The first day of the school year at Indiana University Purdue, Amanda--a brand-new freshman--and her roommate prepared to attend a speaker on campus, with her roommate’s high school friend and fellow student, Craig, along. Craig recalls the afternoon fondly, yet Amanda’s most vivid memory is that Craig made them late for the ice cream social that followed the event.
Amanda and Craig continued spending time together with mutual friends that semester, and spent much one-on-one time on unofficial dates. That spring, while swimming laps in the campus pool, Craig asked Amanda out.
Throughout their college years, Amanda and Craig’s faith grew, and strengthened their relationship in turn, through the Catholic Student Organization, Bible studies, and FOCUS discipleship at the university. They began weekly holy hours before the blessed sacrament in their beloved campus chapel, Saint John the Evangelist, where their discernment of marriage flourished in silence and where it became evident to Craig he would one day propose.
With the knowledge that he and Amanda desired to model their relationship after the Holy Family, Craig purchased a Miraculous Medal for Amanda and a Saint Joseph medal for himself. And an engagement ring.
Not long after asking their campus chaplain to bless these items, Amanda and Craig knelt before Our Lady during Adoration at Saint John’s. This time, unlike their many other hours in the chapel, Craig got down on one knee. After Amanda’s yes, they placed the medals around one another’s necks and lit two votive offerings, one at the feet of Mary and the other at the statue of Saint Joseph.
From the Bride: How special and beautiful that a little over a year later, we were united in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony in that same sacred place. And just as we spent the first moments of our engagement kneeling before the statues of Mary and Joseph, we spent the first moments of our marriage before those same statues, praying for our marriage as we placed flower offerings during our wedding Mass.
It was during the rehearsal the night before that everything hit me: I stood on the altar next to my husband-to-be and looked out over our closest family and friends gathered in the church. I felt so incredibly and deeply loved. Hardly any of my family had seen the church before. Saint John’s and its pastor, Fr. Rick, hold a dear place in our hearts; it filled me with joy to share them with my loved ones.
After the rehearsal Fr. Rick gave us time for the sacrament of reconciliation. Craig and I wanted to be completely clean and free for our wedding day. Receiving absolution from the priest who had meant so much to us through the years was perfect. Many of our family members also chose to go to confession, which filled our hearts with such joy. Our wedding was bringing those we love closer to our shared faith. Craig and I prayed in the parking lot before parting ways, our last prayer together before becoming husband and wife.
The morning of the wedding was a whirlwind, but I remained surprisingly calm. I knew without a doubt that this was God’s plan for my life, and I had no second thoughts. Before the ceremony, Craig and I had a first look, which was one of my favorite moments. Instead of seeing each other, we stood back-to-back at a door in the church and held hands. I got emotional and couldn’t stop the tears running down my face. I was absolutely certain this was what God wanted for us. As I started to pull away, Craig wouldn’t let go of my hand. This completely tugged at my heart.
I also did a first look with my dad. When he saw me for the first time he teared up. My dad is not usually very emotional, and it was so touching that he cried. During the father-daughter dance at the reception, my dad got emotional again, and it was so sweet! He pulled me in closer, trying to control his emotions. These moments with my dad on the wedding day meant a lot to me.
Minutes before the ceremony, my sister led the bridesmaids in a prayer for Craig and I and our new marriage. Then they processed up the aisle, and I was left alone with my dad. The back doors of the church were flung open, and I looked down the long aisle at my husband-to-be.
It’s such a long aisle, I could hardly tell Craig was crying. I walked down the aisle in the beautiful church that was home to us, seeing my husband-to-be in tears. I heard my dad sniffling beside me, saw Fr Rick and all my family and friends. I was wearing my mother’s veil, clutching the bouquet I’d made with my sister, mom, aunts, and grandma, feeling the antique rosary beads, a gift from my godmother, entwined in the flowers, and wiping my tears with a handkerchief embroidered with lace from my mom’s wedding dress.
I was completely, utterly surrounded by love. It was the most amazing feeling, knowing I was about to be united sacramentally with my husband, surrounded by a host of saints and angels.
From the Groom: Amanda and I had meticulously planned the liturgy for our wedding ceremony. Our first reading was Tobit 8:4b-8, where Tobiah and Sarah pray fervently to God on their wedding night, praising him and asking for his blessing. This reading spoke to us, as it exemplified a marriage built on prayer. First John 4:7-12 was our second reading: “...if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” Our gospel reading, John 2:1-11, was the wedding feast at Cana. Amanda has always loved this reading, as it was Jesus’ first miracle, and we find it extremely meaningful that Jesus listened to his mother to perform it. With these readings, Amanda and I desire to pray to God before all things, to exemplify God’s love with our marriage, and to listen to Mary.
One of my favorite parts of the Mass was Communion. Amanda and I had been Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at Saint John’s for a few years, and during our wedding prep Fr. Rick encouraged us to consider if we wanted to be ministers of communion during our wedding Mass. We prayed about it, and felt absolutely that this was what we should do.
So my new wife stood in front of the statue of Mary (where we had gotten engaged) and gave Jesus’ blood to her family and friends and I stood in front of the statue of Joseph to do the same for my family and friends, while the song “Let Me be Your Servant” played. We wanted this part of the Mass to convey we are called to always serve others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to always point our lives to the Lord.
Amanda: I was nothing but smiles the entire reception. Our first dance, “When I Say I Do” by Matthew West, was so special, and Craig and I got to show off some of the dance moves we had learned together in college. All of the flowers, décor, and centerpieces were handmade by the women in my family, including a frame my sister made, “I have found the one whom my soul loves,” from the Song of Songs. We cut our cake using the utensils my grandparents used at their wedding over 60 years ago. Instead of everyone dancing when the DJ called the last song of the night, our friends and family circled around Craig and me, beaming, as we danced.
Thinking back on our wedding day, we felt an immense power of overwhelming love the entire day. Family and friends traveled from afar to celebrate with us, and we felt blessed beyond belief. Our favorite gift was from Fr. Rick: a container of the holy water used during our wedding Mass, and we bless each other with it after our favorite prayer--Night Prayer. It fills our hearts with such peace and contentment to sing the last canticle together: “Protect us, Lord, as we lay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.” Our wedding was a beautiful day full of love, and we are abundantly, richly blessed.
From the Photographer: Amanda and Craig's first look was one of the most special I have ever witnessed. As we walked up to it, I prayed with Amanda--one of the most precious moments I can have with a bride on her wedding day. Instead of actually looking at one another, when they reached each other, they held hands.
She cried. He beamed. They looked off in the distance, and I could tell that not only were they ready, but the Lord was ready for them to be married. It’s like they had been waiting for each other their whole lives long, and finally, today was the day they were uniting. This shows in their photos, too, because both of them were all smiles throughout the whole day!
Photography: Souls Creation Photography | Church: Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, http://www.stjohnsindy.org/ | Reception: Grafton Peek Ballroom, http://www.graftonpeek.com/venues/grafton-peek-ballroom/ | Coordinator: Brittany Scher | Cake: Grafton Peek Catering, http://www.graftonpeek.com/ | DJ: David Malone | Rings: Distinctive Diamonds, https://diamondsdirect.com/indianapolis | Dress: Marie Gabriel Couture, https://mariegabrielcouture.com/ | Jewelry: Hair Piece from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com), Earrings from Versona (https://www.shopversona.com/) | Shoes: Amazon, https://www.amazon.com | Menswear: Joseph A. Bank, http://www.josbank.com/ | Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo purchased at Siebert’s, http://www.siebertsclothing.com/