5 Tips for a Meaningful and Cinematic Catholic Wedding Video

LAURA KUAH

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


In his 1999 Letter to Artists, St. John Paul II writes, "Artists of the world, may your many different paths lead to that Ocean of beauty, where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration and unspeakable joy..." for “beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savor life and to dream of the future.”

Photography:   LAURENTINA PHOTOGRAPHY

Art, in any form, has the ability to add value to our lives. Our lives, in any vocation, comprise an intricate weaving of finding, creating and preserving beauty, which can save the world.

Videography is a unique, creative, and powerful way to capture the significant words, sounds, and movements of your wedding. Beyond cherishing your video in your own home, modern wedding videography can serve as a beautiful testimony of your faith journey and love story.

The role of a Catholic wedding videographer is to not only help document the most important day of your life, but to also create a film that captures the essence of your love for each other and Christ. The beauty of the sacrament of matrimony is most effectively captured when it is preserved in still images, sound and motion. Your wedding day will pass in the blink of an eye, and reflecting on video can reignite the emotion of the wedding day in a unique and powerful way.

A carefully curated video captures the big movements, as well as the little moments, throughout the day. From my videography and photography experience in the wedding industry, I offer five matters to discuss with your videographer for a meaningful, cinematic Catholic wedding video.

Letters & gifts

Many couples choose to share a sentimental letter and gift with their spouse on their wedding day. This usually takes place when the bridal parties are getting ready before the Mass. Wedding videographers often use this opportunity to include a voiceover and to capture the candid reaction of the gift recipient, adding an intimate touch to the final video.

Prayer

Maybe it's your bridesmaids getting together to pray over you after your dress reveal, praying with your parents in the rectory, or doing a "first touch" to hold hands and pray with your fiancé before walking down the aisle. Whichever prayer you decide to include on your wedding day, schedule these events and determine whether you’d like these moments to be private or recorded for your wedding film.

Tripods during the Mass

Each parish may have different guidelines for videography. I recommend that the bride, groom, priest, and videographer have a conversation about how to best collaborate for the wedding ceremony. I like to visit the church ahead of time to see the space and to speak with the priest about my intentions, so I can best respect both the liturgy and the couple.

For non-Catholic videographers, the restrictions at many parishes can be unfamiliar and challenging to navigate. Most of the time, the priests and wedding coordinator at the parish will happily work with you and your videographer to discuss creative, respectful ways to film the Mass. Consider how multiple tripods in varying areas of the church can capture different angles and perspectives. The primary intention of video at the nuptial Mass is to capture the liturgy and the couple’s encounter with Christ.

Collaboration with other vendors

When you hire a videographer, it is helpful to connect them with your other wedding vendors. When vendors can coordinate their timeline and discuss shooting styles or other important details, they can work together to minimize distractions on the big day. If the photographer and videographer come from different teams, it is important that they plan and work in harmony with a spirit of community, rather than competing for the best shot. Your introducing them to one another facilitates the best outcomes for collaboration.

Audio & music

The audio and music soundtrack will be added to your video during the editing process. For spoken audio, many videographers use wireless microphones—this will also need to be discussed with your priest, so he can plan to wear a small microphone in his cassock during the ceremony. You can have a dreamy wedding video, but if the audio is off, the whole video can fall apart.

Bear in mind many videographers are not able to use popular music due to licensing restrictions. There are plenty of romantic, cinematic instrumental songs your videographer can choose to showcase the mood of your wedding. If there is a song or genre you prefer, speak to your videographer about using original music. And remember our Church’s rich tradition of liturgical music is an amazing accompaniment for video!

With a coordinated plan and strong communication between the bride, groom, priest, and vendors, your wedding day can be preserved in a way that captures the essence of your love for each other, cultivates your devotion to Christ and the beauty of the faith, and elicits strong emotion for years to come.

I encourage you to prayerfully consider the suggestions above when working with your Catholic wedding videographer. I wish you joy, peace and patience as you prepare for this sacred sacrament of marriage!

Recently engaged? Consider including a "How We Met" engagement video during your engagement photography session! If you desire to share your story, a video is a creative and fun way to invite others to witness your relationship and journey towards holiness.


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About the Author: Laura Kuah is a wedding photographer + videographer and owner of Laurentina Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor, and Catholic convert from the Washington, D.C. area. She was introduced to the Catholic faith during a semester abroad in Orvieto, Italy while living with Italian Catholic Sisters. When she is not behind the camera, Laura enjoys being outdoors, visiting art museums, growing succulents and playing with her sweet tabby cat, Gioia.

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Pursuing Wedding Day Perfection with Humility

EVAN KRISTIANSEN

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


While I was at Mass recently, I was reminded why Jesus says of children, "The kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16).

Next to me, my three-year-old niece was reading a children's missal and following along during the liturgy. When we reached the consecration, the missal described it as the point of the Mass where "the real Jesus" appears.

My niece started looking intently around the church. I glanced over at her, sitting on my mother's lap, and watched her eyes slowly fill with tears. I asked what was wrong, and she explained that she "could't find him. Where's the real Jesus?" She burst into tears, burying her face in my mother's shoulder.

My niece had such a desire to meet Jesus in person that she broke down when she couldn’t find him.

As my mother was comforting her, probably trying to think of a way to explain the mystery of the Real Presence to a three-year-old, I reflected on my own posture toward the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324)

The Eucharist, truly God in body, blood, soul, and divinity, is available seven days a week at my local Catholic parish. When was the last time I wept with childlike longing because I couldn't receive? When was the last time I chose to commit a sin, knowing full well that it would interfere in my relationship with the Lord?

I think that couples preparing for marriage should regularly do a similar reflection. It can be so easy to get distracted by details during wedding planning that couples forget to ask, “what is this day about?” and “who is this day for?”

It might not seem like the best place to begin planning a wedding, or even thinking about marriage, but a thorough examination of your motivations and your personal failings will ultimately help you grow toward a more Christian relationship, a more relaxed attitude toward your wedding, and a better and holier life.

So, let's humble ourselves, shall we? There are three things that are important keep in mind when planning the “perfect wedding:”

You are not perfect, and neither is your future spouse.

"For there is no distinction, all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23).

Besides Jesus and Mary (“Our tainted nature’s solitary boast”), there have been no perfect people. You and your partner are likely (though we strive against it with all our hearts) to commit sins in the time that you are together--worse, the two of you are likely to commit sins that directly affect your relationship.

You are right to expect your future spouse to be striving for the perfection of virtue, just as you should be, but keep in mind the verse above: all have sinned.  

The “Good News” is that Christ has provided us with the answer to these struggles: himself. He, being the truly perfect spouse of the Church, humbled himself and hung on the cross for our sins. Shown in this amazing act of ultimate love, he greatly desires your conversion of heart.

Have you accepted this truth, and gone to confession recently? Make plans with your future spouse to go together, and definitely before your wedding! Jesus gave the apostles the ability to bind and loose sins (Matthew 16:19), and the priest at your local parish has this same faculty, inherited by merit of his ordination. Our contrition can be expressed to that priest, acting in the person of Christ, and through genuine repentance we can be given absolution for any sin, big or small.

That we can be confident in God’s forgiveness through the sacramental ministry of the Church, is one of the most beautiful things about our Catholic faith! Furthermore, you can view going to confession as a powerful step toward a holier, healthier, and happier relationship with your beloved.

With a little bit of humility about our own imperfections and a repentant confession, our sins are washed away and our souls made clean. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

It is important to strive to do for your future spouse what Christ does for us. Forgive your partner when they've done wrong, even if they don't “deserve it.” *

However, I have found that it is  easier to see imperfections in others than in ourselves. Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, says "We [then] judge ourselves by our motives—and others by their behavior." Ask first if your partner’s actions can be seen in another light, or recognize that they may not be motivated by malicious intent at all.

Then examine yourself and ask when you last failed to live up to the call God had planned for you. Act from that place of humility, rather than on your first instincts.

Remember to ask forgiveness for the wrongs that you have done them. Make the first move, in love, and you may resolve conflicts much more quickly. If you make this pattern of humility a regular exercise, you will see the fruits of Christ's mercy in your relationship.

Your wedding won't be perfect, either.

"When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'they have no wine.'" (John 2:3)

Being a wedding photographer can be a surprisingly intimate experience. I am hired to capture details of someone's life that they often don't share with others. The privilege of listening in on earnest prayers, capturing tears of joy and happiness, and witnessing the unification of two lives is an honor I receive with great gratitude.

When I take photos, I try to capture the feeling of the day as the couple experiences it. Bright colors, white dresses, beautiful decorations, and smiling faces are all mainstays of wedding photography. But as with many forms of media, it is easy to get the impression that these perfect images mean a picture-perfect day.

Ask any of your married friends about their wedding, and they will tell you (usually after gushing, "It was wonderful!") all about the myriad of small mistakes that were made during planning, at the rehearsal, and even on the big day.

In six years as a wedding photographer, I have never seen a perfectly executed wedding. I have seen mistakes and "imperfections" ranging from the very small (processing down the aisle in the wrong order) to the very large (a church so hot that the mother of the groom was hospitalized).

There will be mistakes made at your wedding, and no amount of planning may stop them from happening. But if the event isn't perfect, then what unifies the couples that genuinely enjoy their day?

In my experience, these couples are those that see their wedding for what it is: an imperfect event planned by imperfect people crowned with a supernatural reality.

A couple can be married in front of a crowd of five people just as validly as a crowd of five hundred; they can be married for no money just as easily and completely as they can in a wedding that costs a small fortune; they will still be married if their tablecloths aren't the right color, or if that one relative makes a bit of a fuss.

I say these things to free engaged couples from unnecessary worry, not to make them paranoid. If you know, as I do, that an absolutely perfect wedding isn't possible, I hope it allows you to relax and remember the purpose of the day: getting married to your bride or groom. Everything else is ancillary.

With this in mind, I advise my couples to schedule ten minutes together after the ceremony without the photographer, wedding planner, mother-in-law, or any guests. The goal is to take in the reality that you are married. Kiss each other, pray together, and then face the rest of your wedding day knowing that whatever else happens, you are now one flesh!

No mistake of planning, no social faux pas, and no guest falling face first into your wedding cake will change that reality. See this as an opportunity for humility. Give this special day to your spouse, to your families, and to God. Be confident that, whatever else may happen, God has already accomplished the work of the day.

And so, acknowledging all this human imperfection, what is the proper response?

The response to our imperfection: Humility.

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5)

Humility. But is it really that easy? To let all material worries go, and achieve the elusive "perfect joy" of St. Francis? No, it is not, but relinquishing control to God is a huge first step. It is a step to eventually embracing humility as a permanent feature of your life.

If pride is the source of all sin, and humility is the virtue that directly combats pride, then embracing humility is a sure route to fighting sin in your relationships with your beloved and with God.

Humility thinks first of what your partner needs instead of what you want. Even when their actions are wrongly ordered, humility means forgiving your spouse as you have been forgiven by God.* Humility means holding yourself to a higher standard before encouraging your beloved to do the same. Finally, humility means allowing yourself to be forgiven, both by God and your future spouse, so that you can move past your failings and “live in the truth [of humility]” as Teresa of Avila says.

So, let us live in the truth, and humble ourselves before God.

Place all of the logistics at the feet of the Lord, enjoy your wedding as it is, and you'll find that the day is made perfect by God present in your union, even without all the perfect trappings.

Oh, and that planning detail you’re currently fretting over? Forget it. I give you permission!

*In each place where this asterisk appears, the following is a necessary inclusion: The mandate to forgive one another is universal, but there is no such mandate to stay in abusive (physically or emotionally) or dangerous (spiritually or physically) relationships. Please discuss these kinds of issues with friends, family, your priest, a therapist, and/or law enforcement personnel.


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About the Author: Evan shoots timeless photography and serves the Boston and New England areas. He is available for travel and specializes in Catholic clients. Born in Norway, Evan has 15 years' experience, including six years' worth of shooting weddings. With a great hope in sacramental marriage, he sees love as "making a complete and unreserved gift of yourself to the other."

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Christine + Mark | Traditional Chinese Wedding

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


Christine and Mark’s Washington, D.C. wedding was a beautiful intertwining of traditional Catholic nuptials and Chinese customs.

Their relationship began when Christine stumbled upon Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch. It had been months since Christine began praying to Blessed Karl of Austria for her future husband. Even though she had seen many interesting profiles on CatholicMatch, she felt there was something special about Mark’s.

Christine didn’t start a conversation, but instead waited to see what Mark would do, since the site allowed a him to see who had visited his profile.

She didn’t have to wait long.

From the Groom: From the first moment I saw Christine’s profile picture, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And after reading Christine’s profile, I was even more certain she was too good to be true. This was the internet version of love at first sight, and I sent a message right away.

From the Bride: Every time Mark talks about this, I can’t help but laugh. He is always so sweet. When I first saw Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch, I felt there was something special about him. And ever since then, I kept him in my daily prayers and waited for God to do the rest.

Mark: After exchanging a few messages on CatholicMatch, I invited Christine to pray together over the phone. She only had thirty minutes for our first call, but we spent most of that time praying the rosary together.

After that we started a tradition which we have continued even when in very different time zones: praying daily Compline (Night Prayer) together, usually over the phone.

Christine: Praying together always reminds me God is at the center of our relationship. I’m always excited to pray with Mark because it is such a powerful experience for us.

A few short weeks after we began speaking, May—the month of Our Lady—arrived, and it was time for me to graduate from my master’s program. My parents and sister came to D.C. to attend my graduation ceremony.

I had been telling my parents a lot about Mark, and they really liked him, or at least my descriptions of him. On May 11, a couple days before my family would return home to China, my mom suggested we set up a meeting with Mark. Although I felt a little uncertain, knowing Mark’s busy work schedule, and, more importantly, that Mark and I had never met in person, I reached out to him to see whether he would be able to meet the next day.

Mark: That was a very busy time for me at work, but I pulled a very late night and managed to meet Christine and her family for coffee the next day. Luckily, I was too tired to be nervous! I was overjoyed to meet Christine’s family and moved by how genuinely kind and joyful they were.

Christine: My family and I really enjoyed meeting Mark, too. In fact, Mark and I soon began going on dates: attending Sunday Mass together at St. Mary’s in Washington D.C., followed by lunch and activities like visiting museums and going to concerts. After Mass, we would usually pray together before the image of Blessed Karl.

As we got to know each other better, we hung out more often. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, went hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and visited the elderly at a nursing home. Through it all, we enjoyed every moment together.

Fast forward to October 2017. We had been discerning engagement and working through a book titled 101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged. This went on until one Saturday when we visited St. Mary’s. Just as we were finishing our prayer before the image of Blessed Karl, Mark proposed.

What a joy that we were engaged in the Real Presence of Our Lord!

A mutual friend played my favorite Chinese hymn on the organ (Mark had remembered I had sung the hymn while we were praying together one evening), and the proposal was filmed by Mark’s best friend and soon-to-be best man.

We learned that our archdiocese required six months of marriage preparation. During this time we would continue to grow in our relationship and discern our vocation. We also found, to our surprise and delight, that May 12, 2018—the one-year anniversary of the first time we met in person—was a Saturday, and we decided to set that as our wedding date.

The wonderful Fr. Martin Yip agreed to meet with us for monthly marriage preparation sessions focusing on the sacramental meaning of marriage. We also attended an Engaged Encounter retreat.

This provided a precious opportunity for us to spend focused time getting to know each other and diving deeply into various practical topics, all under the guidance of experienced married couples and a priest.

One month before the wedding, we visited a couple from our parish who have been married more than thirty years. They warned us of potential challenges in married life and provided advice and insights from the unique perspective of Chinese culture.

We were overjoyed when Bishop Mario Dorsonville agreed to celebrate our nuptial Mass. Another joyful surprise was that Fr. Conrad Murphy was willing to be the Master of Ceremonies when we couldn’t find another deacon available for our wedding day.

From the very beginning, we knew the nuptial Mass would be the most important part of our wedding day. So we spent a lot of time preparing the Mass program in both Chinese and English. It turned out to be very beneficial in helping us and our guests get better acquainted with the various parts of the nuptial Mass.

Our liturgy was celebrated at St. Mary’s in D.C.. Although we belong to the Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, ours was the first nuptial Mass in ten years to be celebrated at St. Mary’s for a couple in our community. Our parish family was excited for us and showered us with so much love and joy. They celebrated our engagement in the parish hall and supported us through the wedding preparation and our wedding day.

One week before the wedding, my family travelled from Shanghai to Washington. It was so exciting because I hadn’t seen my family for a year. They helped with the wedding favors and decorating the reception venue. Meanwhile, Mark’s parents prepared heart-shaped chocolates for our guests and set up the rehearsal dinner.

In the early afternoon of our wedding day, we had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, customary for weddings in China.

We knelt before our parents and offered tea to them, showing our respect and gratitude to them for all the years of love and care.

In return, we received gifts in red envelopes from them.

Our nuptial Mass was very beautiful and went quickly, but we enjoyed every moment. My brother and sister did the readings, and our parents offered the gifts. When Bishop Dorsonville introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. Ma,” we had our first-ever kiss on the lips at the altar. With the violin and organ playing Ave Maria, we prayed before a statue of Mary, offering our marriage to Our Lady.

Our reception was held at Phoenix Park Hotel, a historic hotel in Capitol Hill. The hotel ballroom and our honeymoon suite were lovely. They had been decorated with love and care by our families and friends. My brother made a video using a collection of our photos from childhood to the time we met, which was played at the beginning of the reception. It was received by the audience with lots of laughter and awws.

Right after we entered the ballroom, we played a violin-piano duet of Canon in D. Mark was on violin, and I played piano. My dad presented raffle prizes of his own excellent calligraphy and Chinese traditional painting.

Finding each other and taking our first steps in marriage has been so amazing, and we are excited to continue our journey together!

From the Photographers: Christine and Mark's wedding was such a joy-filled event that uniquely combined beautiful cultural and liturgical traditions.

We loved witnessing and documenting their day, and especially loved how they planned a wedding that really fit their personalities. For example, during their reception they replaced the usual dance party with a talent show and games, which was so fun.

More than anything, we loved seeing how tangible their love was and how joyful they were to be husband and wife. It felt so real during their portrait session at the Jefferson Memorial. We wish them all the best for their marriage!

Photography: An Endless Pursuit - SPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Washington DC | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Park Hotel | Ceremony Site: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church | Florists: Louisa Sun | Reception Site & Tea Ceremony Site: Phoenix Park Hotel | Videographer: Onyxx Communications LLC | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts | Reception: MC
David Hu | Hair & Make-up: Iris Zou

A Photographer's Encouragement for Engagement

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


When he asked me to marry him, I started crying tears of excitement. I was ready to be united with the love of my life and believed that nothing could stand in the way. Little did I know that nine months of marriage preparation, wedding planning, and managing family expectations would present a journey of challenges before we could walk down the aisle.

Although wedding planning was one of the most materialistic and difficult times in my life, I chose to enter the wedding industry to bless couples as their photographer and as a source of encouragement. We offer both beautiful images and positive support; we remind couples to embrace the hustle and bustle of wedding planning tasks by slowing down and enjoying engagement.

Your time as an engaged couple can seem extremely long and difficult due to a multitude of new situations, pressures, and circumstances. But there are many reasons why it's one of the most formative times in your marriage. As a bride and a photographer, I have journeyed through many engagements with couples. I pray that my perspective may help you experience your season of waiting with intention and a grateful heart.

Engagement is a precious time when you are able to communicate, discern points of conflict, and problem-solve prior to married intimacy.

It's during this time you are making some of the biggest foundational decisions in your relationship, like where you will live, where you will work, and how you will celebrate the holidays. Take time to dive into every conversation and seriously begin working through obstacles as you prepare for marriage.

Engagement gives you the ability to slowly unite as one.

In other words, engagement offers a buffer of time to release old, selfish habits and to develop new routines for new life circumstances. Marriage is a vocation that immediately strips you of the ability to be selfish; engagement is a time to prepare your mind, body, and spirit for that kind of sacrificial love. It is important to consider how daily routines and household responsibilities will change after your wedding.

Engagement allows you time to focus on Christ.

It is this time of waiting that gives you space to communicate about your faith and pray together. Use this time to create a vision for a shared spiritual life and goals for your new family’s foundation of values.

Engagement can be a challenging time to balance physical temptation, external pressures, emotional distress, and deadlines for key wedding planning decisions. But this time won't last forever.

Years from now you will look back on this season and it will be a small dot on the timeline of your marriage. With this in mind, utilize this season to its fullest by discerning issues, growing in selflessness, and focusing on Christ. After taking this time to build your foundation, you may even find the first year of your marriage will be easier than you expect!


About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is the founder of Soul Creations Photography. She is a go-getter and dream-chaser who loves to serve others well. She loves all things healthy and early morning spiritual reads. Most days you can find her walking hand in hand beside the love of her life, Alan, with their baby John David in her arms. On any given day, you'll find them taking hikes and planning vacations out West.

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3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Wedding Date

JULIANA TOMLINSON

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


You are engaged, showing off your ring, celebrating with family and friends, and it quickly becomes time to answer your first big wedding planning question: when will we get married?

Some couples decide to get married quickly, while others take a year (or more) to say I do. There is no rule about how long you should be engaged--no right or wrong. There is only right or wrong for you.

So how long should you wait from the day you say yes until the day you say I do? I offer three considerations to answer this question.

Do we have a budget?

If the Lord has placed the desire in your heart to get married--and soon--do not be afraid because you don’t have the money. The most important thing is receiving the sacrament. Whether you find vendors that will work with your budget, plan a DIY event, or enlist the help of friends and family members, answer the call from the Lord. As a photographer, I can assure you there are wedding vendors with any budget range.

Many couples prefer to save money before jumping right into planning their special day. Again, there’s no right and wrong, but I want to remind you that preparing to get married and to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony is more important than planning your wedding. Take time to discern spiritual and logistical goals for your engagement with your fiancé, then determine a budget and timeline that supports those goals.

Is our foundation solid?

Maybe you are afraid to answer this question because you love your fiancé so much, you know you want to spend forever with him or her, but you are also aware that you need to build a strong foundation first. If this is true, don’t feel pressured to schedule your date just yet. Take time to go to adoration together, pray, talk to your priest and ask him to guide you through this season until you are ready.

There is nothing wrong with waiting if the Lord is asking you to prepare.

For me, this is the most important question couples should honestly answer. Without a foundation, a stable house can not be built. And if one decides to go ahead and build without laying the foundation first, it is very likely that the house won’t stand for long.

Have we asked the Lord?

This may seem obvious, but taking important decisions to prayer with the Lord is so important. He cares for us so much, and he is the one who has called you into this beautiful vocation. Rest assured he has the answer.

Spend some time with our Lord, do a novena with your fiancé, and quietly pray together. Let our heavenly Father guide you. He will answer and let you know how much time you need for your engagement . Perhaps some detail you desire at your wedding is only available at a certain time of year, for example. Trust the ways he shows you his perfect plan. Trust the moments when you are filled with peace.

Beyond conversations and discernment with your fiancé ,our Church is rich in resources to help engaged couples prepare for marriage. Pre-Cana retreats or marriage preparation classes help to build a foundation and resources though your archdiocese, parish, mentors, and other Catholic organizations support your preparation for marriage.

Do not be afraid as you run toward the sacraments and the teachings of the Church in your preparations to become one as husband and wife!


About the Author: Juliana Tomlinson is a Catholic Wedding Photographer from Brazil who lives with her Husband Greg, her miracle baby boy Theo and fur baby, Arthur, in Lancaster, PA.

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Vendors Share | Perspective from the Professionals

Spoken Bride’s Vendor Week begins on January 13 and continues through January 20. Every day, our vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog. We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through Spoken Bride’s Vendor Guide.

In anticipation of Vendor Week, at the start of this engagement season, we asked a group of Catholic wedding vendors to share their insider’s perspectives and opinions for this special edition Q&A.

What is one tip you would offer a bride on her wedding day?

Steve Dalgetty, Photographer, An Endless Pursuit: Be present. It's hard to let go of perfection when you've poured so much time and money into a wedding. I've seen lots of couples miss out on truly experiencing the joy of the day because of stress around maintaining expectations for logistics, weather or details. Establish the mindset beforehand that no matter what happens you are going to let go and just be present to experience the mind-blowing awesomeness of the sacrament and what's happening in the moment (pro tip: this will also translate to better candid photos).

Derek Hall, DJ, The Block Party: Wind it up and let it go the day of. One way or another your new vocation starts and the rest is what you make of it.

Try to smile, laugh, and dance your way through all of it, joyful or otherwise.

Claire Watson, Photographer, Claire Watson Photography: Use vendors that will make your day easier—don't try to DIY everything in effort to save money so you can have a bigger wedding. It's A-okay to cut your guest list to have a smaller, but more relaxed wedding where you're not in charge of baking the cake, decorating the reception site, and making your own bouquet.

Kate Costello, Photographer: Trust and lean into the professionals you've hired. They pour their hearts into their work on a daily basis, and and their talent and passion will help you create a beautifully unique day.

If you could plan your wedding now, what is one thing you would be sure to do?

Steve: I would have hired a dream team for photography and video, and maybe even gone into debt over this. To save money, we paid a friend (currency used: Starbucks gift cards and cigarettes!) who had never photographed a wedding before and it's so regrettable. If I did it today, I'd hire Brad & Jen Photography and We Are The Parsons for video.

If I got to pick a second thing I would have bought my own custom suit. This is more of a recent wedding trend, but in 2009 I ended up with the cliché Men's Warehouse tux, complete with groomsmen in shiny vests that matched the bridesmaids dress colors. It's painful to look at. My bride looked like the most stunning person in the entire world, and I looked I was dressed to go to prom.

Derek: Our biggest priority when we planned our wedding was to put as much love and thought into the Mass as we did the reception. This is a rare opportunity to share our faith and its importance to our relationship with lots of family and friends who have never been to or not been to a mass in years. We wanted to let the beauty of a normal Mass shine. This would still be our biggest hope.

Claire: I'd cut the guest list down. We wanted a par-tay and ended up with a guest list larger than most local venues could accommodate, so we found a bare-bones reception hall that we spent all this effort decorating. We could have slashed the guest list (many people that we haven't seen since) and booked a place that had décor and catering locked down instead of having to piecemeal everything. It would have been a more relaxed engagement and wedding day.

Kate:

Stay focused on the the things most important to the two of you as a couple.

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What is your favorite moment of a wedding day?

Steve: It's different for every single wedding. I’ll go with the groom reading a letter from the bride before the wedding. It's so moving and fun to see everything sink in and watch his face covey, Oh my gosh, this is really happening and I'm the luckiest man alive!

Derek: The last few minutes of the day as last hugs are given, things are cleaned up, and people breathe in a different way. You see families and close friends help finish things up, the exhaustion of a great, long day, and the beginning of marriage after the wedding. It's not always perfect or great, and I'm always feeling like I just crossed the finish line of a marathon and praying it was enough, it was what my couple hoped for, but it tells you so much about the couple and their tribe.

Claire: After shooting a ton of weddings, I've finally come to realization that there is no one, perfect, gotta-have-it moment across the board.

My favorite moment in each wedding takes me by surprise, and it’s why I've always got to be on my feet and on my game to capture it.

Kate: Those few minutes when the bride and groom reach the altar and realize, this is it. They can't stop smiling—or crying.

What are your recommendations for ways grooms-to-be can become more involved in the wedding planning process?

Steve: Wedding receptions can be so customized now that a groom might be surprised how much opportunity he has to personalize the experience based on things he loves. What is he passionate about? I

f a groom loves music, then let him run with the reception entertainment. If he's creative or artistic, encourage him to go research photography or videography vendors. If he loves craft beer or bourbon then let him figure out how to incorporate that into the drink menu. I think most grooms think of things like flowers and stationary when they think of wedding planning.

Like most things in marriage, a couple should figure out their complimentary strengths and passions and then align planning responsibilities to that.

Derek: Flowers and frills may not be a groom's thing, but there are many areas where he can support his future bride. So much of a wedding day is ultimately a thank you note to the people who got him to this point: to marry an amazing woman. Jump in. Put together a Spotify list of songs you both love for reception inspiration. Pick a song that means a lot to both of you as a first dance suggestion. Work on the readings and dig a little bit deeper. There are many day-of items where a little effort will go a long way.

More importantly, take the preparation seriously. Honestly discuss things that come up. Be vulnerable. Be a leader. Say lots of thank you’s to those who help put everything together, especially your soon-to-be wife. Ultimately, it's just the two of you, as partners, each other's first draft pick to get them to heaven. That's what really matters.

Claire: Fellas, realize that when you participate in wedding planning, you are essentially saying to your bride, What can I do to celebrate you becoming my wife? What can I do to make that day one step closer?

Is it to call the church and set up meetings? Is it to price out caterers? Is it to get some recommendations for DJs from friends that got married last year? Is it to make a date night out of sitting down to choose your readings? Remind each other often that the labor of planning a wedding is from a heart of service to your future spouse and family.

Kate: Brides-to-be, invite him into the process. Go for a cup of coffee or make it a lunch date, and make it a point to ask him what his top three priorities are for the day. Then, ask him to be charge of orchestrating those priorities.

If you could make one song suggestion for every wedding reception, what would it be?

Steve: I'm going to go with the opposite of the question and say that all line dances should be made illegal.

Derek: “Can't Stop the Feeling,” by Justin Timberlake. Little kids know it, adults and grandparents will dance to it, it has such an easy beat to dance to and can mix into so many directions. I can jump into a ton of other great songs and genres, but this song has been a staple near the beginning of my sets since it came out.

Claire: It is nearly impossible to remain seated when "Uptown Funk" comes over the speakers.

Kate: Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me."

Follow along with more insights next week on Spoken Bride’s blog and social media. Are you recently engaged? Search Catholic wedding vendors by region and category here.

Images & calligraphy: Sea & Sun Calligraphy

How He Asked | Melissa + AJ

We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.

Read more here for the story of Melissa and AJ’s wedding, a tale of devotion to the Lord and his Blessed Mother, and a wedding day completely enveloped by peace. 

Melissa and AJ met at church through a mutual friend in 2016, and they were married less than two years later in 2018. Their love story is a whirlwind of romance, faith, and Marian devotion.

Even AJ’s proposal, which didn’t unfold completely as planned, was filled with intentionality--from the ring he had custom-designed to the final love letter he presented to his future bride.

Through the intercession of Mary and the Blessed Virgin’s parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, AJ and Melissa were graced with the strength to promise the rest of their lives to each other.

In Melissa’s words: A good friend who knew both of us well introduced me to AJ one night at church. That was July 19, 2016. A few weeks later on the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary,  after a Latin Mass at the oldest and most beautiful Catholic church in Miami, AJ asked me on our first date. Two months later we had already begun talking about marriage and the good things in store for our future.

On the days leading up to the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, we made our first consecration to Jesus through Mary by finishing 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. We would later renew our consecration on our wedding day, April 21, 2018, at the very same church where he began pursuing me less than two years earlier.

Looking back, he had been planning the proposal for a long time.

I only knew it was coming because he could not contain his excitement, which was the sweetest thing.

The summer after I finished grad school, AJ asked me to leave one particular Wednesday unplanned. I tried not to be suspicious, but that was the moment I really knew. I really thought I had it all figured out.

Even though I was going to be hiking all day in the sun, I decided I needed to look my best since I strongly suspected he was planning to propose! I woke up early that Wednesday and got myself ready. This was in Moab, Utah, and he came to take me hiking at Arches National Park in the morning. The rest would be revealed as the day went on.

There was no cell service in the park, and we both took advantage of it to unplug and enjoy nature. He drove me to Delicate Arch, our first stop. Unbeknownst to me, this was also where he planned on meeting a photographer to capture our special moment.

We immediately spotted some park rangers, cones, and a roped off section of the park. I caught AJ desperately trying to cover up his look of, “this was not the plan!” Apparently, there had been flooding due to rain the day before, and the trail was closed.

There was a local woman and her daughter who pulled up at the same time also asking about the trail. They explained that Delicate Arch was their favorite, so it was too bad it was closed.  However, they had another favorite trail called Double Arch, and we could follow them over there if we wanted.

While all this was happening, I had no idea that this stranger was actually our engagement photographer trying to help AJ come up with a last minute backup plan!

As we hiked up Double Arch, I took pictures of beautiful rock formations. AJ took my hand, and led me to the center directly under the main arch. He began to say a lot of lovely things that I would never have been able to remember, because I was so giddy and nervous and excited. But he had written them down beforehand.

In short, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

AJ proposed on July 26, the feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are also the patrons of marriage, among other things, and such an incredible example of marriage and family life. During the days leading up to his proposal, AJ prayed a novena to these two holy saints asking for their intercession in our future marriage.

And the ring was beautiful. We had already gone to look at rings together two times. He knew exactly what I liked best.

I had no idea that his mother had given him a diamond that she bought on a necklace when she was my age. He had taken her diamond to a jeweler and had the rest of my engagement ring custom designed based on what he knew I liked. It is the most special thing I own.

To add to the special moment, July 26 was exactly three months after the day I received his first love letter in the mail. I received fourteen more letters during that time frame. He handed me the last one right after he put the ring on my finger.

He showed me how each letter began with a word, and the first letter of that first word was enlarged just a little bit more than the rest. When all 14 letters were lined up next to one another, together they spelled out, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

He had been asking me to marry him since April that year, and he finished his question on the best day, the day I said yes.

I am so thankful that God made this man for me, who seeks the Lord with his whole heart and goes to God first before coming to me. I cherish our love story so much because it is rooted in faith and prayer, individually and together.

Photography: Richards Photography | Location: Arches National Park |  Ring: Albert's Fine Jewelers