When You're the Maid of Honor

CAROLYN SHIELDS

 

We spent hours of our childhood dreaming of this day: what our dresses would look like, how the man would react as we walked down the aisle to him, and so on. Olivia fell in love first, with a marine (she set the bar high). Watching my sister-not-by-blood fall in love was honor enough, but when she asked me to stand by her on her wedding day, I was flushed with warm admiration. It was an honor to participate in so many small, intimate ways that weekend; something I will truly cherish forever.

Listening to her tiptoe upstairs the night before, having that moment together to eat toast and sip coffee the morning of, when the earth was defrosting itself, is a cherished memory. Standing behind the church doors, as I straightened her dad's tie, she whispered, "Carolyn?" And I turned.

"Do I look okay?"

My eyes smarted with tears as I straightened her veil once more and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She pulled me into a hug, kissed my cheek, and told me she loved me. And then I had to go ahead of her.

So you're here, too--the Maid of Honor? I'm sure you're feeling just as honored as I did. Sisterhood is something so beloved, so I want to share ways to incorporate as much prayer into your best friend's day as possible. And if you're like me, I no longer lived close to the bride during her engagement, and couldn't run across the street to her house like we did when we were little. I wasn’t able to walk over and help her tie 150 ribbons for her favors.

But you can do the following, no matter how far apart you and the bride are.

Pray for her guests.

I was privileged to write out Olivia's wedding invitations, something I could do on quiet evenings in my apartment three hours away. As I wrote out her guests’ names, I realized just how many names I didn't recognize. I was curious as to who these people were, people who meant so much to Olivia and her fiancé that they were invited to join them on their big day. So over each envelope, I thanked God for their presence in the bride and groom’s lives.

I also wrote out her escort cards. Over each of these, I prayed for each guest’s safe arrival to the ceremony and reception.

Create a spiritual bouquet.

I know it's tradition to collect the ribbons from bridal shower gifts to build a bouquet for the bride to carry at her rehearsal. When I tried, it was the saddest-looking thing ever! So instead, I reached out to Olivia's friends and mine to create a spiritual bouquet. I bought white roses and scribbled the sacrifices, novenas, rosaries, and prayers our friends offered for Olivia, tying  them with twine onto the flowers. I thought she would feel more comfortable walking down the aisle holding a bouquet of prayer (some from women she’d never met) than one made of ribbon!

Take a moment to pray over her.

Even if you don’t often pray in this way, in that moment when she looks immaculate, it's minutes before go time, and the butterflies are raging, she’ll welcome it. Invite the bridesmaids to join you in prayer, place a warm palm on her shoulder for physical support, and let your heart sing its praise.

Reflect on honor.

That's who you are! The Maid of Honor. What does it mean to honor someone? What does honor deserve? What place does honor have in our faith? If we believe our Holy is who he says Hh is, then we must understand who we are.

And on this weekend, on that altar, that's what you represent.


About the Author: Carolyn Shields is the founder of The YoungCatholicWoman and is fresh off of the wedding of her sister (she set up the bride and groom!). Her current projects include web design and engagement and wedding photography

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Editors' Picks | Vol. 13: 2018 Bridesmaid Trends

At Spoken Bride, we love a good book, a good meal, a standout statement necklace, a heel you can dance in, and the list goes on. And when we make those discoveries, we want to tell everyone. So every month or two, we're sharing our latest and favorite finds in everything engagement, wedding, and honeymoon-related.

Your wedding provides an opportunity to showcase the unique gifts, tastes, and inner and outer beauty of the women you're closest to. Today, we're sharing our favorite trends for bridesmaids that help you accomplish just that.

 

Jiza, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Mismatched dresses: Instead of matching bridesmaids dresses of the same color and same style, this is when the bride assigns a different color and/or fabric to each bridesmaid according to her wedding’s color scheme. As a photographer, I love the look coordinating dresses creates. It creates visual appeal in an image with the varying textures and color. Chances are, your bridesmaids are also happier and more comfortable in their dresses, because each was able to pick something for her own body. This can also help your bridesmaids find a dress within their budget—with online shopping today, searching for a dress is easier than ever.

Bridesmaid hangers: We commonly see dress shots with a beautiful hanger for only the bride. However, with bridesmaids’ dresses becoming more and more unique, it is also lovely having some additional dress photos with their gowns, as well. You may want to first dispose of the plastic hangers, and if you are in search of a good bridesmaids gift, a personalized hanger is both pretty and practical.

Non-traditional bouquets: This is becoming more and more popular, which I couldn’t be more excited about. Corsages are no longer limited to the mothers anymore--bridesmaids are wearing them now, too. Instead of a traditional bouquet, your bridal party can carry lanterns or floral hoops or wreaths. Or for something minimal yet still eye-catching, one singular, large flower with simple greenery, such as a magnolia, a dahlia, or a peony, is beautiful. Speak with your floral designer for unique ideas!

 

Andi, Business Director

Patterned and floral dresses: I love that we’ve branched out from all-matching dresses to coordinating styles that flatter every body, and now on to prints and florals for the bridal party. Some brides have their Maid of Honor wear a floral gown and the other ladies coordinating colors; others have all their maids in vibrant prints. It’s such a fun way to personalize your wedding!

Renting gowns: I’m a huge fan of this trend! It’s great not to have to purchase anything, and there are several options like Rent the Runway and other retailers specifically geared toward weddings.

 

Stephanie, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief

Pajamas: Especially with fall and winter weddings upon us, PJ’s are an inspired alternative to robes as you and your ladies prepare for the day. From cozy plaids to crisp oxford piping to delicate boho trim, there are plenty of sets available to suit any wedding aesthetic and budget.

Fresh skin: With moves like unretouched ads, lines offering dozens of foundation shades, and campaigns featuring models (or real women!) of different sizes and races, I find the beauty industry’s current vibe of inclusivity long overdue and so praiseworthy. I hope over time, the trend becomes more than a short-lived fad, but simply a norm and expectation, showcasing a true range of feminine beauty.

This sensibility is evident in makeup trends, as well: after a few years of matte, poreless looks with heavy coverage and contour, I love seeing an increase in dewy skin, freckles showing through, and making peace with lines and natural texture. Encouraging your bridesmaids or makeup artist to embrace each woman’s unique features still photographs beautifully and allows their outer appearance to make visible the radiance of their inner selves.

Millenial pink: If the product design, websites, and clothing I see everywhere are any indication, this shade shows no signs of going away any time soon. For bouquets, nails, or your main wedding color, soft pink flatters all skin tones and can function almost as a neutral. And depending on your taste and other wedding details, it can skew minimalist, romantic, or preppy.

We love hearing your own inspirations. Have you, or will you, incorporate any of these trends into your wedding party? Share in the comments and on our social media what selections you've made for your bridesmaids' attire, gifts, florals, and otherwise!
 

Join Our Team!

Through discernment, and with our gratitude for the growth of the Spoken Bride community, we are excited to announce we’re expanding our team! We’re eager to work with individuals who share in our passion for Catholic marriage, with an eye for beauty and a voice of authenticity.

Spoken Bride is seeking a full-time Social Media Manager, full-time Associate Editor, and full-time Administrative Assistant to join us beginning in mid-October 2018 and are accepting applications through Friday, September 28.

Our ideal candidates are collaborative-minded servant leaders with original, creative takes on Catholic wedding-related content and an eye for growing and expanding our ministry. Above all, candidates should have a heart for Spoken Bride’s mission and for the sacrament of marriage. Experience with writing, digital marketing/PR, weddings, and/or theology is ideal.

Feeling called to apply? Find information and application forms for each position below.

Social Media Manager

The Social Media Manager will handle all facets of scheduling, drafting, and posting for Spoken Bride’s social media platforms, utilizing appropriate strategies and applications for long-term growth and engagement. This is a remote position that is currently unpaid, with the possibility of future compensation.

Responsibilities include:

  • Designing and implementing a social media calendar and schedule
  • Writing, scheduling, and optimizing 1-2 daily posts from the Spoken Bride blog, Spoken Bride Vendors community, and from external sources for Instagram and Facebook
  • Creating and optimizing blog post pins for Pinterest
  • Frequent, authentic engagement with reader comments and like-minded accounts on Spoken Bride’s social media platforms
  • Utilizing SEO and marketing strategies for optimal long-term growth
  • Ensuring correct grammar, style, and attributions in all social media posts
  • Team communication via email, text, and calls

Qualifications:

Our ideal candidate is someone with past experience in the constantly changing world of social media and a commitment to continued education in new trends and strategies. She specializes in digital and content marketing, writing compelling and rhetorically effective posts, and the ability to conceive a concrete plan for long-term growth and engagement on Spoken Bride’s platforms. This position requires a sincere, goal-oriented approach to marketing, along with the ability to source and edit graphics and to manage, promote, and distribute blog content.

Apply here:

Name *
Name
Tell us about yourself! Are you recently engaged or married? Have you been married for several years? What drew you to apply for this position?
Please list concrete experience in social media management, writing, and editing. Do you have any relevant degrees? What digital marketing tools or applications are you familiar with?

Associate Editor

The Associate Editor will work closely with Spoken Bride’s Editor in Chief to produce written content for the blog, the Spoken Bride newsletter, and additional print resources as needed, both self-produced and written by external contributors. This is a remote position and is currently unpaid, with the possibility of future compensation.

Responsibilities include:

  • Brainstorming and pitching content ideas for the Spoken Bride blog
  • Maintaining editorial calendar
  • Constructing blog posts from start to finish, including drafting, editing, formatting, and preparation for social media
  • Writing and/or editing 5 or more original pieces per month for the Spoken Bride blog
  • Editing several contributors' pieces per month, managing pitches and correspondence with past and future contributors
  • Maintaining and updating blog post archives
  • Constructing monthly newsletter content, including topic brainstorms, drafting, and editing
  • Writing and/or editing additional materials (print publications, social media copy, website text, etc.) as needed
  • Team communication via email, text, and calls

Qualifications:

Candidates with past documented writing experience, a critical yet charitable eye for style and argument, a potential network of future blog contributors, and flawless command of grammar and language are ideal. We also desire our Editor to be a person of action; able to work well on a deadline and willing to frequently initiate and maintain new contributor relationships.

Apply here:

Name *
Name
Tell us about yourself! Are you recently engaged or married? Have you been married for several years? What drew you to apply for this position?
Have you submitted a written contribution or wedding submission to Spoken Bride in the past? *
Please list concrete experience in writing, editing, blogging, theology, wedding planning, ministry, or otherwise. Do you have any relevant degrees?
Writing samples should be between 500 and 1,500 words. Samples should be original pieces not previously published on other sites.

Administrative Assistant

The Administrative Assistant will work closely with the Creative Director and Business Director on website maintenance and updates, basic bookkeeping, preparation of publications and/or newsletters, and additional projects as needed. This is a remote position and is an unpaid, full-time volunteer position.

Responsibilities include:

  • Day-to-day administrative tasks
  • Implementing design ideas for the Spoken Bride blog, run on Squarespace
  • Communication with Spoken Bride’s Creative Director, Business Director, and ministry team via email, text, and calls

Qualifications:

The ideal candidate for this position is humbly, readily able take and carry out specific direction, while also anticipating additional needs. An individual with experience in Design, excellent communication and organizational skills, and facility with major blog-related platforms--including Squarespace, GoogleDrive, SurveyMonkey, and MailChimp--would be a great fit. Our assistant must have internet access, a laptop, and sufficient availability to carry out tasks in a timely manner. We envision this position requiring several hours of work per week, with consistent work times (e.g. 1-2 afternoons per week).

Apply here:

Name *
Name
Tell us about yourself! How did you hear about this position, and what drew you to apply?
Please list any relevant past work experience, including ministry, graphic design, weddings, and/or communications. Is your degree related to any of these fields? What blogging-related tools are you familiar with? Prior knowledge of major blog-related platforms is a plus, but this is a trainable position!
I have access to:
Check all that apply.
Are you available several hours a week to work on Spoken Bride projects and administrative tasks and to designate consistent work windows?

New team members will be notified by early October 2018. We look forward to hearing from you!

Editors' Picks | Vol. 12: Favorite Love Stories

At Spoken Bride, we love a good book, a good meal, a standout statement necklace, a heel you can dance in, and the list goes on. And when we make those discoveries, we want to tell everyone. So every month or two, we're sharing our latest and favorite finds in everything engagement, wedding, and honeymoon-related.

The best romances direct our earthly emotion and longings to the Holy One, the beloved of our souls whose love is bottomless. Today, we're sharing the love stories that inspire us from literature, movies, TV, and the lives of the saints.

Jiza, Co-Founder + Creative Director

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series: Oh, where to begin?! There is something about Anne and Gil that will always give my stomach butterflies or make my heart skip a beat. I love Gil’s devoted pursuit of Anne and that he loves her for who she is, even when she is absolutely stubborn and unreasonable. From their early rivalry to their friendship to their eventual marriage, this fictional romance is one of my all-time favorites.

Chiara Corbella Petrillo and her husband, Enrico: Chiara is a young Italian wife and mother who died in 2012 of carcinoma. When you read her biography, Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy, written by her friends Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini, the beginning delves a great deal into Chiara and Enrico’s roller coaster courtship. Their marriage, too, was also not short of great suffering and sacrifice up until her death. Their relationship is real, gritty, and painful, yet still full of joy, trust, and redemption. In a world that idolizes the appearance of a curated, blissful marriage, I find great consolation in Chiara and Enrico and their absolute surrender to always serve God and do His will, no matter how much it hurts.

 

Andi, Business Director

Jim and Pam from The Office: this has got to be one of the most down-to-earth, relatable love stories out there (you know you cried at their wedding!). From the start I loved how Jim and Pam were friends; their relationship just slowly grew from there, and the show drew it out over a few seasons because real life is messy and doesn’t always happen on our schedule. Jim was so patient and it was worth it in the end!

 

Mary and Joseph: As I recently prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, I was reflecting on the theological virtue of hope, and Mary and Joseph came to my mind. Saint Joseph shows us so much trust in the Lord when he decides to marry Mary, despite the unexpected news of the Word becoming flesh in her womb. They both show us hope by trusting in God’s plan for their marriage and family, even with all the unexpected circumstances they had to endure.

Ella and Kit from Cinderella (2015): I had very low expectations going into this Disney remake and ended up blown away by the tenderness and affection that grew between Cinderella and Prince Kit. So much depth, personality, and actual motivations were given to these characters, and it made them so real! I think my favorite aspect of their relationship is the purity it’s portrayed with: neither had the intent to use the other for their own purposes, and neither felt worthy of the other, allowing real love to grow.

 

Stephanie, Co-Founder + Editor in Chief

Kitty Scherbatsky and Konstantin Levin from Anna Karenina: Tolstoy’s novel is most famous for its portrayal of a love story gone off the rails, via the affair conducted by the title character. So I found myself surprised, as well as incredibly moved, when I read the book for the first time and discovered that in contrast to Anna’s infidelity and emotional caprice, the story also traces the development of another relationship, one rooted in constancy and personal growth. The romance between Kitty and Levin matures as each grows in awareness of human nature and suffering, culminating in one of the most beautiful proposals I’ve ever encountered--fictional or real.

Saint Gianna Molla and her husband Pietro: Saint Gianna, to me, is a woman of vocation. She embraced all the Lord called her to in both gladness and trials; her decision to give birth to her fourth child at the cost of her own life embodied our ultimate call, as Christians, to lay down our lives. Her sacrifice is heroic, yet what stands out to me most is the ordinariness of who she was, in the best way: a 20th-century working mother, like so many of us, who desired to create a joyful and peaceful home for her family. The number of canonized married saints is few, so I am grateful for the poetry and encouragement I’ve found in the letters exchanged between Gianna and her beloved husband, Pietro. They cared for one another with a beautiful regard for one another’s spiritual well-being, with a sweet tenderness, and even a holy boldness--feeling certain of her devotion to Pietro, who was the shyer of the two, Gianna was the first to say I love you, expressing her desire for a lifelong commitment and family!

Tami and Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights: I consider myself emotional when it comes to love (read: crying over practically every Spoken Bride wedding submission), but I’m not easily swayed by shallow sentiment or sweeping gestures. I find the real and the messy romantic, because that’s who we, as humans, are. It’s what I love in the relationship between Coach Taylor and his wife. I truly can’t think of another TV marriage that is so realistically and positively portrayed: one rooted in abiding trust and good will, even when frustrated by life and work’s demands, one that doesn’t blow problems out of proportion for the sake of drama but confronts them with honesty and respect, and one with expressions of endearment and physical affection that feel so unaffected and true to life.

Did we include your favorite couple on this list? Share the love stories you love in the comments and on our social media.

Cultivating a Heart for Your Single Friends

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

I remember the first time I felt it. I’d just helped send my sister off to prom--nine years later, her date would become her husband--giddy with admiration for her beaded dress and lack of preoccupation with her looks. Three years before, I’d reluctantly attended my own senior prom, feeling the weight of expectation that it was what you were supposed to do, supposed to feel emotional about, at the end of high school. No one asked me. My dad dropped me off.

  Photography: Kelli Seeley Photography

Photography: Kelli Seeley Photography

I felt it again the day an old friend called, breathlessly sharing the story of how she’d gotten engaged hours earlier on a snow-covered bench. At the time, I was navigating the waters of serious dating for the first time, aware my current relationship was diminishing my spiritual life and sense of who I was, yet too fearful and passive to do much about it. Where, I wondered, was the man I’d marry, and when would it be my turn?

Those stirrings in my heart had a name: an ache. My heart was beating; I was alive; and it hurt.

Sometimes, it was physically painful to sit on the floor of the chapel, eyes glazed before the tabernacle and desperate for the road to my vocation to present itself. I shared in the joy of my sister and my friends as they experienced the wonder and recognition of meeting the men they’d say yes to, forever. I was sincerely glad for them; not envious, just...sad. Something was missing. I struggled not to idolize marriage, knowing my ultimate fulfillment and truest home for my longings lay not in a spouse, but in the Father’s love. Yet all the same, I longed.

Then I found myself engaged, scarcely believing a man as sacrificial, tender, and endlessly fascinating as my fiancée was even a reality, let alone someone who would choose me. Those whispers of the ache came back, in the form of empathy for several close friends enduring recent, and very raw, breakups.

I remembered the feeling that my dating life had existed in an entirely different world than that of my engaged friends, and feared I’d now be the one inflicting pain on women I loved who were currently single.

As a result, I stayed close-lipped for a while about my excitement and planning experiences with certain friends, concerned oversharing would be hurtful. Until my best friend looked in my eyes and told me not to be worried. She was happy for me, she insisted, and my sharing the details of wedding plans didn’t lessen that happiness.

It takes a woman of great strength and selflessness to say something like my friend told me; someone of pure good will and an ability to enter into the joy of another as if it were her own. My friend gave me such a gift that evening, not only in her other-focused love for me, but in her honesty.

For weeks, I’d wondered what she was feeling as she ordered a dress, planned my bridal shower, and listened to my minimally detailed stories about registry scanners and accessory shopping, all while weathering a storm of uncertainty after what seemed like a promising relationship suddenly ended. I was anxious, constantly wondering if it was too self-important of me to even have the worries I did. As it turned out, directness was so much clearer--so obvious; so much simpler--than speculation and anxiety.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, unsure of how much of your engagement or newlywed life to share with your single friends, I recommend a heart-to-heart. The only way to be sure is to communicate. Ask your friend what sort of involvement in your plans is helpful, what’s difficult, and how she’d like to participate. Chances are, she’ll feel honored you asked, free to be honest with you, and ultimately, sincerely excited about your forthcoming marriage.

Conversations like these can be mutually uncomfortable. But on the other side lies greater comfort than ever, each of you more in tune with the other’s heart and feeling the unspoken freedom and permission to share your thornier emotions. Additionally, the practices of taking time during your engagement to spend quality time with friends who are single and interceding for them, placing your trust in the Lord’s timing with regard to their own vocations, bear only good fruit.

“...love always communicates itself, that is, love listens and responds, love is found in dialogue and communion.” - Pope Francis

About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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When You and Your Sister Are Both Engaged

KAT FINNEY + GENEVIEVE ALLEN

 

Do you have not just your own wedding drawing near on the calendar, but that of someone else you’re close to?

Kat and Genevieve are sisters who got engaged within three days of each other and were married in the same year. “Wedding planning together was one of the sweetest experiences of our lives,” shares Kat, “but it can also come with some challenges.” For other women planning their weddings at the same time as their own sisters, family members, or close friends, we’re honored to share the fruits of these ladies’ wisdom.

Practical Considerations

In Kat’s words: One of the more obvious benefits to being engaged at the same time as your sister is the mutual experience of planning for one of life’s biggest moments. You get to giggle over wedding magazines and dream about the future together. It’s like that time you marched down the aisle of your shared bedroom together, humming “da da da dum” and wearing veils made of curtains, only it’s real. Take some time together to go to lunch and let it sink in that this is really happening. Take pictures. Toast each other. Soak it up.

A great practical benefit of getting married around the same time as my sister was familiarizing ourselves with vendors in the area. You might consider working with wedding vendors who offer referral packages, should you both choose to book with them. We used many of the same vendors, not only because we liked what they had to offer, but also because many of them had referral offers in exchange for spreading the word about their businesses.

One possible downside: we were concerned since our weddings were in the same year, our guests would have déjà vu once they went to the second wedding. The key when using the same vendors is to stay true to your own taste. It was very tempting for me to just copy all of Gen’s décor, simply because I knew she had great ideas and her wedding would be beautiful. But even though I loved everything about Gen’s wedding and the details she chose, I would have been untrue to myself if I hadn’t gone with my own choices. Never compromise your own style, even when your bestie’s is temptingly gorgeous.

In Genevieve’s words: Kath and I even had some of the same bridesmaids, so we tried to be conscious of cost when making choices for our bridal party. That's at least two dresses, showers, and bachelorette parties your favorite girls might feel pressure to pay for, so consider what investments could be optional. For example, does it really matter that all of your bridesmaids are in heels? No. So request that your girls wear nude shoes, but don't specify a style. If you want everyone in the same kind of jewelry, provide that as your bridesmaid gift.

Lots of these little things won't actually matter to you in the end, but they can provide big savings for some of the most important women in your life. I actually wish I hadn't been so firm on the color of bridesmaid dress for my wedding, because I now love the trend of mismatched but coordinating gowns. This cost consideration goes for wedding guests, too. If you have a registry, include a wide range of items and price points. Whether you’re getting married in the same year as your sister or not, this is a considerate thing to do.

Things to Do Together and Apart

Kat: One of the best decisions Gen and I made was to scheduling our own individual dress appointments, as opposed to trying to find our dresses at the same time. The first time we ever tried on dresses, we decided we’d go and both look together. It would kill two birds with one stone, right?

Wrong. We ended up not really being able to shop well, each wondering if our sister was going to want the same dress or bringing dresses off the racks for each other while forgetting to look for ourselves. We hated every dress we tried on that day and felt discouraged after leaving. This may not be how everyone experiences shared dress shopping dates, but both of us highly recommend making separate appointments. The main reason is it takes the pressure off and allows you to better dote on your friend or sister as she shops for her gown.

Genevieve: Ultimately, this day is about you, your future spouse, and your marriage. It can be easy to forget about that when you’re covered in bridal magazines and fabric swatches. Some things, like choosing shoes or wedding jewelry, are naturally going to be better sister activities.

Most wedding decisions and preparation, however, should be focused on you and your spouse. You probably will be able to identify which wedding tasks your fiancé won't care too much about, but give him the opportunity to make decisions with you before assuming he won't be interested. For example, I knew my fiancé cared not at all about flowers, so this was one aspect of planning Kath and I had a great time tackling together.

Keeping It Prayerful

Kat: We suggest saying a novena together in preparation for your weddings. Obviously this can be done with your fiancé, but it can also be done with your bestie. Nothing is more important in the wedding planning process than spiritual preparation. And when you know you have the spiritual support of your best friend, it can be a real source of grace and inspiration during a potentially stressful time.

Gen and I both took different routes for marriage prep within the Church. It’s good to recognize that your relationship and your sister’s are different, and that no one option is a “best” choice; there’s only a best choice suited to you and your fiancé as a couple.

My fiancé and I met regularly with the deacon at the church where we got married, along with about a dozen couple-to-couple meetings. I couldn’t recommend this more, especially if you know a couple you admire and if you have the time to meet. This brought up so many difficult questions that we were able to answer before getting married, and we had tons of fun with the couple who guided us. The downside to this route is if you don’t know the couple leading you or have trouble relating to them, this could be a very dull, drawn out, and frustrating process, so the Engaged Encounter weekend may be better if you don’t have a mentor couple in mind.

Genevieve: My husband Dalton and I chose to do an Engaged Encounter instead of a mentor couple. We liked the idea of being isolated in a retreat-type setting for our marriage prep, away from distractions.

I could probably write an entire book on the pros and cons of that weekend. Overall, it was very meaningful. We learned a lot about each other, ate bad retreat food, prayed for our future family, learned an overview of NFP (luckily we had our own Creighton instructor to fill in the rest), and generally felt a lot more prepared for marriage. If you have some hurdles to overcome prior to your wedding day--differences in faith practices, family of origin issues, or questions about Church teaching, the couple to couple option might be a more fruitful experience for you.

Finally, try to resist the temptation to compare your engagement, wedding, or relationship to that of your sister and her fiancé. We have found the best way to overcome this is to simply love and want the best for each other. Prayer can help with this, and so can open communication with your future spouse and your sister.

I found that my biggest point of comparison with Kath was actually our rehearsal dinner speeches. Her toast was the perfect blend of humor and emotion, and even as she was delivering it, I was regretting that mine wasn’t as good. I had to try to let that feeling go quickly because I wanted to enjoy the moment, but I’m still kind of jealous, even now! That girl can give a speech.

The joyous swirl of wedding planning is made even better when you are experiencing it with your sister. No one can better understand why you might feel the need to burst into tears when you finally find the perfect cake topper after hours of browsing on Etsy. No one is better at letting you know when you might be veering off into Bridezilla territory. No one's smile will be bigger when you finally walk down the aisle. Well, your fiancé's smile should probably be bigger, but yours might be almost as big.

Visit, or revisit, Kat and her husband Jonathan's wedding here and Genevieve and her husband Dalton's, both rich with New Orleans traditions, here.


About the Authors: Genevieve and Katherine are sisters and best friends from New Orleans, Louisiana. Gen is the older sister, a nurse and lactation consultant living in Louisiana. Kat is a former high school religion teacher who now stays at home in Pittsburgh with her daughter. Gen loves to stay inside and cozy up to a good book; Kat loves to be outside and to do karaoke with her husband. Gen is the introvert; Kat is the extrovert. Since they live far away from each other, they use their blog, The Sister Post, as one way to keep up communication lines and to share ideas and stories with each other and their readers. The purpose of their blog is to empower women to share in a common sisterhood; they see each other as their best resource, and they hope by sharing their own ideas, tips, and stories, other women will be uplifted by the online sisterhood they've created.

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How to Create + Give a Spiritual Bouquet

ANDI COMPTON

 

On the morning of our wedding, my Maid of Honor presented me with a bouquet of daisies. Tied to the flowers were sweet cards written with prayers and sacrifices our bridal party and friends had been offering for my husband and I as as we prepared for our wedding day. I was absolutely floored by this wonderful, thoughtful gift; a spiritual bouquet. It was incredible to see all the ways our loved ones were bringing us to the Lord. A reminder of how we are all part of the body of Christ, praying and sacrificing for one another always.

There is no right or wrong way to create a spiritual bouquet, a lovely way of gathering prayers either from yourself or a group, for anyone who could use some spiritual encouragement. Essentially, it is a gift of prayer--like a bouquet, a collection of beautiful offerings intended to bear fruit, goodness, and beauty in the life of the recipient--that can be presented in a creative, tangible way to commemorate a significant event.

If you’re a bridesmaid looking to intercede for a bride, or a bride hoping to infuse your gifts for parents and wedding party members with a spiritual dimension, here are ideas to inspire you.

Binder of prayers

This works well when you’ve got a large amount of people--even groups of several hundred--contributing, or when flowers simply wouldn’t be practical or affordable. Use the free printable we’ve created below to distribute the cards. Have participants to fill in with prayers and sacrifices, then collect them and use plastic trading card sleeves to put them in a binder.

Embroidered flowers or a floral painting

For flowers that last forever, considering ordering or creating your own work of art. Hyssop and Honey turns your prayers into flowers for a lasting keepsake. If you're feeling artistic, try painting or crafting your bouquet as you pray.

Greeting cards

Something as simple as sending a loved one a card like this one, citing prayers you’ve offered for them, is a great way to show your love and encouragement.

Download our Spiritual Bouquet printable below:


About the Author: Andi Compton is Spoken Bride's Business Director. She is the owner of Now That's a Party where she coordinates weddings, fundraising galas, and social events. Read more

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