Vendor Spotlight | The Block Party

Derek Hall’s first standing gig as a DJ was in his kitchen. After the twice-weekly dinners he and his college housemates would host for friends, Derek began selecting music for dishes and cleanup--which, he now admits, “was probably just a good ruse to get out of chores!”

No matter the motivation, a hobby was born, and it soon turned into more. Derek spent his college years seeking opportunities to DJ house parties on campus, a process he says involved “finding the house with the most people on the lawn, lugging my stereo system over, and asking if the owners would mind me DJing.”

After graduation, Derek worked as a DJ for several of his housemates’ weddings, fell in love with the craft, and began pursuing as much experience and education as possible. He has studied mixing turntables in New York City and sought out mentors in the field, and Derek and his business partner, Wes, founded The Block Party in 2016.

When an art you love becomes able to meet a need, it’s hard to see the intersection of your gifts and others’ needs as anything but a call. Derek views his business foremost as a vocation--a perspective that brings particular intention, depth, and sincerity to his client experience.

According to Derek, “[this aspect of the job being a vocation] is both our personal journey as we work towards heaven, but also a unique position of being a part of our couples choosing this vocation and helping to send them off on their new journey.


As Catholic vendors with an eye towards this vocation, towards the importance of our faith, and with our hearts pulled towards others on the same path, there is a desire to both support and be supported by peers. To pray for each other. To have one corner of the world to more openly relate on the unique challenges we have while attempting to live our faith in what can be a very secular industry.”

Based in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, serving Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and available for nationwide bookings--Derek and his wife are lovers of travel who dream of visiting every continent and DJing a wedding in every state--The Block Party embodies this spirit of vocation in everything from up-front investment info to their fellow wedding vendor recommendations to Derek’s desire to make each wedding the best he’s ever done, not for his own gratification, but out of a desire to serve his couples. Yet as seriously as he takes his business and calling, Block Party weddings are engineered for fun and celebration, involving vinyl mixing and creative, well-thought out playlists unique to each gathering.

Music has a power to draw our attention to a particular setting and purpose--that’s one reason why liturgical music, with its purpose of worship and contemplation, is appropriate for a nuptial Mass. In a similar way, the music at your reception can do the same, creating an atmosphere of true joy and emotion that points to a deeper reality.

From Derek: DJ culture on the whole pushes me musically, and I've found mentors around the country that have shown me that there is room for a DJ to bring lots of creativity and passion for music to a wedding setting. Redbull Thre3style, Girltalk, and my Block Party partner Wes are all big inspirations musically.

My wife and our relationship are a huge inspiration for how I work with people. I tend to pour my heart into things and she is my filter, knowing my love language inside and out, and helping me to channel my love and energy to best take care of our couples and our friends. She grounds us so we can try out crazy ideas and big trips. Our faith as a couple pushes us to take ownership of each others work, to pray for our couples, and to treat this as a vocation first, and business secondarily. We still work hard to be prudent and have a responsibility to be good stewards of our brand, but we want to eliminate all used car salesman feels from how we work. Being honest from the beginning and pouring everything we have into each night out of passion and love rather than obligation has gotten us where we are.

An interview with Derek

Favorite devotion: The Divine Mercy Chaplet. It's very approachable in both length and content and the end includes optional prayer that is so life giving for me: "Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself."

Despair, despondency, and a fear of there not being enough compassion are all such powerful things in our lives. This is such a beautiful answer.

By the body and blood of Christ there is enough and we can look for the will of God in our lives.

Favorite part of working on weddings: Nearly everything. Every week is a new puzzle, a completely different combination of family, location, tastes and a hundred other things. I need to take all of that and bring those people together the best I can, and of course try to foster all the dancing. Weddings are a perfect for playing anything that comes to mind because it is such a celebration of people's lives. We can be playful, nostalgic, and really pull out emotional responses just by playing certain songs.

[DJing] is also the perfect outlet for my love language of wanting to give gifts. It is so rewarding to pour years of experience and practice into one night, hopefully making it the best I've ever had, for that couple.

Favorite wedding-day memory: My wife and I did our first look on a dock...on a frozen lake...with a nerf gun duel that she didn't know about till that morning. There are so many parts of the day I still love, that were beautiful capsules of our relationships with our friends and family. We did a waltz and an Irish dance together that were also a ton of fun.

On my bucket list: Travel to all continents with my wife, spend 3-6 months abroad in one chunk, and DJ a wedding in every state—this combines my loves of travel, people, and DJing into one nice goal

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Ethiopia. I've been blessed to a do a bit of travel, but this trip was quietly brewing for over a decade. My wife spent a few years in Kenya when she was little and her parents were doing mission work. Her heart has always been tugged towards doing work in Africa, and when we were in undergrad, as best friends, I'd tell her someday she'd find a guy who would get it and be up for the adventure with her. All this time later when we finally decided to date and then marry, and I was that guy, we made a trip to Ethiopia for a week of work, and a week of exploring. It gave me so much more context of who she is.

Favorite music: Music is so hard. I love how much music timestamps life. I love learning and growing my music tastes. It's my job, but I also love almost any music I come across.

Favorite food: Grilled chicken, pierogies, or salad work any night and are easy to make for guests. Or anything my brother makes. He's a chef in LA and has changed my world about food as an art and science.

 I root for...the Pittsburgh Steelers, who I’ve been watching with my wife forever, the Detroit Pistons, and Detroit Tigers. I love basketball.

Love means...Love is not a feeling or an emotion. So many things happen in life that can quickly totally shake or even break your snowglobe. Depression, putting on weight, losing jobs, and other struggles are things that can happen in life, especially when you are around a friend or a spouse for a long time.  You aren't broken if you can't feel. Even in our faith, sometimes we can feel cold and don't feel on fire. God sticks with us and is patient. He offers forgiveness and has shown us how there is beauty and love in sacrifice and pain. Love means persistence, a gentle heart, and vision of someone that goes beyond the last few moments to know the beauty and value they have. Love is doing what we can to get our spouse to heaven.

VIDEOGRAPHY: HEART + SOUL

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Abby + Blair | Classic Indiana Wintertide Wedding

Sometimes cherished friends from the past unexpectedly reappear, and love can flourish even stronger.

This was the story with Abby and Blair, who met and became friends in junior high. At the time, their “young love” didn’t last very long, to the disappointment of their mothers.

But God had other plans. After going in separate ways after high school, Abby and Blair were suddenly reunited. This time, their companionship blossomed into a deeper romantic love, and they began discussing engagement and their desire for marriage.

After a year-long engagement, their lifelong friendship finally transformed at the altar into a lifelong covenant of married love.

From The Bride: Blair and I met in the 8th grade. We didn’t go to the same school, but I was on a club swim team with him and his twin sister, Alison.

Alison and I became fast friends and began spending a lot of time together. As my friendship with her grew, Blair and I began talking more and eventually starting “dating.” Unfortunately, our young love didn’t last longer than a month. We ran around with the same friend group in high school but never considered dating again.

Our mothers always teased us about getting back together. I knew they both would have loved it.

After senior year, Blair went on to Wabash College, and I went to Indiana Wesleyan. Later, during the summer before our sophomore year of college, we both ended up back in Kokomo, Indiana looking for a summer job. As I was beginning my search, my grandma told me about an open camp counselor position at the local YMCA summer camp. I thought this sounded fun, especially since I began my job hunt late and had no other pending opportunities up my sleeve.

I sent in my application, hoping they still had a spot. My mother, a friend of one of the camp directors, made a call on my behalf. The YMCA told her that they didn’t have any spots left, but they would make an exception for me.

I was excited to begin but also a little nervous because I didn’t know anyone else who was working there that summer. Imagine my surprise when I walked in on the first day and saw Blair sitting in a chair, ready for our first team meeting. We exchanged casual hellos and went on our way. But as the summer went on, we began talking more, even outside of camp.

I was beginning to really like him and looked forward to the days we would work together. I could tell he liked me too because he starting flirting with me--I mean teasing me. By the end of the summer, we were officially an “item,” and I couldn’t have been happier.

We were both a little nervous about going back to school and not seeing each other everyday, but we decided to make it work. I would visit him at Wabash, and he would visit me at IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis) . We spent every weekend together and sometimes would even meet half-way during the week.

Our mothers were thrilled that we were in love. We began talking about marriage the first year we dated. Somehow, we both knew we wanted to be together forever.

So on November 11, at the biggest football game of the year at Wabash, Blair got down on one knee and proposed in front of everybody in the stands. All our family and friends were there. It was the most amazing day and something we will never forget.

I always knew I wanted our wedding to be simple and classic. We chose the month of December because we both love winter and the snow that comes with it. Besides, I had dreamed of a winter wedding since middle school.

We had a little over a year to plan the big event, which gave us plenty of time. Unfortunately, Blair graduated in May, and I graduated in December, our wedding month. This made planning a little stressful and overwhelming at times, but my mother and close friends helped tremendously. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Our venues were easy to choose. St. Patrick Catholic Church, Blair’s home parish, is not only very special to us, but also the most beautiful church in town. Our reception took place at The Bel-Air, a gorgeous banquet hall close to the church. I was so excited and relieved when we secured both venues.

After that, we focused on finding the dress, which was such a fun day. My mother’s best friend came into town from Florida, and we had a great time trying on dresses. I ended up choosing the first dress I put on. It was perfect. After that, everything else seemed to fall into place.

Finally, it was the wedding week, and my family from Florida was in town. The night before the wedding, I thought the morning would never come, I was so ready and excited for my wedding day to arrive.

I was up bright and early with my wedding party as we left for the salon. My mother and aunt made breakfast, and we all had fun enjoying the whole salon to ourselves while we got ready. After that, the day seemed to fly by.

Before I knew it, I was a bride walking towards Blair, and everything else faded away. The nuptial Mass was beautiful and emotional. We were finally a married couple!

Then it was picture time. We hid it pretty well, but December 30 was definitely one of the coldest days of the year. We braved the icy wind for some amazing pictures taken outside the church and then moved on to a local mansion. Here we endured the cold again to try and capture sweet memories.

Once the pictures were taken, our wedding party jumped into the limo and headed to the reception. My mother had graciously put together a basket for all of us filled with champagne, chocolate, and mints. I’ll never forget spending that special time with our closest friends.

When we arrived at the Bel-Air, I was speechless. The hall was absolutely stunning. A few of my mother’s close friends helped decorate before the ceremony, and it was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

We spent some time freshening up before we made our big introduction, and right after we were announced as “Mr. and Mrs.” we went into our first dance. Dancing with my new husband was a feeling I will never forget. Dinner and dancing followed, along with Blair and I greeting each and every one of our guests. It was so special to be able to personally speak to everyone who attended our wedding.

After we got a few dances in, it was time to head out for the night. Before hopping into the limo, we found our both families and gave them enormous hugs. It was such an exceptional day, and we couldn’t have done it without them. Overall, our wedding day was filled to the brim with memories, emotions, smiles, and faith. It was absolutely perfect and everything I had ever dreamed of and more.

I know that without God, our marriage would mean nothing. We strove to make our special day all about Jesus, and I feel that is exactly what we did.

From the Groom: In the months leading up to our wedding, we were constantly reminded that our wedding day would be life-changing, and nothing would ever be the same after we both said "I do". Whether we heard it from friends and family, discussing the sacrament during our Pre-Cana classes, or in everyday preparation for the wedding, we were always aware of how sacred and serious our marriage would be.

But it didn't really settle in until I saw Abby walk down the aisle.

As she walked to me, remembering all the times I failed her during our courtship and engagement, I knew our union would be a holy imitation of Christ's love for the Church. From that moment on, we would begin to base our lives on the life of Christ, sacrificing ourselves for the good of each other.

From the Photographer, Sinikka Roher of Soul Creations Photography: As a photographer, I have learned that when you enter into a wedding day, there are a multitude of points where things can go wrong. However, on Abby and Blair’s wedding day, I doubted those points would come to pass.

I noticed the powerful presence of the Lord’s peace when Blair genuflected before entering the church, said a prayer to our Blessed Mother, and was prayed over by the priest prior to the ceremony. And as I spent time with the bride, she reminded me of both Martha and Mary. 

There was a hustle and bustle to get ready around her, but Abby stood patient and peaceful, waiting for her time just as Mary had. Then, moments before the Mass began, her preparation mindset took over, and I saw Martha in her too. 

Brides tend to be either a Martha or a Mary, but Abby beautifully embodied both before, during, and after her ceremony. She blissfully walked down the aisle, laughed carelessly at the cold air that chilled her wedding party in the winter weather, and delicately checked in now and then on the timeline of the day.

Abby and Blair's big day was one of perfect harmony between the celebratory environment of a wedding and the sacramental beauty of their marriage covenant. It was incredible to capture it in it's entirety.

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Photography: Soul Creations Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor | St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kokomo, IN | Reception: Bel Air Events, Kokomo, IN | Ceremony Venue: St. Patrick Catholic Church | Reception Venue: Bel Air Events | Cake: Create-A-Cake | Makeup Artist & Hairstylist: Revive Salon | Dress: Marie Gabriel Couture | Florist: Diane Richey | DJ: DJ Sound Solution | Bridesmaids Dresses: Nancy’s Bridal Boutique | Menswear: Men’s Warehouse | Videography: Josiah Duncan Videography

Moments that Matter, Memories that Last

ELIZABETH MAHON

 

On a wedding day, the bride and groom’s carefully selected vendors come together to serve specific roles with a shared objective of making the day a run smoothly. Coordinators keep everyone on schedule as bouquets and floral arrangements are assembled, finishing touches are added to cakes, and priests deliver their homilies. The wedding photographer is there to capture and preserve these memories.

As a wedding photographer, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of one of the most monumental days in people’s lives. This role is unique from other vendors. I remember the pressure I felt the very first time I was charged with the responsibility of photographing a wedding, “These photos could hang on their wall for generations; make sure you don’t miss any of the big moments!” I thought.

While I still feel a certain type of pressure going into wedding days, my outlook on capturing them has changed slightly over the years. This is partly due to my own experience as a bride, but mostly because of seasoned knowledge of how a wedding day will unfold. I have seen enough wedding days to anticipate how they will likely progress; most vendors will tell you the same thing, echoing the words of Julius Caesar, “experience is the best teacher.” Yet, the tangible anticipation of serving a couple as a wedding photographer prevails (even with years of experience) because the intimate moments that matter are fleeting.

In the photography community, there is an emphasis on capturing "moments that matter.” These moments happen between the scheduled events, or they might not be noticed by the bride and groom until they look through their gallery of images long after their wedding day.

It is impossible for the bride and groom to see every aspect of their wedding day when they are in the spotlight. They will miss the look on the father-of-the-bride’s face when his daughter vows her life to her husband, and they might not see the wedding guests in prayer during the dedication to the Blessed Mother. As the day unfolds, I am constantly on the lookout for these moments. It is a more organic approach than simply working from of a shot list or checking items off of a list; there is always a sense of anticipation.

Of course, it cannot be denied that there are parts of a wedding day that require structure. The family formal photos and standard portraits are important. As part of a pre-wedding questionnaire, I have all of my couples list any guests of honor who will be in attendance, and the family photos that they, or their parents, wish to have.

I thrive on looking for unique ways to capture the ceremony, depending on each church--as no two are the same. Parish churches, Cathedrals, and chapels all radiate a different type of beauty, and it is fun to get creative.

Although I have documented many types of wedding ceremonies over the years, a majority of my experiences have been in the context of a Catholic Mass.

The sacrament of matrimony adds an entirely new meaning to the phrase “moments that matter” because of the sacramental graces bestowed upon the couple. While these graces can never be fully captured in a picture, their essence is what I aim to reveal in the photos I take.

I try to focus on moments throughout the day that will last long after the sparkler send-off. While the handcrafted invitations and DIY centerpieces are exquisite and deserve to be remembered, they do not bear the same importance as those intangible moments. I can recognize a bride who values sacramental elements when she is seeking a photographer who is familiar with the  beauty of the Catholic Mass.

It is a gift when I am able to partake in the Mass as a photographer. I have heard homilies that are edifying to my vocation as a wife, joined in prayer for couples alongside the congregation, and gratefully received communion as a part of my work day.

While I want my clients to have an overall enjoyable experience throughout wedding planning, it is most important that they cherish the photographs from their wedding day for years to come. If you are seeking a wedding photographer, look for someone whose work highlights what is most important to you. If you and your photographer value the same aspects of a wedding day, you will capture and cherish those fleeting yet precious “moments that matter” forever.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth is a national wedding + portrait photographer and Spoken Bride vendor. Although based in Maryland, she has traveled the country photographing weddings from California to Maine and everywhere in between. She loves old movies, the Green Bay Packers, and learning any/everything about American history. Elizabeth is married to her college sweetheart, Patrick, and the two are raising their baby boy Theodore just outside of Baltimore, MD.


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5 Tips for a Meaningful and Cinematic Catholic Wedding Video

LAURA KUAH

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


In his 1999 Letter to Artists, St. John Paul II writes, "Artists of the world, may your many different paths lead to that Ocean of beauty, where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration and unspeakable joy..." for “beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savor life and to dream of the future.”

Photography:   LAURENTINA PHOTOGRAPHY

Art, in any form, has the ability to add value to our lives. Our lives, in any vocation, comprise an intricate weaving of finding, creating and preserving beauty, which can save the world.

Videography is a unique, creative, and powerful way to capture the significant words, sounds, and movements of your wedding. Beyond cherishing your video in your own home, modern wedding videography can serve as a beautiful testimony of your faith journey and love story.

The role of a Catholic wedding videographer is to not only help document the most important day of your life, but to also create a film that captures the essence of your love for each other and Christ. The beauty of the sacrament of matrimony is most effectively captured when it is preserved in still images, sound and motion. Your wedding day will pass in the blink of an eye, and reflecting on video can reignite the emotion of the wedding day in a unique and powerful way.

A carefully curated video captures the big movements, as well as the little moments, throughout the day. From my videography and photography experience in the wedding industry, I offer five matters to discuss with your videographer for a meaningful, cinematic Catholic wedding video.

Letters & gifts

Many couples choose to share a sentimental letter and gift with their spouse on their wedding day. This usually takes place when the bridal parties are getting ready before the Mass. Wedding videographers often use this opportunity to include a voiceover and to capture the candid reaction of the gift recipient, adding an intimate touch to the final video.

Prayer

Maybe it's your bridesmaids getting together to pray over you after your dress reveal, praying with your parents in the rectory, or doing a "first touch" to hold hands and pray with your fiancé before walking down the aisle. Whichever prayer you decide to include on your wedding day, schedule these events and determine whether you’d like these moments to be private or recorded for your wedding film.

Tripods during the Mass

Each parish may have different guidelines for videography. I recommend that the bride, groom, priest, and videographer have a conversation about how to best collaborate for the wedding ceremony. I like to visit the church ahead of time to see the space and to speak with the priest about my intentions, so I can best respect both the liturgy and the couple.

For non-Catholic videographers, the restrictions at many parishes can be unfamiliar and challenging to navigate. Most of the time, the priests and wedding coordinator at the parish will happily work with you and your videographer to discuss creative, respectful ways to film the Mass. Consider how multiple tripods in varying areas of the church can capture different angles and perspectives. The primary intention of video at the nuptial Mass is to capture the liturgy and the couple’s encounter with Christ.

Collaboration with other vendors

When you hire a videographer, it is helpful to connect them with your other wedding vendors. When vendors can coordinate their timeline and discuss shooting styles or other important details, they can work together to minimize distractions on the big day. If the photographer and videographer come from different teams, it is important that they plan and work in harmony with a spirit of community, rather than competing for the best shot. Your introducing them to one another facilitates the best outcomes for collaboration.

Audio & music

The audio and music soundtrack will be added to your video during the editing process. For spoken audio, many videographers use wireless microphones—this will also need to be discussed with your priest, so he can plan to wear a small microphone in his cassock during the ceremony. You can have a dreamy wedding video, but if the audio is off, the whole video can fall apart.

Bear in mind many videographers are not able to use popular music due to licensing restrictions. There are plenty of romantic, cinematic instrumental songs your videographer can choose to showcase the mood of your wedding. If there is a song or genre you prefer, speak to your videographer about using original music. And remember our Church’s rich tradition of liturgical music is an amazing accompaniment for video!

With a coordinated plan and strong communication between the bride, groom, priest, and vendors, your wedding day can be preserved in a way that captures the essence of your love for each other, cultivates your devotion to Christ and the beauty of the faith, and elicits strong emotion for years to come.

I encourage you to prayerfully consider the suggestions above when working with your Catholic wedding videographer. I wish you joy, peace and patience as you prepare for this sacred sacrament of marriage!

Recently engaged? Consider including a "How We Met" engagement video during your engagement photography session! If you desire to share your story, a video is a creative and fun way to invite others to witness your relationship and journey towards holiness.


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About the Author: Laura Kuah is a wedding photographer + videographer and owner of Laurentina Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor, and Catholic convert from the Washington, D.C. area. She was introduced to the Catholic faith during a semester abroad in Orvieto, Italy while living with Italian Catholic Sisters. When she is not behind the camera, Laura enjoys being outdoors, visiting art museums, growing succulents and playing with her sweet tabby cat, Gioia.

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Pursuing Wedding Day Perfection with Humility

EVAN KRISTIANSEN

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


While I was at Mass recently, I was reminded why Jesus says of children, "The kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16).

Next to me, my three-year-old niece was reading a children's missal and following along during the liturgy. When we reached the consecration, the missal described it as the point of the Mass where "the real Jesus" appears.

My niece started looking intently around the church. I glanced over at her, sitting on my mother's lap, and watched her eyes slowly fill with tears. I asked what was wrong, and she explained that she "could't find him. Where's the real Jesus?" She burst into tears, burying her face in my mother's shoulder.

My niece had such a desire to meet Jesus in person that she broke down when she couldn’t find him.

As my mother was comforting her, probably trying to think of a way to explain the mystery of the Real Presence to a three-year-old, I reflected on my own posture toward the Eucharist, the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324)

The Eucharist, truly God in body, blood, soul, and divinity, is available seven days a week at my local Catholic parish. When was the last time I wept with childlike longing because I couldn't receive? When was the last time I chose to commit a sin, knowing full well that it would interfere in my relationship with the Lord?

I think that couples preparing for marriage should regularly do a similar reflection. It can be so easy to get distracted by details during wedding planning that couples forget to ask, “what is this day about?” and “who is this day for?”

It might not seem like the best place to begin planning a wedding, or even thinking about marriage, but a thorough examination of your motivations and your personal failings will ultimately help you grow toward a more Christian relationship, a more relaxed attitude toward your wedding, and a better and holier life.

So, let's humble ourselves, shall we? There are three things that are important keep in mind when planning the “perfect wedding:”

You are not perfect, and neither is your future spouse.

"For there is no distinction, all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23).

Besides Jesus and Mary (“Our tainted nature’s solitary boast”), there have been no perfect people. You and your partner are likely (though we strive against it with all our hearts) to commit sins in the time that you are together--worse, the two of you are likely to commit sins that directly affect your relationship.

You are right to expect your future spouse to be striving for the perfection of virtue, just as you should be, but keep in mind the verse above: all have sinned.  

The “Good News” is that Christ has provided us with the answer to these struggles: himself. He, being the truly perfect spouse of the Church, humbled himself and hung on the cross for our sins. Shown in this amazing act of ultimate love, he greatly desires your conversion of heart.

Have you accepted this truth, and gone to confession recently? Make plans with your future spouse to go together, and definitely before your wedding! Jesus gave the apostles the ability to bind and loose sins (Matthew 16:19), and the priest at your local parish has this same faculty, inherited by merit of his ordination. Our contrition can be expressed to that priest, acting in the person of Christ, and through genuine repentance we can be given absolution for any sin, big or small.

That we can be confident in God’s forgiveness through the sacramental ministry of the Church, is one of the most beautiful things about our Catholic faith! Furthermore, you can view going to confession as a powerful step toward a holier, healthier, and happier relationship with your beloved.

With a little bit of humility about our own imperfections and a repentant confession, our sins are washed away and our souls made clean. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

It is important to strive to do for your future spouse what Christ does for us. Forgive your partner when they've done wrong, even if they don't “deserve it.” *

However, I have found that it is  easier to see imperfections in others than in ourselves. Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, says "We [then] judge ourselves by our motives—and others by their behavior." Ask first if your partner’s actions can be seen in another light, or recognize that they may not be motivated by malicious intent at all.

Then examine yourself and ask when you last failed to live up to the call God had planned for you. Act from that place of humility, rather than on your first instincts.

Remember to ask forgiveness for the wrongs that you have done them. Make the first move, in love, and you may resolve conflicts much more quickly. If you make this pattern of humility a regular exercise, you will see the fruits of Christ's mercy in your relationship.

Your wedding won't be perfect, either.

"When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'they have no wine.'" (John 2:3)

Being a wedding photographer can be a surprisingly intimate experience. I am hired to capture details of someone's life that they often don't share with others. The privilege of listening in on earnest prayers, capturing tears of joy and happiness, and witnessing the unification of two lives is an honor I receive with great gratitude.

When I take photos, I try to capture the feeling of the day as the couple experiences it. Bright colors, white dresses, beautiful decorations, and smiling faces are all mainstays of wedding photography. But as with many forms of media, it is easy to get the impression that these perfect images mean a picture-perfect day.

Ask any of your married friends about their wedding, and they will tell you (usually after gushing, "It was wonderful!") all about the myriad of small mistakes that were made during planning, at the rehearsal, and even on the big day.

In six years as a wedding photographer, I have never seen a perfectly executed wedding. I have seen mistakes and "imperfections" ranging from the very small (processing down the aisle in the wrong order) to the very large (a church so hot that the mother of the groom was hospitalized).

There will be mistakes made at your wedding, and no amount of planning may stop them from happening. But if the event isn't perfect, then what unifies the couples that genuinely enjoy their day?

In my experience, these couples are those that see their wedding for what it is: an imperfect event planned by imperfect people crowned with a supernatural reality.

A couple can be married in front of a crowd of five people just as validly as a crowd of five hundred; they can be married for no money just as easily and completely as they can in a wedding that costs a small fortune; they will still be married if their tablecloths aren't the right color, or if that one relative makes a bit of a fuss.

I say these things to free engaged couples from unnecessary worry, not to make them paranoid. If you know, as I do, that an absolutely perfect wedding isn't possible, I hope it allows you to relax and remember the purpose of the day: getting married to your bride or groom. Everything else is ancillary.

With this in mind, I advise my couples to schedule ten minutes together after the ceremony without the photographer, wedding planner, mother-in-law, or any guests. The goal is to take in the reality that you are married. Kiss each other, pray together, and then face the rest of your wedding day knowing that whatever else happens, you are now one flesh!

No mistake of planning, no social faux pas, and no guest falling face first into your wedding cake will change that reality. See this as an opportunity for humility. Give this special day to your spouse, to your families, and to God. Be confident that, whatever else may happen, God has already accomplished the work of the day.

And so, acknowledging all this human imperfection, what is the proper response?

The response to our imperfection: Humility.

"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5)

Humility. But is it really that easy? To let all material worries go, and achieve the elusive "perfect joy" of St. Francis? No, it is not, but relinquishing control to God is a huge first step. It is a step to eventually embracing humility as a permanent feature of your life.

If pride is the source of all sin, and humility is the virtue that directly combats pride, then embracing humility is a sure route to fighting sin in your relationships with your beloved and with God.

Humility thinks first of what your partner needs instead of what you want. Even when their actions are wrongly ordered, humility means forgiving your spouse as you have been forgiven by God.* Humility means holding yourself to a higher standard before encouraging your beloved to do the same. Finally, humility means allowing yourself to be forgiven, both by God and your future spouse, so that you can move past your failings and “live in the truth [of humility]” as Teresa of Avila says.

So, let us live in the truth, and humble ourselves before God.

Place all of the logistics at the feet of the Lord, enjoy your wedding as it is, and you'll find that the day is made perfect by God present in your union, even without all the perfect trappings.

Oh, and that planning detail you’re currently fretting over? Forget it. I give you permission!

*In each place where this asterisk appears, the following is a necessary inclusion: The mandate to forgive one another is universal, but there is no such mandate to stay in abusive (physically or emotionally) or dangerous (spiritually or physically) relationships. Please discuss these kinds of issues with friends, family, your priest, a therapist, and/or law enforcement personnel.


CIRCLE HEADSHOT Evan Kristiansen.png

About the Author: Evan shoots timeless photography and serves the Boston and New England areas. He is available for travel and specializes in Catholic clients. Born in Norway, Evan has 15 years' experience, including six years' worth of shooting weddings. With a great hope in sacramental marriage, he sees love as "making a complete and unreserved gift of yourself to the other."

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A Photographer's Encouragement for Engagement

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


When he asked me to marry him, I started crying tears of excitement. I was ready to be united with the love of my life and believed that nothing could stand in the way. Little did I know that nine months of marriage preparation, wedding planning, and managing family expectations would present a journey of challenges before we could walk down the aisle.

Although wedding planning was one of the most materialistic and difficult times in my life, I chose to enter the wedding industry to bless couples as their photographer and as a source of encouragement. We offer both beautiful images and positive support; we remind couples to embrace the hustle and bustle of wedding planning tasks by slowing down and enjoying engagement.

Your time as an engaged couple can seem extremely long and difficult due to a multitude of new situations, pressures, and circumstances. But there are many reasons why it's one of the most formative times in your marriage. As a bride and a photographer, I have journeyed through many engagements with couples. I pray that my perspective may help you experience your season of waiting with intention and a grateful heart.

Engagement is a precious time when you are able to communicate, discern points of conflict, and problem-solve prior to married intimacy.

It's during this time you are making some of the biggest foundational decisions in your relationship, like where you will live, where you will work, and how you will celebrate the holidays. Take time to dive into every conversation and seriously begin working through obstacles as you prepare for marriage.

Engagement gives you the ability to slowly unite as one.

In other words, engagement offers a buffer of time to release old, selfish habits and to develop new routines for new life circumstances. Marriage is a vocation that immediately strips you of the ability to be selfish; engagement is a time to prepare your mind, body, and spirit for that kind of sacrificial love. It is important to consider how daily routines and household responsibilities will change after your wedding.

Engagement allows you time to focus on Christ.

It is this time of waiting that gives you space to communicate about your faith and pray together. Use this time to create a vision for a shared spiritual life and goals for your new family’s foundation of values.

Engagement can be a challenging time to balance physical temptation, external pressures, emotional distress, and deadlines for key wedding planning decisions. But this time won't last forever.

Years from now you will look back on this season and it will be a small dot on the timeline of your marriage. With this in mind, utilize this season to its fullest by discerning issues, growing in selflessness, and focusing on Christ. After taking this time to build your foundation, you may even find the first year of your marriage will be easier than you expect!


About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is the founder of Soul Creations Photography. She is a go-getter and dream-chaser who loves to serve others well. She loves all things healthy and early morning spiritual reads. Most days you can find her walking hand in hand beside the love of her life, Alan, with their baby John David in her arms. On any given day, you'll find them taking hikes and planning vacations out West.

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3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Wedding Date

JULIANA TOMLINSON

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


You are engaged, showing off your ring, celebrating with family and friends, and it quickly becomes time to answer your first big wedding planning question: when will we get married?

Some couples decide to get married quickly, while others take a year (or more) to say I do. There is no rule about how long you should be engaged--no right or wrong. There is only right or wrong for you.

So how long should you wait from the day you say yes until the day you say I do? I offer three considerations to answer this question.

Do we have a budget?

If the Lord has placed the desire in your heart to get married--and soon--do not be afraid because you don’t have the money. The most important thing is receiving the sacrament. Whether you find vendors that will work with your budget, plan a DIY event, or enlist the help of friends and family members, answer the call from the Lord. As a photographer, I can assure you there are wedding vendors with any budget range.

Many couples prefer to save money before jumping right into planning their special day. Again, there’s no right and wrong, but I want to remind you that preparing to get married and to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony is more important than planning your wedding. Take time to discern spiritual and logistical goals for your engagement with your fiancé, then determine a budget and timeline that supports those goals.

Is our foundation solid?

Maybe you are afraid to answer this question because you love your fiancé so much, you know you want to spend forever with him or her, but you are also aware that you need to build a strong foundation first. If this is true, don’t feel pressured to schedule your date just yet. Take time to go to adoration together, pray, talk to your priest and ask him to guide you through this season until you are ready.

There is nothing wrong with waiting if the Lord is asking you to prepare.

For me, this is the most important question couples should honestly answer. Without a foundation, a stable house can not be built. And if one decides to go ahead and build without laying the foundation first, it is very likely that the house won’t stand for long.

Have we asked the Lord?

This may seem obvious, but taking important decisions to prayer with the Lord is so important. He cares for us so much, and he is the one who has called you into this beautiful vocation. Rest assured he has the answer.

Spend some time with our Lord, do a novena with your fiancé, and quietly pray together. Let our heavenly Father guide you. He will answer and let you know how much time you need for your engagement . Perhaps some detail you desire at your wedding is only available at a certain time of year, for example. Trust the ways he shows you his perfect plan. Trust the moments when you are filled with peace.

Beyond conversations and discernment with your fiancé ,our Church is rich in resources to help engaged couples prepare for marriage. Pre-Cana retreats or marriage preparation classes help to build a foundation and resources though your archdiocese, parish, mentors, and other Catholic organizations support your preparation for marriage.

Do not be afraid as you run toward the sacraments and the teachings of the Church in your preparations to become one as husband and wife!


About the Author: Juliana Tomlinson is a Catholic Wedding Photographer from Brazil who lives with her Husband Greg, her miracle baby boy Theo and fur baby, Arthur, in Lancaster, PA.

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