How He Asked | Mary Kate + Jason

Having just ended an emotionally exhausting relationship, Mary Kate cautiously took measures to protect herself from the pain of heartbreak, saying “every novena imaginable” to saints Anne, Jude, Joseph, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, Raphael, and Anthony. Her future husband was a constant fixture in her prayer life.

A line from the movie Little Boy, spoken by a priest, echoed in Mary Kate’s heart: “you moved me to move the bottle.” She deeply desired that the Lord would move to give her a holy spouse, praying for her husband’s strength and courage as they waited to meet each other.

That summer, she met a seminarian for her diocese. They became friends. And for a time, that was that.

In Mary Kate’s words: Jason and I always had good conversations, especially about the Catholic faith and about music. I often saw him, with other seminarians, at many young adult events in the area. At the conclusion of a pastoral year, Jason returned to seminary.

I continued my constant prayers for my future husband, trusting completely that God would bring him into my life when the time was right. One Sunday, about a year after our first meeting, I saw Jason’s announcement on Facebook that he had discerned out of the seminary, and would not be continuing in formation. I was shocked, and a little disappointed. If anyone would have made a good priest, it would have been Jason.

That Wednesday, I saw him again, and we were able to catch up. Over the next three and a half weeks, we saw each other frequently at different young adult events, attended several priestly ordinations together, and started getting to know each other better. At the end of that time, we went to a couple movies together. The day before Corpus Christi Sunday, Jason asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. Two years earlier, I had asked God to bring me a good Catholic man, and to bring him to me on the Feast of Corpus Christi. In return, I would get married as close to Corpus Christi Sunday as I possibly could. To say I was a overjoyed might be an understatement.

On March 17, 2018 we celebrated nine months of dating. Jason had spoken with my parents in February and had received their permission to ask for my hand in marriage. On Tuesday of Holy Week, I assisted with the Chrism Mass in our diocese. The Mass totally got me in the Holy Week mood, and I was ecstatic. Jason and I usually see each other on Tuesdays and weekends, so I already knew I’d be seeing him that evening after work. On my way home, as we talked on the phone, he suggested we go to the Perpetual Adoration chapel in town that evening He got to my house, we had supper, and then we left for the Chapel.

We’d been there almost a full hour when Jason stood up from our pew and proceeded to kneel right in front of the monstrance. He’d done that before, so I didn't think much of it. Except that he knelt there for forty-five minutes. As it turns out, he had been waiting for me to get impatient and ask him if we would be leaving soon. We’d each thought the other simply needed some serious prayer time!

Finally, Jason looked back at me and nodded for me to come forward. I knelt beside him. After a moment or two he stood up, so I did, too. As soon as I was standing, he knelt back down, and on one knee, proposed to me in front of Jesus. I, of course, said yes. An older couple was there for their holy hour; they politely clapped and congratulated us. On the car ride back to my house, I learned some of my siblings and their families were waiting with champagne to celebrate with us! It was such a joyful evening, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect proposal.

Besides the fact that Jason proposed before Jesus in the Eucharist--thus making him the foundation of the next stage in our relationship--I think my biggest takeaway from our engagement is a reflection on my ring.

My ring has a sapphire and a ruby on either side of a diamond. My favorite color is blue, and Jason’s is red. There is a twofold significance: first, two become one in the sacrament of marriage. Second, it takes three to get married, with God as the center diamond and Jason and I as the jewels on the sides.

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Engagement Location: St. Joseph's Church Perpetual Adoration Chapel | Ring: Diamonds and Jewelry Unlimited

Newlywed Life | Creating a Prayer Space in Your Home

Even the most mundane daily practices, like brushing your teeth together, feel infused with newness and promise during the first months of married life. In these small matters, as well as larger ones, foundational habits and routines are formed. Because it’s such a formational period, the start of your marriage is both an easy and exciting time to choose habits that facilitate a shared prayer routine.

An oratory is a place of worship not attached to a parish. Oratories are often inhabited by religious orders, but it’s not just our brothers and sisters in religious life who have the opportunity to formally worship in this way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends creating a corner for contemplation and worship in the home, a space for a “little oratory” in family life.

Whether or not your first home has room to accommodate an entire corner for prayer, the effort of designating a space for contemplation--alone and with your spouse--pays dividends in beauty and consistency in your prayer life. Here, four tips for designing and enjoying a prayer space in your home.

Choose a space.

At minimum, one to two chairs and a small table are effective starting materials for a prayer space. If your space is more limited than a corner of your living room allows, incorporating your religious items and prayer materials into a vignette on your coffee table or choosing a seated spot (even the kitchen table) in view of a crucifix or piece of religious art are worthy alternatives.

Set the scene.

Beauty inspires worship and reverence, drawing our attention out of the everyday and toward the sacred. Fill your space with a crucifix, images or icons of the saints, religious statues, a candle, and flowers or greenery.

Store your prayer resources close at hand.

Make use of a nearby drawer, basket, shelf, or table to stash or display the items you use for prayer: journals, Rosaries, spiritual reading, musical instruments, and/or devotionals.

Create a routine.

Choose a time of day, perhaps over coffee in the morning or before beginning your evening leisure activities, to be with your spouse in your prayer space. You might pray individually in silence, do a decade or more of the Rosary together, read spiritual books together or on your own for a designated time, or pray spontaneously and aloud.

Remember that establishing a prayer routine that feels comfortable, fruitful, and well-suited to your lifestyle and personalities can take time, and that’s alright! Learning the subtleties of your spouse’s spirituality is a beautiful fruit of a holy relationship, one that never reaches a point of perfect clarity this side of heaven--it’s in the learning, and the constant unveiling of who you are, before the Lord, that joy resides.

And if you aren’t a newlywed, but have been married for longer yet have never incorporated a prayer space into your routine, it’s never inopportune to begin. We love hearing about your prayer rituals with your husband and the ways you invite the Father into your home. Be sure to share about your prayer spaces and routines in the comments and on our social media!

Readers Share | Favorite Stress Relievers and Self-Care

Like the sacrament of marriage itself, we intend for this ministry to be lived in communion. We are wildly grateful, with all glory to God, for every story, comment, and prayer intention you entrust to us that makes that possible. Thank you.

Knowing engagement is a whirlwind, no matter how long or short, and that life's busyness doesn't cease after your wedding day, taking time to be still and intentional is life-giving. We recently asked our social media followers to share with us their favorite forms of self-care and relaxation. Here’s what you had to say.

Floral design. - Kathleen

A jog or massage. - Laura

Diffusing lavender and bergamot essential oils and drinking herbal tea. - Sarah, @everymomentloving

Baths with candles, wine, and face masks. - @dreheiny

Belly dancing. - Steph

Long baths, taking my supplements, attending counseling, pleasure reading, watercolor painting, getting a therapeutic massage, or a coffee date with a close friend. - Andrea

I enjoy getting my nails done and watching TV. - Juliana

A mud mask and glass of wine. - Katie

I love to do art when I’m stressed! I find that my most inspirational times are early morning hours, though!- Isabella, @gracetothehumble

A bath and a good cry. - Thea

I always enjoy a relaxing bath with a fragrant epsom salt. It’s very soothing and calming and the perfect way to unwind after a long day. - Danielle, @danielleduet

A nap. - Regina

I love doing DIY spa nights with my girls--that includes face masks, nails, eyebrows, and a glass of wine. And spending some one on one time with Our Lady reminds me to always imitate her as best I can. - Maria, @mariamirandah

A massage from my husband. - Grace

Netflix and wine! - Amy

No matter how busy, know you aren’t alone on your journey to the altar, and beyond. Share your favorite form of self-care in the comments and on our social media, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your prayer intentions or for resources to manage stress.

Christina + Ben | Candlelight Ballroom Wedding

Christina and Ben met during their freshman orientation at Creighton University and later became study pals for their Theology 101 course. They were good friends, and just friends. Or so Christina thought.

Immediately after Christmas break, Ben asked her out. She said yes. Their first date was to dinner in downtown Omaha...at 11 P.M., due to a delayed drumline practice. On Valentine’s Day they kissed, and became an official couple soon after.

From the Bride: Faith had always been important to us individually, but it became part of who we are as a couple during our sophomore year. We began praying and reflecting on the daily Mass readings each morning over breakfast in the cafeteria. These studies eventually led us to the Theology of the Body, which became a huge milestone in the deepening of our relationship.

As we grew closer, I began to question my decision to seriously date Ben, who was not Catholic. I finally concluded I would rather have someone with a strong, truly convicted faith than someone with a faith so flimsy he would convert to Catholicism to make me happy. Ben did, however, enter the Church later after his own spiritual journey.

Senior year was filled with hard work and more than a little trepidation. Ben was applying to medical school, and I was applying for international fellowship programs. So many nights were spent editing essays and applications. We didn’t talk much about our concrete plans after school, as so much was dependent on location: would we stay together if I was overseas and Ben was in the states? How would our respective careers shape our relationship?

Luckily, I didn’t make the cut for the international fellowships I’d applied for; proof that disappointments are all part of God’s plan.

Ben proposed five days before graduation, the outdoors gli stening from a fresh rain, with a ring he designed with a local jeweler.

We hired a former newspaper photographer and couldn’t be happier with our decision. Our wedding photos look different from most, and we like that. He did an excellent job capturing the energy and emotion of the day, without taking us away from the moments at hand.

My gown was handmade by my great-grandma, for my grandmother and her sister. My mom and her sister wore it, and I had the honor of doing the same. I decided to cut my cathedral-length veil (not an antique) after the ceremony was over--it was a smart choice for me. You only get to wear a veil once in your life, so I figured I might as well wear it as long as I could!

I bought my jewelry on Etsy the week before the wedding. Both pieces were vintage, from the 1930s and 40s. Our wedding bands were a gift from my grandparents, both of whom passed away when I was young. My mom, aunt, and bridesmaids made bouquets and corsages using flowers from Sam’s Club.

When we arrived at the church, there was scaffolding everywhere--no one had told us about the summer-long construction project! Music is so important to us, especially to Ben, and the songs for the liturgy included “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Love Divine All Loves Excelling,” accompanied by a beautiful organist and trumpeter.

We spent significant time choosing the Mass readings--Isaiah 43:1-3a, Psalm 128, Ephesians 5:2, 21-33, and Matthew 10:5a, 8-16--and writing our own petitions. It was incredibly special to share with our loved ones the words that spoke to us.

Our priest, Fr. Appel, gave the most beautiful homily. He spoke of the roots of the word "marriage," coming from the idea of “throwing your lot in” with another; in other words, taking a gamble. He explained that marriage is not intended for those who plan their entire future or have set expectations. Marriage is saying yes to the risk of committing your entire life to another.

Nearly every bride says her wedding day goes too fast; that she blinks and it’s over. We didn’t feel that way, and I credit it a single decision: to eat dinner by ourselves. Ben and I escaped to a side room during the cocktail hour to a side room and spent twenty minutes as just the two of us. Instead of running around, this time slowed us down and re-centered our focus: we had just gotten married! In the quiet, we were able to reflect on and celebrate what had just taken place.

Our reception venue was a beautiful club established in the 1800s, with wood paneling, antique lighting, a ballroom, and even an old-style bowling alley. We enjoyed having multiple spaces for hosting. The cocktail hour was held on the main floor of the building, where a wraparound porch overlooks an expansive front lawn prepared with tables, drinks, and yard games. Dinner and dancing were held upstairs in the ballroom, featuring chandeliers, wood floors, and a balcony. The movement was a key factor in the atmosphere--we wanted to transition our guests between relaxed socializing for cocktails, intimate dinner party vibes for dinner, and lively dancing for the rest of the night.

For reception décor, we sent our families on a mission to buy as many candles as possible. The room was aglow with over 800 candles in crystal holders Ben’s dad has collected over the years. My mom sewed all 88 yards of the table runners we used.

There were so many happy tears on our wedding day, particularly when my dad asked to cut our first dance short because he just couldn’t take it anymore! We danced to the lullaby he sung my sister and I every night before bed.

All of the speeches were beautiful, but my dad’s especially. He brought out the 2x4 board my family had used to measure our heights as children. He got out the measuring book and pencil, and measured Ben on our childhood memory, making him officially a part of the family. He also prepared the back of the board for the next generation of grandkids.

Ben and I both use one word when describing our wedding day: humbled. Humbled by the help our family and friends gave so readily in the months beforehand. Humbled by all our loved ones who came to celebrate with and show their love for us. And humbled by the blessing that is a lifelong union with each other and with Christ.

Photography: Mike Burley Photography | Church: St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Davenport, IA | Wedding Reception Venue : The Outing Club, Davenport, IA | Rings: Doland JewelersBorsheims | Flowers: Sam’s Club | Invitations/Stationary: Designed by bride, Printing | Brides dress and veil: Handmade | Jewelry: Terry O’sFemByDesign | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | The Tie Bar https://www.thetiebar.com/ | Hairstylist: Annette Johnson | Rentals: Century Car and Van RentalTriple A Rentals

The Sophia Series | Jessi

We invite our longtime married readers to share the experiences that have marked, refined, and anointed their marriages; months and years that, by grace, transform the mundane, the bitter, and the incomprehensible into the fruits of holy wisdom. A purification and a clear vision for the path to heaven that lies ahead. The Sophia Series.

Jessi Caruthers, married since 2011, discovered the sorrow that unexpectedly lay beneath the thought of openness to life. And through the grace of her marriage, she learned to sit within that sorrow and find its redemption.

  Photography:  MD Turner Photography

Photography: MD Turner Photography

It was on our first real date that my future husband told me there was a good chance he would never be able to parent children. We were sitting in this overpriced little Italian restaurant before going to an awful opera where Tim held my hand for the first time. We had known each other for a couple of years, and I knew he was a childhood cancer survivor. Before we began any sort of serious relationship, he wanted me to know that the treatment which, by the grace of God and modern medicine, saved his life, had the possible--even likely--side effect of causing infertility.

I thought very little of infertility that night. I was too busy worrying about what to do with my hands and if there was something in my teeth.

A little less than a year later on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on a shared kneeler in our beautiful parish, Tim asked me to marry him. I said yes. Six months later, we were married in that same beautiful church. We vowed openly to accept children as gifts from God. We were also vowing to accept that our marriage would not be given that gift; at least not in the normal way.

While it is true that from the very beginning of our relationship I understood we were unlikely to conceive children, somehow I didn't really think that would be our cross.

We are good people. We would be good parents, I thought. Surely, God does not want us to be childless.

Doctors were pretty hopeful, too, since there were no other indications of underlying problems. So, we hoped.

We were eager to start our family when we married. I drove myself and my dear husband a little crazy each month when the signs I thought pointed to pregnancy actually pointed to quite the opposite. I was a wreck. I cried a lot. What made it worse was that I knew Tim felt responsible. After a year, Tim convinced me we should seek a diagnosis or prognosis to determine whether there was any hope of conception. Over the phone, we received the medical answer: zero chance. No clarification was needed. No explanation was given, just "not going to happen."

Once one has a ring on her finger, everyone from her hairdresser to her aunt, the nice lady who sits in front of her at mass, even her social media ads start wondering when the children will start coming. If it has been a couple years, some ask. Others simply assume that perhaps a couple isn’t really open to life.

Infertility is invisible and so isolating.

I remember sitting in the choir loft of our parish, looking down on all the women who stood for the priest's blessing, on the first Mother's Day after we found out with some certainty that we wouldn't have children. Sitting there, looking down, I wept bitterly. I was angry with God and I was angry with myself. Children are gifts from God--truly "the supreme gift of marriage"--but one that I would not have and that, I knew, was not owed to me. How dare I be angry with God for withholding a gift I don't deserve?

So, in shame and fear I hid myself from my husband, from my friends, and from my Creator. It was precisely in my desire for children that I neglected my vow to give myself totally and freely to my husband. Instead of leaning into my marriage by leaning on my husband; instead of leaning into my faith by embracing our cross; instead of allowing my friends to share my burden, I hid myself in work and pity. I busied myself, but I stopped praying. I felt all the feelings, and I tried to feel them alone. And at that I failed.

  Photography:  MD Turner Photography

Photography: MD Turner Photography

During one of our monthly confession dates, a priest told me that in withholding this darkness from my husband I was failing him as a wife. I was not allowing him to be what he vowed to me: to be my husband, my rock, "in sickness and in health." It was a valuable lesson, a lesson that is unique to every marriage, but one I have realized all marriages need to learn in some way. For it is precisely in the hard things that we learn to love.

What we’ve learned is that marital love is a total and complete gift of self. And sometimes the gift of self that you would like to give--that gift of the self that has it together and is in control--is not the one you are able to give. Christ emptied himself on the cross. We are called in marriage to empty ourselves to our spouse, trusting that they will not leave us empty. That is precisely the icon of God's love that is found in marriage.

So, I became vulnerable before my husband. In allowing myself to be vulnerable, I allowed my husband to be who he vowed to be to me. And I allowed my husband to bring me back to trust in God.

I would not wish infertility on anyone. But as with any suffering, there are things to be learned and graces to be gained that could not be learned or received without that suffering.

I learned why the Church teaches children are the supreme gift and fruit of marital love. From an abstract, theological perspective, I understood, but it wasn't until it was suggested to me to get a sperm donor that I really got it. "You can even get a family member if biology is important to you," someone said.

I realized viscerally what I had only understood intellectually before that day: that I didn't just want to be pregnant and to have children. I longed for children precisely as an outpouring of our love. I wanted children that had my husband's nose and my eyes. Not for stupid aesthetic reasons, but because it is precisely out of that kind of love that children are gifts, and that children deserve to be born out of that love.

We might have been able to "fix" my not being able to be pregnant and my desire to have children, but it would have been without the only man I wanted to be their father. This is why only couples, not individuals, are infertile. My husband's cancer and his diagnosis might be the reason for our infertility--but precisely because we are married, if he is infertile then so am I.

I also learned to allow myself and others to grieve. I felt that because I hadn't lost a child, and we aren't owed a child by God, we had no right to grieve. We have this desire (especially Americans, I think) to fix people rather than embrace their sufferings. Suffering is uncomfortable, and we want to get over it as soon as possible.

When my husband and  told others about our infertility we were often told that it was God's will--as if taking away the right to be sad; if it is God's will then I should just surrender to it and even be happy about it. Even more often, we were given the ubiquitous advice that "you can always adopt". But adoption is not a replacement for fertility. And despite the myth, it doesn't cure it, either.

In Catholic theology we learn we are called to beget children as the gift and outpouring of marriage, but both in infertility and adoption, something has gone wrong. If we allowed ourselves and each other to grieve the fact that we would not have children by nature, that I would never feel the kick of a child in my womb, that Tim would never have children that look like him, we would be treating the children we adopt as replacements rather than the unique and unrepeatable individuals they are.

Infertility also taught us about grace. In the Easter Vigil liturgy we hear the proclamation "O Happy Fault that merited such and so great a redeemer!" It is precisely in our brokenness that God is able to fulfill us and to bring about an even greater good than we could have expected.

We are his children by adoption. It is through our brokenness that we are his, by grace.

It wasn't until we were able to accept our brokenness that we were free to suffer our inability to have children by nature, and that we were really ready to become parents by grace. And adoption is always from a place of brokenness. Something has gone wrong. We aren't there to fix that brokenness, but to redeem it in love. Love for expectant mothers in fear and crisis, love for birth parents who love their children more than themselves, and especially for those children, who enter into the world of brokenness and are placed in our family to be our children by grace. And like our redemption, it is truly a beautiful grace.

We learned to trust in God and listen to his desire for our family--to rely solely on him. Adoption is expensive and, as two teachers with student loans and small salaries, it seemed hopeless that we would be able to bring children into our home. My husband and I relied so heavily on each other's strengths: I relied on his ability to trust, and he relied on my ability to plan every eventuality. By relying on each other, and especially through the incredible generosity of our friends, God made adoption happen for us. We pray he has other children in mind to become part of our family.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you... and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

Through our struggles with infertility, I learned that the yoke of selfishness and control is so much heavier than whatever cross Christ asks me to take with him. I learned that my husband is here to share that burden. And that, really, is what marriage is: carrying our cross together.

Jessi’s words of wisdom for brides:

Tell your husband what you need instead of making him guess: You need to hear that he thinks you are beautiful? Tell him. You need to feel appreciated? Tell him. You need him to do the dishes? Ask him to do the dishes! In the first couple years of marriage, I wanted my husband to just intuit what I wanted and needed, until I realized I was setting him up for failure in my mind. My husband is a great man; he wants to bring me to God and help to make me happy, but I was expecting him to be a mind reader, too. When I tell him what I need, he exceeds my expectations.

Find a prayer life and time that works for you and your spouse, and pray together. Make it a part of your shared lives, so that even when you don't feel like it your husband can move you to prayer, even when he isn't feeling it you can help him, so in your life you are always both pointed toward God, together.

Try to outdo your spouse in service and forgiveness, and try to outdo yourself each new day.


About the Author: Jessi Caruthers is a wife to a really good man and a mother through adoption to an adorable and busy toddler. She puts her degree in Thomistic philosophy to good use teaching high school Ethics and Religion in a suburb of Houston. She aspires to shabby hospitality in her little yellow house, living a simple liturgical life and making beautiful things.

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Newlywed Life | The Growing Pains of New Marriage

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

My husband of two weeks sat beside me on the floor, bowls of black beans and rice before us and backs against our first Ikea couch. We ate, surrounded by an enamel Dutch oven, new and velvety towels, down pillows, gilded picture frames. The stuff of a wedding registry checked off. But without chairs to sit on for dinner.

Married at 23, with one of us in graduate school and the other commencing a job search in a new town, my husband and I began our wedded life absorbing the paradox of having just experienced the most elegant, special occasion of our lives--and all the generous gifts and photogenic dazzle it entailed--followed by a season of surprisingly unglamorous trials: extreme simplicity and a tight budget, arguments over whether dishes should be washed before bed or the following morning, equivocating over daily habits and routines, struggling to comprehend an NFP chart.

Before the wedding, we’d spent hours of our long-distance engagement on the phone, dreamily anticipating when we’d be together daily and no longer have to say goodbye for weeks at a time. We eagerly devoured spiritual literature on marriage, knowing even when emotion abandoned us from time to time, pure willpower and sacramental grace would sustain our love. It seems naive now, yet I still imagined we’d sail painlessly into marriage, our newlywed bliss drowning any minor frustrations.

Minor frustrations, however, often felt major, compounded by our financial situation and search for community four hours away from friends and family. Even in the genuine euphoria of finally being husband and wife, we bickered. I felt guilty, knowing material concerns and disagreements over trivial matters like whether to roll up the toothpaste tube were nothing; that the foundation of our love felt truly solid and that even with certain deprivations we still had much compared to some. I wish I could go back and tell myself it’s alright to have felt this way.

It wasn’t until a few months in, when my pride was mercifully stripped away that I could see these growing pains as a gift. Offerings from the Father to burn away our faults and, like iron in a fire, sharpen one another in virtue. The irritations of adjusting to a shared life didn’t immediately disappear. But suddenly, what seemed like obstacles in the way of love became opportunities to love.

My husband and I discussed expressly thanking God for any frustrations we felt with our situation or one another, knowing when we accept his invitation, all things are transformed and love disinterested in the self is all the more possible. “This is the very perfection of a man,” wrote Augustine, “to find out his own imperfections.”

Whatever your crosses as a newly married couple, consider this permission to struggle, and even to find the struggle discouraging. Welcome it all the same. There were times, in those early weeks of my marriage, a lie crept in that the grace of the sacrament just wasn’t working for us. I know now that difficulty doesn’t mean grace isn’t at work. It means that it is, and is ours to embrace.

The first steps of any journey can be the hardest, not least of which the steps on this pilgrimage to heaven. You aren’t alone, though. In flesh and in spirit, united to you entirely, is a second person--and a third.


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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4 Ideas for Wedding Gifts to Your Beloved

The future Saint John Paul II wrote in Love and Responsibility that “[betrothed love’s] decisive character is the giving of one’s own person (to another). The essence of betrothed love is self-giving, the surrender of one’s ‘I.’” Every vocation finds its deepest fulfillment in self-gift; marriage, perhaps, in the most tangible way. Within the sacrament, husband and wife give nothing less than their entire selves to one another; a yes given in total freedom.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t commemorate your wedding with additional items besides your very beings. While there’s no rulebook requiring wedding gifts to each other are required, the gesture can carry emotional significance--particularly for those whom gift-giving is a love language. If you and your beloved have chosen to give each other wedding gifts, we present these four categories as a starting point for your ideas.

Experience gifts

The gift of quality time through shared experience not only creates an indelible memory of your first days as a married couple, but can be a surprise for your beloved if it’s planned for after your wedding day. You might secretly plan a dinner or pilgrimage in your honeymoon location, for instance, purchase two tickets for an upcoming sports event or concert, or book an in-home photography session to document your time as newlyweds.

Practical gifts

Of course, the start of your life together isn’t solely a material pursuit. When kept in a virtuous perspective, however--a detached sensibility and an understanding that life has its seasons of fasting and feasting within our means--it feels special to celebrate your marriage with a new or upgraded item your spouse (or the both of you) can use to elevate your daily routines and habits. Practical goods fit well into this category, including coffee equipment, tech items, barware, luggage or everyday bags, or even a piece of furniture your spouse would love or has his eye on.

Hobby-related gifts

Whatever your talents and interests, or whatever your spouse-to-be’s, there’s probably a way to channel them into a meaningful wedding gift: an original poem or song, a painting of the church where you were engaged or are to be married, an instrument, camera, journal, outdoor or hiking gear, or beautiful edition of a favorite book. Your hobbies are a source of creativity, and future leisure, waiting to be tapped into.

Spiritual gifts

A mass enrollment--perhaps at a church or with a religious order with significant meaning for your spouse--a statue, icon, or religious image for your home, family Bible, Rosary, or saint medal are gifts that offer a deeply personal element, allowing you to choose items that reflect the particular spirituality, saints, and devotions significant to who you are.

We love hearing the meaning and intention behind the details of your wedding day. Did you and your spouse exchange gifts, or are you planning to? Share your gift ideas for brides and grooms, and how you chose them, in the comments and on our social media.