Just Engaged? Tips + Considerations for Setting a Wedding Date

It’s a predictable pattern: once friends and family receive the news of your engagement, their responses, in quick succession, are typically How did he propose? followed by, So when’s the wedding?

  Photography:    Shea Castricone

Photography: Shea Castricone

It’s hard to fault your loved ones for their interest and excitement on your behalf. Yet it’s alright to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a wedding date, let alone planning for it. If you’re newly engaged and wondering where to begin, start by arranging a meeting with the priest at the parish or chapel where you plan to enter into marriage.

At your first meeting, your priest will discuss practical matters like if and when you and your fiancé have received the sacraments, give an overview of the marriage prep process, and will likely send you home with an interview or inventory like FOCCUS to illuminate areas of your relationship that could benefit from deeper examination.

Sometimes when setting the date, the process is as simple as choosing from a list of available days and times. It can be overwhelming, however, to see endless calendar blocks open to you. Here, to aid in your discernment and decision-making, considerations for choosing your date.

The liturgical year

If a particular saint or feast has been significant in your relationship, consider bringing that significance into your wedding date, by way of a saint’s feast day or a solemnity. Spoken Bride’s Business Director, Andi Compton, was married on September 8, the birth of Our Lady, and Creative Director Jiza Zito was married August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption.

Bear in mind that most dioceses do not permit celebratory sacraments, like matrimony and baptism, during Lent. On the other hand, weddings held during the Christmas and Easter seasons convey a beautiful image of new, fruitful, glorious life.

Your personal responsibilities

While, like many major transitions in life, there’s never an ideal, conflict-free time to dive in--and the joy of entering into marriage drowns out those small matters--it is worth considering if any major obligations on the horizon could add stress to your wedding plans. Busy seasons at work in the finance, education, and retail fields, for instance,can be difficult to leave at the office, and if one or both of you is serving on mission, wherein you’re expected to prioritize your work and apostolate, setting your wedding date for a relatively calm time of year can minimize burnout.

Family obligations

If anyone in your immediate family or prospective wedding party will be traveling abroad, on a military deployment, giving birth, or undergoing major surgery or medical procedures in the upcoming months, understand the strain these circumstances might place on their ability to attend your wedding. Of course, it’s impossible to set a date where no guests have prior obligations, but for those closest to you, it’s a gesture of consideration, and a gift to you as a couple, to set a date they’ll be able to attend.

Circumstances and needs at this time in your lives

A short engagement can work well if neither you nor your fiancé will be relocating to a new city or state after your wedding, if one of you is already living in the home you’ll eventually share, or if you’re both well into your post-college lives and careers. A slightly longer time of preparation might be practical if you’re still in school, will need to make arrangements for your living situation, or have concerns that could benefit from pre-marital counseling.

All that said, every divinely ordained relationship, and every unrepeatable person within it, has unique needs, strengths, and challenges. It’s alright to move forward in faith even without all the answers, to get married while going to therapy, or to celebrate your marriage in the midst of professional or family-related whirlwinds. When we step out into the deep, Peter-like, Christ is present and won’t leave us to flounder.

More on discerning the length of your engagement and choosing a wedding date:

Christina Dehan Jaloway’s reflections on a short engagement and on being an “older” Catholic bride | Elise Crawford Gallagher’s tips for thriving during a long engagement | Holiday weddings

How did you and your beloved go about setting your wedding date? Share your thought process with other brides in the comments and on our social media.

Balancing Materialism and Majesty in Your Wedding Plans

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

If there’s one thing I remember from my engagement, it’s the difficulty of balancing the majesty and materialism a wedding involves.

Quite a few friends and family offered well-meaning advice about what a wedding day should look like. After every conversation, I'd look at my fiancée with fear-filled eyes:

“Do we really need to have a cocktail hour?”

“Is anyone going to care if we have favors?”

“Will anyone notice if we have faux flowers?”

The amount of material concerns pressed upon us was overwhelming. In the midst of these decisions, I remember wishing I had a way out from it all. I want to help give that to you.

Here is permission: you do not need to have a cocktail hour. No one will care if you have favors or not, and even if someone notices that you have faux flowers, it doesn’t diminish the beauty of your day.

Your wedding day is about more than pretty dresses, perfect centerpieces, and prime cuts of meat. It’s about uniting with your beloved, under the mantle of Christ.

Here are a few ways to feel balanced as you navigate material and spiritual concerns:

Set a budget and prioritize.

Your mother, sister, or aunt may be telling you you should get the dress you love, book the venue you’ve always wanted, and have the open bar everyone would love. The perfect dress, venue, and cocktails are all great things to include in your plans, but keep in mind what the bill will look like at the end of the day.

To help financial conversations go smoothly, make sure you (and whomever is helping foot the bill) set--  and stick to--a specific wedding budget. Identify what you’re willing to splurge on and list each of your top vendor priorities with your groom. In our case, for instance, I cared most about the photographer, and my husband about the DJ.

For all other details and costs, we made sure they fit our budget. That means our centerpieces, favors, and appetizers were not the fanciest, yet still offerings we could be proud of. It felt good knowing the bill was not crippling to ourselves or our parents after the day was done.

Respectfully say no.

Many times during my wedding photography career, I have run into the situation where an opinionated family member has a specific plan for how a wedding day will run and what it will look like.

If you have someone explicitly stating your day will not be good if it doesn’t have large floral centerpieces, an open bar, or any other item, this piece of advice is for you:

You are allowed to say no.

It might feel uncomfortable, but it’s healthy to respectfully decline ideas and put your foot down in order to help your day stay focused on what matters most.  

Despite the chorus of outside voices, remember this day is not about others, but about you and your groom--and ultimately, about Christ shining through the whole day.

Remind us all: it's the sacrament that matters.

Your attitude and choices can communicate to friends and family what’s most important to you: the sacrament of marriage itself. This is the reason why the details honestly don’t matter and the timeline is just a sheet of paper. Your sacrament will be beautiful and unifying. You can set an example of moderation, embodying the balance between your own experience and others' expectations.

You are Christ’s advocate for your wedding day.

You are your advocate for your wedding day.

There is no one else who will stand up to say enough is enough when orchids are overpriced and decisions start to overwhelm you.

You have the agency to stand up, step back from decision-making, and recall what’s most important.

The materials of this world are insignificant in comparison to the heavenly majesty of your wedding. I challenge you remember this daily, balancing any necessary cares of this world with the cares of the next.


About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is a Christian wedding photographer and Spoken Bride vendor on mission to encourage brides with practical and spiritual encouragement on the way to the aisle. She is a lover of all things healthy, early morning spiritual reads, and anything outdoors.

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6 Ways to Have a Spiritually Rich Wedding Rehearsal

What are your rehearsal dinner plans?

Though the rehearsal evening is traditionally hosted by the groom’s family, you and your beloved can still take on a role--whether privately or with your wedding party and family members--in planning a spiritually rich evening, one rich in gratitude and anticipation.

  Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor    Evan Kristiansen Photography

Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor Evan Kristiansen Photography

Many brides say their actual wedding day passes in a blur, with little one-on-one time for quality conversation with each and every guest. In some ways, the rehearsal dinner is like a mini-reception: joy and celebration, with more freedom of time and leisure in an intimate setting with those you’re closest to. Here, to reflect that spirit of joy and closeness, our suggestions for a spiritually significant rehearsal.

Go to Mass with your fiancé the morning of.

With such an extensive list of last-minute details and events, time with your fiancée to simply be, to absorb the reality of the transformation about to take place, can be hard to come by. Taking a few hours for a final date as an engaged couple, to daily Mass and coffee, provides a welcome respite and strengthens you in the Eucharist.

Have your celebrant(s) hear confessions.

Entering into marriage with the clearest conscience and a heart as fully disposed to grace as possible is a great gift. Ask your priest(s) to hear you and your beloved’s confessions in the chapel at the conclusion of the rehearsal and, if time allows, invite your wedding party and families to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, as well.

Attend, or host, a holy hour.

Ask your celebrant to expose the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration following the rehearsal and before your meal--if you’re planning to provide confession, it can be held during this hour of reflection. Consider extending the invitation to all guests who are able to attend, and to inviting musically gifted friends to provide praise and worship or chant.

Share a personal piece of your faith.

When distributing gifts to your wedding party and family and/or assembling welcome bags, it’s beautiful to give your guests an insight into your spiritual life as a couple. Including a custom prayer card, saint medal and short bio, or a book that’s resonated in your relationship is a gift of faith, an expression of who you are, and an invitation to learn.

Looking for ideas? Start here:

Personalized holy cards | Gifts and artwork by Spoken Bride Vendors | Spiritual reading recommendations from our community

Ask for a blessing.

Have your priest pray and give a blessing over attendees at the end of the evening.

What if not everyone is on board?

As unifying as your wedding day is--on many levels--the pain of division can also arise in instances where your loved ones are not Catholic or not practicing the faith.

If you’ve attended or read about other weddings wherein the couple, their parents, and their siblings are all entirely present at pre-wedding prayer time and immersed in the Mass, fight the urge to compare your own situation.

In some families, the Lord works through many, and in others, through certain individuals--perhaps you and your fiancé, in this instance--whom he calls to witness to the fullness and beauty of the faith to loved ones.

If inviting others into your pre-wedding spiritual plans will cause tension, allow yourselves the freedom to experience them privately as a couple. That might mean staying alone in the chapel after the rehearsal for some moments of prayer--or even Adoration--praying a novena that ends on your wedding-day eve, or praying together in the car on your way to dinner. Know that no matter how “Catholic” your wedding appears on an invitation, the actions you choose and emotions that arise in your own hearts are what truly invite the Lord into your celebration.

Did you incorporate a spiritual element into your rehearsal? Share the practices that have deepened the final 24 hours before your walk up the aisle in the comments and on our social media.

Here, read our tips for making the most of the moments immediately before your wedding Mass.

The Unplugged Nuptial Mass: What It Is and Why It’s Valuable

JIZA ZITO

 

In our digital age, it’s common to see wedding guests with smartphones or devices in hand. Everyone is excited to witness the joyous event, and with technology (and creative wedding hashtags), we are able to immediately share the day’s highlights with friends, family, and followers.

  Photography: c/o    Studio Senn

Photography: c/o Studio Senn

While it is a great gift to instantly capture and share images instantly, the constant presence of devices can also be a source of distraction and can prevent us from fully experiencing the moment. Hence, the coined phrase: the unplugged wedding.

What is an unplugged wedding?

An unplugged wedding is when the bride and groom request that guests refrain from taking photos and videos with their devices during the wedding ceremony--and sometimes the reception, as well. This includes--but is not limited to--smartphones, iPads, and digital cameras.

While it may initially seem off-putting and forward to make such a request, here are some reasons to consider an unplugged wedding Mass, and tips for making that request charitably.

Less distraction, better images

As a wedding photographer, there have been numerous times in my career when guests have obstructed an important image. Most guests like to snap a photo when the bride walks down the aisle, for instance, and during the exchange of vows, the kiss, and procession out of the church. I’ll never forget the wedding I shot where right as the bride’s father shook hands with the groom after walking his daughter down the aisle, a wedding guest got up from her seat and stepped directly across me in order to grab a shot with her cellphone.

The exchange itself between the groom and the father, as the bride looked on with a smile, was beautiful. The image, however, now has a very obvious fourth person--and her cellphone--in the frame. For me as a photographer, it was disheartening. At the end of the day, your photographer only wants to give you and your spouse the very best photos, ones you can cherish for the rest of your days.

So, although Uncle iPhone or Aunt Samsung Galaxy mean well with their desire to take a few photos, requesting an unplugged wedding is a good option if you don’t want them and their devices to make it into the sidelines of your album images.  

Getting the most from your investment

Part of hiring a wedding photographer is trusting he or she will do the job well. Your photographer is working as a professional, and you are putting forth a good investment to ensure they will capture all of the important moments of your day. Depending on your photographer’s contract, there may also be a section stating there must be no other photographers at the wedding.

If you happen to be doing a live stream of your wedding Mass for a family member or loved one who cannot be physically present, be  sure to let your pastor, photographer, and videographer know.

Mass is a time for worship

Our Catholic faith considers the Mass to be the highest form of prayer. If non-Catholic guests are attending, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to experience the beauty of the Mass and to learn more about the faith. By being present at Mass, we directly encounter Jesus Christ in his Real Presence, in the Most Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life (CCC 1324).

So, with all the angels and Saints, we are worshipping God in a very tangible way at Mass alongside the bride and groom. With an unplugged wedding, we not only give the couple our attention. More importantly, we’re better able to give God our full attention through our worship.

"When you’re a guest, your job and privilege is to witness and pray." - Claire Watson, Claire Watson Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor

How to request an unplugged wedding?

If you and your fiancé opt for an unplugged wedding, it’s helpful to give your guests a heads up .

Spoken Bride vendor and calligrapher Sarah Erikson of Sarah Ann Design shared this simple note in her wedding program:

"To preserve the spirit of worship, please refrain from all cell phone use (including photography) while inside the church.”

Other ways to communicate your expectations are asking the priest or a loved one to make an announcement before Mass, displaying an attractive hand-lettered sign before the church entrance, or sharing the information on your wedding website and in your Mass programs.

What are your thoughts on having a unplugged wedding?


About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

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Considerations and Tips for a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Do you have plans to invite many children to your wedding?

The decision of whether to include, limit, or omit kids from your guest list is a personal choice, one unique to your relationships and directly affected by your wedding budget, venue, and time of day.

If you and your beloved are currently working out which--if any--younger friends or family members might be invited to your celebration, it’s useful to consider particular realities for the parents in your life. You might be the oldest in a large family, for instance, or have many recently married friends with babies. Parents’ ease of traveling long distances or arranging childcare can be a major factor in their ability to attend your big day and is worth bearing in mind.

Whatever your call, the temptation to fear is real: how can you avoid wounding guests or prodding sensitive relationships while maintaining healthy boundaries around your decisions? It truly can be hard to feel a sense of freedom when so many others’ expectations influence your actions. As with many wedding-related choices, it’s helpful to discern with sensitivity, move forward with prudence and conviction, and strive for peace over the fact that it’s impossible to please everyone. Chances are, guests who have been through the wedding planning experience themselves--especially in more recent memory--will be reasonably disposed to your choices regarding kids, understanding financial constraints and the challenges of managing a chorus of opinions and expectations.

For Catholic couples in particular, concern might arise in the heart that excluding children from your wedding--whether by necessity or choice, or even de facto circumstances--conveys a closed-off attitude to life. But don’t let yourselves believe that. Openness to life involves so much more than who is or isn’t on the guest list.

If, however, you and your fiancé do decide to have children attend, their presence is a visual testament to the fruits of married love and to your families’ history in the making, across generations. There are no guarantees they’ll behave perfectly, eat everything placed in front of them, keep their best outfits spotless. In a way, that’s the point. The family is a beautiful mess; a cenacle of growth through its very imperfection.

That said, having kids at your wedding isn’t without challenges. Here, our suggestions for cultivating a kid--and parent--friendly atmosphere.

Offer materials for the liturgy.

A month or two before your wedding, ask friends and family members to loan you any Bibles, prayer books, and religious picture books for children to page through during the Mass. Place the books in a basket near the entrance of the chapel, and designate a family member to offer them as guests arrive and regather them at the end.

If possible or necessary, consider kids when booking.

If you anticipate early on that your guests have a significant number of kids, consider keeping their needs in mind as you make your plans. A reception venue with an outdoor area, for example, facilitates play and breaks for kids and makes it easier and more feasible for young parents to attend. Serving a buffet-style meal rather than individual entrées is usually more cost-efficient.

Enlist help.

Hiring high school or college-age babysitters to assist with on-site childcare can result in a lower-stress evening for both parents and children--younger siblings of your close friends or members of your parish’s youth group are a good choice for this role. Provide activities like coloring, books, Polaroid or disposable cameras, bubbles, and board games.

Create a space for downtime.

If the layout of your reception venue allows, creating a nearby area for kids to rest or decompress is a welcome gesture. A downtime space might be as simple as blankets, snacks, and Netflix; a few chairs for nursing mothers are also thoughtful.

Encourage kids’ participation in your guest book.

Childlike faith is more than a figure of speech. For some children, your wedding might be the first they’ve attended; a glimpse of romance and joy that stirs the heart, and an experience more formal and special than their everyday . A sign inviting them to write (or dictate) a message to the bride and groom is sure to elicit humor; and most likely, wisdom.

We love the opportunity to walk beside you in the steps toward your vocation that will end--and begin--at the altar, with the help of so many like-minded sisters. Brides, we want to hear from you in the comments and on our social media: have you and your beloved struggled to come up with guidelines for inviting children to your wedding? How did you approach it, and if you had them attend, what measures helped make the day more kid and parent-friendly?

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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Behind the Scenes | Andi's Insider Look at the World of Catholic Wedding Planning

Andi Compton, our Business Director, planned her own birthday parties as a girl, spent hours making wedding collages as a teenager, and worked at the largest bridal store on the West Coast during college. She eventually answered the call to turn her organization and creativity into a business, Now That’s a Party, wherein she coordinates weddings primarily for Catholic couples.

Today, we’re excited to share with you an inside look at a wedding coordinator’s responsibilities--and how you, as the bride, can have the best experience with your coordinator, if you’ve chosen to hire one, and to anticipate the details that make for a smooth wedding day. Read on for Andi’s testimony, her advice for a joy-filled marriage--the fruit of 10 years with her husband, Matt--and the #1 piece of information to share with your coordinator.

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You've loved weddings and had a creative streak for a long time! How did you get started in the wedding industry?

I've been planning parties since my fourth birthday, when I told my parents we were having it at Chuck E. Cheese! Each year my parties got increasingly complex. My parents were very supportive of my ever-growing love of crafts, taking me to the store for classes and demos and letting me take over a cabinet (then a closet) for all of my supplies.

Then at 15, I saw the movie The Wedding Planner. I had no idea people could earn a living getting to help others with parties! This is long before Pinterest, so I’d save my allowance to subscribe to any bridal magazine I could get my hands on, then cut and paste together mock weddings.

In college I worked at Mon Amie, the largest bridal store on the West Coast. I learned so much about the wedding industry and even got to model dresses on the weekends.

When my husband proposed, we came up with a budget and I finally got the chance to learn exactly how to put together the ideas I’d been reading about for so long. After our wedding we were blessed with a bunch of babies (and lots of birthdays to plan!), and I would occasionally help a friend with her wedding.  

Soon I was being asked to essentially coordinate these weddings. I felt a pull towards making things official with a name, website, and branding. Then came networking and coordinating styled shoots, where I could meet other local vendors and build a relationship.

Do you work mostly with Catholic couples, or with others, as well? What, to you, sets a Catholic wedding apart?

The majority of the couples I work with are Catholic, and I would really enjoy that being my focus. I still work with secular couples, but they are mostly family friends or referrals.

Jesus Christ is what sets a Catholic wedding apart! Having the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord truly present at a wedding is just beyond phenomenal.

Do you have any stories of seeing the faith come alive in the couples you've worked with?

I arrived to the church an hour early before one wedding and prayed in the Adoration chapel until the wedding party arrived. At that time, I noticed the groom was nervous. I told him to go and sit in front of our Lord for awhile, and it was beautiful to see him, his brother, and their friend in prayer.

Now That's a Party offers services from basic wedding day timelines to full-on coordination from start to finish. What aspects of wedding planning are your brides most surprised by?

I think the biggest surprises are the little details that can easily be overlooked--like ordering meals for your vendors, packing an overnight bag if you're staying with your new husband in a hotel, and designating plans for cleanup and taking gifts home.

Here’s an example of unexpected details it’s important to plan for: one wedding I did was in a park overlooking the ocean, and the bride had ordered rose petals. I had her look over city regulations, pack a rake for after the ceremony, and schedule the petals into the timeline.

Brides have so much access to visual inspiration, message boards, and dozens more resources when planning their weddings, often before they even meet their vendors. As a coordinator, have you noticed pros and cons to this?

Pinterest can be an awesome tool to visualize your ideas and discover what trends you’re drawn to. On the flip side, it can make everything seem overwhelming; almost paralyzing. The biggest downside for me is having clients say, "Sorry, this isn't really going to be Pinterest-worthy wedding," as if that were the goal.

Becoming a Pinterest trend or getting featured on a wedding blog should never be your focus. Viewers will care about it for a day or so, then move onto the next thing. But the man you're engaged to wants to be your husband for the rest of your life.

Another disadvantage of inspiration overload is that so many wedding images on Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs are simply unattainable to the average couple, yet it can tap into our vanity because we want to fit in. Few wedding blogs feature simple receptions in church hall, yet I've happily coordinated those; and truly, the couples are so filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit from their wedding. It is just beautifully infectious to all their guests.

What's the most helpful thing a couple can do for you, as their coordinator, before and during the big day?

Hands down, send me copies of every single signed contract and give me contact info for each vendor, friend, or family member who will be there for setup, as well as emergency contacts. Once I have all of that info, I can contact each vendor and helper so I know what to expect and can construct a timeline for each person involved, so we are all on the same page. That timeline is gold on the day of!

We’d love to hear stories from some of the weddings you've worked on! Are there any particularly profound moments that stand out to you? Any funny or otherwise memorable ones?

One of the most fun moments at a wedding was when a bride and groom surprised their families with a belly dancing ensemble. One of the groom's cousins came out and played drums with the drummer, and everyone there was really into it. They even danced with swords! Another couple went all out smashing cake into each other's faces. That was rare for me; in my experience, most couples are nice and don't want to make a mess.

Does being immersed in weddings and, by extension, marriage, influence your relationship with your husband and family, and vice versa?

Yes! A big trend I've seen in the past several years is elaborate, showy proposals. They are featured on blogs, go viral on YouTube, and are all over Pinterest. Though I, of course, cherish my husband, he absolutely did not stage a "dream proposal," and I've had to try really hard to develop humility, accepting the reality of what happened and growing in gratitude for who he is. A proposal is all of five minutes, but having someone by your side, someone who constantly chooses to love you in sickness and in health, in bad times and in good…well, that's real love.

Lastly, what distinctively Catholic planning secrets can you share with brides-to-be?

First, before booking any vendors, book your church. Many dioceses require 6-9 months of preparation before the wedding. Second, develop an openness to Natural Family Planning. For many couples, it's their first time delving into the technical aspects after years of just hearing about it. No matter where you’re coming from, learning about the body God gave you is truly empowering.

Photography: Leif Brandt Photography, as seen in Sara + Calvin | Sophisticated Handcrafted Wedding, coordinated by Andi.


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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