A Wedding Is A Day, A Marriage Is A Lifetime®


Congratulations on your engagement, and welcome to the Catholic Engaged Encounter of South CarolinaCommunity! Our community has been serving the South Carolina area for over 40 years. Most of the couples that attend our weekends live in the South Carolina, but we warmly welcome any engaged Catholic couple that needs to complete a pre-cana program.


2024 Weekend Retreat Dates (all are at St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville)
  • February 17-18, 2024
  • April 27-28, 2024
  • August 17-18, 2024
  • November 16-17, 2024

All of the weekends are in-parish, so lodging is not provided.

Bob and Julia Bandholz have been involved with CEE since 2019 and look forward to serving the CEE community as local coordinators.  They have been married for 52 years and raised 3 children. They now consider themselves blessed to enjoy 7 grandchildren-ranging in ages from 2 to 20. They are members of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, which has been a source of both spiritual and social growth.

Our Community

Our community currently hosts 6 weekends per year, and our presenting team couples volunteer their time to share the gift of marriage with engaged couples. Our weekends are held at a variety of locations. Our in-parish weekends are held at St. Andrew, Clemson; St. Mary Magdalene, Simpsonville; and St. Michael, Myrtle Beach. Our residential location is the Diakonia Retreat Center, Salem.


We recommend using the “earlier the better” policy. Many parishes require you to start marriage prep at least 6 months in advance. As soon as you are engaged, or even considering engagement, it is the right time to attend a retreat. By attending early, you can discover areas of growth necessary in your relationship, determine if engagement and marriage is right for you and avoid the last-minute hassles of attending a retreat while trying to do everything else your wedding day entails.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is designed to provide couples getting married the tools needed for a successful marriage. The retreat is open to any engaged couple wanting to prepare for a deeper, more meaningful life together in a marriage recognized by the Catholic Church.

In-parish weekends are $160.00 per couple and the residential weekend is $260.00.

The weekend provides private one-on-one time for you to learn about each other and marriage based on 5 major themes: The Family We Grew Up In, Sacramental Marriage, Communication, Intimacy – more than just sex, and Values. Couples learn about these 5 major themes through a series of presentations given by married couples. After each presentation, both fiancés are given time to individually reflect and write on the topic covered. Couples then are given time to privately reflect as a couple. Couples are never required to share with the group.

We suggest you bring the following items with you:

  • Wear comfortable casual clothing;
  • Bring a snack to place on the shared snack table which will be available in the conference room. These snacks should be individually wrapped (water will be provided);
  • Your favorite soda, energy or sports drink;
  • Any snack or drink items for your own personal consumption;
  • A blanket or lawn chair so that you can be outside.

Please arrive at 8:00 am for an in-parish weekend. A light breakfast is provided and the first presentation begins promptly at 8:30 am. 

Please arrive by 7:30 pm Friday for a residential weekend. The first presentation starts promptly at 8:00 pm. Dinner is not provided, so please eat before you arrive. 

An in-parish weekend ends around 3:00pm on Sunday. A residential weekend ends around noon on Sunday.

Each couple will receive two workbooks to use throughout the retreat. These are yours to keep. The workbook provides an outline of the retreat and topics covered. Due to varying factors, such as meal times, slight differences in presenter’s length on topics, we are unable to provide exact timing of each presentation. Most presentations, individual reflection and couple reflection time total about 60-90 minutes.

Although we cannot provide exact times for the weekend, we can provide starting and ending times. An in-parish weekend starts at 8:30 A.M. Saturday and ends around 10:00 P.M. We attend the 5:00 P.M. Mass as a group. Sunday’s schedule is 8:30 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. We ask you to arrive at 8:00 A.M. on both days, so that we can begin promptly at 8:30.

A residential weekend starts on Friday at 8:00 P.M. and ends around 10:00 P.M. Saturday begins with breakfast at 8:00 A.M. and the first presentation at 8:30. Mass is usually on Saturday evening and we end around 10:00 P.M. Sunday begins with breakfast at 8:00 and the first presentation is at 8:30. We finish at noon.

YES, it is very important that you stay for the entire retreat. If you arrive late or leave early, you will miss important parts of the retreat experience, and we will not be able to give you your certificate of completion of the retreat.

Yes, we do ask that you observe a few basic rules.

  • Please refrain from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Please respect this is a Catholic retreat – we ask that you dress appropriately. Gentlemen, please no hats.
  • Please remember the weekend is presented at a religious facility and be respectful of your surroundings.
  • Please do not leave the weekend, for any reason, unless an emergency arises. If you need to leave, please speak to one of the team members.

Dress for the entire weekend is casual. Please dress comfortably. We will attend Mass during the weekend, however casual attire is acceptable.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a smoke free environment, and due to state law all of our facilities prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes. If you do smoke, each facility has designated smoking areas outside of the building. Additionally, as a sign of respect, we ask that you please refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping inside the facilities as well.

Planning a wedding can be a fun and exciting time. It can also be stressful. Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what it means to become a sacrament. While couples spend the majority of the retreat together – there is not much free time. Couples should plan to start their day a little earlier and work a little later than they typically would on an average weekend at home.

Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what it means to become a sacrament. As such we ask that couples refrain from using electronic devices as much as possible – including cell phones.

No, the purpose of the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend is to interact with and talk with your fiance about issues you may not have already discussed. If your fiance is not present, you will be unable to complete the program.

Registration Policy

All registrations are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. So please, as soon as possible. Weekends sometimes fill to capacity four weeks in advance.  You are not registered for a weekend until the registration fee is paid. Within three days you will receive email confirmation containing information about the weekend and the facility. If you have any questions please contact us.



St. Mary Magdalene

8:00 AM
2-Day(s) ($160.00)
3 space(s)
8:00 AM
2-Day(s) ($160.00)
12 space(s)

Cancellation Policy

If you will not be able to attend the weekend for which you are registered, please notify us by the Sunday prior to the weekend and your fee will be transferred to another weekend.  There will be a $50 charge for changes made after this time. There is a $5.00 handling fee for cancellations.


Financial Assistance

We never turn away a couple who cannot afford the cost of a weekend. Financial assistance towards the weekend is available. Please have your parish priest contact our local coordinators at least two weeks before the date you plan to attend at SouthCarolina@engagedencounter.com.


The Engaged Encounter Weekend helped us communicate better as a couple. The guided discussion framework of CEE gave us a venue to address facets of married life. It is oft said, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” We leave this weekend with goals to pursue to build our marriage on an even stronger foundation.

This weekend was so special to us because we got to disconnect from the world and really pay attention to each other. With our fast approaching wedding this was beneficial for us to grow even closer to each other. This weekend has given us the tools to successfully navigate our marriage and we will continue to cultivate these skills moving forward. We would suggest this to any newly engaged couple.

I thought it was very constructive. I loved the writing exercises and the reflections after each one. I have never seen my fiancé be so open about what he feels! Many questions I had for him were answered this weekend. We have learned to really listen to each other.

This weekend helped facilitate conversations that we wouldn’t have talked about or would have become an argument. This weekend has allowed growth in our relationship and has set us up for a successful marriage.

This weekend really helped to put everything in perspective. We were so wrapped up in planning the wedding, but now we are focused on planning for the sacrament of marriage. 

This weekend experience improved our understanding of the sacrament of marriage and the impact our marriage will have on others. We have now identified with and accepted this responsibility as we have pledged out lives to Christ and want to do His will.


Through the time for writing and dialogue, we feel like our lines of communication are more open and we feel equipped with the tools to communicate in a more life-giving way. Through prayer and dialogue with the presenters and other couples, we feel better prepared to navigate an interdenominational marriage. 

We weren’t sure what to expect on this weekend, but we are glad we came. It gave us a chance to focus on and discuss things we hadn’t thought about leading up to marriage. Even though we aren’t Catholic, we felt included and that a lot of what we learned was applicable. 

We are an interfaith couple. At first I was skeptical of this weekend, but the topics brought us clarity and a different viewpoint to topics we have broached as a couple. I am grateful we had this opportunity to talk about these things. 

Volunteer for CEE

Our community is always looking for charitable people to donate their time to our ministry. We often reach out to ask for prayers for the engaged couples that attend our weekend. The couple will receive a personal note card with the name(s) of those praying for them. This ministry can be fulfilled from the comfort of your own home!

If you have a strong call to serve our community, you and your spouse may be interested in serving as a team couple. Serving as a team couple involves writing talks on topics using your personal marital experience. To serve as a team couple, you and your spouse must be a couple in good standing with the Catholic Church.

If you would like to be a face in our community, but aren’t called to be a team couple you may be interested in serving as a host couple. Host couples check in couples at the start of the weekend and pick up meals for in-parish weekends. This commitment involves an hour or two of your time.

Volunteer Today

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