It was through FOCUS that Cynthia first developed a deeper spiritual life, attending daily Mass and praying before the Blessed Sacrament several times a week. She was deeply convicted about cultivating a relationship with Christ during her single years and forming habits that would carry over into her future vocation.
It was through a match app that she met Chad. After a few phone calls across their distance of an hour and a half, followed by dinner and several subsequent dates, Chad asked Cynthia to be his girlfriend.
Eight months later, Cynthia found herself at the Church of the Wedding Feast at Cana in the Holy Land while on a trip with Dynamic Catholic. There at the sacred site where Jesus turned water into wine, the couples on the trip renewed their wedding vows, with each bride carrying a single red rose.
From the Bride: Shortly before the trip, I read St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography. She said, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” St. Therese is known for sending “signs” in the form of roses. I said a quick prayer asking her to send me a “sign” about my relationship with Chad, but quickly forgot about it.”
After the vow renewal at Cana, the group gathered outside the church. One of the women in the group, whom I hadn’t met, walked over to me, crying. She said she didn’t know why, but she suddenly felt the urge to give me her red rose and to tell me that “there is someone out there for you.” I knew that the rose was sent to me from Therese. I felt overwhelming inner peace that my vocation was marriage, and that Chad was the man I was supposed to marry. Less than four months later, Chad took me to his parent’s small cabin to fish. He handed me a fishing pole with an engagement ring hooked to it; I turned to look at him, and he was down on one knee to propose.
We desired that our wedding be Christ-centered, that it reflect the beauty of spring, and that it embodied the small-town fun of our home state, Nebraska.
After our wedding rehearsal, Chad and I both went to Confession. Our rehearsal dinner was on a Friday in Lent, so we had a fish fry! Along with fried fish, Chad’s sisters made cheesy potatoes and an assortment of delicious salads and desserts.
My mom and all of my aunts included a rosary in their wedding bouquets, and it was important to me to continue the tradition. Mom gave me a blue rosary bracelet to place in my flowers. Before the ceremony, my bridesmaids and I, along with some female guests, prayed the rosary together. That time in prayer was beautiful, and brought me so much peace.
We chose Jesus’ first miracle at Cana for our Gospel reading because of my experience in the Holy Land. After communion, my friend did a stunning job singing the Litany of the Saints. I get goosebumps on my arms every time I hear it. Next, Chad and I went and stood in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. As we listened to the moving melody of “Ave Maria,” we offered our marriage to her.
I wanted a spring theme for our wedding, so we chose a powder-blue color and garden-inspired décor. Almost all of our vendors were local. A florist in a neighboring town, for instance, owns a thriving business called Stitches and Petals. I described to her my vision of white garden roses with an assortment of greenery, and the flowers in the bridal bouquets and reception décor were stunning; exactly what I was looking for. Even the family was involved, which was special for all of us! Chad’s aunt makes cakes for many local weddings and special occasions, and she created an amazing naked wedding cake for us.
We were married in Howells, a small town of about 600 people. In very typical small-town Nebraska fashion, the wedding party traveled from the church to the reception by way of a trolley hooked to a John Deere tractor. We invited any of our guests, kids included, to ride along.
It’s tradition in Howells to stop at the bar in town before arriving at your wedding reception. Many of the guests stop there, too, and the bride and her bridesmaids dance on the bar top with the jukebox playing in the background. My mom even joined in on the fun.
All of the town’s wedding receptions take place at the Howells Ballroom. After the wedding party arrives at the reception, the bride and groom cut the cake so it can be served with dinner. Approximately 475 people joined us at the reception--many guests are also very typical in a small town. Chad chose the menu which included chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, corn, and a dinner roll. It was catered by a family friend who serves many of the local weddings.
At the ballroom, dinner is served buffet-style as the host couple invites guests to get in line. In keeping with the tradition of guests clinking their silverware on glasses to signal the bride and groom to kiss, it’s also common in Howells for guests to start chanting the names of the couples’ parents while clinking, encouraging them to stand and kiss, as well.
To preserve my bridal bouquet after the wedding, I had it turned into a rosary that I now use several times a week.
Chad and I are now one in union with Christ. One thing I remember most from our wedding day was how much joy I felt. Many guests commented on how happy I looked--the whole day, I could not stop smiling. At the reception, I was telling one of my good friends that “it [the wedding day] is the best day of my life!” She replied, “Just wait, it keeps getting better and better.” I keep returning to this phrase. Now that we have been married almost a year, I realize just how true her statement is.
Photography: Jenn Wiemann Photography | Church: Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Howells, Nebraska | Reception Venue: Howells Ballroom in Howells, Nebraska | Rings: Borsheims | Flowers: Stitches and Petals | Caterer: Terri Belina | Brides dress: Nebraska Bridal | Bride’s veil: ieie Bridal | Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal | Groom/Groomsmens’ Attire: Schmitt’s | Cake Baker: Alice Bayer, Family | Hairstylist: Makayla Geist, Friend | Makeup artist: Erin Dostal, Friend | Reception music: A-Z Music Productions | Bridal bouquet turned to rosary: rosariesfromflowers.com