest in charge of your marriage preparation in order for it to become part of your Wedding File. Your Priest is responsible for sending the completed Wedding File to the appropriate authorities for approval. Ultimately, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence needs to receive the approved file two months prior to the date of your wedding.
It is very important that the couple meet all Pre-Cana requirements. If any are not fulfilled by the wedding date, the wedding cannot take place. Without proper and complete documentation, the Basilica Rector/Pastor can not issue a letter of delegation permitting your celebrant to officiate at your Wedding. If you have any questions regarding Pre-Cana requirements, please do not hesitate to call the Basilica parish office.
A Pre-Cana Documentation Checklist is available (at right) to download in pdf format to give to the priest in charge of your Pre-Cana.
All of the documents listed in this checklist must be included in the couple's Wedding File. Below is an explanation of each REQUIRED item:
Form A - Prenuptial Investigation: Both the Bride and Groom must complete Form A. It asks for general and sacramental information of the couple's freedom to marry within the Catholic Church.In case your diocese does not use either Form A (or the equivalent) we have provided our version to the right. Please let your Pre-Cana Preparer know that you have access to these forms should he need them.
Form B - Affidavit Regarding the Free Status of Bride or Groom: This form is for each parent of the couple to complete, testifying of the couple's free status to marry. In case your diocese does not use either Form B (or the equivalent) we have provided our version to the right. Please let your Pre-Cana Preparer know that you have access to these forms should he need them.
Current Certificate of Baptism with Notations: Catholics must present a current Baptism Certificate with Notations that must be requested from the church of Baptism within the Pre-Cana preparation time. The notations will document any additional sacraments obtained by the individual since their baptism. Original baptism certificates cannot be used. Baptized non-Catholics should provide an original certificate or letter acknowledging baptism if at all possible.
Letter of Preparedness from Priest responsible for oversite of couple's Pre-Cana: This letter should be addressed to the Pastor of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence.
Letter from parish priest where couple is registered giving permission for his parishioner to marry elsewhere: Couples registered outside the Basilica of Saint Lawrence must request this letter from their pastor. The letter should be addressed to the Pastor of the Basilica.
If the person preparing the couple is also their pastor, this letter may be combined with the one above.
Dispensation: This form is needed when a Catholic and non-Catholic marry. Your preparer should present the Catholic with this form for explanation and signature.
Decree of Nullity, Divorce, and/or Death: Only when applicable.
Additional Pre-Cana verification that may be included in the Pre-Cana file:
FOCCUS Inventory Completion: This instrument is used by the Preparer to help couples assess important areas such as spiritual beliefs, finances, children, etc., in an effort to promote awareness and understanding.