Susanna + Brad | Italian Vineyard-Inspired 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.

Revisit Susanna and Brad’s testimony and proposal here, then read on for the details of their Green Bay wedding day, rich with the significance of vocation and the Church’s universal call to holiness for husbands and wives, priests, and religious.

Susanna and Brad had dated once before and broken up, but remained friends. Two years later--not long after a trip to Rome as friends, to attend a diaconate ordination--Susanna began a novena to Saint Joseph for her future husband. On the last day, as she turned from a statue of Joseph, she saw Brad in the chapel and sense he’d ask her out again. The following year, at the end of a stone breakwater in the rain, Brad gave Susanna a letter and got down on one knee.

From the Bride: Rome has played an important role in our relationship: Brad and I had been in Rome for a friend’s diaconate ordination two year prior, shortly before we began dating, and our friend, now a priest, celebrated our Nuptial Mass. And just two weeks before our wedding, we’d returned to the eternal city for Brad’s brother’s Diaconate Ordination

On the first of those two trips, we visited Madonna del Latte, a vineyard in Orvieto. This vineyard would provide us with the image we would reflect on throughout our engagement, our wedding day, and in our marriage.

Madonna del Latte got its name from a beautiful picture of Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus; its intricate logo includes the Latin monogram of the Virgin Mary, letters “A” and “M” meaning Auspice Maria (“under the protection of Mary”). On Valentines Day, during our engagement, I received a necklace Brad had designed, inspired by the vineyard’s logo. Brad said he hoped I could wear it on our wedding day. Not only did I wear the necklace, but we used used the monogram on our Save-the-Dates, wedding stationary, and Mass programs.

It was important to us that we focus on helping everyone enter into the beauty of the liturgy. We took notes from the article “Creating a Meaningful Wedding Mass Program” to help those we invited better understand what was happening and be able to participate more fully in the liturgy.

Just minutes before walking down the aisle, my immediate family joined hands as we came together in prayer, led by my dad. This moment was one of immense comfort, equipping me to walk down the aisle with confidence.

We were so excited to have my five nieces and two of Brad’s cousins as flower girls. Each of them carried a white rose down the aisle. These roses made up the bouquet Brad and I brought to the Blessed Mother during the Mass, asking her intercession right after becoming husband and wife. Our ring bearer, my nephew, brought up our wedding rings tied to a framed image of Our Lady of Czestochowa; a gift from our friend Father Michael, who was unable to attend.

In addition to the general intercessions, written by our good friend Sister Magnificat Rose with the Sisters of Life, who couldn’t be there, it was also important for us to ask the intercession of those in heaven by singing the Litany of the Saints. It served as a reminder that the Church is a family, and those in heaven eagerly wait to join with us in prayer; we are all one in the body of Christ. Among the saints we included were Saint Susanna, my namesake, and Saint Timothy, to honor Brad’s older brother who passed away at the age of three.

Of course our wedding day a celebration of Brad’s and my union in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, but we also wanted the day to celebrate the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In Brad’s words, we can honor our priests by having a great marriage:

From the Groom: On the surface, marriage and the priesthood may seem like opposites. After all, one embraces the union of a man and woman, while the other embraces celibacy. It might seem that letting a priest see the joy in your marriage could be a sort of ‘taunting’ or ‘showing off’ of the good which he cannot have. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Marriage is intended to be an earthly symbol of Christ’s love for us and of the hope we have of one day being united with our Creator in heaven. Our priests remain celibate in order to witness to this very same reality. By foregoing something that is so good, their lives point to something that is even better. In this way, the priesthood is inextricably tied to marriage.

The better witness our marriages are to the world of Christ’s love for us and for his Church, the more they proclaim the greatness of the priesthood.

St. John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio that “when marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning.”

Our priests have renounced marriage for us and for the Church. Now it is our responsibility as the laity to live out marriages that witness to the goodness of the sacrament. This extols the dignity and greatness of the priesthood, and ultimately witnesses to the reality to which both marriage and the priesthood point: the incomprehensible love of Christ for the world.

Susanna: It was a joy to celebrate not only the vocation to married life, but also to priesthood and religious life. We were even blessed to work with vendors with honorable and holy mission statements. Our talented photographers, Katzie & Ben Nelson, are a husband and wife team whose life is fueled by their Catholic faith. Our delectable desserts were baked by From Above Youth Center & Bakery, a non-profit organization funded by donations and grants, which aids teens and people with special needs in developing vocational skills. A friend from our parish designed our stationary, and even our D.J., Josh McClure, asked how he could pray for us when we met with him to talk about reception music.

Now, as we endeavor on this first year of marriage, we pray that as husband and wife we actively live out well the words from the second reading we chose: “...Live in love, as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2).

Photography: Katzie & Ben Photography http://www.katzieandben.com | Church: Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church: 710 N Baird St, Green Bay, WI 54302 | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Rooms at University Union on the Campus of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay | Rings: Gold'n Treasures: http://www.goldn-treasures.com/ | Flowers: Schroeder Flowers http://www.schroederflowers.com/ 
Invitations/Stationery: Designed by our friend Shannon Nowak | Caterer: Chartwell Schools | Bride’s Dress: BHLDN (by Eddy K) | Bride’s Veil: BHLDN (From Paris by Debra Moreland) | Brides’ Shoes: DSW (badgley mischka) | Jewelry (Bride’s Necklace designed by Bradley Parent): Gold’n Treasures | Bridesmaids Attire: Adrianna Papell  | Groom’s Tux: Groomsmen’s Attire | Groom's Shoes: Allen Edmund's | Desserts: Oreo Truffles, Chocolate dipped peanut butter balls, mini champagne, chocolate, gluten free cupcakes: Carrie Zehms: From Above Youth Center & Catering http://www.fromaboveyouthcenterandbakery.com/ | Hairstylist: Kris Mollen at http://www.samsarahsalon.com | Makeup Artist: Janice McCarty at http://www.samsarahsalon.com/ | Reception Music: Josh McClure with Harmony DJ Entertainment: http://www.harmonydjentertainment.com/ | Wedding Coordinator: Bryant Ortega