The 10 Best Christian Marriage Conferences, Retreats, and Intensives 2017-2018

Whether you are newlyweds or have been married for decades, marriage experts believe that intentionally spending time on your marriage is one of the best ways to keep it strong. While marriage counseling is important and can be beneficial in certain situations, marriage conferences, retreats and intensives also play a role in helping couples renew their commitment, work through present issues, re-establish common ground, learn new skills and increase their connection. Although there are many such opportunities across the country, we’ve set out to compile a list of those that we feel best represent and reinforce Christian values and have a strong track record of helping couples achieve closeness.

There are a variety of types of conferences and retreats, and we present 10 of our favorites here. Conferences are generally larger events and are offered more frequently throughout the country. Retreats are smaller, more personal gatherings, usually with couples leading small groups throughout the weekend. Intensives include personal and group coaching or counseling sessions and are generally more intimate and intense over the course of a few days. This list was compiled by publicly available data, and rankings were determined based on the following factors: 1) Christian focus of the event, 2) number of available events nationwide, 3) affordability, and 4) available positive testimonials from attendees.

10. Colorado Marriage Refresh

Colorado Marriage Refresh, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: two total events in two locations

Cost: $200 per couple (includes conference only) 

Testimonials: multiple testimonials available on website

The Colorado Marriage Refresh takes place in either Denver or Colorado Springs. The retreat presentations blend scripture, clinical experience, and medical research to provide attendees with information to strengthen their marriage. The conference follows a six-part format including 1) Adopting God’s Covenant Foundation, 2) Owning our Brokenness, 3) Falling in Love Again, 4) Respecting Differences, 5) Developing Emotional Attachment, 6) Cultivating Sexual Fireworks. This is a one-day retreat offered only in Colorado, but the testimonials are positive, and the cost is in line with other national conferences.

9. Marriage Boot Camp

Marriage Boot Camp, Christian Marriage Conferences

Christian focus: Christian principles utilized but not specifically a Christian retreat

Number of events nationwide: 17+ events in five locations nationwide

Cost: $1,200.00 per couple (does not include hotel, meals or travel)

Testimonials: multiple positive testimonials available on website

Made popular through reality television, the Marriage Boot Camp is a four-day marriage retreat during which both partners are required to break down barriers and recommit to their relationship. Jim Carroll, the founder of the seminar, has more than 20 years specializing in healing relationships and changing lives. The boot camps include a combination of mental games, drills, competitions, skits, and experiential events to raise participant awareness and deepen the relationship. Many marriage counselors recommend Marriage Boot Camp, and supporter details are available on the website. The boot camp welcomes everyone regardless of their faith beliefs or background. The Boot Camp gives personal attention and coaching to every participant, with an average of one facilitator to four attendees.  The Marriage Boot Camp is a four-day program running Wednesday through Saturday. The event focuses on self worth, purpose, forgiveness and healing and the impact that these issues have on relationships.

8. Winshape Marriage Retreats 

Winshape Retreat, Chistian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Christian emphasis stated

Number of events nationwide: 11 various events at one location

Cost: $395-$598 per couple (includes program, lodging and meals)

Testimonials: multiple testimonials available about the location center, but not too many about the specific marriage retreats

Winshape Retreat is located in North Georgia at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The retreat center offers multiple retreat weekends for leaders, pastors, and couples. In 2017, eleven events are targeted towards married couples, with each event catered to a different group, including Couples in Crisis, Successful Step Families, Romantic Adventure, and more. Each weekend offers different speakers in a quiet setting where couples can escape, rest, and learn new skills to improve their marriages. Winshape Retreat is surrounded by forests and streams and is protected as part of a 26,000-acre wildlife preserve on the mountain campus of Berry College.  The marriage series of retreats offer a variety of well-known speakers and counselors.

7. Celebrate Your Marriage Conferences

Celebrate Marriage, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: two retreats, one cruise

Cost: $69 – $99 per person for conference (plus $134 per person for hotel, meals additional)

Testimonials: multiple positive testimonials on website

The Celebrate Your Marriage Conferences are hosted by Jay and Laura Laffoon, who use drama and comedy to teach and illustrate biblical principles about marriage in a fun and entertaining way. Located at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, the schedule ensures there’s plenty of time for couples to connect and enjoy the serene location.  The Laffoons’ Celebrate Your Marriage Conference is designed to be an incredible two day retreat just for you and your spouse.  Using true stories, interviews, research, and years of experience, the Laffoons equip couples with the tools they need to nurture one another. Combining humor, music, and lots of honesty, the Jay & Laura’s “Celebrate Your Marriage” is designed for married couples of all ages. 

Speakers for the May event include Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, best-selling authors, popular speakers and nationally-renowned social researchers. Special guests for the October event are Bill and Pam Farrel, authors of  the best selling book, Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti and Red Hot Monogamy. Guest for the cruise is Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages and multiple other books.

6. HOPE Restored Marriage Intensive Program 

Hope Restored, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: 24+ at two locations

Cost: $3,450-$8,950 (includes counseling, lodging and meals)

Testimonials: multiple positive testimonials on website

Coordinated by Focus on the Family Ministries, the HOPE Restored Marriage Intensives are for marriages that are in crisis. Many couples attending have already filed for divorce but are willing to give reconciliation another chance. The intensives consist of marriage counseling offered by licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists who provide extended periods of counseling time over multiple days. Customized programs take place at two locations, either the Focus on the Family Retreat Center in Branson, Missouri or the WinShape Retreat Center in Rome, Georgia. Counselors are trained to discuss communication, infidelity, intimacy and sexual issues, financial strains, blended families, children, and career conflicts.

Group intensives and individual intensives are available. This is a highly specialized program, and could be very beneficial for those in need.

5. Fan the Flame Intensives 

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: approx. 24 per year in 3 set locations

Cost: $3,000 | scholarships and payment plans available

Testimonials: excellent testimonials on their website

Fan the Flame Intensives are a ministry of House on the Rock Family Ministries. They are small group coaching sessions that take place over a weekend retreat designed to help couples identify and address specific needs in their marriages. The intensive program includes more than 25 hours of personalized counseling, coaching, and marriage building exercises designed to rejuvenate a marriage in crisis. Intensives keep you focused on issues for an extended period of time, and prioritize working through problems during the weekend rather than through weekly counseling sessions. Intensives take place at Sandy Cove Retreat Center in MarylandBlack Rock Retreat in Southern Lancaster County or at Montrose Bible Conference  in Northern, PA (close to NY) and include rooms and three meals per day. The proven format of marriage counseling in group setting is effective at helping people see things from different points of view, and independent research shows that men show higher levels of satisfaction in a group format than individual settings. This program also includes a 15-week follow up program and monthly live video chat follow ups. Intensives are limited to three married couples per weekend. 

4. Assemblies of God Marriage Encounter 

Marriage Encounter, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: 20 in multiple locations

Cost: $75 registration per couple (includes hotel and meals) | Couples are encouraged to donate at the end of the conference

Testimonials: one testimonial on website

Similar to other Marriage Encounters, these weekend retreats focus on communication skills and understanding your spouse. Led by trained couples who guide participants through communication techniques and personal experiences designed to open up discussions about money, family, changing seasons in life, sex, and God. Most sessions end with time set aside for couples to discuss the material in the privacy of their own hotel room. It’s not a sharing session and it’s not couples therapy. Marriage Encounter isn’t your chance for a family vacation or a getaway with your Sunday School class or small group, either. They promise: no circle time or singing kumbaya; no embarrassing skits or role-playing in front of the group; only one introduction at the beginning of the weekend; one-on-one time to share with your spouse; no need to share with anyone else.

3. United Marriage Encounter Weekend

United Marriage Encounter, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: 25+

Cost: $80 registration per couple (includes hotel and meals) | Couples are encouraged to donate at the end of the conference

Testimonials: testimonials exist on website but they are dated

United Marriage Encounter presents more than 25 weekend events nationwide each year. The weekends are presented by volunteers who teach communication methods and share personal experiences of their own marriage transformations. The conferences are limited to about 30 couples per weekend. Time is given for couples to share with one another and to practice the newly learned communication skills. Events begin on Friday evening and end on Sunday evening. All couples are encouraged regardless of religious affiliation, but the conference adheres to a Christian worldview and principles when presenting and discussing material. The conference is an opportunity to learn new ways to communicate and also to connect deeply or even re-connect with your spouse on an emotional and spiritual level. The mission of the organization is to offer the weekend experience and a community of caring couples who are committed to having a stake in other marriages. On their website they state: “We will create an environment that can help transform marriages around the world. By following our mission and proclaiming God’s plan for marriage we believe we CAN influence the world for Christ.” Registration for the conference is $80, and participants are invited to donate at the end of the weekend so that other couples can attend.

2. Marriage Encounter Weekend

Marriage Encounter, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: 25+

Cost: $100 deposit per couple (includes hotel and meals)| Couples are encouraged to donate at the end of the conference

Testimonials: A dated video was available for testimonials, current testimonials not available

Marriage Encounter Weekend is focused on teaching and communication. The goal is to develop simple but highly effective communication techniques that allow couples to privately explore important areas of their relationship in a spirit of love and understanding. The program focuses on the following points:

  • Making you more aware of your own goodness
  • Making you more aware of your spouse’s goodness
  • Making you more aware of your relationship’s goodness
  • Helping you focus daily on the good in each other
  • Helping you focus on the good in your relationship
  • Improving how you communicate with each other
  • Teaching you communication skills that are positive, joyful, and uplifting

The program is set in a group setting with opportunities for couples to work together privately to discuss and practice new communication tools. Meals are included. Topics include exploring personality styles, dealing with the stresses in the world around us, what it means to really listen, and understanding God’s desire for marriage. The focus is on growth together as a couple, and does not require couples to openly discuss their relationship with attendees.

1. Weekend to Remember

Weekend to Remember, Christian Marriage Conference

Christian focus: Clearly stated Christian focus

Number of events nationwide: 85+

Cost: $299 per couple (includes conference only)| Special pricing for military and pastors | Scholarships Available

Testimonials: multiple testimonials available on website

Run by Family Life Ministries, Weekend to Remember offers top-notch speakers, a fun and relaxing atmosphere, and proven instruction for encouraging healthy marriages. We chose this program as the #1 marriage conference because of its clear Christian emphasis, its wide variety of possible locations, its reasonable price, and its track record of hundreds of positive testimonials (the most of any conference). The program starts on Friday evening and runs through Sunday afternoon, and consists of teaching, worship music, and often comedians interspersed to keep things fun and upbeat. The conference provides couples with manuals that guide them through the conference as well as provide special projects designed to improve connection and communication. 

Weekend to Remember attendees consistently give the conference high ratings, with 96 percent saying it improved the health of their marriage and 97 percent saying it exceeded their expectations. Family Life ministries produces multiple resources focused on building strong family relationships, and they have a long history of encouraging marriages as well. The format of the conference provides for opportunities for the couple to share with one another, learn time-tested tools, and listen to real-world stories from presenters. Saturday night is left open so attendees can have a date night and then return to the conference on Sunday morning. Multiple attendees offer their positive reviews on their website: View attendee testimonials.

TD Staff
March 2017

This concludes our listing of the 10 best marriage conferences, retreats and intensives for 2017-2018.