Our Best of 2017

Thanks to the beautiful vulnerability and generosity of spirit given by each of you in the Spoken Bride community, it’s been our honor to share such precious parts of your hearts, and ours, in 2017. Here, as we close this year, a look back at our featured love stories and a collection of our favorite posts.

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As you plan your nuptial liturgy

Practical and spiritual wedding planning tips

Prayer

If you’re in need of encouragement

As you plan your honeymoon

You are a bride, a beloved. Cherish this sacred time.

 
 

From us to you, thank you for taking part in Spoken Bride's ministry, whether through your social media interaction, your submissions, your patronage of our Catholic wedding vendors, or simply through having clicked over to the site. All glory and thanks to the one whose hand has guided this mission and brought you here. We sincerely hope the words and images you've found here have been a source of authenticity and beauty in your heart, your spiritual life, and your relationship. Be assured of our prayers as we, like you, strive for heaven in this vocation of marriage. We’re grateful and eager to continue serving you and sharing in sisterhood in 2018!

Editors Share: Proposal Stories

 

One of the greatest gifts of the work we do here at Spoken Bride is the opportunity to hear so many beautiful love stories. The many submissions we receive for "How He Asked" and wedding features give us hope for the future of marriage in the Church, and we truly appreciate you allowing us to be a small part of your story. In gratitude, today each member of the Spoken Bride team will be sharing her proposal story. We hope you enjoy! 

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Andi, Business Director

We had a “pre-proposal proposal” on August 14, 2006, seven months after we started dating. We decided to get married at 4am while we were at the little park above Corona Del Mar Beach (where I saw him for the first time) staring at the ocean. proving that occasionally, good things happen after 2am. Shortly thereafter, we decided on September 8, 2007 as a wedding date and then I just waited for Matt to make it official. On December 2, while I was at work, he made dinner at my mom’s house and she helped him decorate the table. I was shocked when I got home, and then noticed the ring box and knew something was up. The box mysteriously disappeared while I went upstairs to change and after dinner we went back to the park above Corona Del Mar Beach to look at Matt’s childhood photo album. On the last few pages he put pictures of us and a really sweet note (quoting Flight of the Conchords) to describe his love for me. The ring was taped to the album but I didn’t notice it so he shined a flashlight on it asked me to marry him, and we just celebrated our ten year anniversary this past September!

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Christina, Associate Editor

Kristian’s original plan was to propose to me atop the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (he’s definitely a romantic), but since we were both impatient to get engaged and knew that a trip like that wouldn’t be possible in the near future, Kristian proposed five months after we began dating on July 28, 2016, in the chapel where we were later married. After spending the morning in prayer together at a Marian shrine in west Austin, he suggested that we go to confession and daily Mass at my childhood parish across town. After Mass, we went to the Divine Mercy icon to pray in thanksgiving for our relationship. After a a minute or so, Kristian looked over at me and said, “God has been so merciful to us.” I tearfully replied in the affirmative, but was oblivious to his plan until he suggested that we take a photo in front of the altar. He asked a random lady who was still in the chapel to take the photo and then got down on one knee and told me that he loved me and wanted to be a saint with me. Would I marry him? I said, “Yes,” through tears of joy and the laughter of surprise. He slipped his grandmother’s pearl ring on my finger and we embraced in front of the same altar where we were married five months and one day later.
 

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Jiza, Co-founder + Creative Director

I had just moved to outside of Philadelphia, PA from my hometown of Virginia Beach, VA to complete an internship at the Theology of the Body Institute. This placed us closer together since he was finishing his last year at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and we were able to see each other more often on weekends. Unbeknownst to me, one weekend, he drove from Annapolis to Virginia Beach to ask my dad permission to marry me, and then got back into the car to drive back up to West Chester, PA to spend the day with me before he had to report back to Annapolis. That’s about 12+ hours in the car in 24 hours! On the morning of Sunday, January 11, 2009, at beautiful St. Agnes Parish in West Chester, PA, we attended Mass together. At the conclusion of the recessional hymn, Mark suggested that we pray in front of the statue of Our Lady. While reflecting on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, he abruptly grabbed my arm and told me to stand up. Completely annoyed and startled, thinking there was some sort of emergency, I said, “Oh my gosh! WHAT?!” Then he got down on one knee and said some things that I cannot remember and asked me to marry him. Even though I knew Mark had been looking at rings for awhile, I was still completely surprised by the proposal!

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Stephanie, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief

I met my husband Andrew in college, at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. It was on that holy ground that I developed a devotion to Our Lady for the first time through Militia Immaculatae, a prayer movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, and that Andrew experienced a renewal of his spiritual life through the Rosary. I can see only the Father’s hand at work when I consider how deeply Our Lady drew each of us into her heart, independently of each other, before we were a part of each other’s lives.

When we first began dating my senior year, we frequently went on nighttime Rosary walks. Our school being named for and placed under the patronage of Our Lady, there are devotionals to her scattered throughout the campus. A favorite one of ours was a small Marian grotto next to the chapel, flanked by a beautiful pond and garden.

The summer after I graduated, as Andrew and I prepared for a year of grad school and mission work, respectively--from two different states--we celebrated my birthday and the end of my mission training with a picnic on our campus, which is near his family’s home. After our meal, Andrew invited me to walk with him and pray the Rosary. At the start of each decade, he offered a spontaneous prayer for our relationship, which wasn’t typical, but I anticipated nothing. As we walked, I kept trying to guide Andrew to our favorite spot at the grotto. He kept redirecting me! Finally, we found ourselves beneath Our Lady’s feet as we concluded our prayers. Andrew followed our Rosary with a beautiful speech, during which I still didn’t suspect anything more than an outpouring of emotion as we prepared to date long-distance. Until he got down on one knee. In that moment was the clearest, easiest yes I’d ever say.

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Elise, Social Media Coordinator

Hunter and I met when we were 19 and so by the time we were thinking about marriage we had been together for about 4 years. We were both ready to enter more deeply into our relationship and see where God was leading us our journey together. I knew a ring was in the near future, but I was expecting Hunter to propose at Christmas or New Years. Instead, he decided to completely surprise me on the Feast Day of my confirmation saint, St. Cecilia.

I went to classes that morning and then had plans for lunch with a couple of good friends. Hunter and I had planned for me to drive to meet him at his graduate school in Baltimore that afternoon so I was planning to hop in my car to drive up Route 95 after lunch. I had a lovely lunch with my two girlfriends at my alma mater, Catholic University.

After we ate, my friend Chelsea, asked if we could all go to the statute of Our Lady of Wisdom on campus to pray for a special intention of hers. We walked over to the statue and stood there praying for a moment at the statue where Hunter and I had prayed together many times before. Then, Chelsea reached behind the statue, and presented me with a dozen red roses and a note from Hunter. I was in complete shock and realized that something was up. I kept asking where Hunter was! I don’t remember exactly what the note said but it alluded to the fact that up until that point of our relationship, Hunter had only bought me white or pink roses, representing friendship, and now that we were about to embark on this new step in our relationship, he gifted me with red roses representing mature love.

At this point, I started to shake with excitement and nervousness so my friends had to take the coffee cup I was holding out of my hands as they directed me to the Garden of Mary behind the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is right next to CUA’s campus. There is a long pathway leading from the top of the garden to its center where I saw Hunter standing. As I reached the garden, Hunter took my hand, told me he wanted to be mine forever and knelt down in the same spot where he had asked me to be his girlfriend 4 years earlier. The funny part was that he was so nervous that he was on his knee for about 10 seconds before bouncing up and putting the ring on my finger. Of course I said ‘yes’! As someone who isn’t easily surprised, I was so happy that Hunter had enlisted my friends to help pull off this beautiful engagement.

How He Asked | Rose + Jonathan

 

Jonathan and Rose met in 2013 when they were both completing their residencies in the medical field. Working in the largest medical complex in the entire world in Houston Texas, Rose never thought she'd cross paths with the love of her life just four weeks after moving there from where she grew up in Mississippi. God in His mercy had divine plans in store for this beautiful couple.

In Rose's words: When we first met, Jonathan and I were in very different places in our spiritual walks. He was a fallen away Protestant wrestling with faith in the context of science as he launched head first into the world of medicine. At that time, I was an infant in my Catholic walk, clinging to my “good works” which provided a heavy dose of smug self-righteousness. I was deeply discontent with singleness and was wrestling spiritually with fear, loneliness, and angst about what my future held.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jonathan chose to pursue RCIA and found so much peace in finding the Faith. His devotion as a new convert inspired me to become a more committed Catholic myself. From that time until now, God has transformed us bit by bit into a fortified Catholic couple pursuing a shared direction and vision in life. As the Lord reminds us in Scripture, transformations are rarely painless. Our dating relationship had its challenges: the distance between Texas and Massachusetts (where he moved for a fellowship), the fears of the unknown future, my nagging desire for marriage and children, cultural differences, family strain, past emotional trauma. Through these challenges, Jesus taught me the beauty of letting go of my plan, to accept being 30 and unwed, and to love another flawed human being more than myself. In doing so, I was able to love more freely and completely.

A big part of his waiting to propose was related to our distance. God in his faithfulness opened the door for us to take jobs in the same hospital, in the same clinic, seeing the same patients in Austin, TX. How's that for close?! This level of proximity helps me see Jonathan in a totally new light. I fell even more in love with him as I witnessed him show Christ to his patients - praying with them, caring for them, and gently healing them. Another perk is that he constantly wrote me adorable post-it love notes and I got the cutest lunch date, like, every day. Based on the content of these love post-its and our conversations about readiness, I could tell that the big question was coming.

On a drizzly Sunday evening he picked me up for Mass. On this particular day, however, he picked me up wearing a three piece suit and an adorable grin. He said he wanted to "give God [his] best" but I had a sneaking suspicion he had something else up his sleeve...

When we arrived at our parish, I quickly noticed the empty parking lot. We were way too early! So, as Jonathan recommended, we went to the adjacent prayer chapel for some contemplative time before mass. A minute of prayer hadn't passed until Jonathan got down on one knee and proposed. Since Jonathan is basically a mathlete, he told me how many text messages we had sent to one another since starting dating (19,787), the number of home cooked meals I have made him (78), and the number of souls I helped find faith (1) – for which he gives me way too much credit. He asked me to share forever with him. He also coordinated for my family to come into town from Mississippi the following weekend and for our families to meet over dinner.

As I reflect on the proposal, I'm thankful that the didn’t choose to propose with fancy grand gestures or in front of a large audience. He wanted the proposal to be before Christ and for his words to be tenderly shared on the sacred ground - where we go every week for strength and grace. And I love him for this.

Looking back, I am grateful that no one walked into the chapel, as they would have found two love struck kids kissing and crying in the pew. Afterwards, we got a blessing from the priest and celebrated with a dinner at my favorite spot. I'll never forget feeling soaked in the rain, drenched in grace and love, and thankful to the Lord of mercy and kindness.

Rose's reflection on engagement: The engagement season isn’t easy – the stress of wedding planning and preparation places a unique strain on our communication and problem solving. Daily, I have to remind myself to ask God for the grace to die to my to-do list and selfish nature for Jonathan. We are phenomenally blessed through our parish who paired us with a seasoned couple – Michelle and Paul - to work through our premarital workbook together. As the wine was poured in their cozy home over the course of a few months, we were able to dive deeper into the beauty and meaning of the Sacrament of marriage. Pressing into areas of discomfort, fear, and doubt was a game changer for us and it continues to take us to the next level of preparedness and appreciation for the Sacrament.

I am deeply indebted to the Church for investing in our future marriage, and for the couple who committed to entering into this journey with us. Michelle totally blew my mind when she shared these sage words: when discontent creeps into her heart, she will then choose to intentionally and selflessly serve her husband even more. She said these acts of service transform her heart and give her freedom from discontentment. This is one of many pieces of wisdom that I plan to carry into marriage.

Our prayer is one of gratitude and of desire: Lord help us die to ourselves in the service of one another. I cannot wait to call Jonathan my husband and I am thankful that the Lord faithfully answered my heart’s desire for the vocation of married life.

Photography: Amanda Pomilla Photography | Engagement Session Location: Laguna Gloria, Austin, Texas | Blue Dress: Slate & Willow | Pink Dress: BCBG | Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Slide Bracelet: Family Heirloom | Necklace: Tiffany Co. | Engagement Ring: Custom | Suit: Suit Supply | Hair: Drybar - Austin | Makeup: Rae Cosmetics

How He Asked | Sam + Kat

 

Sam and Kat met as college students, became fast friends, and eventually--under a starry sky--they both confessed deeper feelings for one another and became a couple. Kat recalls that Sam, "told me how he had liked me from the moment he first saw me. From then, it's been a beautiful, unbelievable relationship." 

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In Kat's words: The proposal was so incredible! Throughout our whole relationship, Sammy and I knew we were going to get married. All I asked for in the proposal was that Sammy or someone get a picture. Sammy got several of his best friends involved, half of whom are talented photographers. Sammy began planning the proposal at the beginning of the year, and he was finally ready to propose on April. The original plan was to take me out into these beautiful fields and do astrophotography (photography of the night sky), writing out "will you marry me?" in Christmas lights on a hillside. Sam and his friends could not find enough extension chords, so they had to scrap that idea. They then came up with the idea to use a device called a pixel stick. Harrison (one of Sammy's friends involved in the proposal) owns a pixel stick, which is a pole around 6 or 7 feet long with a strip of LED lights running down it. The lights flash and change colors, and when a long exposure picture is taken, the light will either create a design or write out words or draw a picture. Sammy then hired a friend from our Church, Keith, who majors in graphic design to create a program that would make the pixel stick write out "Will You Marry Me?". Keith did an amazing job!

The night before the proposal, Sammy and all the guys drove out to Silverhill Farm to find the perfect location for the proposal. On April 8th, 2017, Sammy took me on a day long date that ended with the proposal. We played around with the pixel stick and did photography for an hour or two, and I was trying to convince myself I would be okay if Sammy didn't propose that day.

The last location we went to was a dirt road in the middle of a field. There was the beautiful tree in the background and the night sky was visible all around us. Harrison said he wanted to get a few pictures of the couple, so Sammy and I took our turn in front of the camera. Sam's best friend and best man Alan ran behind us with the pixel stick. Harrison called us over to look at the photo, and when I saw it, I just stared at the picture (shown above) for a solid 20 seconds. I turned around, and there was Sammy down on one knee asking me to marry him! I cried and jumped around, then he put my grandmother's wedding ring on my finger.  We then recreated the moment Sammy proposed (we didn't get a picture of the actual proposal, which I have hanging in my room. I love Sammy with all my heart, and I absolutely cannot wait to marry him June 23rd (The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), 2018!

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Photography (top image): Harrison Tarabella (friend of groom) | Graphic Work: Keith (friend of couple) | Engagement Location: Silverhill, Baldwin County

How He Asked | Annie + Kelvin

Annie and Kelvin met in the summer of 2015 at their parish's young adult group. Annie was about to start her senior year at the University of Miami, and being home for the summer, desired to find a Catholic community to get involved with while away from her campus ministry. Kelvin was working as a mechanical engineer and had been attending this group for a few years.

Sharing an interest in learning about and discussing the Catholic faith, Annie and Kelvin became friendly acquaintances. After getting to know one another throughout the summer, when the time came for Annie to return to school, Kelvin asked for her number so that they could stay in touch. Throughout the school year, Annie and Kelvin's friendship deepened until it was clear the Lord was calling them to marry one another.

In Annie's words: I knew there was something unspoken between us, but I wanted Kelvin to make the first move. I didn't know if we would make a good match due to our personality differences, since I am very extroverted and Kelvin appeared to be quiet, serious, and introspective. I quickly became impatient with the pace of our developing friendship, wanting things to progress faster, so I had to constantly remind myself that if this was the Lord's will, it would happen in His time. 

After ten months of friendship, we entered into an exclusive dating relationship and eventually began discussing marriage. Fast forward eleven months to March 25th, 2017, the solemnity of the Annunciation: we were kneeling before Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament at an adoration chapel, and  Kelvin proposed, asking me to be his "beloved, betrothed, and wife." Through tears of absolute joy, I said YES!

We decided to do a betrothal ceremony after reading about it online, and I'm so glad we did. It was more than a blessing of the engagement--it was a solemn vow to love the other with a self-sacrificial love, like Jesus, and keep the upcoming sacrament of Matrimony as the focus of the engagement. 

We had already decided we wanted all major milestones in their relationship to be centered around Marian feast days, due to our devotion to Our Lady, so our Betrothal Ceremony was on May 13th, 2017 - the 100th Anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima! We invited close friends, family, and the wedding party. The ceremony was celebrated by Kelvin's spiritual director, a retired priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Father Brian Flanagan, and was followed by a Mass celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 

 It was definitely an interesting experience inviting people and talking about the Betrothal Ceremony. The most popular response was, "I've never been to one." My favorite response to that was, "Neither have I!" This was a new and beautiful experience for both Kelvin and I, and our guests. The most exciting part was the witness we were giving to authentic love, and putting Christ at the center of our relationship. We didn't want to make our engagement and wedding planning about ourselves and all the fancy things, but the fact that the Lord has called us to go outside of ourselves, and lay down our lives for the other in the sacrament of Matrimony. 

Annie and Kelvin will be married on October 7th, 2017 at the same church where they met.

Photography: Soulshine Creative | Proposal - Saint Jude Catholic Church, Tequesta, FL | Betrothal Ceremony - Cathedral of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Palm Beach Gardens, FL | Ring: JARED The Galleria of Jewelry

How He Asked | Caty + Ryan

Though Caty and Ryan were in the same program at Franciscan University and shared mutual friends, Caty wasn’t even aware Ryan knew her name until he called to her from across a lobby, months later. As they spent the following semester abroad, she became determined to crack the shell of the mysterious, intelligent, curly-haired man with a sarcastic sense of humor. In London that semester, and on into the following academic year, their friendship grew. Both began wondering, cautiously, if they were meant to be something more.

Their first date was less than perfect, leading to the conclusion that Caty and Ryan were only meant to be friends. In the months to come, they spent their time attending daily Mass and praying together, bonding over their shared loves of philosophy, poetry, and food, and even discerning the consecrated life and the priesthood, respectively. The Holy Spirit had other plans.

In Ryan’s words: I had always wanted the woman I married to be my best friend. There came a point when I nearly gave up on that idea. Whether from my discernment of the priesthood or a loss of optimism, I didn’t think I would find that sort of relationship. In Caty, I had felt like I had finally found a true best friend, with whom I ultimately found myself discerning marriage.

In Caty’s words: Even as I prayed about a life of consecrated virginity, the reality of Ryan persisted in my heart despite all inner and outer turmoil. One evening, after studying for a comprehensive exam for our program, we confessed a mutual desire for a relationship. Knowing we were only months away from graduation, he and I resolved to spend time in prayer before making a decision.

On a rainy Holy Thursday, Ryan asked if I would “put out into the deep” with him and be his girlfriend. The question, which was spontaneous on his end, caught me off-guard. But the answer was already present within me: a Yes, one foreshadowing another Yes to come.

It wasn’t until Ryan and I started dating that I felt a true desire for marriage. Even though I had dated seriously in the past, suddenly marriage--not just as an abstract, but in the concrete--was something I wanted, despite my fears. Subconsciously, I was certain Ryan was the man I was called to marry.

A few weeks before we started dating, I had asked him, point-blank, “You know that if we start dating, this may end in marriage, right?” Very solemnly, he replied, “Yes, I know.”

That comment stuck with me through every month of our relationship, especially when things were less than perfect. By the time we talked seriously about marriage, deep down I couldn’t wait to enter into a covenant with this man.

Ryan: About five months into our relationship, I had realized that Caty was the one I would spend my life with. Despite a difficult long-distance summer, our love had grown stronger. It took some time for us to be on the same page, yet we were eventually able to talk seriously about marriage. Those conversations ultimately led to talks with each of our parents about my intentions. My parents were very excited, and not surprised. Caty’s father could not say yes fast enough. I was glad to have their support.

We also spent time looking at rings together, which was truly helpful, for I would have been like a lost sheep otherwise. I found a local jewelry shop and a ring that would be perfect for Caty. When it came to choosing a proposal date, there wasn’t much of a question: our first anniversary.

I enlisted Caty’s friends in my plan to surprise her that Lent. I asked her friend to make plans to attend Stations of the Cross at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. That morning, I took an early flight to D.C. to make it to the Monastery. I’d put in extra effort to convince Caty that it was a normal Friday, with plans for a Skype date that evening. I spent the cold, rainy morning searching the city for flowers, hoping to find a dozen red roses for our 12 months together. Although I was miserably cold and nervous, there was still a joy that I felt, excited to ask my best friend to marry me.

Caty’s friend’s is a photographer whom I asked to help us capture the moment. He took me to the Monastery, where there is a beautiful Marian Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom we both have a great devotion. We were set to consecrate our relationship to Mary on the following day. As I arrived in my suit and the bow tie Caty had given me, waiting for the conclusion of Stations was the hardest part.

I waited in anticipation hidden by the Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross. It felt fitting, for Caty and I will spend our lives helping each other carry our own crosses.

Caty and her friend began approaching the grotto.

Caty: I was so busy admiring the beauty of the grotto that my friend had to guide me down the right path to where Ryan had been waiting. It wasn’t until I made it down the first set of stairs that I saw Ryan standing there, calm and dapper, holding a bouquet of red roses. Nearly paralyzed with joy (and shock!), it took a moment for me to collect myself before I could walk over to my beloved. Laughter and questions tumbled out of my gaping mouth: “What are you doing here? Weren’t you supposed to be teaching today?” A proposal wasn’t yet on my radar at that point; I thought he’d shown up as a surprise for our anniversary. I embraced and kissed him, altogether unaware of the superabundance of his plans.

Ryan: Knowing I would struggle to get out the words coherently, I had prepared and practiced what I would say. Taking both of Caty’s hands in mine, I talked about our relationship and how far we had come, telling her of my desire to spend my life getting her to heaven and growing in my love for her. I expressed how I want to entrust myself to her, knowing she will do the same for my path to heaven.

As I opened the ring box, I was inspired by a mutual love of ours, Karol Wojtyla’s The Jeweler’s Shop. Taking words from the play, I asked Caty, “Would you like to become forever my life’s companion?” Overcome with surprise and joy, she replied with a resounding yes! I took the ring from the box and placed on its new home, my love’s left hand. As Christ is the foundation of our relationship, we walked over to a statue of St. Ann holding Our Lady, placing our relationship and engagement under their protection.

Caty: Our relationship has taken on two consistent themes: “Put out into the deep” and “Jesus, I trust in You.” While we were discerning the possibility of dating, Ryan one day revealed to me the one prayer that had become a constant for him: Jezu, ufam tobie. Jesus, I trust in You.

Being engaged and preparing for marriage doesn’t automatically make you or your future spouse perfect. Saying a wholehearted yes to your vocation doesn’t magically eradicate weakness, anxiety, or fear. But the reality of Christ working in our hearts is so much deeper than any fears I may have. Wedding planning has forced me to find refuge in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, as well as the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. I am learning continually not to “lean on my own understanding” and instead to rely on the providence of God, who has time and again surprised me. Saying yes to him sometimes involves sacrifice, but when it’s offered with love, it becomes a yoke that is sweet and light.

When the glow of newly engaged and newly married life wears off, I know two things will remain: our friendship and, more importantly, our commitment to Christ.

Ryan is a man who is, above all, committed to following Jesus and his Church. He is committed to loving me as Christ loves the Church. He is a strong and patient spiritual leader, continually challenging me in my prayer life.

This is the path of sanctification that Jesus has called us to. We will not be perfect in this life, but through His grace, we will reach the heavenly wedding banquet together. Above all, I know Ryan will be a true life’s companion on our journey to heaven.

Photography: Dominick Tardogno | Engagement Location: Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America | Ring: Maria's Fine Jewelry, Worcester, MA

How He Asked | Natasha + Tim

The first week of their junior year at the University of Minnesota, Natasha met Tim during a series of daily events put on by St. Paul’s Outreach and wondered how she’d spent the two years prior not having known this man who was intelligent and well-spoken, with a clear love for the Lord. Tim made it clear he was interested in pursuing more. But only a week earlier, Natasha had entered into a long-distance relationship with someone else.

In Tim’s words: The night I met Natasha, she was the only girl who volunteered for a heavy-lifting job in the warehouse we were working in. I was thinking to myself, Who is this beautiful girl, involved with her faith, and who seems so tough (even in a hairnet)? We worked at the same station that night, giving us plenty of time to talk, and I was quickly head over heels. I was captivated by the way Natasha spoke with passion and conviction about everything from her major to her world travels to her faith.

To say it was difficult to hear that she was already in a relationship would be a massive understatement. How could this be from God? I thought. I had a such strong inclination I was meant to marry Natasha, even in such a short time, that it seemed cruel to have met her only to have her be unavailable. But the Lord was asking me to trust his will for our lives, regardless of what I wanted, and in in the time when I wanted it. Despite getting turned down, we became fast friends and grew to know each other better over the next few years.

In Natasha’s words: Our friendship continued developing through our involvement in SPO in college We saw each other nearly every day, and Tim honored his promise to want the best for me, even if it wasn’t him.

When my relationship ended, Tim had to love me again from a distance while I took time to heal and grow closer to the Lord. We didn’t always get it right. There was so much discernment along the journey. It seemed when one of us was ready, the other pulled back. But by Christmas of our senior year, I knew Tim was someone I didn’t want to adventure through life without. He had proven he was unabashedly committed to drawing me closer to the Lord. He was a man with his priorities in order.

Here’s an example: my roommates and I had decided to set aside a period each morning of not having men in the house so that we could say morning prayer together and get ready comfortably. As a result, each morning of senior year Tim--who lived across the street--would wait for me on the sidewalk outside my house to begin the 20-minute walk to campus together. He waited even in the rain, snow, or when I forgot what time it was and left him out there a little too long. I began to cherish these early morning visits, which would frequently include stopping for coffee. It was during these walks that I began to understand the honorable man Tim is.

Tim: God allowed me that early time as Natasha's friend to see so many sides of her and grow deeper in love with the person she is. So when we began dating, I knew I’d one day ask her to marry me, but I didn't have a specific plan in mind. One day, she casually mentioned that she thought New Years would be such a romantic time to get engaged. This was in early December, with New Years weeks away, and we hadn't even looked at rings yet. With a little creativity and some help from her family, I was determined to pull off a New Year's Eve surprise.

Natasha : On New Year's Eve of 2016, Tim took me to our now-alma mater for a fancy New Year's dinner, followed by plans to meet my sister for ice skating. My sister was mysteriously running late, so Tim suggested we recreate our senior year and walk through campus in the snow. On that walk, in the central park of campus, Tim asked me if I would marry him and do him the honor of going on a life-long adventure to heaven together. Saying yes was easy--for me, the hardest decision of the night was choosing between freezing my fingers or covering up my beautiful ring with my gloves!

I thought we were the only ones back at the university that cold night, but much to my surprise, my sister came crawling out of the bushes after the proposal, where she’d been taking pictures! I had always said I would love both of our families to be present following a proposal to celebrate with us, but Tim told me our families couldn't make it due to holiday plans. Instead, he said, he had arranged a table for us, along with my sister and brother in-law, at one of our favorite St. Paul restaurants, W.A. Frost, which also happened to be the location of our first official date. When we arrived, we were greeted by a table of familiar faces. As it turned out, our families’ holiday plans were celebrating with us! We rang in the New Year with people we loved, excited for our future.

The journey to our relationship has, truthfully, been really, really hard sometimes. Tim was always so sure of me and of his intentions, but it didn't come as easily for me. I struggled with doubt and that I was deserving of this amazing man. I wanted to be in a relationship with Tim, but was stuck in the trap of believing God's will is always the opposite of our own.

I remember speaking to a priest about my reservations. He said, "If you believe you are not worthy of the good things God has for you, then you are making a mockery of his crucifixion. He didn't die so that we could wallow in self-pity; he died so that we might have life and have it more abundantly! So accept his mercy and love, and live in his Resurrection." Talk about some tough love. But it opened my heart to accept the love that God, and ultimately Tim, had for me.

Regardless of what lies ahead in our life together, I am excited to be walking with Tim towards heaven. He has proven to be the perfect steady counter to my sometimes doubtful and sassy heart.

Tim reminds me of Christ's love by drawing me out of myself, always encouraging me to go further in my relationship with God, and he shines back a reflection of how he sees me when I need encouragement.

And when my weak heart needs reminding, Tim is a physical reminder that God is a good, good father wanting nothing but the best things for his children.

Photography: Sarah Ascanio Photography | Engagement Location: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN | Engagement Photo Location: Banning State Park, Sandstone, MN | Ring: Shane Co.