Honestly, I would place this class as being the most important wedding expense we’ve spent money on, even above the marriage certificate. I mean, really, what good would it do to get married if you don’t prepare for it?
Some context! My fiance and I have a really happy, solid relationship, but I wouldn’t say that our relationship has been really challenged yet (perhaps related to the fact that we do not yet live together). But the challenges will inevitably come! So what’s a couple to do? We definitely wanted to do some premarital preparation but were not religious enough to be interested in the Engaged Encounters/Pre-Cana classes required by the Catholic Church. We also didn’t want to go through the potentially expensive process of couples counseling if we didn’t have specific issues we wanted to work on.
The workshop format was the perfect solution. I’d say it was secular (but not anti-religious… they’re pretty respectful) and could be a good option for couples with different religious backgrounds. The cost also covered a light breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a workbook for each person, and I’m a fan of swag in general. The class would be a great jumping point into couples counseling, too, if you have more complex needs to work on.
Also note: they recommend that couples take the Relate test ($40 per couple), and it’s optional. The test can be very helpful as a tool, but be careful about interpreting the results. I still think it’s worth taking anyway.
I think Jeff M’s review is pretty comprehensive and accurate to our experience of this class, so I’ll just add to that:
They use a lot of their own personal anecdotes that were relateable, entertaining, and memorable. This was especially helpful for when we went over some of the communication exercises, and seeing them demo the techniques using their own stories made it more accessible and easy to do ourselves.
I liked that they included a section on how we think of family backgrounds and their potential impact on our own marriages. It helped to think about how our parents’ marriages could influence our own views and even made me think of how I would want our future kids to view our marriage.
The class opened up some topics we hadn’t thought about discussing before and gave us a good space to talk about it privately and productively. I think it could be helpful to come to this workshop with an idea of some non-dealbreaker issues to talk about.
You don’t have to be engaged to take this class. A few couples were already married, and a few had kids, but at least one couple was not engaged. I would recommend this class to any couple in a long-term relationship.
You also get out of the workshop whatever you put in. You don’t have to participate in the larger group discussions, but definitely come ready with an open mind and a readiness to do the work, and you’ll be rewarded.
At the end of the workshop, my fiance and I definitely bonded more and feel a lot more strengthened in our already-great relationship. Gifting this class would be great for couples!