Marriage Preparation


For all couples who are requesting to be married at Saint Bonaventure, there are certain requirements that must be met.

All preparation must begin at a minimum of six months prior to the wedding date.


On behalf of the St. Bonaventure parish community, we congratulate you on your decision to give yourselves to one another in Christian marriage. The gospels relate that the greatest commandment of the law is “to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” In marriage, this Good News of Jesus is made human and real in a special way.

Because we look upon this moment in your lives with such importance, it is only natural that the preparation for this life-long experience is one that we take most seriously as a Church. Certainly, the day of your wedding is one that will hold wonderful memories for you as the years unfold. But it is the life-long experience of marriage, and preparation for it, that is of utmost and critical importance for us as a Church. “A wedding is a day, marriage is a lifetime.” It is our hope that the information provided here will assist you in initiating the planning of both your wedding and your marriage.

Marriage Information and Requirements

A couple wanting to be married must contact the Pastor’s secretary at 714-846-3359 ext. 499 at least six months prior to the wedding. This allows sufficient time for the couple to prepare and to fulfill the Church’s requirements for marriage.

The wedding usually takes place in the church of the bride or groom. If one is not Catholic, it should take place in the church of the Catholic party. One of the parties must have a connection with St. Bonaventure, i.e. graduate, a former parishioner, received Sacraments here. Any exceptions to this norm must be discussed with the Pastor.

Catholics who wish to be married should be living their Catholic faith. They should be participating regularly at Sunday Mass and be receiving the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The marriage of two Catholics is normally celebrated within the context of Mass. When one is not Catholic, there is the option of having the wedding without Mass.

Couples must participate in a marriage preparation program. Preparation for Christian marriage is far more than just the gathering of required documents. At the heart of responsible marriage preparation, stands the opportunity for you to seriously reflect in a comprehensive and challenging way on the meaning of this important step in your lives. While reflection and in-depth sharing of your future together has undoubtedly already begun, the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orange expects you to reflect on your life-long journey with each other. A number of programs are offered to help with this.

Engaged Encounter is a weekend program providing an opportunity to dialogue about your future Christian life together, and is endorsed by the Diocese of Orange. You can go on-line at for more information about this program. Your priest can suggest other programs that may be available at local churches.

Required Documents

    1. A recently issued Baptismal Certificate must be submitted by the Catholic parties to be married. This may be done by contacting the parish in which they were baptized. Photocopies are not acceptable.

    2. A Confirmation Certificate needs to be submitted by the Catholic parties if it has not been recorded on the reverse side of the Baptismal Certificate.

    3. Testimony of Freedom to Marry is a sworn statement by a parent or close relative stating that the person who wishes to marry has never been married before and is free of any impediment to be married in the Catholic Church. The statements must be signed in front of a priest or notarized. Two witnesses are needed for each party.

    4. Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire is a brief questionnaire that the priest or deacon will complete with the couple during their first meeting. It is an official record of essential information and of the couple’s understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage.

    5. A Civil License is the legal license needed to marry in the State of California. It is obtained from the County Marriage License Office in Santa Ana. The wedding must occur within 90 days of obtaining the license. This document must be given to the priest or deacon for safe keeping no later than one month before the wedding. The wedding cannot take place if the priest or deacon does not have the license in his possession.

    6. A Dispensation is required for a Catholic to enter into marriage with a non-Catholic. The Catholic party promises to practice his/her Catholic faith and to baptize and raise their children in the Catholic faith. This dispensation form will be filled out in the presence of the priest or deacon.

    7. Marriage Preparation Certificate from an approved marriage preparation program.

Fees and Other Costs

    1. Church – an offering of $400 is suggested for registered members of the parish. If you are not a member of the parish, there is a fee of $500 for the use of the church.

    2. Clergy – There is no required fee for the priest performing the ceremony. If you would like to give the priest a gift, the suggested offering is $100.

    3. Wedding Coordinator – The coordinator will inform you about the protocol for the wedding service and will assist you at both the rehearsal and on the wedding day. You will need to contact her after you have confirmed the date of the wedding. The fee for the wedding coordinator is $200.

    4. Musicians – Professional level musicians and vocalists are used at St. Bonaventure Parish. All arrangements for music are made through Mr. J. Wingate Greathouse, Director of Music Ministries. The current musician fee is $400 which includes the organist and cantor fees.

    5. Altar Servers – A stipend of $20 each for two altar servers.

    6. Reception – The St. Bonaventure hall is not available for wedding receptions.

      NOTE:You are advised not to make any reservations for reception halls or other activities concerning your wedding, and you should not pay any deposits for reception halls, catering, etc. until the date of your wedding has been confirmed by the priest or deacon.

A Final Note Concerning Your Wedding Day

A wedding is a sacred event. It is the decision of two people to begin a partnership for the rest of their lives. In this partnership they are no longer two but are making a decision to become “one flesh,” a “new creation” in the sight of God, cooperating with God in His plan of Creation and Salvation. The Church requires that the couple be truly prepared and mature to make this decision, therefore there are two witnesses and a priest to witness their commitment. Please keep this in mind when planning the wedding. Extravagance is distracting; real elegance is always simple.




For more information on the Sacrament of Matrimony or getting married in the Catholic Church please visit the following online resources:

Together for Life - Online accompaniment to the book, Together for Life, which is the Catholic preparation booklet used by St. Bonaventure.  This booklet is given to the couple during one of their first consultations with a priest. The booklet is a preparation for Marriage and for the Ceremony.  It contains texts for the Marriage Rite, scripture readings, comments for couples as well as commentaries by married Catholic leaders, sample intercessions updated to reflect current liturgical norms, a FAQ section about the celebration of Catholic weddings & tips for strengthening marriage.  Together for Life is also available in Spanish: Juntos Para Toda La Vida.

United State Conference of Catholic Bishops - Matrimony -

For Your Marriage - For pastoral resources on marriage and family life, please visit

Beginning Catholic - To understand Catholic marriage in the sacrament of Matrimony, it’s best to begin…in the beginning.