How He Asked | Caty + Ryan

Though Caty and Ryan were in the same program at Franciscan University and shared mutual friends, Caty wasn’t even aware Ryan knew her name until he called to her from across a lobby, months later. As they spent the following semester abroad, she became determined to crack the shell of the mysterious, intelligent, curly-haired man with a sarcastic sense of humor. In London that semester, and on into the following academic year, their friendship grew. Both began wondering, cautiously, if they were meant to be something more.

Their first date was less than perfect, leading to the conclusion that Caty and Ryan were only meant to be friends. In the months to come, they spent their time attending daily Mass and praying together, bonding over their shared loves of philosophy, poetry, and food, and even discerning the consecrated life and the priesthood, respectively. The Holy Spirit had other plans.

In Ryan’s words: I had always wanted the woman I married to be my best friend. There came a point when I nearly gave up on that idea. Whether from my discernment of the priesthood or a loss of optimism, I didn’t think I would find that sort of relationship. In Caty, I had felt like I had finally found a true best friend, whom I ultimately found myself discerning marriage with.

In Caty’s words: Even as I prayed about a life of consecrated virginity, the reality of Ryan persisted in my heart despite all inner and outer turmoil. One evening, after studying for a comprehensive exam for our program, we confessed a mutual desire for a relationship. Knowing we were only months away from graduation, he and I resolved to spend time in prayer before making a decision.

On a rainy Holy Thursday, Ryan asked if I would “put out into the deep” with him and be his girlfriend. The question, which was spontaneous on his end, caught me off-guard. But the answer was already present within me: a Yes, one foreshadowing another Yes to come.

It wasn’t until Ryan and I started dating that I felt a true desire for marriage. Even though I had dated seriously in the past, suddenly marriage--not just as an abstract, but in the concrete--was something I wanted, despite my fears. Subconsciously, I was certain Ryan was the man I was called to marry.

A few weeks before we started dating, I had asked him, point-blank, “You know that if we start dating, this may end in marriage, right?” Very solemnly, he replied, “Yes, I know.”

That comment stuck with me through every month of our relationship, especially when things were less than perfect. By the time we talked seriously about marriage, deep down I couldn’t wait to enter into a covenant with this man.

Ryan: About five months into our relationship, I had realized that Caty was the one I would spend my life with. Despite a difficult long-distance summer, our love had grown stronger. It took some time for us to be on the same page, yet we were eventually able to talk seriously about marriage. Those conversations ultimately led to talks with each of our parents about my intentions. My parents were very excited, and not surprised. Caty’s father could not say yes fast enough. I was glad to have their support.

We also spent time looking at rings together, which was truly helpful, for I would have been like a lost sheep otherwise. I found a local jewelry shop and a ring that would be perfect for Caty. When it came to choosing a proposal date, there wasn’t much of a question: our first anniversary.

I enlisted Caty’s friends in my plan to surprise her that Lent. I asked her friend to make plans to attend Stations of the Cross at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. That morning, I took an early flight to D.C. to make it to the Monastery. I’d put in extra effort to convince Caty that it was a normal Friday, with plans for a Skype date that evening. I spent the cold, rainy morning searching the city for flowers, hoping to find a dozen red roses for our 12 months together. Although I was miserably cold and nervous, there was still a joy that I felt, excited to ask my best friend to marry me.

Caty’s friend’s is a photographer whom I asked to help us capture the moment. He took me to the Monastery, where there is a beautiful Marian Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom we both have a great devotion. We were set to consecrate our relationship to Mary on the following day. As I arrived in my suit and the bow tie Caty had given men, waiting for the conclusion of Stations was the hardest part.

I waited in anticipation hidden by the Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross. It felt fitting, for Caty and I will spend our lives helping each other carry our own crosses.

Caty and her friend began approaching the grotto.

Caty: I was so busy admiring the beauty of the grotto that my friend had to guide me down the right path to where Ryan had been waiting. It wasn’t until I made it down the first set of stairs that I saw Ryan standing there, calm and dapper, holding a bouquet of red roses. Nearly paralyzed with joy (and shock!), it took a moment for me to collect myself before I could walk over to my beloved. Laughter and questions tumbled out of my gaping mouth: “What are you doing here? Weren’t you supposed to be teaching today?” A proposal wasn’t yet on my radar at that point; I thought he’d showed up as a surprise for our anniversary. I embraced and kissed him, altogether unaware of the superabundance of his plans.

Ryan: Knowing I would struggle to get out the words coherently, I had prepared and practiced what I would say. Taking both of Caty’s hands in mine, I talked about our relationship and how far we had come, telling her of my desire to spend my life getting her to heaven and growing in my love for her. I expressed how I want to entrust myself to her, knowing she will do the same for my path to heaven.

As I opened the ring box, I was inspired by a mutual love of ours, Karol Wojtyla’s The Jeweler’s Shop. Taking words from the play, I asked Caty, “Would you like to become forever my life’s companion?” Overcome with surprise and joy, she replied with a resounding yes! I took the ring from the box and placed on its new home, my love’s left hand. As Christ is  the foundation of our relationship, we walked over to a statue of St. Ann holding Our Lady, placing our relationship and engagement under their protection.

Caty: Our relationship has taken on two consistent themes: “Put out into the deep” and “Jesus, I trust in You.” While we were discerning the possibility of dating, Ryan one day revealed to me the one prayer that had become a constant for him: Jezu, ufam tobie. Jesus, I trust in You.

Being engaged and preparing for marriage doesn’t automatically make you or your future spouse perfect. Saying a wholehearted Yes to your vocation doesn’t magically eradicate weakness, anxiety, or fear. But the reality of Christ working in our hearts is so much deeper than any fears I may have. Wedding planning has forced me to find refuge in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, as well as the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. I am learning continually not to “lean on my own understanding” and instead to rely on the providence of God, who has time and again surprised me. Saying Yes to him sometimes involves sacrifice, but when it’s offered with love, it becomes a yoke that is sweet and light.

When the glow of newly engaged and newly married life wears off, I know two things will remain: our friendship and, more importantly, our commitment to Christ.

Ryan is a man who is, above all, committed to following Jesus and his Church. He is committed to loving me as Christ loves the Church. He is a strong and patient spiritual leader, continually challenging me in my prayer life.

This is the path of sanctification that Jesus has called us to. We will not be perfect in this life, but through His grace, we will reach the heavenly wedding banquet together. Above all, I know Ryan will be a true life’s companion on our journey to heaven.

Photography: Dominick Tardogno | Engagement Location: Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America | Ring: Maria's Fine Jewelry, Worcester, MA

Our Home is a Place of Transition.

ANDI COMPTON

 

The only time I get to sneak a peek at Traditional Home magazine, my favorite, is while I wait for the dentist. I love getting to quietly flip through and see how different designers reinvent traditional homes with modern flair, juxtaposing things like wild fabrics with clean lines and classic design elements.

But each of those photos only captures a moment in time, and it is so hard for me not to compare the constant chaos of my home to the sleek pictures in the magazine.

When we moved into our home I was 5 months pregnant with our first daughter. It was quiet, just the two of us. I painted the bedrooms and organized our things at my normal 100-miles-an-hour pace. And then our baby came when the majority of the house was still only halfway painted. I got a huge reality check: things were no longer going to happen as quickly as I wanted.

Projects that used to take a couple of days stretched into two to three months. More kids came, and so did more stuff. Then that stuff had to go, because it was cluttering our home. The cycle just went on and on, until one day, nine years later, I realized that our home is a place of transition.

It’s not meant to be a perfect snapshot. I was rooted in vanity and fear that no one would love me or want to spend time in my home if it didn’t have the right kind of flooring, a separate playroom for the kids, or a backyard playset. And I had to ask God for forgiveness, forgive myself, and let it go.  

As our family grows and our children get older, I want our home to be a joyful, welcoming place where friends and family can relax together. Here are three ways we are working towards a home that is not a picture perfect snapshot, but feels comfortable for everyone:

Buy less.

As an avid shopper this one has been really difficult for me, but cutting down on the amount of physical items that come into our house has made a world of difference. Leave the item in your Amazon cart for a few days and see if you can live without it. Don’t just shop because you have a coupon (guilty!). This one does get harder as children get added to the family because more people does mean more stuff, but clutter can still be minimized. Capsule wardrobes have helped us reduce the amount of clothing we need to one giant closet for six people!

Declutter.  

Easier said than done, but I have noticed that when the house doesn’t feel full of stuff, I feel more peaceful and not as worried about our home. In our house, what that  looks like is sorting and getting rid of mail as soon it comes, letting the kids keep a relatively small amount of toys, and constantly getting rid of clothes that don’t fit well and items we no longer use. And I’m serious about the constantly part: my bedroom always has a few boxes to sort things we no longer use into a donation box or bags for different friends who can use kid supplies.

Buy high-quality items.

This goes along buying less. In cutting down on purchases, we’ve also found buying higher quality products does make a difference. While it initially costs more, we spend less having to constantly replace items. For example, we invested in four quality knives when we got married. One decade and several at-home sharpening sessions later, they’re still in excellent condition and we have no need to purchase any more.

Your home and your family are constantly changing. Don’t give into the lie that having a picture-perfect life will bring you happiness. We have to rightly order people over things, practice detachment from material goods, and remember that our homes here on earth are not our eternal homes. And I’m right there alongside you, striving to fight these temptations every day.


About the Author: Andi Compton is Spoken Bride's Business Director. She is the owner of Now That's a Party where she coordinates weddings, fundraising galas, and social events. Read more

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A Catholic Approach to Fitness for Brides with Personal Trainer Jordan Fiske

 

CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY

In our current wedding culture, many brides feel pressured to go on extreme diets or sign up for boot camp in order to look a certain way or fit a particular style of dress. Not surprisingly, this pressure can cause undue stress during an already stressful time in a woman's life, and may lead to physical and emotional health issues. If you're currently feeling this pressure, or know a bride-to-be who is, Jordan Fiske, a certified personal trainer and founder of Catholic Fitness Training, can help reframe your fitness goals in a healthy, Christ-centered way. I recently had the opportunity to interview Jordan, and I think what he has to share will bless and encourage all women in their health and fitness journeys. 

What inspired you to start Catholic Fitness Training?

My inspiration to start Catholic Fitness Training began as my wife and I were preparing for marriage in November of 2016. My goal was to be more fit and lose some weight before the wedding. Each time I would run, I would pray the Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Over time, I grew to look forward to this time of not just exercise, but prayer as well. I have also grown to love St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body over the last couple of years. St. John Paul II's case for the value and meaning of the human body, which is made in the image and likeness of God, has me convinced that we should treat our bodies as gifts from God.

As a certified Personal Trainer since 2011, I know how common exercise relapse is, especially when setting a short term goal like getting fit for a wedding, vacation, or bathing suit season. Once the event or season is over, it's easy to fall back into our old ways in terms of nutrition and fitness. With Catholic Fitness Training, I want to encourage Catholics to find lifelong motivation to care for their bodies and look beyond those short term goals.

For many Americans, fitness is more about achieving a certain "look" than it is about health. Do you think Catholics ought to approach fitness differently than the wider culture? If so, how?

If Catholics don't approach fitness differently than our culture does, then we are failing our culture. A cursory look at many of the top fitness Instagram accounts reveals an exercise culture that is obsessed with the ability to wear as little clothing as possible--regardless of the damage that may be done to both body and soul. Our culture sets an unrealistic and often extremely unhealthy standard for what it means to be fit.

I would encourage everyone looking to achieve a certain look to go beyond the surface and strive for the interior benefits of nutrition and exercise. A good workout regimen has numerous physiological benefits, such as improvement of mood, increase in energy, and a stronger immune system. When exercise is sustained over a long period of time, these benefits are often more dramatic. These benefits of exercise, in my opinion, are far more important than the visible changes in body composition.

On a spiritual level, consistent exercise and healthy eating can help us develop the kind of discipline we need for other areas of life, including prayer.  

What would you tell a bride-to-be who is anxious about the number on the scale as her wedding approaches, and might be tempted to do a fad diet or over-exert herself with a workout routine she's not ready for?

My advice to a bride-to-be is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The reality is being healthy and achieving your fitness goals takes hard work and time. Start several months prior to your wedding, and make sure your regimen is a balance of cardio and resistance exercises.  

Remember: muscle weighs more than fat, so don't worry about the numbers on a scale. If you want to weigh yourself, I recommend limiting weigh-ins to once a week; a healthy number of pounds to lose is typically .5 - 2 pounds per week. Don't buy into the latest trends advertising anything different, because they aren't healthy or sustainable; these are just money-making schemes and are not healthy or effective.  

A note on strength training: many women mistakenly believe that lifting weights will make them "look like a man." This is simply false. It would take years of intense training (along with hormonal supplements) for the average woman to get bulky from weight lifting.

What advice do you have for women who would like to be in better shape and improve their health but don't know where to start?

Getting in better shape and improving your health is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. Below are five steps to help change your behavior: 

1. Download the My Fitness Pal app (it's free!). This app will help you track your diet, exercise, and manage your caloric expenditure.

2. Create SMART goals related to fitness and nutrition and write them down in a location that you will see every day.

3. Be accountable. Whether you check in with a personal trainer, workout partner, or exercise community, accountability is crucial to keep you motivated. Catholics are all called to communion with each other, so it is always good to have someone informed about your goals to help keep you motivated.

4. Just go for it. It doesn't matter if you can only jog for 5 minutes or do 3 push-ups your first time exercising, just keep on increasing your work form the prior day. Don't let yourself or anyone else discourage you from your goals.

5. Offer each workout as a prayer. We all know the phrase "offer it up," which is a reference to Colossians 1:24. If you offer your workout as a prayer for a particular intention, you can tap into the benefits of Christ's redemptive suffering. 


What's your #1 spiritual takeaway from your work as a personal trainer?

The body is so much more than physiological processes; it is sacramental. In one of St. John Paul II's addresses on the Theology of the Body, he states that, "The sacrament or sacramentality- in the most general sense of this term- intersects with the body and presupposes the 'theology of the body'... In some way, therefore- even if in the most general way, the body enters in to the definition of sacrament, which is 'a visible sign of an invisible reality,' namely, of the spiritual, transcendent, and divine reality."

Jordan Fiske is an online and in-person trainer who is a certified Supervised Personal Trainer and Group Trainer. He teaches a wide variety of fitness classes, including kettlebell, athletic conditioning, and bootcamps. He's also a graduate student in theology at John Paul the Great Catholic University. For more information about Jordan's ministry at Catholic Fitness Training, daily motivation, or articles on the intersection between faith and fitness, head to their website, Instagram, or Facebook page

Elisabeth + Salvador | Central American Destination Wedding

 

Elisabeth and Salvador's first meeting was straight out of a romantic comedy. They were both using the same language-learning website: Elisabeth wanted to learn Spanish and Salvador, who is from El Salvador, wanted to learn English. After connecting online, they developed a friendship that eventually led to an in-person meeting in Elisabeth's home state of California. "The day we met, we knew we were soulmates," says Elisabeth. "He asked me out the next day, and we were engaged seven months later."  After months of long distance engagement, the couple were married in El Salvador on August 13, 2016. 

In Elisabeth's words: Our wedding was simple yet beautiful. We were married in the rural parish that my husband's grandfather helped build. It was dedicated to and named for Our Lady of Guadalupe. The readings were chosen with care, as we wanted them to reflect our relationship. The second reading, 1 Corinthians 13: 1- 8, has always one of my favorite passages of Scripture, so I was happy we could include it in our wedding Mass.

Since we were married in El Salvador, during our ceremony, we made sure to do the traditional lasso cord as a symbol of our unity for life. We also exchanged arras (coins), which is also a tradition at Salvadoran weddings.

My dress was a lace and tulle mermaid-style dress, with elegant detailing at the top. I fell in love with the dress the moment I laid eyes on it, as it was unlike any other dress I had seen.

Our reception was across the street from the church at my husband's family hacienda. Delicious Latin food was served and we danced to "At Last" by Celine Dion to celebrate that the wait and distance was finally over!  A huge downpour of rain and thunder came and went during the middle of our reception - typical weather in El Salvador! It was a most blessed and unforgettable day.

Elisabeth's spiritual takeaway: When you put Christ at the center of your relationship, it will show through on your wedding day.

Photography: Rorellana Photography  | Church: Our Lady of Guadalupe, El Salvador | Reception - Groom's Family Home |  Wedding Dress & Shoes: David's Bridal

The Embodiment of a Bride: A Reflection for the Feast of the Assumption

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

As I’ve grown into my vocation through its seasons of engagement, marriage, and motherhood, wearing these roles lightly at first, like a new sweater, until they become familiar--if not at all times comfortable--Our Lady has frequently been at the center of my prayer life. As daughter, spouse, and mother, she’s our ideal of earthly perfection.

Rae and Michael Photography

Rae and Michael Photography

And make no mistake; Mary’s perfection, her identity on the whole, is an inspiration to contemplate. Yet often, I find myself wondering what individual personality traits and quirks of character lay beneath the pious images and titles. I wonder what her daily life was like in Nazareth: What were Our Lady's hobbies? Were Mary and Joseph ever bothered by each other, and did they simply ignore bad habits or correct them with perfect charity in their sanctity? What sweet rituals and traditions did the Holy Family have? Did Jesus have tantrums as a toddler?

I think the reason so many questions about Our Lady’s unique heart, particularly on this day of her Assumption into heaven, arise in my own is that on some level I want to identify ever more with her in our shared roles as wives and mothers. While I’m more than aware how short I fall of Mary’s flawless obedience and purity of intention, beholding her as an ideal stands as a constant reminder to me of what I’ve promised in my wedding vows. She is a tangible, human example, an embodied woman whose body was received into the heavenly banquet on this day. What joy must have resounded through the heavens in her reunion, for all eternity, with her beloved son and husband.

Throughout engagement, and on through my days navigating newlywed life and new parenthood, I’ve grown so aware of how easy it is to believe the enemy’s lies that I’m not good enough; not as a bride, not as a wife, not as a mother. I say this to you as much as I say it to myself:

Look to Our Lady as a stronghold of truth; the truth of who you are and who you were created to be.

In her Yes to bearing the Son of God, Mary redeems each of us, and perhaps redeems us as women in a particular way. Eve’s giving in to the first lie--the possibility that God might not be enough to satisfy, that we ourselves might not be enough for him--is turned on its head in Our Lady’s humble fiat, the freely given surrender of her will out of complete trust in the Father. She desires only what is of God, who is truth himself.

What fruits, then, can you gain from this joyful feast, specifically in your identity as a bride? Again, for me, Mary’s bodiliness comes to mind. Her body and soul were seamlessly integrated, without the shadow of sin, in such a way that she is the total embodiment of beauty, of obedience, of faith.

Pray about ways you might put yourself, body and soul, at the service of love, in a way that befits your current state (engaged, married, or as a mother): through physical affection for your fiancée, husband, or children, offering chronic or temporary pain or health issues for the intentions of your beloved or your wedding guests, through embracing late-night wake-ups with an infant. Know and believe that you are enough. When it gets hard to believe, fix your eyes on our heavenly mother, our sister. You are a gift. From me to you, Happy Feast Day.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Classy and Unconventional Bridal Shower Themes

 

CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY

Bridal showers are a wonderful opportunity for your friends and family to celebrate your upcoming nuptials in a more intimate, laid back environment. Unfortunately, bridal showers have the reputation for being stuffy, boring, and awkward. Chances are, you’ve been to a bridal shower (or two) where the conversation was stilted, the gift-opening took hours (or at least seemed like it), and neither the bride nor the guests had a fun time. I know I have.

What is a bride-to-be to do? You’re not in charge of planning your showers, but you will typically have some input in the process. If your bridesmaids, siblings, family friends, or extended family approach you and ask to throw you a shower, you have the opportunity to steer the party planners in a direction that both you and your guests will enjoy. If they ask, feel free to suggest themes, games, and even a location; chances are, your hostesses will appreciate the help!

What should you and your hostesses consider when planning a bridal shower? 

The Bride’s Personality

If you’re an extrovert, chances are you’re totally up for being the center of attention at your shower, won’t mind opening up your gifts in front of everyone, and/or playing games that involve lots of mingling. These same scenarios may be a nightmare for the introverted bride (or introverted guests). While it’s impossible to accommodate everyone’s personality at any party, the bride’s should certainly be taken into consideration during the planning process.

Note: if you want to avoid the gift-opening spotlight, consider asking guests to bring their gifts unwrapped. That way, everyone can see the presents and you can thank your guests for them without having to spend the majority of the party unwrapping gifts.

Guest List

Will all or most of the guests know each other? Will it be women only or co-ed? Are most of the guests the bride’s age or will there be guests of all ages in attendance? How many guests will be invited? The answers to these questions will directly impact the theme, so it's important to nail the guest list down before moving forward.

Theme

This is the fun part, and thankfully, these days there are more options than just sitting around with cake, punch, and a pile of presents. Since I’ve only been able to give input for my bridal showers (one was a wine-tasting shower and one was household themed), I asked Facebook friends to share their favorite themes and shower games, some of which are quoted below.

Tasting Theme: Are you a coffee or tea lover? Chocolate connoisseur? Is wine or beer tasting a favorite pastime of yours? A tasting party gives everyone at the shower something to enjoy--and takes the focus off of the bride if she’s introverted. Plus, it gives guests an opportunity to help the soon-to-be-married couple stock their bar or build their fancy tea/coffee collection.

“We set out cheeses, crackers, fruit etc...and paired the cheeses with wines. People could move around from table to table, tasting the pairings. We also did a little game, where people could guess what variety of wine was paired with each cheese (we covered the labels on the bottles so people couldn't cheat).” -Laurie

Honeymoon/travel theme: If you and your fiancé care more about having an exotic honeymoon than getting everything on your kitchen registry, consider a honeymoon or travel themed bridal shower. Honeymoon registries abound these days, and it’s simple to request on the invitation that guests contribute to the honeymoon fund instead of bringing a gift. Also: the decor, food, and even games can be centered around the honeymoon destination, which makes planning a breeze.

Game/activity idea: The Newlywed Game! My sister and I both played this at our bridal showers, and it was one of the best parts by far. The hostesses emailed the grooms-to-be questions about us, which they filmed themselves answering on their phones, and then sent back to the hostesses. We all watched the guys’ answers (which ranged from hilarious to heartwarming) on a big screen and compared them to the brides’ answers.

Adventure theme: If you’re the sporty type (and your guests are too), consider going on a hike or kayaking trip instead of having a traditional shower. Guests can be encouraged to purchase you and your fiancé outdoor and sporting goods off of your registry, and the hostesses can pack snacks and a bottle of bubbly for the end of the outing.

Game/activity idea: Since this type of shower is ideal for a smaller group, each guest could share a favorite memory with the bride, give an affirmation, or pray a blessing over her.

Literature or film theme: Are you a Janeite? Obsessed with Harry Potter? Have you always dreamed of having an Anne of Green Gables style tea party, complete with raspberry cordial (or currant wine)? Your bridal shower is a wonderful opportunity to make that dream come true.

“My bridesmaids had my shower at a tea house. We had a tea party and played a literary guessing game based on my favorite books. Tea, catching up with friends, and not being up on display was a dream for this socially anxious introvert!” -LeAnna
“I'm an insane fan of everything Nancy Drew. She was my favorite book character growing up, and I love how classy, smart, vintage, and strong she is about everything! My maid of honor is planning a vintage, Nancy Drew themed bridal shower where you have to come dressed up in classic Nancy Drew attire and all the guests are part of a mystery. Bless her for being willing to put so much time and effort into it.”-Mariah

Cooking/Baking Theme: If you love to cook or bake, why not share that passion with your guests? If you have a small enough guest list, the possibilities are endless: a group cooking class, gathering at a hostess' house and baking your own desserts, or even a potluck shower where each guest brings her favorite dish (along with a recipe card) are all great ideas.


Game/activity: Have each guest bring a recipe card and compile them all in a cute box for the newlyweds to use. One bride had a “spice shower” where each guest brought a spice or baking item and she had to try to bake a cake with the new items without looking at a recipe.

Open House Shower: This is ideal if you are planning a hometown wedding while living out of state and have limited time to spend with family and friends from home:

“For my sister we had an open house! She was out of state and everyone wanted to talk to her and catch up, which is really hard at a formal shower. It was in a home and each room had something different: food in one place, a "game" (a collaborative gift for my sister) was in another room, and my sister was in an large open space where she sat with people and opened their gifts as they came in. People stayed and sat and talked, but could come and go.” -Katie

Games and Activities: Have guests write down a piece of advice for the couple on a notecard as they walk in, and collect them all at the end for the bride to take with her.

”My matron of honor bought a Bible and asked everyone to underline a verse that had significance for them and then sign their name so I would keep them in my prayers as I was reading Scripture.” -Maggie

If you're in the bridal shower planning stages currently, I hope this list is helpful for you and the hostesses. If you've already had your showers and enjoyed them, or have planned bridal showers in the past, please share any advice you have regarding themes or games in the comments! 

 

About the Author: Christina Dehan Jaloway is Spoken Bride's Associate Editor. She is the author of the blog The EvangelistaRead more

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How He Asked | Natasha + Tim

The first week of their junior year at the University of Minnesota, Natasha met Tim during a series of daily events put on by St. Paul’s Outreach and wondered how she’d spent the two years prior not having known this man who was intelligent and well-spoken, with a clear love for the Lord. Tim made it clear he was interested in pursuing more. But only a week earlier, Natasha had entered into a long-distance relationship with someone else.

In Tim’s words: The night I met Natasha, she was the only girl who volunteered for a heavy-lifting job in the warehouse we were working in. I was thinking to myself, Who is this beautiful girl, involved with her faith, and who seems so tough (even in a hairnet)? We worked at the same station that night, giving us plenty of time to talk, and I was quickly head over heels. I was captivated by the way Natasha spoke with passion and conviction about everything from her major to her world travels to her faith.

To say it was difficult to hear that she was already in a relationship would be a massive understatement. How could this be from God? I thought. I had a such strong inclination I was meant to marry Natasha, even in such a short time, that it seemed cruel to have met her only to have her be unavailable. But the Lord was asking me to trust his will for our lives, regardless of what I wanted, and in in the time when I wanted it. Despite getting turned down, we became fast friends and grew to know each other better over the next few years.

In Natasha’s words: Our friendship continued developing through our involvement in SPO in college We saw each other nearly every day, and Tim honored his promise to want the best for me, even if it wasn’t him.

When my relationship ended, Tim had to love me again from a distance while I took time to heal and grow closer to the Lord. We didn’t always get it right. There was so much discernment along the journey. It seemed when one of us was ready, the other pulled back. But by Christmas of our senior year, I knew Tim was someone I didn’t want to adventure through life without. He had proven he was unabashedly committed to drawing me closer to the Lord. He was a man with his priorities in order.

Here’s an example: my roommates and I had decided to set aside a period each morning of not having men in the house so that we could say morning prayer together and get ready comfortably. As a result, each morning of senior year Tim--who lived across the street--would wait for me on the sidewalk outside my house to begin the 20-minute walk to campus together. He waited even in the rain, snow, or when I forgot what time it was and left him out there a little too long. I began to cherish these early morning visits, which would frequently include stopping for coffee. It was during these walks that I began to understand the honorable man Tim is.

Tim: God allowed me that early time as Natasha's friend to see so many sides of her and grow deeper in love with the person she is. So when we began dating, I knew I’d one day ask her to marry me, but I didn't have a specific plan in mind. One day, she casually mentioned that she thought New Years would be such a romantic time to get engaged. This was in early December, with New Years weeks away, and we hadn't even looked at rings yet. With a little creativity and some help from her family, I was determined to pull off a New Year's Eve surprise.

Natasha : On New Year's Eve of 2016, Tim took me to our now-alma mater for a fancy New Year's dinner, followed by plans to meet my sister for ice skating. My sister was mysteriously running late, so Tim suggested we recreate our senior year and walk through campus in the snow. On that walk, in the central park of campus, Tim asked me if I would marry him and do him the honor of going on a life-long adventure to heaven together. Saying yes was easy--for me, the hardest decision of the night was choosing between freezing my fingers or covering up my beautiful ring with my gloves!

I thought we were the only ones back at the university that cold night, but much to my surprise, my sister came crawling out of the bushes after the proposal, where she’d been taking pictures! I had always said I would love both of our families to be present following a proposal to celebrate with us, but Tim told me our families couldn't make it due to holiday plans. Instead, he said, he had arranged a table for us, along with my sister and brother in-law, at one of our favorite St. Paul restaurants, W.A. Frost, which also happened to be the location of our first official date. When we arrived, we were greeted by a table of familiar faces. As it turned out, our families’ holiday plans were celebrating with us! We rang in the New Year with people we loved, excited for our future.

The journey to our relationship has, truthfully, been really, really hard sometimes. Tim was always so sure of me and of his intentions, but it didn't come as easily for me. I struggled with doubt and that I was deserving of this amazing man. I wanted to be in a relationship with Tim, but was stuck in the trap of believing God's will is always the opposite of our own.

I remember speaking to a priest about my reservations. He said, "If you believe you are not worthy of the good things God has for you, then you are making a mockery of his crucifixion. He didn't die so that we could wallow in self-pity; he died so that we might have life and have it more abundantly! So accept his mercy and love, and live in his Resurrection." Talk about some tough love. But it opened my heart to accept the love that God, and ultimately Tim, had for me.

Regardless of what lies ahead in our life together, I am excited to be walking with Tim towards heaven. He has proven to be the perfect steady counter to my sometimes doubtful and sassy heart.

Tim reminds me of Christ's love by drawing me out of myself, always encouraging me to go further in my relationship with God, and he shines back a reflection of how he sees me when I need encouragement.

And when my weak heart needs reminding, Tim is a physical reminder that God is a good, good father wanting nothing but the best things for his children.

Photography: Sarah Ascanio Photography | Engagement Location: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN | Engagement Photo Location: Banning State Park, Sandstone, MN | Ring: Shane Co.