FOCCUS (In Person)

Search here to find your nearest facilitator and schedule sessions to suit you.

If you plan to get married within a Catholic Church, we can provide the certificate of attendance that you will need in order to show that you have taken the time and effort to attend marriage preparation. Our FOCCUS course (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study) is a bespoke, questionnaire-based exploration of your unique relationship designed to complement the preparation and accompaniment you will receive within your local parish.  You may find A Guide to Getting Married within the Catholic Church helpful (produced in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Cardiff)  and the version produced in collaboration with Wrexham Diocese A Guide to Getting Married within the Catholic Church as well as these resources from the Liturgy Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

You can also undertake marriage preparation in a group setting on our skills-based Preparing Together course, we would highly recommend undertaking both marriage preparation courses to benefit from each approach.

Guidance for couples marrying within the Catholic Church

It is worth bearing in mind that Canon Law normally requires a minimum of six months notification for marriage, though some diocese will require longer.  This guidance is designed to provide a brief overview of the process and to avoid problems further down the line.

Firstly, go and see the priest where you live before you make any arrangements for the wedding reception. He will explain what you have to do, the paperwork that needs to be completed and agree the marriage preparation resource (i.e. Marriage Care).

Secondly, your priest will ask you to obtain a copy of your baptismal certificate that is not more than 6 months old and a copy of your confirmation certificate.  He will want the same from your other half if he / she is a baptised Christian. In addition, many dioceses now require evidence of freedom to marry in the form of a Statutory Declaration of Freedom (the form is usually supplied by the priest).

You and your partner will also have to go to the register office to get a certificate to allow you to get married. You need to complete the Marriage Schedule. It is a couple’s responsibility to obtain the form from the local Register Office where they are to marry and give it to the priest (Authorised Person), to enable him to marry them both religiously and civilly.  The priest completes it and returns it to the Register Office post-marriage and the Register Office now provide the marriage certificate.

Marrying overseas: If the wedding is to take place outside the United Kingdom it is best to contact your local parish priest here in the UK before any arrangements are made with a priest in the other country.  This is to allow time for the Church documentation to be completed and sent in advance of the wedding. Marriage papers for weddings taking place in another country travel via the chancery office in each diocese, then on to the office of the overseas bishop, before finally being sent to the place of marriage.  You should allow at least three months for this, from completion of marriage preparation and all documentation, but the Church in some countries will require longer.

What is FOCCUS?

FOCCUS stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study. It is a personalised consultation using a research-based questionnaire and gives you and your partner a good snapshot of how your relationship works. It was developed by FOCCUS Inc., an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and is suitable for couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church.

The picture that develops is shaped by your experiences and answers to questions about family life, how you communicate, settle differences and views on faith and spirituality. It’s not a test to pass or fail, as every relationship is unique. But your responses will help in identifying, discussing and working through any issues with your partner as you enter this new phase of your relationship.

How does it work?

The FOCCUS programme takes at least two, one-hour, sessions after you have completed the online questionnaire. In the follow-up sessions you’ll be able to discuss the results with your partner and a trained facilitator from Marriage Care using a secure video link (similar to Skype or FaceTime).

To find out more watch this video


Who runs the sessions?

The sessions are led by facilitators selected and trained by Marriage Care to the highest standards. They have a wealth of experience in working with couples and receive regular ongoing training and support.

Who can attend?

Many of the couples who attend are getting married in the Catholic Church but we welcome any couple who is considering marriage or a long term committed relationship. Please click here to find your nearest facilitator and schedule sessions to suit you.

Is there a fee?

Marriage Care is a registered charity and all our services are delivered by trained volunteers. We charge a fixed fee for our FOCCUS sessions that contributes to the costs of the sessions, the resources you are given and the behind the scenes facilitator training and preparation. If you are facing financial difficulties and might struggle to pay the fee proposed you can email us to explore alternative arrangements. We’re here to support you.

My partner isn’t keen on doing the sessions.

What can I say to persuade him/her to come along? Find the answer to this and other frequently asked questions on our Marriage preparation FAQs page.

Alternatively, read about our other Marriage preparation course:  Preparing Together