Sally + Matthew | Southern Elegance Wedding

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 Sally and Matt’s courtship and engagement, marked by total joy, certainty, and peace.

When Sally’s friend told her she knew a man who was tall, handsome, and serious about his Catholic faith, she jokingly suggested Sally marry him. Sally was intrigued, yet hesitant; her job required a significant time commitment, and Matt had just begun medical school. At the time, he had made a decision not to date until he was done with his studies. The Lord has a way of changing our plans for the better.

When they met, spending time together among their local Young Adult ministry, the attraction was mutual. Despite the other obligations in their lives, Sally had the boldness to ask Matt out! A sense of trust and certainty about their call to marriage was clear from the beginning, and Matt proposed, with Sally’s grandmother’s ring, the following year.

From the Bride: I was talking with a few girlfriends recently about how important, but also difficult, the season of engagement tends to be. At least in my experience, it was difficult to balance planning a wedding with preparing for marriage.

Matt and I had such a desire to be together--to be fully united as husband and wife, to live in the same house, to make all our decisions together--but the reality was that we weren't there yet.

We were also learning how to build our relationship with each other and Christ, alongside the very real and often overwhelming responsibility of planning a wedding. In all of it, we received great advice from another young couple and from dear priest friend that helped us tremendously during our year-long engagement: first, focus on planning the Mass. When we felt overwhelmed by cake flavor choices or dress colors, we remembered to keep our focus on the sacrament of marriage itself.

Second, a priest told us to be at peace, because ultimately, it was Jesus who would be there on the altar with us on our wedding day.

How could we be afraid, nervous, or overwhelmed knowing that the Lord of the universe loved us so much that he would be there to unite as husband and wife, and to accompany us in our married life?

The day before our wedding, Matt and I went to confession and then Mass, just the two of us, before a flurry of family and friends arrived. I remember walking out of Mass hand in hand with a sense of peace just washing over me. We had spent the last two years falling deeper in love with each other and with Christ. We had grown in patience and trust, practiced chastity even when it was difficult, learned to pray as a couple, and finally our wedding had arrived. From that moment on, the weekend was filled with joy.

We decided to take pictures before the Mass because we wanted to spend as much time as possible at the reception with our friends and family. We took pictures at a nearby park, first just the two of us, and then the bridal party joined for group pictures. I was a little apprehensive that seeing each other before the wedding would somehow ruin the big reveal as I walked down the aisle, but it ended up being the only real opportunity Matt and I had all day to just take a deep breath and be together.

We spent a lot of time thinking through the details of our Nuptial liturgy. We were blessed to have four priests concelebrate; all of them, along with the bridal party, processed in behind the raised Cross to the hymn "O God Beyond All Praising." An unexpected benefit of choosing hymns instead of more traditional instrumental pieces for the procession is that every time one of these hymns is played at a regular Sunday Mass, it brings back all the great memories from our wedding day.

We provided wedding programs since not everyone who attended was Catholic. By including the music and major Mass parts in the program, we hoped people would feel more comfortable participating in the liturgy. One of my bridesmaids and dear friends designed the front of the program. She did an ink drawing of the altar from our home parish, where the ceremony took place. She had the original print framed, and it now hangs in our home as a beautiful reminder of our wedding day.

We chose Matthew 22:35-40 for our Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That really is what this whole Christian life is about. In marriage, God has given us the immense responsibility to help get our spouse and children to heaven, and we do this by learning to love God more perfectly.

After communion, we approached Mary and asked for her intercession in our marriage. While we spent a quiet moment at the foot of her altar, our family and friends sang the Salve Regina.

My favorite part of the whole Mass was getting to say our vows and slipping a ring over my husband's finger. I thought I would be nervous in that moment, but the Holy Spirit was so present to us. I'll never forget looking into Matt's eyes and being overwhelmed with gratitude for what God had done for us.

The reception passed by in a flash. We were lucky enough to have a wedding coordinator who snuck us into a back room of the venue for a bite to eat before we made our entrance on the dance floor. I can't recommend this enough to friends who are engaged!

Once we entered the reception, every moment was spent either dancing or hugging all of our dear friends and family who had traveled to be with us. We wouldn't have eaten anything if it weren't for those first 15 minutes in the back!

We knew that we wanted to have a fun, family-friendly reception. We decided to forego the bouquet toss, but did a traditional first dance as well as Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances. We had a simple wedding cake from a local bakery we both love, and also offered two other passed desserts.

Matt felt really strongly about choosing to wash my feet at the reception in place of a garter toss. I still remember what he said before he knelt down to wash my feet:

"Tonight, I promised you, Sally, that I would spend every day of the rest of my life loving you and serving you. So as my first act of service to you as my wife, I would like to wash your feet."

The moment was brief, but so sincere and I think speaks volumes about the kind of man my husband desires to be.

As reception favors, we gave out 4x6 watercolor prints by the talented Katrina Harrington of Rose Harrington Art that read, "The human heart is always drawn by love." We hoped this quote by Saint Catherine of Siena would be a small reminder to our guests of how much we love them.

We also had a lot of fun planning the smaller details of our day. My engagement ring was originally my grandmother's ring, which she generously gave to Matt before he proposed. His wedding band was his grandfather's; I had it engraved on the inside with totus tuus, meaning “totally yours.” This phrase was Saint John Paul II's apostolic motto and referred to his total devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary. To us, the phrase reminds us to entrust ourselves fully to Mary and, ultimately, to Jesus--but also completely to one another.

Marriage is such a precious gift from God because it reveals--albeit inadequately--the mystery of God's love.

I marvel at the fact that in marriage, God invites me to love as he loves.

In our vows we promised "to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life." It is our job to try to live that out each day since.

We love imperfectly because we're human, but the experience of Matt loving me completely and unconditionally is truly the biggest gift I have ever received. I cannot begin to comprehend how much more God must love me. Instead, I try to simply give thanks to God daily for his abundant blessings and to serve him unconditionally.

Photography: Kelly Ginn Photography kellyginnphotography.com | Church: St. Peter Catholic Church in Memphis, TN | Wedding Reception Venue : The Atrium at Overton Square | Wedding Coordination: Michael Doyle of Lynn Doyle Flowers
Flowers: Lynn Doyle Flowers (
https://www.lynndoyleflowersandevents.com/) | Catering: CFY Catering (http://cfycatering.com/) | Make-up: Kasey Acuff | Hair: Salon 387 (http://salon387memphis.com/) | DJ: DeepBlu Entertainment (http://www.deepblu.net/) | Cake: | Muddy's Bake Shop (https://www.muddysbakeshop.com/) | Wedding Favors: Rose Harrington Art (https://roseharrington.com/)  | Wedding Dress & Veil: BHLDN (https://www.bhldn.com/) | Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids (https://bellabridesmaids.com/) | Tuxes: American Tuxedo (http://www.americantuxedomemphis.com/)  | Invitations: Shine Wedding Invitations (https://www.shineweddinginvitations.com/)

When You're the Maid of Honor

CAROLYN SHIELDS

 

We spent hours of our childhood dreaming of this day: what our dresses would look like, how the man would react as we walked down the aisle to him, and so on. Olivia fell in love first, with a marine (she set the bar high). Watching my sister-not-by-blood fall in love was honor enough, but when she asked me to stand by her on her wedding day, I was flushed with warm admiration. It was an honor to participate in so many small, intimate ways that weekend; something I will truly cherish forever.

Listening to her tiptoe upstairs the night before, having that moment together to eat toast and sip coffee the morning of, when the earth was defrosting itself, is a cherished memory. Standing behind the church doors, as I straightened her dad's tie, she whispered, "Carolyn?" And I turned.

"Do I look okay?"

My eyes smarted with tears as I straightened her veil once more and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She pulled me into a hug, kissed my cheek, and told me she loved me. And then I had to go ahead of her.

So you're here, too--the Maid of Honor? I'm sure you're feeling just as honored as I did. Sisterhood is something so beloved, so I want to share ways to incorporate as much prayer into your best friend's day as possible. And if you're like me, I no longer lived close to the bride during her engagement, and couldn't run across the street to her house like we did when we were little. I wasn’t able to walk over and help her tie 150 ribbons for her favors.

But you can do the following, no matter how far apart you and the bride are.

Pray for her guests.

I was privileged to write out Olivia's wedding invitations, something I could do on quiet evenings in my apartment three hours away. As I wrote out her guests’ names, I realized just how many names I didn't recognize. I was curious as to who these people were, people who meant so much to Olivia and her fiancé that they were invited to join them on their big day. So over each envelope, I thanked God for their presence in the bride and groom’s lives.

I also wrote out her escort cards. Over each of these, I prayed for each guest’s safe arrival to the ceremony and reception.

Create a spiritual bouquet.

I know it's tradition to collect the ribbons from bridal shower gifts to build a bouquet for the bride to carry at her rehearsal. When I tried, it was the saddest-looking thing ever! So instead, I reached out to Olivia's friends and mine to create a spiritual bouquet. I bought white roses and scribbled the sacrifices, novenas, rosaries, and prayers our friends offered for Olivia, tying  them with twine onto the flowers. I thought she would feel more comfortable walking down the aisle holding a bouquet of prayer (some from women she’d never met) than one made of ribbon!

Take a moment to pray over her.

Even if you don’t often pray in this way, in that moment when she looks immaculate, it's minutes before go time, and the butterflies are raging, she’ll welcome it. Invite the bridesmaids to join you in prayer, place a warm palm on her shoulder for physical support, and let your heart sing its praise.

Reflect on honor.

That's who you are! The Maid of Honor. What does it mean to honor someone? What does honor deserve? What place does honor have in our faith? If we believe our Holy is who he says Hh is, then we must understand who we are.

And on this weekend, on that altar, that's what you represent.


About the Author: Carolyn Shields is the founder of The YoungCatholicWoman and is fresh off of the wedding of her sister (she set up the bride and groom!). Her current projects include web design and engagement and wedding photography

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Editors' Picks | Vol. 13: 2018 Bridesmaid Trends

At Spoken Bride, we love a good book, a good meal, a standout statement necklace, a heel you can dance in, and the list goes on. And when we make those discoveries, we want to tell everyone. So every month or two, we're sharing our latest and favorite finds in everything engagement, wedding, and honeymoon-related.

Your wedding provides an opportunity to showcase the unique gifts, tastes, and inner and outer beauty of the women you're closest to. Today, we're sharing our favorite trends for bridesmaids that help you accomplish just that.

 

Jiza, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Mismatched dresses: Instead of matching bridesmaids dresses of the same color and same style, this is when the bride assigns a different color and/or fabric to each bridesmaid according to her wedding’s color scheme. As a photographer, I love the look coordinating dresses creates. It creates visual appeal in an image with the varying textures and color. Chances are, your bridesmaids are also happier and more comfortable in their dresses, because each was able to pick something for her own body. This can also help your bridesmaids find a dress within their budget—with online shopping today, searching for a dress is easier than ever.

Bridesmaid hangers: We commonly see dress shots with a beautiful hanger for only the bride. However, with bridesmaids’ dresses becoming more and more unique, it is also lovely having some additional dress photos with their gowns, as well. You may want to first dispose of the plastic hangers, and if you are in search of a good bridesmaids gift, a personalized hanger is both pretty and practical.

Non-traditional bouquets: This is becoming more and more popular, which I couldn’t be more excited about. Corsages are no longer limited to the mothers anymore--bridesmaids are wearing them now, too. Instead of a traditional bouquet, your bridal party can carry lanterns or floral hoops or wreaths. Or for something minimal yet still eye-catching, one singular, large flower with simple greenery, such as a magnolia, a dahlia, or a peony, is beautiful. Speak with your floral designer for unique ideas!

 

Andi, Business Director

Patterned and floral dresses: I love that we’ve branched out from all-matching dresses to coordinating styles that flatter every body, and now on to prints and florals for the bridal party. Some brides have their Maid of Honor wear a floral gown and the other ladies coordinating colors; others have all their maids in vibrant prints. It’s such a fun way to personalize your wedding!

Renting gowns: I’m a huge fan of this trend! It’s great not to have to purchase anything, and there are several options like Rent the Runway and other retailers specifically geared toward weddings.

 

Stephanie, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief

Pajamas: Especially with fall and winter weddings upon us, PJ’s are an inspired alternative to robes as you and your ladies prepare for the day. From cozy plaids to crisp oxford piping to delicate boho trim, there are plenty of sets available to suit any wedding aesthetic and budget.

Fresh skin: With moves like unretouched ads, lines offering dozens of foundation shades, and campaigns featuring models (or real women!) of different sizes and races, I find the beauty industry’s current vibe of inclusivity long overdue and so praiseworthy. I hope over time, the trend becomes more than a short-lived fad, but simply a norm and expectation, showcasing a true range of feminine beauty.

This sensibility is evident in makeup trends, as well: after a few years of matte, poreless looks with heavy coverage and contour, I love seeing an increase in dewy skin, freckles showing through, and making peace with lines and natural texture. Encouraging your bridesmaids or makeup artist to embrace each woman’s unique features still photographs beautifully and allows their outer appearance to make visible the radiance of their inner selves.

Millenial pink: If the product design, websites, and clothing I see everywhere are any indication, this shade shows no signs of going away any time soon. For bouquets, nails, or your main wedding color, soft pink flatters all skin tones and can function almost as a neutral. And depending on your taste and other wedding details, it can skew minimalist, romantic, or preppy.

We love hearing your own inspirations. Have you, or will you, incorporate any of these trends into your wedding party? Share in the comments and on our social media what selections you've made for your bridesmaids' attire, gifts, florals, and otherwise!
 

Victoria + David | Antique Glamour Wedding & a Conversion Story.

Victoria and David were a 100% match for religious values on an online dating site. And yet, she was a faithful Catholic who worked for the Church and had spent many years discerning religious life, while he was the minister of a Non-Denominational Evangelical community. Though each wondered if their differences could lead to a successful relationship, they were intrigued by their many similarities, and decided to at least go on a date.

“I thought it would be fascinating to talk about Jesus with a devout, joyful Protestant minister,” says Victoria. “I was right! We had incredible conversations, deep and very spiritually energizing, as one date led to another and another. David's theology seemed very close to Catholicism, and I was surprised how his own study and prayer had led him away from certain doctrines typically associated with Protestantism.

Hesitation took over, however, as their theological differences posed obvious barriers that would make marriage problematic. Victoria and David broke up as the difficulty of how they’d raise future children became increasingly evident.

“We both felt like martyrs,” Victoria says, “laying our growing love for each other at the Lord’s feet in order to be faithful to him.”

She continued to marvel, though, at how wonderfully paired they seemed in every other way. The Lord wasn’t finished working in their relationship.

From the Bride: A short time after our breakup, I contacted David with a high stakes invitation that seemed doomed to fail: perhaps we could date if David earnestly explored the possibility of becoming Catholic.

At first, David rejected the offer as impossible, but later agreed, believing that by seeking the truth we would land on the same page (he was convinced I would become Protestant). He also asked that I pray to see the beauty in Protestant communities. Over the next weeks and months, God did bring us to the same page, and answered both of our prayers!

David’s prayer and study, particularly of the Catechism and the Church Fathers, led him to the decision to enter full communion with the Catholic Church. God had also brought me to see beautiful workings of the Holy Spirit in Protestant communities, and to long even more for the unity of the Church.

We see our marriage as a sort of microcosm of the call to Christian unity. Our relationship is a source of great joy and growth as we are strengthened by the gifts we each bring.

Before meeting, John 17 was a favorite Scripture passage of each of us individually. It contains Christ's prayer to the Father for the unity of all who believe in him: “...that they may be brought to perfection as one…” This passage now has a double meaning for us in marriage as we allow the grace of Christ to make us more perfectly one, as husband and wife. We chose this passage the Gospel reading at our Mass, and David had ut sint consummati in unum engraved in his wedding ring.

David and I are both musicians, so the Nuptial Mass music was a high priority for us. We hired a professional choir and a few instrumentalists. Since David is not accustomed to Latin, we opted to seek out beautiful English settings and pieces. We chose a mixture of motets (including a beautiful Magnificat by Chris Mueller), the Heritage Mass sung in parts, a polyphonic introit, alleluia, and communion antiphon, and several congregational hymns. It turned out gloriously! David and I also made our vows over a crucifix that now hangs in our home.

We’d agreed early in our relationship to save our first kiss on the lips for our wedding day. This decision was always left open to discussion and revisiting if needed, but we continued to discern that we wanted to wait. To be clear, it’s not something we think is necessary for all couples, but it was something we prayerfully determined. Both of us had past relationships in which kissing was permitted, but we now desired to keep this special level of intimacy reserved for a lifelong commitment. We had a very affectionate relationship otherwise, and most people didn’t know this was a choice we had made.

Since some close friends were unable to attend the wedding, we decided to keep our bridal party simple, with one Matron of Honor (my sister) and one Best Man (David's brother). Our beloved nieces and nephews were the flower girls and ring bearers, and one nephew was an altar server.

We wanted the style of the wedding to be floral and antique-inspired, with burgundy, dusty rose, ivory, deep greens, and antique gold. The men’s vests and bow ties were burgundy, with David’s being champagne. My sister wore burgundy and gold.

As for my dress, I’d originally bought a more vintage-looking dress that needed substantial lace additions, but at the last minute, the wrong lace came in and I had to get a back-up dress! My second option was more of a princess style, which I had first avoided, but I couldn’t shake how beautiful I felt in it. By a providential turn of events, I was able to return the first dress and purchase the other for a discounted sample price. It turned out to be lovely and matched our flower girl dresses beautifully.

It was important to us that we honor my mother at the wedding, who passed away 9 years ago. I had a 10th anniversary ring of hers (from the year I was born) made into a cross necklace and into my wedding band. For the bridal procession my uncle (my mom’s brother) processed in holding a rose to represent my mother. At the reception, we also had an “in loving memory” table, and David and I sang a duet in her honor.  

We wanted a reception venue with lots of light that was big enough for a larger number of guests. We found a lovely one, where the owner even had a small chapel on the premises with a crucifix and stained glass window of the Wedding at Cana. For our first dance, we had a friend choreograph a waltz to “Clair de Lune.” Other fun details included a singing flash mob David planned with many of his performer friends. It was a medley from Fiddler on the Roof ("Sunrise, Sunset," "Wonder of Wonders," and "To Life L'chaim")! David and his mother also sang Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer." It was a joyful and entertaining evening.

I look back and reflect on how beautifully marriage is celebrated by the Church, and how even one couple’s marriage is a special blessing to the whole Body of Christ. I was so moved by the way the Church prayed for us in the prayers of our Nuptial Mass, and simply desiring us to be deep vessels to receive all the graces of the sacrament. We were also touched by how our wedding was a source of joy--not only for us but for our friends, family, and even the priests who celebrated the Mass. We now pray for the grace to live our vocation faithfully and grow continually in love for God and one another.

Photography: Stephanie Messick Photography | Church:  Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, VA | Wedding Reception Venue : Morais Vineyards in Bealeton, VA | Day-of wedding coordinator: MayJune events ; Rings and cross necklace: Yas & Co. Jewelers in Fairfax, VA | Flowers: Bella Floral in Front Royal, VA | Catering: Caroline Street Catering in Fredricksburg, VA | Hair and makeup: Yiselle Santos in Bristow, VA | Cakes: Gateau cakes in Warrenton, VA |  DJ: Voss Weddings | Music Conductor/Organist: James Senson from St. John the Beloved in McLean, VA

Saint Monica: A Sister for Brides Who Are Suffering

JIZA ZITO

 

Social media makes it too easy to fall into the trap of believing how a marriage--and life in general--should appear. We scroll through our feeds seeing perfectly curated images of smiling faces and sweet captions. Everyone’s lives appear blissful.

 Photo by  Gades Photography

Photo by Gades Photography

What if you came across the account of a woman whom you learned had an unfaithful husband, an abusive mother-in-law, a promiscuous son, and a grandchild born out of wedlock? What if you knew she was a former alcoholic, or that she cried daily over her husband and son? Would you consider her overly dramatic if you heard she followed that same son to a different country when he ran away?

This is all part of Saint Monica’s story.

Monica is popularly known as the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, wayward children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, and the conversion of relatives. Born in 332 AD in Thaghaste, now present day Souk Ahraus, Algeria, she was raised by Christian parents. But as a young adult, she was married off to Patricius, a Roman pagan and city official.

She suffered greatly throughout her marriage. However, she remained steadfast in prayer and was considered a pious woman. Despite his mistreatment of her and his disdain for her prayer life, it is said Patricius still admired his wife. Many women in the city sought out Monica’s advice and friendship if they also experienced mistreatment by their husbands.

God provided Monica great consolation. He answered her many years of prayer when she witnessed her husband convert to Christianity a year before his death, followed by Augustine’s conversion years later, with the help of Saint Ambrose. Augustine went on to be a priest and bishop. His numerous writings have significantly influenced both the Catholic Church and Western Civilization; today we know him as a Doctor of the Church.

While all of us may not be in Monica’s exact circumstances, that doesn’t void our lives from seasons of great suffering.

When we first say our wedding vows, it is by God’s mercy that he does not fully reveal what trials we will endure throughout our vocation. If we knew how many tears we might shed--much like Saint Monica--over the course of our marriages, we might despair or walk away in fear.

If we are afflicted by a loved one or find ourselves in a time of desolation, it can feel incredibly lonely and unfair. We can only imagine there were many times the cross felt extremely heavy and burdensome for Saint Monica, as well. If there is something the life of this woman can teach us, it is this: we are not alone, and God hears our prayers.

With great dedication to the salvation of her loved ones, she persevered in the hope of knowing that he would bring about the graces of healing and conversion. At any point, Monica could have just quit her prayers and given them no more thought. But she did not.

Because of her perseverance, her husband and son not only found Christ, but Monica’s intercession bore the  gift of Saint Augustine and the work he did for God’s Church. Saint Monica teaches us that if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our cries will not be vain. Our prayers will ultimately bear fruit.


Litany of Saint Monica

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. / God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. / God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. / God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. / Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us. / Holy Mary, conceived without stain of original sin, pray for us and for our children. / Holy Mary, glorious Mother of Jesus Christ, pray for us and for our children.

Saint Monica, pray for us and for our children. / Model of wives, pray for us and for our children. / You who converted your unbelieving husband, Mother of Saint Augustine, pray for us and for our children. / Strict and prudent teacher, guardian of your son in all his ways, pray for us and for our children. / You who carefully watched over his conduct, pray for us and for our children. / You who were sorely distressed at his erring from the right, pray for us and for our children. / You who were untiring in your petitions for his soul’s safety, pray for us and for our children. / You who still hoped on amid the bitterness of your heart and your floods of tears, pray for us and for our children. / You who were filled with consolation upon his return to God, pray for us and for our children. / You who died calmly after faithfully fulfilling your duties, pray for us and for our children. / You who are the prayerful intercessor of all mothers who pray and weep as you did, pray for us and for our children.

Preserve the innocence of our children, we beseech you, Saint Monica. / Protect them against the deceits of evil men, we beseech you, Saint Monica. / Protect them from the dangers of bad example, we beseech you, Saint Monica.

Watch over the movements of grace in their hearts. Let the Christian virtues strike deep root in their hearts and bear much fruit. Redouble your intercession for youth approaching manhood. Obtain for all in mortal sin true contrition and perfect conversion. Obtain for all mothers to fulfill their duties steadily and perseveringly.

Commend all mothers to the protection of the ever-blessed Virgin Mother of Our Lord. Favorably incline the heart of your beloved son Augustine to the salvation of our children.

Saint Augustine, holy son of a saintly mother, pray for us and for our children. / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord! / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord! / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord!

Pray for us, O holy Saint Monica, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


CIRCLE HEADSHOT Jiza Zito 2014.png

About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

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Let Our Lady Bring Your Relationship to Life.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

My dreamer of a high school self would frequently lie awake at night counting the qualities I wished to find in my future husband. I hoped he’d be, in no particular order, funny, creative, musical, a reader, from a big family, and--naturally--handsome.

As time passed and my spiritual life developed in college, I found my desires evolving. Meeting, and marrying, a man of deep faith started to push qualities like “good cook and dancer” from the top of my unofficial list. Specifically, I prayed that my husband would have a relationship with Our Lady.

I am blessed beyond measure to have found all these qualities, and more, in my husband Andrew. When we started dating, he told me how taking up the practice of a daily rosary the previous summer had brought order and peace to his life during a time he knew he’d wandered from the path of virtue he so deeply strove for. Starlit rosary walks around our college campus quickly became a ritual we loved.

The clarity I sensed through our prayer was like a thinning of the veil between the earthly life and the divine one. Total wonder and trust in the Father’s goodness. We talked often about our shared sense of healing from past relationships and such a certainty and purity in the start of our relationship. Months later, it was after a rosary walk, before a statue of Our Lady, that Andrew proposed. We chose a line from the Memorare, "before thee we kneel"--a reflection of the utter abandon to her care found in the prayer--for the inscription in our wedding rings.

To me, there is nothing more attractive, more admirable, and more masculine than a man in love with the Blessed Mother.

She is so alive, truly showing a man how to love his bride.

She herself is the embodiment of a bride--humble and small, yet a pillar of strength; pure beauty; sexual integrity; a magnification of the Lord’s goodness. I imagine she lived a rich emotional and spiritual life that models the love spouses are called to: ardent and pure-hearted devotion to her husband, abiding tenderness for her son, an emptying to the depths of her being at the foot of the Cross.

St. Louis de Montfort described devotion to Mary as being "Our Lady's slave," an image that's understandably uncomfortable across four centuries and an entirely different culture. To be honest, I was unsettled when I was introduced to the term--at the time, I was just learning more about the Catholic faith and was considering Marian consecration, and the thought of slavery made me skittish. To discover that Our Lady wanted to chain me to her for eternity didn't exactly seem loving, let alone pleasant.

I'm glad I heard out the context and explanation of the language, and am grateful for the grace of developing a devotion to her and making a consecration with my husband. Now, when I think of being chained to Our Lady, I no longer envision a burden or a literal ball and chain.

Instead, it brings me deep comfort to know my husband and I are forever tethered to her. It's impossible for her to let us go, even if we try. By grace alone, she's always pulling us back to her and into a deeper love for her son.

Our Marian devotions have absolutely deepened our prayer lives, yet I suspect the graces flow most abundantly when we fall short. 

The daily opportunities to serve and sacrifice in marriage, the arguments, all the moments my husband and I aren’t just sitting there, holding hands in prayer--she keeps us close, and intercedes for us still.

How can you, as a couple, cultivate your own deeper devotion to Mary? Whether you’ve never had a relationship with her or whether you made a consecration years ago, she invites us from wherever we are. Consider habitually praying a decade or more of the rosary with your fiancé or husband, hanging an image or icon in your home, celebrating Marian feast days with Mass and a date night or gathering, and discerning Marian consecration.

In all her perfection, it might seem difficult to relate to Our Lady on a human level, but when I feel down on myself, knowing I could work harder at living out my vocation to marriage, I try to remember that she was and is entirely human. Alongside her, and with her prayers, we ourselves become fully alive.

We love hearing your own experiences of saintly intercession. Share your experiences with inviting Our Lady into your relationship! Do you have any Marian traditions? Any stories of how she's shaped your love story?


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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Coleen + Matt | Airy Elegance Wedding

Coleen and Matt were friends for a year at Franciscan University before their first date at a coffee shop. After six years of dating that included hours spent at Mass and reading spiritual literature on marriage, Matt invited Coleen on a walk one Sunday morning. On a hilltop, he got down on his knees and asked her to spend forever with him.

From the Photographer: Coleen and Matt’s springtime wedding day was warm and gorgeous, set for three in the afternoon--the hour of mercy--at the Historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

They looked so in love and overjoyed during the Mass! Coleen's brother, who is a priest, was the celebrant and delivered a beautiful homily that left us all wanting to hear more--myself included. The bride and groom welcomed their guests to the reception at Mulberry Art Studios in downtown Lancaster. They chose a book theme, with centerpieces that showcased their mutual love for reading. Everything was so intentionally chosen to reflect their personalities.

Instead of a garter toss, Coleen and Matt opted to wash each other's feet as a sign of service to each other. And they got it right. A wedding lasts one day, but a marriage lasts forever; that's only possible when we serve each other.

After the foot washing, all their guests, from kids to elders, got up and danced.

I was emotional countless times throughout the day--it was entirely centered on God. When I saw Matt and Coleen washing each other's feet I could no longer fight back my tears, and I let them stream down. That touched me so deeply, as I had never before seen a bride and groom perform this ritual in person. Such a sign of service and love for the other. A reminder that to have a strong marriage we have to put the other first; serve and love first. Then God himself fulfills our hearts.

Photography: Juliana Tomlinson Photography | Church: Historic St. Mary Catholic Church | Reception Venue : Mulberry Art Studios | Getting Ready Location: Eden Resort and Suites | Hair: Master Hair Designs by Beth K. Mitchel at Hair Cuttery | Florist: Jackie (Bride's aunt) | Cake Artist: Oregon Dairy | DJ: Garvo Music & DJ Services | Wedding Dress: Country Threads by Gail, Alfred Angelo