When my husband proposed to me, we sat around being cute and happy for approximately an hour before I pulled out a notebook. “Okay,” I said to him. “Are you ready to get to work?”
From that day on, and throughout the entirety of our 306-day engagement, I don’t think I ever stopped thinking about wedding details. I was a DIY bride with a penchant for holding a wedding on a budget, so I was always doing something: hand painting frames for centerpieces, printing and cutting invitations in my college library, spending hours scouring the internet for deals.
The only time I’d ever really pause would be during Adoration. I work at a college, and each morning, I’d stop at the chapel to pray. As I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, I'd mentally count down the days until our wedding, letting go of the details for a few moments. Truly resting in the beauty of the sacrament I was preparing to receive.
It was during one of these times of reflection, just prior to our wedding day, that I had this thought: Jesus often uses the imagery of a wedding during his teaching, because he equates a wedding to what heaven will be like. Imagine, then, if we were to prepare for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb like we prepare for our own weddings.
What would that preparation look like? And how can the different stages of wedding planning aid us in our journey both to the altar and our ultimate destination? Here, my suggestions for navigating your planning with our ultimate purpose in mind:
There’s something wonderfully thrilling about seeing the word engaged next to your name on Facebook and watching the reactions and shocked comments pour in.
As I restrained myself from posting every subsequent detail about wedding planning throughout my engagement, I started thinking about how I presented myself online in general.
Did my friends and family know, for instance, how important my faith is to me? I realized that in coming to my wedding, some may be surprised how “Catholic” it was going to be, and that perhaps being less afraid to talk about my faith online might be an easy way to continue evangelizing after the wedding.
Selecting Your Wedding Party
For our earthly wedding, we select the wedding party with care. We look to close relatives and friends, choosing men and women who will not only be fun to celebrate with, but whom we can depend on; people who are reliable and will keep us calm and organized.
In the same way, we can prepare a “wedding party” to accompany us on our faith journey, surrounding ourselves with people who lead us toward God and encourage us to follow him.
Revel in the moments spent with dear friends. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to lean on others for spiritual support. The community of women within Spoken Bride is a lovely place to start.
I went wedding dress shopping early, because that was the stage of planning I was most looking forward to. I tried on the first dress the stylist chose, saw myself in the mirror, and instantly knew it was the dress. I did try on two others, but an hour later had already put down the deposit on the first. I knew people would think I was crazy for buying the first wedding dress I’d ever tried on, but it didn’t matter. I just knew it was the one.
What makes your soul feel beautiful? For me, it’s playing Christian music on my way to work. While Praise and Worship may not be everyone’s style, rocking out to a spiritual tune sets my soul on fire. Whatever makes your soul feel beautiful, do that. Don’t feel pressured to conform to what works for others’ spiritual journeys, but ensure you are taking time during this season of engagement to beautify your soul in addition to your body.
I was a DIY bride: everything I could make myself, I did, loving being such an integral part of the process. Did it cause me to have breakdowns about postcard paper mailing weights and how to glue together paper frames? Absolutely. But I regret nothing, because I got the full wedding experience I’d wanted for myself.
Ironically, when it comes to preparing for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, I’d advise the exact opposite: don’t try to DIY it.
We were made to be social creatures. Spiritual communion can be a beautiful thing among friends. One of my best religious memories is of praying the Rosary with my college friends when Daily Mass was cancelled one day, echoed beautifully when these same friends all came together to pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament the night before our wedding. Be especially unafraid of relying on your fiancé or husband. That is your ultimate calling--to lead one another to heaven!
All the Details
My personality and habits made me meticulous about the details of our wedding. From including handwritten, personalized notes inside each place card to redoing the venue’s menu cards so everything would be the same color, I wanted everything to be perfect.
Yet my perfectionism didn’t always translate to my faith. While in my mind everything had to be the right color at my wedding, I was perfectly fine giving myself excuses about my prayer life: well, God can’t expect me to be perfect.
The thing is, he can, and he does. My wedding encouraged me to not settle for average in my faith life, but to strive to be as spiritually perfect as I can be.
The Wedding Day
The day of our wedding, I woke up at 5 A.M. I took a deep breath, looked at the sun streaming through my window, and was filled with elation, just like I always thought I would be.
Then--unlike I ever thought--I looked at the time, decided I was still tired, and fell back to sleep for another half hour. At the very moment I thought I’d be most nervous, all the stress of the past months simply melted away in the joy of marrying my best friend, whom I had been longing for and anticipating for years.
That’s how I want to feel on the day that God brings me home. I want to feel so prepared, so ready for his coming that I can be full of peace in finally being united to him. Just as I gave myself wholeheartedly to my husband on our wedding day, so too do I want to be able to give a pure, loving heart to the Creator, free of sin and full of joy, with longing anticipation to be totally his.
The period of engagement can be beyond hectic, but allow yourself the time and space to make it a spiritual journey, as well as a practical one. Know of my prayers for you as you prepare for your big day here on earth, and for the other “big day” you’ll someday reach in heaven!
About the Author: Emily Ricci – Emily Ricci is a Spoken Bride vendor and the owner of Gloriam Marketing, a Catholic marketing, consulting, and event planning firm that also designs programs and custom inserts for Catholic weddings. She married her college sweetheart and best friend on June 16, 2017 and has a passion for Christ, marketing, and the Oxford comma (in that order).