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Creating a Budget for your Marriage Event

Creating a Budget for your Marriage Event

How does your church invest in marriages? We can all agree that healthy marriages don’t happen by accident—it takes intentionality. It takes a committed investment.

Because our pastors believe that healthy marriages build healthy churches, they stand firmly behind our ministry to MarriedPeople. With their support, our team has the distinct privilege of helping couples strengthen their marriage by encouraging them to build the Core 4 Habits into their relationship.

One of those Core 4 Habits is to “Have Serious Fun.” We get behind this habit by offering a once-a-year marriage event called “Caliente, A Night Out for Married People.” The goal of this event is to provide a non-threatening environment where married couples can reconnect through laughter, fun and community.

No matter the size of your church, you can invest in marriages through an event like this, too. Here are some things to consider as you begin to build a budget for your event:

Why

Without a “why” behind your event, you’re essentially taking couples on a trip to nowhere. You’ve heard it said “if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” On the other hand, if you have a goal and can identify the “win” it will help you eliminate the unnecessary and stay focused.

The why behind our event is for couples to protect their marriage by having serious fun. The definition for “serious” is earnest, or wholehearted. We want couples to be committed to having fun.

As leaders we are committed to providing opportunities to do just that, this event being one of them. Before you do anything, know your “why.”

Who

Who is your audience? Consider your community—ethnicities, culture, income, children (childcare)—it all matters in planning your event.

Who is coming helps determine the food you will serve, the entertainment and music you will bring in, and how many childcare workers you’ll need (we have a lot of kids at our church).

What

What do you want to accomplish? We want couples to find a reason to laugh, reconnect, discover community and ultimately have a stronger marriage because of our event.

Once you define the “what,” you can start talking with your team about how to execute the vision. And clarifying the “why” and “who” makes determining the “what” even easier.

HOW

This is the fun part! We believe that how we do what we do is just as important as what we do. No matter the size of your budget, staff or facility, you can create an environment that achieves the goal of your event.

We’ve found that there are a few key components to a successful event. Below are some of the categories we plan for when budgeting for our events:

  • Entertainment/Speaker: This is often the biggest expense. The average cost of a reputable speaker is anywhere from $3,000-$5,000. That’s the average, so if you have a smaller event, keep in mind there are speakers for less. You may even find some who are free!
  • Band/DJ: This is second piece of the “fun factor.” We typically hire both—a band for the program itself and a DJ for the “after party” immediately following the programmed part of the event. You may have people at your church who are gifted and willing to donate their services, or charge a minimal fee.
  • Environment (decor, set up, theming): You can create a fun environment on a shoestring budget! There are lots of ideas out there and if you have some crafty people on your team, recruit them to help. You can keep it simple with a few photo op areas, table toppers and background music from your iPhone. Or go all out and bring in a DJ, live band, and inflatables. As you’re planning, avoid overly feminine decor. If you lean in any direction, lean more masculine.
  • Food: I’m going to state the obvious here—get as much for your money as possible. And keep the men in mind when you consider your food options. No chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate fountains.
  • Childcare: We highly recommend offering childcare at your event. Include any cost for food, crafts, etc. in this category. Be sure that your childcare providers are background checked and have been interviewed to insure the safety of your kids.
  • Security: In this day and age, we want to make sure everyone feels safe. We build this cost into all of our events. Determine if this is something that could add value to your event.
  • Volunteers: We want to show appreciation to our volunteer teams. Providing food for them when they work our events is one small way we can do that.
  • Thank-you’s: We always follow up with “thank-you’s” to team members that serve at our events. This can be a simple thank you card, or treating them to coffee. Don’t skip this!
  • Games – To create some fun, we invite 3-6 couples to compete to win a prize in a couple of platform games. There will be cost associated with supplies for the game, but it should be minimal.
  • Giveaways: Reach out to some businesses in your community for donations. You’ll be surprised at how many are happy to donate gift cards, memberships and services. If you can, get 3-5 donations, the only cost you will have is the supplies for presenting the gift (gift boxes, ribbon, etc.).
  • Ticket sales/registration: How many do you expect to attend? The number of seats sold will be a determining factor in the cost of the ticket. If will you be using a third party, like Brushfire or Eventbrite, consider building the cost of the service into the ticket price. Other costs may include physical tickets or wristbands for entry, will call lists, etc.
  • Greenroom: Anytime we bring guests in (like a speaker), we like to go the extra mile in caring for them. Ask in advance what their favorite foods and drinks are so you can have them ready for them when they arrive. Then you can provide snacks, their favorite coffee/drink and a warm meal for them when they arrive.

Sample Budget

Add up all of these categories and any additional ones you might have (we have a few others not listed), divide it by the number of seats you plan to sell and the number you get will help you determine your ticket price. Here’s a sample:

CATEGORY AMOUNT
Speaker $3,000
Environment $500
Food ($3/person X 500 attendees) $1500
Greenroom/guests $100
Childcare ($2/child X 300 children)* $600
Security $200
Volunteers ($4/volunteer X 25 volunteers) $100
Thank you’s $25
Games/giveaways $200
Band $500
TOTAL Cost $6,725
# of couples attending (1 ticket per) 300
Approx. ticket price per couple $25

*You may need to cap the number of children you’re able to care for!

With proper planning, your event can pay for itself, which is a win in itself. But the biggest win is the joy you’ll experience when you begin to hear the stories of marriages that were saved, transformed and strengthened because of your investment.

Over time, you will start to see healthier marriages, stronger families and a thriving church.

Your Church Can Help Couples Get Closer

Your Church Can Help Couples Get Closer

Everything we do in marriage either brings us closer or further apart. It’s as if we’re constantly on a sliding scale, moving back and forth, further apart or closer together with our spouse.

Every couple would prefer to be closer—closer emotionally, closer physically, closer mentally. But so many times, we find ourselves drifting more and more distant from one another.

Growing closer doesn’t happen instantly. There’s no one magical thing every couple can do to fix a mixed-up marriage. Getting closer happens one small, intentional step at a time.

That’s Where Your Church Comes In

There are marriages in your church that are broken. There are couples in your community that have grown bored with each other. There are relationships in your city that are lost and confused. And they’re not sure who to turn to for help.

Your church can be the solution to disconnection. You could provide them with the encouragement they need to keep going. You could be the difference in whether or not they stay married or not. All you need to do is help them take a step closer to each other.

That’s why our theme for this year’s Annual Marriage Ministry Bundle is CLOSER.

For those church leaders who have been with us for a few years, you may have noticed that we’re no longer calling this resource the Strategy Pack. That’s because it’s evolved into something more. And we want to be clear about what we’re calling it to be able to reach more churches and more couples.

What Comes in the Bundle?

As with every year, the Strategy Pack gives your church everything it needs to start a marriage ministry from scratch or improve what you’ve already got going. When you sign up for the Pack, here’s everything that comes with it.

  • Two larger group events, featuring communicators Ted Lowe and Ted Cunningham
  • A six-week small group study, called Closer Connection, with communicator Johnny Laurent
  • Four new quarterly date nights—to give to couples to do on their own
  • One year worth of MarriedPeople Monthly
  • Promotional graphics and videos to spread the word in your church and community
  • Access to an Orange Specialist who will answer all of your questions

What’s New This Year?

Along with a new theme every year, we also like to add even more great resources that make the Annual Bundle even better. Here are just a few of the items that are new in CLOSER.

  • Leadership training documents, showing you how to promote and evaluate your ministry
  • Connection to the new Married People Membership, including a free month for your couples
  • Pre-made slide decks for event promotion and communicators
  • Pre-made email templates to make it easier for you to communicate with your audience
  • Countdown videos and sound effects to use during your event games
  • Date night guides with details on how to decorate and package your quarterly dates
  • Spotify playlists specifically for events and date nights
  • Stock photography that you can use on your website or social media

How Can I Get It?

The new Strategy Pack will launch at The Orange Conference 2019 on May 1-3. Starting then, they will be available for purchase online for $249 from the Orange Store. On the store, you can also purchase previous years’ strategy packs as well.

We create the resources. But only you know the marriages in your church. Only you can help couples get closer. We’re just excited to help you to make that happen.

Taking MP Monthly to the Next Level

Taking MP Monthly to the Next Level

This month on the blog, we’re talking all about email marketing in your marriage ministry. That means featuring our email resource—MP Monthly. This is a tool we’ve used to help churches build marriage ministries for the past few years.

We recently refreshed the look and format of MP Monthly. Not only does this give it a more modern look that matches our new brand, this refresh also makes it more accessible for couples. Each monthly email is full of bite-sized content that’s easy for any couple to practically do.

Another great advantage of the redesign is that it makes it easier for churches to customize the content to fit their needs and audience.

What if I don’t want to send an email monthly?

Not every church wants to send out these emails every month. Maybe you want to send it out more frequently so that couples have less content to tackle more often. You know your audience better than we do, and we want your church to mold our stuff to meet your circumstances.

Sending out a marriage newsletter weekly (or even bi-weekly) might be too much for some churches. But it might actually make a big difference for some couples. Weekly marriage reminders delivered directly to their email inbox might be a welcome change for them.

Customize MP Monthly for your church

We designed MP Monthly into different blocks that are each action steps for couples—read this, watch this, etc. They get six each month, and are encouraged to pick two to three steps to do.

If you wanted to send the email out more frequently, you could pull apart the content and send out the pieces separately. That could be three steps, twice per month. Or it could be one step every week. That might be easier for couples to tackle.

That would mean the MP Monthly name no longer fits. But you could just as easily call the email MP Weekly, or MP Moments, or anything else your church can come up with. The point is that you can customize it how you want. We want your church to be the hero when helping couples.

Is customization right for us?

Not every church is going to want to customize the content. Sending out smaller emails more frequently will take more work. There is a little more of a learning curve when it comes to customization, but we can help you out with that.

Plenty of churches send out the email content exactly as is—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Working with MarriedPeople is supposed to make things easier for you. That’s why we’re here. But adding custom content and frequency can still be a worthwhile step to take.

Does your church customize MP Monthly? How?

How Your Church Can Use the MP Membership

How Your Church Can Use the MP Membership

You may have noticed that we recently announced something new at MarriedPeople—a premium membership for especially for married couples. It’s like an online library full of the resources we’ve been creating for marriage ministries over the last several years.

That means plenty of marriage videos, ebooks, date nights, and so many more things specifically to help the average married couple. Plus, new stuff gets added every single month.

But what does this mean for your marriage ministry? Even though we’ve created this for couples, we still want your church to succeed when it comes to helping couples. That’s why we’ve built in a few ways that you can use the membership to your advantage.

Point To Membership as a Next Step

Since the beginning of MarriedPeople, we’ve talked about the three different environments where you can empower marriages: larger groups, small groups, and individual couples. Most of the resources we create for churches place a heavy emphasis on those first two environments.

The MarriedPeople membership helps to serve the third environment—individual couples. This was done intentionally, because that’s where couples spend the majority of their time.

Most couples wonder what to do next after a marriage event or a Bible study on marriage. The membership can be your answer to that. Help us to spread the word about the membership as a way to give couples practical ways to thrive together.

Let It Pay For Your Ministry Budget

What’s in it for your church besides helping marriages? How about helping you to fund your marriage ministry budget? We’re very excited about our Champion program where you can earn money for every couple that you refer to us.

Champion affiliates earn 25% of the revenue they help to generate. That means, for every couple who buys an $80 annual membership through your link, you earn $20. And since our Marriage Ministry Starter Pack is $249, you only have to refer 13 couples to earn enough money to fully fund a Starter Pack.

If you’re at a bigger church, it only takes 20 referred couples to earn enough to fund a $399 Marriage Ministry Annual Pack. That’s everything your church needs to run a marriage ministry, plus that many more couples who are directly having their needs met.

Buy Memberships For Couples

What if your church doesn’t have to worry about the budget, but your local couples do? In that case, you can actually purchase memberships for couples in bulk at a steep discount. This is something we built into the membership specifically with churches in mind.

  • Get 10 annual memberships for only $480; that’s only $48 per membership, which are normally $80. Do the math—that’s 40% savings for each couple.
  • Get 20 memberships for $800—or $40 per membership. Which calculates out to an 50% discount on each membership.
  • Get 50 memberships for $1,600—which is only $32 for each couple. That comes in at a whopping 60% savings per membership.
  • And if you need even more memberships, or a custom deal worked out, we’re happy to work with your church to find a solution.

Those are just a few ways that your church can use the new MarriedPeople membership to your advantage. We’ve worked really hard to create a resource that works for both married couples and marriage ministries alike.

How Traffic Lights Can Help Your Pre-Marriage Ministry

How Traffic Lights Can Help Your Pre-Marriage Ministry

Fun fact: Did you know the original colors of the traffic light were red (stop), white (go), and green (caution)?

We all know a traffic light or signal when we see one. Typically, we have a love/hate relationship with the traffic light. We don’t like to be stuck at lights. Plus, it always seems like we get red or yellow when we’re in a rush.

A traffic light can be defined as a set of automatically operated colored lights—typically red, amber, and green—for controlling traffic at road junctions and crosswalks. Green means go, red means stop, and yellow/amber means slow down because a red light is coming.

In fact, the red light indicates that danger is on the other side of the light. A red light beckons us to stop so we can avoid danger (i.e., a car speeding the opposite direction that could harm us if we keep moving forward).

How is a pre-married ministry like a traffic light?

Years ago in our pre-married class at Watermark (called Merge), I started to use the image of a traffic light to help couples discern next steps in their relationship. While in our class, the green, yellow, and red lights have nothing to do with automobile traffic, they do provide a helpful guide for ministry leaders and mentor couples.

As you lead pre-married couples, this simple analogy helps guide them to think about moving forward towards engagement or marriage, hitting the pause/slow down button, or encouraging couples to end their relationship.

Green means “go”

This means you’re excited about a couple moving forward towards engagement or marriage. Friends and family support and cheer the couple on as they move forward in their relationship.

No, this doesn’t mean the couple is perfect. But it does mean they’re making good decisions in their relationship. You’d be honored to officiate or attend this wedding ceremony!

Yellow means “slow down”

Trouble is coming in the opposite direction and couples need to be cautious about moving forward. For a pre-married couple, a yellow light doesn’t mean they need to break-up, but it does mean they should slow down and process things at a deeper level.

The typical “yellow light” couple has some questions they need to answer before they either move forward toward engagement and marriage or before they hit the eject button.

Red means “stop”

Danger is coming, hit the eject button, and get out while you still can! For the pre-married couple who gets a red light, this means there are some major barriers in place that should lead them to break up. This might be because they’re unequally yoked, which is when a Christian marries a non-Christian.

The Bible doesn’t tell us who we should marry, but it’s very clear a Christian shouldn’t marry a non-believer (See 2 Corinthians 6:14). Or maybe there’s some major dysfunction in their relationship (i.e., infidelity, unaddressed addictions or unhealthy pre-married sexual activity). Or perhaps the couple can’t learn how to communicate and resolve conflict.

Other people around the “red light” couple are begging and pleading for them to break-up. It’s not because they don’t want the couple to be happy, but rather because they love them and don’t want them to sign up for a life of misery together or a future divorce.

Unfortunately, in my experience, too many couples in the red zone keep going forward. This happens because the couple doesn’t want to hear what others say, or because others are too afraid to share their concerns.

Ready or Knot?

I wrote Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage to help provide guidance. The book is intended to help couples see if their “traffic light” is green, yellow, or red.

I wrote it as a biblical, practical, and authentic guide to help couples take the next best step in their relationship. I pray couples would read Ready or Knot? and break-up. I also pray the money they spent on the book would spare them much pain and hurt in the future.

I also wrote Ready or Knot? to help “green light” couples move forward toward marriage with confidence. Too many couples move towards marriage with excess levels of fear and anxiety. While the decision is a big one, Ready or Knot? can help a couple say “I do” with joy and confidence in the Lord.

As you counsel pre-married couples, where do you think they land?

  • Are they green? Let’s hear those wedding bells.
  • Are they yellow? What can we do to help them figure out the next step?
  • Are they red? Let’s help them end things so they don’t end up living in misery or getting divorced. The break-up is the best possible result for some couples.
Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018

Can you believe that 2018 is almost over already? It feels like it just started. As we wind down this year, it’s a good time to look back at some of what we’ve done over the past 365 days.

Hopefully you’ll find some time amidst the craziness of the holiday season to reflect. Perhaps recapping some of the best blog posts we published during 2018 might help.

We publish a new post for church leaders working with marriages every week—Thursday mornings to be exact. That more than 50 blog posts every year. Here are the top 10 articles we shared in 2018.

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018

  1. How To Promote Marriage Events at Your Church
  2. Why Pretty Much Every Church Leader Needs Marriage Counseling
  3. OC18 Breakout Notes: MarriedPeople Interactive
  4. Introducing the New MarriedPeople Monthly
  5. How Your Church Can Be a Game Changer For Marriages
  6. Meet the Communicators: Game Changers
  7. LEADER PROFILE: Laura Wright
  8. What a Strong Marriage Ministry Should Look Like
  9. Reaching Married Couples Using Social Media
  10. Behind-the-Scenes: Strategy Pack

We’ll also be sharing some of our top 10 couples posts and top podcast episodes of the year. Hopefully some of these resources have been helpful to you. And looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

What was your favorite blog post this year?

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