Frequently Asked Questions

What is Catholic Engaged Encounter?

Catholic Engaged Encounter is an international nonprofit ministry dedicated to marriage preparation. It was started in 1975 as an offshoot of the Marriage Encounter ministry (a retreat designed to renew the couple relationship after several years of marriage). Engaged Encounter, in contrast, is designed specifically for engaged couples.

Our motto is “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime”. Think of all the preparation made for the wedding day. Most people spend months planning, and thousands of dollars preparing for the wedding. But how much time and effort is actually spent preparing for a Lifetime of Togetherness?

The Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend experience that offers an engaged couple a unique opportunity to discover a deeper appreciation of their relationship and God’s call to unite them in a permanent union. It provides the occasion for them to examine and deepen their commitment to one another, and gives them a clear view of what a good Christian marriage involves. The weekend addresses itself primarily to the sacramentality and theology of marriage in a manner inviting the couples to open up to a richer understanding of these aspects. Although Catholic Engaged Encounter is primarily for couples being married in the Catholic faith, couples of all faiths are welcome to attend.

Presentations by a team of married couples and a priest facilitate and guide the weekend. Their presentations include personal sharing of experiences in their marriages and family lives. The design of the weekend encourages the couple to explore mutual strengths and weaknesses, goals, aspirations, and attitudes concerning family life, children, sexuality, finances, the Church and society. The format gives couples the opportunity to talk honestly and intensively about their prospective lives together. After each presentation, the engaged couple is given questions and encouraged to write and dialogue privately. An atmosphere is created for the two of you to concentrate exclusively on each other, free of tensions, pressures, and interruptions of daily living. The couples are urged to communicate in terms of planning a marriage, and not just planning a wedding day celebration.

Some Topics we reflect on

  • Self-knowledge
  • Communication
  • Intimacy and Morality
  • Decision Making
  • Expectations, careers, money
  • Sacrament
  • Family & Children
  • Engagement and Betrothal

Do we have to be Catholic?

No! Couples of all faith need preparation for marriage. Though the weekend is Catholic in orientation, couples of all faiths are welcome. In fact, many of the couples who participate are inter-denominational (one is Catholic and one is of another Christian expression). Some are inter-faith (one is Catholic and one is non-Christian). The purpose of the weekend is to prepare you for a life-long marriage, not to convert anyone to the Catholic faith.

What is the Cost?

The weekend is $289.00 per couple. This includes lodging for two nights. (double occupancy with another person of your gender), three meals on Saturday, breakfast on Sunday, and all materials needed for the weekend.

If you are marrying in Tennessee, almost every County Clerk’s office will discount the cost of your marriage license by $60.00 for the completion of this marriage preparation course. You will be given the necessary form for your County Clerk at the conclusion of your weekend.

The team’s cost for the weekend are paid by the Diocese of Knoxville. Team members are all volunteers.

If you can not afford the cost of the weekend, money is available for partial or full scholarships. Please speak with the priest preparing you for marriage, and ask him to contact the Local Coordinating Couple.

What is Provided on the Weekend?

  • Meals: special dietary needs can be accommodated with advanced notice – please note this on your registration form
  • All materials needed for the weekend
  • An environment conducive to couple reflection
  • Honest stories from team members about marriage from the inside-out

What to Bring on the Weekend?

  • Snack to share: fruit, cake, cookies, chips, pretzels… just about anything except for refrigerated snacks
  • Change for soft drink machines
  • Comfortable, casual clothes
  • Personal items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Musical instrument if you want to play at Mass or Prayer Service
  • Lightweight coat or sweater

When Should We Go On Our Weekend?

Ideally, it is recommended you attend your Engaged Encounter weekend at least six months before your wedding.

When are the Weekends Held?

Current Schedule–click on Schedule on menu at top of page

In the Diocese of Knoxville, there are four weekends scheduled per year. Please note that some weekends will fill quickly. If you require a specific date, you should register as early as possible.

Where are the Weekends Held?

All weekends will be held in the greater Knoxville area. The Registration Couple will be able to provide the details during the registration process.