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.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

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.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

First Look Recommendations from a Wedding Photographer and Bride

CLAIRE WATSON

 

If you've started planning your wedding day timeline, you are probably aware of how quickly time will pass once the processional music starts. Enter the first look. First looks started as way for photographers to create extra time for portraits during the wedding day. Couples often desire more relaxed, romantic, fun, storytelling portraits, but don’t want to make their guests wait over an hour for their arrival (and dinner!) at the reception.

When my husband Kevin and I got married, we decided to utilize a first look upon the suggestion of our own photographer. It was before the term was widespread and we felt like we were bucking tradition. But as I looked up the origin of the no-peek custom, I didn't feel so attached to the idea.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   CLAIRE WATSON

PHOTOGRAPHY: CLAIRE WATSON

As you might know, the tradition stems from a precaution in arranged marriages where seeing a bride prior to the ceremony posed a flight risk to the groom. With the source of this ritual unveiled--pun intended--it was one we were more willing to abandon.

Having a first look was one of the best decisions we made in our wedding planning. Not only did we capture beautiful photos, but, more importantly, we were also afforded a moment of shared peace before the ceremony.

Even though I was outgoing and madly in love with Kevin, I was crazy-nervous about walking down the aisle. Like, my-sister-doing-breathing-exercises-with-me-in-the-confessional nervous.

Whether I'm scared, nervous, happy, sad, or excited, the person I run to is Kevin. The morning of our wedding was no different. Fortunately, we had planned a first look and I had the chance to calm my nerves with the man who knows me best. We smiled, laughed, embraced and talked--it was wonderful, and I will always cherish the time we reserved for the two of us.

Even after seeing each other before the wedding, walking down the aisle was an incredible moment. I remember being overcome with emotion as I walked arm-in-arm with my dad down the same aisle I used to walk down every morning for elementary school mass, noticing all the friends and family who had traveled to celebrate with us. My heart was overflowing as I was walked toward the person with whom I wanted to share everything.

The fact that we had already seen each other all dressed up didn't dampen our joy or anticipation to become husband and wife. In fact, I think it enhanced our ceremony because we had released some of our nerves and could be more present to the sacrament.

From my personal experience, and the ones I’ve witnessed as a photographer,  I encourage my clients to have a first look. It provides time for the bride and groom to love on each other and breathe together. It is an opportunity to be still, separate from questions about where the corsages are or who has the tip envelope for the organist.

A few of my couples have prayed together during their first looks. While the blessings and prayers led by a priest are wonderful, there is something vulnerable and beautiful about uttering a prayer yourselves. Entering into a marriage and forging a new family is a heavy--albeit joyful--undertaking. Praying together before the ceremony offers a chance to abandon the tiny stresses that can bite away at your peace and to recenter your mind and soul on the significance of the day.

In 2019, I will get to photograph an Adoration first look! I cannot wait to capture this intensely beautiful way to prepare for vows before the Creator. Humbling oneself to ask for the Almighty's guidance, to surrender your union to his will, or to pour out your heart to God through song--without the pomp of the ceremony and away from the eyes of your guests--are some wonderful ways to prepare for this lifelong vocation.

Whether you choose a first look or not, I encourage you to make time to pray on your wedding day.  Pray with your bridal party, with your parents, through the sacraments of confession or the Eucharist. Plan time for quiet Adoration or exchanging letters with your beloved that contain your prayers each other. Without a plan, the moment for quiet stillness in preparation for the sacrament of matrimony will undoubtedly slip away.


About the Author: This year, Claire Watson hung up her job as a business law attorney to focus on photographing weddings. In between emails and editing, she dances in the kitchen with her kids. She lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia with her smokin' hot (her words) husband, tenacious but awesome three-year-old, and snuggly ten-month old.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Let Something New Pursue Your Heart This Year.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

You know the ones. The quotable movie lines, the Top 40 songs, the recent Apple launches you’re vaguely aware of and just nod along with when they come up, never having exactly experienced them yourself. Does this ever happen in your spiritual life, as well--a feeling that one day you should get around to a deeper look at some of the Church’s rich offerings you’ve only ever sort of known about?

As this new year unfolds, this opportunity to encounter the Lord in a new way, I encourage you to dive into a piece of spiritual reading or the life a particular saint, perhaps one you’ve long intended to get acquainted with, and let it lead your heart where it will.

Photography:    Zélie Veils

Photography: Zélie Veils

For me, this happened with the writings of John Paul II. Growing up, I loved the idea of love, thanks to a steady diet of Disney magic and romantic comedies. My high school youth minister occasionally mentioned the Theology of the Body and its powerful message, yet I put away the basic catechesis on a mental shelf, not considering it compelling or relevant to my current life.

Fast forward to college, and I realized my younger self’s concept of romance was little more than infatuation when compared to what it could really be. Saint Pope John Paul II introduced me to another view, and I fell in love with love for real.

Along with my boyfriend at the time, I attended a summer retreat in Allenspark, Colorado, where the Pope stayed when he came to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993. On the outside, much about our relationship looked happy and holy. Yet my heart had never experienced deeper unrest, in everything from physical boundaries to problem-solving to the voice I could never quite silence; the one that questioned whether even sacrificial love should feel like a constant weight.

That relationship wasn’t meant to be, but I’m certain the Father’s hand led me to that holy ground in the Rockies. There, I was introduced for the first time to Love and Responsibility, the book on sexual ethics and human dignity that John Paul wrote during his years as a cardinal. The person, he wrote, is meant to be loved, and things are meant to be used, yet so often we get it backwards. His observations on romance, sacrifice, and the ways we stumble in them were like reading a narrative of my relationship.  As I came to see it was built on sand, I grew aware of a hunger, an ache, I hadn’t even realized dwelled in my soul. It was a longing for authentic love, rooted in truth.

Months passed before I had the courage to end that relationship. All the while, though, I just couldn’t--and didn’t--want to put out that fire the Pope had lit in my heart. I started reading all I could about his take on love, sexuality, and chastity. It felt like putting on glasses I hadn’t known I needed. Here were the eternal, ancient truths of the Church, spoken in a language so immediate and insistent, so suited to the current culture and my own life. In my relationship, I’d been hiding so much from myself, my friends, and God. I was ready to become more fully alive; to take off the masks. One of JPII’s personal mottos, duc in altum, calls upon Jesus’ exhortation to “put out into the deep.”

A few years later, recently engaged, I found myself on a Theology of the Body retreat with my coworkers. I was familiar with the Pope’s series of audiences on creation, salvation, and the nuptial intimacy found in each vocation from a college study group, but had never delved deeply in.

For the second time in my life, everything I thought I knew about love fell away, replaced with John Paul’s blazingly beautiful vision of the human person; of love as a complete and unrestrained gift of self. His words were literally life-giving, and awakened in me a desire to live out that self-gift in all of my relationships, most especially in the one I’d have with my husband-to-be: the relationship that would sanctify me and bring me to Christ. I felt remade under this new lens.

Encountering this great saint’s writings and principles painted for me the clearest, most whole, most hopeful vision of who we, as humans, are: beloved daughters and sons; a revelation of the Father’s great love. His words have shown me to myself.

What about you? It’s become apparent in my personal prayer life that certain verses, prayers, and saints have seemingly chosen and pursued me at the times I most needed them. Some of those invitations have been whispers: constant, repeated mentions of a certain prayer, book, or person over months or years. And some have been shouts: instances where intercession and answered prayers ring clear and true. Who are the holy men and women who’ve been knocking at--or, alternatively, crashing through--the door of your heart lately?

Sit in the quiet and observe if any particular saints or writings surface. Consider whether any individuals, devotions, or books have been recommended to you more than once, from more than one person. Or perhaps there’s a particular aspect of the Catholic faith you’ve always wanted to dive into. As a new year unfolds, I sense an expanse of open space in my soul; a decluttered state of thirst. I desire to be filled. Satisfied. May my heart--and yours--find newness, discovery, and a deeper intimacy with Christ in these coming months.


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

BOOK | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Readers Share | Spiritual Resolutions for the New Year

The start of a new year is a natural catalyst to reflect on the days gone by and to prepare for the days ahead with intention. We asked our instagram followers how they and their significant others are committing to begin 2019 with purpose-filled goals and mission.

We are inspired by your honesty and vulnerability as we read your New Year’s Resolutions:

Actually go down on our knees and pray together outside of Mass. - @jessicafaithsayegh

Read Scripture together every day. - @benandkrys

Save every extra cent for our wedding in September! - @aly_basley

Pray more! Pray together, pray for each other, pray individually. Let God be the center. - @atpeaceinchrist

Get married! (10.05.19) - @marykmiller.design

Start praying the rosary daily together. - @laurabwilli

Set a budget together (We’re engaged)! - @evercalmedrose

Pray together more. - @elizabethmsp

Me: Trust God more. Us: Be kinder to ourselves and others. - @jam.dykes

Return to the sacrament of confession once a month, like we used to. - @monicalau0101

From all of us to you, Happy New Year and a blessed Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We pray 2019 brings your vocation, wherever you are, abundant fruits and graces.

How to Create, and Live By, a Family Mission + Motto

BRIDGET BUSACKER

 

My husband David and I recently celebrated our second anniversary. In just over two years, we have experienced the joys and challenges of married life and grown closer together in this shared adventure and vocation. 

A priest friend of ours reminded us that marriage is like two stones hitting each other to create a fine and beautiful sand. We will challenge and sharpen each other in this process. And, God-willing and with His abundant graces, be stronger together as long as we seek to view each other as partners and teammates on the journey to our final destination: heaven.

When my husband and I were engaged, we discussed a family mission and motto we could live by. This idea was sparked by our intensive desire to be well-prepared for our marriage and to look beyond our wedding day--although we quickly learned we can only do so much planning, reading, and discussing until we have to live out the reality of marriage. It’s when the rubber meets the road that we truly learn what it means to live out our vocation and choose to love in the big and (mostly) little ways of everyday life.

Our family mission and motto has helped us live out the ordinary days of married life and to refocus us when we’ve started to feel overly worked, busy, or the inkling that if we’re not careful, we may turn into ships in the night.

It is not perfect, and sometimes we can forget about our mission. But it’s through recollection, prayer, and redirection that we remember who we are living for and why it’s so important to stay on track.

The Busacker Family Mission

The Busacker Household is a pilgrim family bold in spirit and secure in faith in Christ. We defend and rely upon His universal Church for our daily life in God. As a thousand years is but a day to the Lord, we revere the commands of Saint Peter, humble heir to the keys of God’s Church made divine in the New Covenant.

We strive therefore to be “holy in all [our] conduct since it is written, ‘You shall holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16) We strive therefore to be hopeful, and to “be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in us, yet [to] do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

We strive therefore to be “ungrudgingly” hospitable, for “as [we] have received a gift, [we shall] employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:9,10) We strive therefore to be as humble as Christ and to clothe ourselves “with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5)

We implore the Sacred Heart of Jesus to grant us holiness, hope, hospitality, and humility in our journey towards Him.

The Busacker Family Motto

Verso l’alto.  

We purposefully picked this motto because of David’s patron saint, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, and his intense witness and love for adventure. Bl. Pier always went above and beyond for Christ, encouraging those around him to aim high.

David and I decided to take this on as our family motto, so that when life is challenging and there are valleys we are experiencing together, we remember that--no matter what--we can offer all for Christ, and can always lift our eyes to aim higher. We want our home to be one that pursues Christ and heaven above all else; to strip away the attachments of this life that keep us from going to the heights in order to hear Him more clearly.

A book that offered insight for us into mission and its importance for family life is Katie Warner’s Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family. We found it a wonderfully helpful tool to better understand what it means to be spiritual leaders, offering great points of discussion that are tangible and applicable for your marriage.

I encourage you, whether you are newly engaged or married for many years, to consider reframing your marriage with heaven at the forefront, creating a mission you can live by—and look to—amidst the joys and challenges of your vocation.

The most successful companies live by a mission in order to create change, make goals, and succeed, so why not create a mission for your marriage and family life? It is the most important job you will ever have and the most important organization you will ever be a part of on this earth. Our goal is heaven--let’s be sure to encourage our spouse, family members, and other couples to join us on the journey.


 About the Author: Bridget Busacker is founder of Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for NFP resources serving women & couples. With her husband, she is also co-founder of The Beautiful Wounds, a collection of curated stories devoted to revealing and appreciating beauty in our everyday lives. In her free time, Bridget enjoys adventuring with her husband, fixing up their new home together, and actively participating in their parish life and lay movement, Catholic Advance, through Pro Ecclesia Sancta.

MANAGING YOUR FERTILITY | INSTAGRAM

THE BEAUTIFUL WOUNDS | INSTAGRAM

Newlywed Life | How to Plan a Honeymoon Staycation

Are you and your beloved unable to go on a honeymoon immediately after your wedding?

Whether due to work, financial, or other limitations, if a getaway isn’t in the cards for you right away, the first days of your marriage can still be an elevated experience and sacred time. Consider planning a honeymoon staycation over a three-day weekend or, if possible, a longer period off from work. Here, our suggestions for making your staycation distinctive from the everyday.

Allow yourselves leisure.

When you’re staying at home, particularly right after your marriage, there are temptations everywhere to do: open gifts, organize belongings, clean, write thank you notes. Don’t forget, however, to be: this is a vacation, after all! Consider designating a time of day to end working on projects and chores, spending the remainder in a state of carefree timelessness.

Make specific plans.

A staycation is ideal for exploring areas of your city you might not otherwise prioritize: plan a day trip, make brunch and dinner reservations at new and special spot, visit the natural or cultural sites you love or have dreamed of seeing. Creating an informal itinerary cultivates the getaway feel and brings structure to your time.

Consider a local overnight.

If your budget allows, spending a night--or two--in a nearby hotel or Airbnb feels distinctively special and set apart from your everyday.

Dream together.

If your “actual” honeymoon is months away, enjoy the anticipation! Page through travel books for your destination, dive into Yelp, and begin planning your forthcoming trip.

Add a spiritual component.

Take advantage of time off from work with daily Mass, Adoration, and a self-planned retreat or pilgrimage. Find more here on planning a spiritually significant honeymoon.

We love hearing the stories, insights, and surprises of your newlywed lives. If you and your beloved had an abbreviated or local honeymoon, or are planning to, share your own tips and experiences in the comments and on our social media. See the Spoken Bride team’s handpicked honeymoon essentials here.