(320) 258-7611 www.getfullyengaged.com
Summer 2020 Quarterly Newsletter
Note :   Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, in line with recommendations from the CDC and U.S. government, the Diocese of St. Cloud is implementing a temporary telecommuting policy.

During this time of stay-at-home orders, our staff will be working from home to maintain social distancing and help stop the spread of this virus. The core of our work will be maintained so that we can continue to carry out our mission. We are being allowed to come in to fill orders twice a week (Monday and Thursday). Please know we will be answering your voice mails and emails from home during this time. We ask for your patience as we transition with this temporary change.
Fully Engaged is committed to serving parishes and the facilitators in their mission to provide quality marriage preparation and formation for the engaged couples they minister to. This is the first of a quarterly newsletter to enhance this ministry.

Our goal is to share tips, tools, new materials, and current articles/media on marriage that will aid Fully Engaged Facilitators in their work. Please share this with the other mentors in your parish. You may also wish to share the email addresses of mentor couples with us so they can receive future editions directly. Send email addresses to Chris Codden at ccodden@gw.stcdio.org.
When your parish has clergy or staff changes that effect billing and inventory contacts, please call us so we can update our records with updated names, email addresses, etc. Thank you.
Theme: Wedding Finances...
Fully Engaged Statement #139:
Of the last 30,000 couples that answered this statement on the Fully Engaged inventory, 90% answered "No," 6% were "Unsure" and 3% answered "Yes." While it may seem as if only a hand full are concerned about the cost at this point (before the wedding), it is not so after all is said and done. Current studies have narrowed down who pays to: Bride's parents 44 percent; Groom's parents 13 percent; the Couple 42 percent . (May 25, 2017). So, maxed out credit cards, borrowing from 401-Ks, taking out loans after-the-fact or parents dipping into their retirement to help out are commonplace.

What our job, as Mentors, is to help couples prioritize the wedding ceremony as one of their expression of their faith and help them to understand that they can have a beautiful, meaningful wedding without going into debt. That is why it is extremely important to work with our couples early in the preparation process, before they have already purchased or arranged for some of the elaborate details that drive the costs up so high.
Cost of a Wedding
I've been keeping track of this for years and watched the cost of weddings go up and down with the economy . I've seen statistics as high as $46,000 (including dress and honeymoon) and seen dramatic dips like the one cited below.

Here's a few of the latest statistics :

  • Average Wedding Cost: $33,931
  • Most Expensive Place to Get Married: NY - Manhattan - $96,910
  • Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Idaho - $16,366
  • Average Wedding Gown Spend: $1,631
  •  Average cost of libations -$2,564
  • Average catering cost per guest - $70
  • Average Marrying Age: Women, 29.1; Men, 30.5
  • Average Number of Guests: 136
  • Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (16%)
  • Average Engagement Length: 13.6 months
  • Most Popular Month to Get Married: September (18%)
  • Top 5 Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/Champagne (33%), Dark Blue & Burgundy/Wine (tie at 29%), Gold (27%) and Light Pink (23%)
  • Percentage of Destination Weddings: 23%

The good news in this study is they found the majority of Gen Z respondents (87%) reported seeing themselves getting married in the future.
Pope Francis' advice about weddings:
"Make [your wedding] a real celebration – because marriage is a celebration – a Christian celebration, not a worldly feast! … What happened in Cana 2,000 years ago, happens today at every wedding celebration: that which makes your wedding full and profoundly true will be the presence of the Lord who reveals himself and gives his grace. It is his presence that offers the 'good wine', he is the secret to full joy, that which truly warms the heart.

"It is good that your wedding be simple and make what is truly important stand out. Some are more concerned with the exterior details, with the banquet, the photographs, the clothes, the flowers…These are important for a celebration, but only if they point to the real reason for your joy: the Lord's blessing on your love." -          
—Address to engaged couples in Rome, February 14, 2014
Resources available from ForYourMarriage.org
The USCCB's website: ForYourMarriage.org has great resources to help couples plan a budget for their wedding, ways to save money and others. Check it out!
Updating Website
It has been almost 10 years since we developed the Fully Engaged web-site. While it has served us well, we are seeing the need to up-date and enhance its function. Over the last six months, we have been developing major revisions, with the site being completely rebuilt. We are nearing completion of this project and are hoping to launch sometime in July. We want this transition to be seamless, but do anticipate minor inconveniences. Please let us know if you are having difficulties as we strive to serve you better during this project. We will send out further details later this month and a short video to orient you to our new site.

 Supplements now in package with Couple's Workbooks
Effective July 1st, if you are having Fully Engaged mail the Couple’s Workbooks to the couple directly, it will now include the three supplements: Catholic Identity, Finance and Infertility & Adoption.
Recent Studies
Shifting Online Boundaries for Relationships
The 2019 State of Our Unions Report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, called iFidelity, found that today's young adults are more likely to cross online boundaries related to sex and romance and likely have lower quality relationships.

The study found that while younger people support and have a strong desire for relationships that are sexually exclusive and faithful, they are less likely to practice sexual fidelity in real life because of "i-infidelities" or unfaithful online behavior such as sexting a previous girlfriend/boyfriend or viewing pornography. Sadly, the boundaries for what people believe to be "infidelity, cheating or unfaithful behavior" are shifting, lowering the standard. However, Americans who report such behaviors online have "markedly less happy, less stable, and less committed relationships than those who do not."

We need to raise the bar on what is expected from relationships. Researchers found that those who keep strong boundaries on their online behavior are much happier in their relationship s.
Marriage Shaping Neural Networks 
Couples who have been married for a long time often share similar personality traits. A 2019 study examined the brain composition of elderly, healthy, long-married couples to find out whether these shared personality traits occurred with brain similarity using an MRI.

The study found that couples who had been married for 30 years or more experienced change in the neural networks of their brain to the extent that their neural networks became similar to one another. According to the study, these similarities are likely the result of shared life experiences in addition to baseline personality traits.

To read the study, click here.
Inspiring a Culture of Commitment
According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, marriage has dropped to an all-time recorded low in the United States. The marriage rate in the US fell 6% in 2018, with only 6.5 new unions formed for every 1,000 people.

While many attribute this decline to economic concerns, there are other factors to consider. Bradford Wilcox with the Institute for Family Studies  writes, "there was no marked increase in divorce, family instability, or single parenthood at the height of the Great Depression." 

One could argue that the most influential factor causing this drop is a cultural shift. Our culture is not supportive of commitment. Instead, our culture values economic prosperity, instant gratification and personal freedom over marriage and the family. For example, while marriage decreased in 2018, cohabitation increased. (Reported in Abstinence Clearinghouse)
Marriage Enhancements
National NFP Awareness Week
JULY 19 - JULY 25, 2020
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Keep up-to-date on the latest marriage studies, tips & ideas to enhance marriage.
Click here to view.
Thank you for your commitment to forming couples for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
Have questions, or ideas for up-coming newsletters, please let us know. You can contact Chris at ccodden@gw.stcdio.org or Jill at jill.svihel@gw.stcdio.org or call the office at (320) 258-7611.
Chris Codden – Director, Fully Engaged
                                                          Jill Svihel – Coordinator, Fully Engaged

Dawn Gohmann—Clerical Support, Fully Engaged
(320) 258-7617