(Oh man, I typed you a nice response and it disappeared b/c I clicked to see where you’re from– I’ll try to re-write).
It’s interesting to hear other people’s situations. Here’s ours:
We’re getting married in a Catholic church. We don’t belong there, it’s the old family church. The priest is pretty by the book, so I don’t think we’re getting away with anything by not belonging. The priest at the church, and the priest conducting the wedding, if different, may want to meet with you. There are no fees, just a donation of your choosing.
I do think you should join a parish that’s near your home, which makes it easier to go. Not so much for the priest who only seemed to care whether or not we went, but for the pre cana people. When we told her we bounce around between NYC-Westchester-Connecticut, the pre cana woman nearly lost her mind and insisted we join one for support in our first year of marriage. One of the old church ladies also suggested it to us and told us to get the envelopes because that’s the only way they can track whether you’re in attendance or not.
There is also an old rule about annoucing the wedding for two weeks in the church that you belong to in addition to the one where you’re getting married, if different. I have yet to know of it being done, but I can’t say it enough, each priest does his own thing.
As for pre cana, some priests want you to do it far in advance in case any issues come up and some don’t care as long as it’s done. You’re in Stamford, so that’s the Diocese of Bridgeport– trust me, that lady wants you to belong to a church!! It’s a two day course or a weekend retreat. We almost took a one day thing in NY, but luckily I checked the Diocese web page first and learned they require the two days. We took the course. You can register online here: https://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/marprep.asp
Also, you’ll need to get all the paperwork for you and your Fiance (Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation Proof) by calling the churches where you had these Sacraments and they’ll send you a little certification. This has proven difficult for us since we’re all over, so start early!
I’ll try to think what other advice I can give you– reserve the date at the church you want. Go and see what type of music they have/allow so you know if you want to use them and can book them early. Also, different priests insist on different layouts. My friend got married in a Catholic church where the priest put chairs for the MOH/BM and flipped when she told him there were 2 of each. Another wedding all the BMs stood or sat in the first pew. If that kind of thing matters to you, check with the priest about his rules.
Let me know if you have any other questions, you’re in the same area as me so I’d be glad to help!