Alana and Stephen met through a mutual friend during their college years in San Diego. They quickly fell in love, though with a major difference between them: Alana was a Non-Denominational Protestant, and Stephen was Catholic. The Lord was about to draw them into his heart.
From the Bride: Throughout our relationship, I prayed asking God what to do and--if Stephen was the one--how would our interfaith marriage work. I ended up finding a book written by a Catholic Priest, Robert J. Hater: When A Catholic Marries A Non-Catholic. It answered so many of my questions and I was even able to contact Fr. Hater! He became my spiritual counselor, and later that year I converted to Catholicism.
My faith has grown immensely since converting and having Stephen by my side to answer any questions and support me has only made our love for each other grow. We became engaged on December 23, 2016 and later found out Stephen's report date for pilot training moved up for the Air Force. We had a short engagement, yet God was looking out for us and provided us with a church and reception venue.
When we found an available church, we fell in love. Not only was it beautiful and in a great location, but we had a priest, Fr. Mark, who was a family friend of Stephen's. My mother-in-law is involved in Opus Dei and told us amazing things about Fr. Mark. We met with him once before the wedding and told him of my conversion story and more about our relationship. During our wedding liturgy, he gave an amazing homily that nodded to Stephen’s Air Force career, comparing flying to marriage.
For the readings, we wanted to include our family. Since I don't have grandparents, I asked Stephen's father's mother, and Stephen asked his mother's mother. It was such a lovely moment seeing both grandmothers holding hands up as they walked up to the altar. My only uncle and his family offered the gifts, and I loved including them even though they are not Catholic. Stephen's uncle, who had sung at each of Stephen’s sibling’s weddings, did the music.
We had decided early on that we would have a moment to thank the Virgin Mary during the Mass. I realized right before that I didn't have the flowers to offer her! Stephen, being the nice man he is, didn't want to go over there empty-handed. He squatted down and grabbed the large pot of flowers that were by the altar! Everyone got a little laugh out of that! He thankfully put them back down and we saw that the flowers were already there by Our Lady. I don't think anyone will ever forget that moment.
We wanted to start a tradition at our wedding. Stephen received a sword from his commissioning for being the top of his class, and we cut our cake with that sword. We hope to pass it down to our children.
It is also a family tradition that "Rain King" by the Counting Crows is played at weddings. I think you have to know all the words before becoming a part of Stephen’s family!
God always has a plan. When we started planning our wedding and Stephen’s report date changed, it really took us for a spin. But God provided for us with a church, venue, and priest. The day that I had to move out of my studio apartment was the day before our wedding--that's providence right there!
Early on, we struggled so much with being different faiths and spent so much time concentrating on the negatives. Little did I know that God brought us together to make us better Christians. Without Stephen, I would've never been exposed to Catholicism. I think for him, growing up Catholic was seen as a routine. Through my conversion, he was really brought to the basics and fell deeply in love with his faith all over again.
Photography: Kelli Seeley | Nuptial Mass or Engagement Location: Church of Santa Maria, Orinda, California | Reception: Orinda Country Club | Rings: Exclusive Diamonds by Carter | Flowers: Clayton Sonset Flowers | Dress: BHLDN | Tux: The Black Tux | Cake: Susie Cakes | Catering: Orinda Country Club | Invitations and table signs: Minted | Guest Sign In Book: Artifact Uprising