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Frequently Asked Questions


Table of Contents

  1. What is an Engaged Encounter?
  2. What happens on a weekend?
  3. What is the cost of a weekend?
  4. Do we have to stay all weekend?
  5. Who would benefit from attending a weekend?
  6. Why should we attend?
  7. How does an Engaged Encounter enhance a marriage?
  8. What are the sleeping accommodations & what do we bring?
  9. What do marriage experts say?
  10. Why the South Suburbs?
  11. How soon should we go?
  12. How do we add a link to your website from our website?


The Engaged Encounter program is a weekend away to give a man & woman planning or thinking about marriage, or even newlyweds the opportunity to examine their relationship in a Christian context. Most are in English, but a few are totally is Spanish. We try to create an open and honest atmosphere away from the distractions of frantic preparations, or the tensions of everyday life . You'll have time to deal with all aspects of married life - even the issue(s) that you may have been avoiding since you began dating. Think of it as a gift & a long-term investment - not just as a requirement to fulfill. Isn't your future worth more than a one-day seminar or trusting that "love will conquer all"? Lasting marriages take time, & you can never be too prepared. You will receive a certificate @ the end of the weekend to verify completion. We believe marriage is a sign of God's love too important to venture into on your own - please talk with the minister/deacon/priest/rabbi officiating @ your ceremony or to those helping you in your marriage preparations for their specific recommendations & requirements. Engaged Encounter: an alcohol-free time away for growth, for prayer, to gather more tools to help your marriage last forever. 

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A series of topics are presented by teams of married couples - strengths and weaknesses, ambitions, goals, expectations, attitudes about religion, money, sex, children, family, parents, friends, time, cohabitation, Church and society, etc....... Through a series of writing and sharing exercises the couple will then concentrate on each other & are given the opportunity to question, examine and explore many aspects of their relationship in a much deeper, more honest way than they may have before. Prayer, personal reflection and dialogue are the main emphasis of the weekend, with a few group activities, meals & a break interspersed, as well as worship together. Our purpose is not to build community, entertain you, or to be sure you'll love it so much you'll invite your friends. You make the weekend work - we just facilitate it & invite the Lord to be present. John 10:10-"I Have Come That You May Have Life More Abundantly". 

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The TOTAL weekend cost is about 32 hours of time & $164 per couple. This includes 2 Sat. + 2 Sun. meals, 1 nite lodging, materials & Certificate of Completion. Replacements for this are $5 each should you lose it or need another copy for your priest/minister/marriage prep folks...The NEW registration fee is $164(Completely Non-Refundable-Except For August, & only occasionally transferable) and should be included with the registration form, or call 708.755.7622 to pay with MASTERCARD/VISA/DISCOVER/AMERICAN EXPRESS. It is due 2 weeks before the retreat. Go to the registration section to submit information online, but know that your space is not held without FULL payment. There used to be some partial & full scholarships available for those who would like to go on a weekend but honestly can't afford it due to both being full-time students, job loss, children, etc.(not just because you didn't budget for it, your Barrington mortgage is too high, or you can't have 300 people @ your reception & do this too...)but our fund is currently exhausted. For specifics, just ask us.
Charges will show up on your bill as: GIFT MUSIC BOOK & COLLECTIBLES/Chicago Heights,IL. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS!!
If this charge comes back as a Dispute, & it winds up being debited from our account, you will be required to bring CASH Only to the weekend, with an an extra $20 Processing Fee assessed for a Total of $184 CASH. Thank You For Your Understanding!!!


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Yes...Look at it as an early but everlasting wedding present to each other that you both deserve. It begins on Saturday mornning at 8:30 a.m. and ends Sunday afternoon about 3:30 p.m. Please arrive between 8 & 8:30. Earlier, you may find yourselves the first ones there, with no one to let you in. The schedule is so packed that there really won't be time to hit any local hot spots or catch a movie. How much have you put into getting your degree, building your business, planning your wedding & honeymoon ? Isn't the rest of your lives together worth at least these 32 hours?  

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Although the weekend is designed for traditional couples planning to be married / those just thinking about marriage, or generally engaged without a firm wedding date/ & newlyweds up to about 2 years are most welcome. EE is both beneficial and supporting of couples from differing faith backgrounds, though it is blatantly Christian in focus. Jewish, Bahai, Taoist, Native American, Episcopalian, Baptist, Pentecostal & agnostic couples as well as a Lutheran Minister & her husband round out the mix of recent attendees.
If you're looking for a minimally-religious program where God & the Bible are reluctantly mentioned, may include alcohol, has much more group discussion & games, etc...PLEASE CHECK OUT OTHER SOURCES.
We are listed in the Chicago Archdiocesan Family Ministries Marriage Preparation Booklet given to all 12,000+ Catholic Engaged Couples each year, even though we are not affiliated with them & get NO money from the Archdiocese. All couples worldwide are invited to come to the Chicago Area to do their weekend, especially if our dates or your frequent flyer miles permit. Please continue to pray for our expansion into Spanish-Only weekends. 

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The weekend experience offers each couple the insights, the tools and the confidence to enrich their relationship and strengthen their love for one another. They learn that good marriages don't just happen: they must be developed, with God at the center. For many couples, EE is one of the most significant experiences of their courtship. A small percentage of couples come to the end of the weekend choosing to postpone their wedding until major issues are resolved. Then too, many who have come unsure of the future & looking for a confirmation of their feelings are able to set a wedding date because of the time they spent together. See our homepage for typical testimonials. John 8:32-"And the Truth Shall Set You Free..." 

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EE teaches communication techniques which permit each couple to explore important areas of their relationship in a spirit of love and understanding. By using these newly-acquired tools, husbands and wives can continually grow closer together & avoid the lack of communication & distance that many couples experience after years of marriage. Other tools not offered thru EE but readily available include taking a comprehensive pre-marital inventory questionnaire(PMI or FOCCUS)& reviewing the results with a mentor or deacon couple, or couple counseling. While not an essential part of the experience, the availability of a group of others who have shared the Weekend and who share similar values provides a supportive environment for even further growth. That community is small but growing in the Chicago area. 

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Well.......Certainly NOT with your Fiancee'! Separate sleeping facilities are provided for men and women on the weekend, usually sharing a room with 1 other attendee. Unlike other programs which may have 30-40 couples involved, CHICAGO EE averages 10-20 couples maximum. You are NOT housed in a quonset huts or barracks, NOR are there bunk beds or more than 2 to a room. Private rooms are sometimes available for an additional fee - just ask. Robes, towels, & an alarm clock are REQUIRED for all centers!
Pack separately and bring casual clothing that will be comfortable. Jeans, shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes are acceptable. Variations in heating/air conditioning make it a good idea to bring sweaters for indoors. There are no formal gatherings requiring business attire.
While a healthy diet is what we're all shooting for, we know that most of you will be afflicted with the craving for "munchies"(healthy or questionable), so ALL are requested to bring SUFFICIENT snax(chips,veggies,fruit,cheese, cookies,rice cakes-your choice) & non-alcoholic drinks(pop, Starbucks-available 2 blocks away, agua), both for yourselves & to share with all the other couples. For those who have to have bottled water, we can't afford to provide it(we're still old enough to "like" the local Lake Michigan H2O). Milk, coffee & juice is also provided - for Pop/Soft Drinks, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
Illegal drugs & alcohol, are "verboten". No valuables except check book/credit card(not responsible for personal items brought on weekend or in your car), & cell phones, laptops, pagers, Mini-tv's, MP3 players, & other distractions are highly discouraged. Give yourself a real break - it should be worth it.

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"Engaged Encounter is the best marriage preparation program in
communication for engaged couples of any denomination in the U.S."
Michael J McManus, author of the books,"Marriage Savers-Helping Your
Family & Friends Avoid Divorce", "COHABITATION is like Building a House Without Nails",syndicated columnist in 100 newspapers and radio commentator. 

"In addition to pre-marital counseling, another wonderful way to eliminate the unpleasant surprises of early married life is a program called Engaged Encounter ... I strongly recommend Engaged Encounter to every couple planning a wedding."
Dr. James Dobson, author of "Love for a Lifetime", founder of Focus on the Family 

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Chicago Engaged Encounter is a branch of Gift Music Ministry, an Illinois Not-for-Profit 501(c)3 Tax Exempt Corporation. Because all of our funding comes from your weekend fees and the generous tax-deductible donations of supporters, we must use retreat centers that are more in line with our budget limitations(currently south suburban locations). Loop, North or West suburban facilities would require our rates to increase to $300-$400 per couple. So, for your sake, we say: "Drive a little, save a lot ...".Our rates are now LOWER than they have ever been. Anything else you know that can say that their rates have gone DOWN in recent years?

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To tell you the truth, Yesterday! Or, as soon as possible. @ least 6-months before your wedding, WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR RECEPTION HALL. Our availability is extremely limited, & we get people from all over the country trying to fit it into their schedules. We do take last minute reservations if space opens up, but try not to put yourself thru the stress. Even if you haven't picked a date, or are just contemplating taking the plunge, do it! The tools you'll acquire are useful from day 1.

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