A Photographer's Encouragement for Engagement

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Engagement gives you the ability to slowly unite as one.

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

Engagement allows you time to focus on Christ.

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

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

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


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

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3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Wedding Date

JULIANA TOMLINSON

 

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

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


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

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

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

Do we have a budget?

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

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

Is our foundation solid?

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

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

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

Have we asked the Lord?

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

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

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

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


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

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Vendors Share | Perspective from the Professionals

Spoken Bride’s Vendor Week begins on January 13 and continues through January 20. Every day, our vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog. We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through Spoken Bride’s Vendor Guide.

In anticipation of Vendor Week, at the start of this engagement season, we asked a group of Catholic wedding vendors to share their insider’s perspectives and opinions for this special edition Q&A.

What is one tip you would offer a bride on her wedding day?

Steve Dalgetty, Photographer, An Endless Pursuit: Be present. It's hard to let go of perfection when you've poured so much time and money into a wedding. I've seen lots of couples miss out on truly experiencing the joy of the day because of stress around maintaining expectations for logistics, weather or details. Establish the mindset beforehand that no matter what happens you are going to let go and just be present to experience the mind-blowing awesomeness of the sacrament and what's happening in the moment (pro tip: this will also translate to better candid photos).

Derek Hall, DJ, The Block Party: Wind it up and let it go the day of. One way or another your new vocation starts and the rest is what you make of it.

Try to smile, laugh, and dance your way through all of it, joyful or otherwise.

Claire Watson, Photographer, Claire Watson Photography: Use vendors that will make your day easier—don't try to DIY everything in effort to save money so you can have a bigger wedding. It's A-okay to cut your guest list to have a smaller, but more relaxed wedding where you're not in charge of baking the cake, decorating the reception site, and making your own bouquet.

Kate Costello, Photographer: Trust and lean into the professionals you've hired. They pour their hearts into their work on a daily basis, and and their talent and passion will help you create a beautifully unique day.

If you could plan your wedding now, what is one thing you would be sure to do?

Steve: I would have hired a dream team for photography and video, and maybe even gone into debt over this. To save money, we paid a friend (currency used: Starbucks gift cards and cigarettes!) who had never photographed a wedding before and it's so regrettable. If I did it today, I'd hire Brad & Jen Photography and We Are The Parsons for video.

If I got to pick a second thing I would have bought my own custom suit. This is more of a recent wedding trend, but in 2009 I ended up with the cliché Men's Warehouse tux, complete with groomsmen in shiny vests that matched the bridesmaids dress colors. It's painful to look at. My bride looked like the most stunning person in the entire world, and I looked I was dressed to go to prom.

Derek: Our biggest priority when we planned our wedding was to put as much love and thought into the Mass as we did the reception. This is a rare opportunity to share our faith and its importance to our relationship with lots of family and friends who have never been to or not been to a mass in years. We wanted to let the beauty of a normal Mass shine. This would still be our biggest hope.

Claire: I'd cut the guest list down. We wanted a par-tay and ended up with a guest list larger than most local venues could accommodate, so we found a bare-bones reception hall that we spent all this effort decorating. We could have slashed the guest list (many people that we haven't seen since) and booked a place that had décor and catering locked down instead of having to piecemeal everything. It would have been a more relaxed engagement and wedding day.

Kate:

Stay focused on the the things most important to the two of you as a couple.

Temecula wedding carrie mcguire photography (34 of 64).jpg

What is your favorite moment of a wedding day?

Steve: It's different for every single wedding. I’ll go with the groom reading a letter from the bride before the wedding. It's so moving and fun to see everything sink in and watch his face covey, Oh my gosh, this is really happening and I'm the luckiest man alive!

Derek: The last few minutes of the day as last hugs are given, things are cleaned up, and people breathe in a different way. You see families and close friends help finish things up, the exhaustion of a great, long day, and the beginning of marriage after the wedding. It's not always perfect or great, and I'm always feeling like I just crossed the finish line of a marathon and praying it was enough, it was what my couple hoped for, but it tells you so much about the couple and their tribe.

Claire: After shooting a ton of weddings, I've finally come to realization that there is no one, perfect, gotta-have-it moment across the board.

My favorite moment in each wedding takes me by surprise, and it’s why I've always got to be on my feet and on my game to capture it.

Kate: Those few minutes when the bride and groom reach the altar and realize, this is it. They can't stop smiling—or crying.

What are your recommendations for ways grooms-to-be can become more involved in the wedding planning process?

Steve: Wedding receptions can be so customized now that a groom might be surprised how much opportunity he has to personalize the experience based on things he loves. What is he passionate about? I

f a groom loves music, then let him run with the reception entertainment. If he's creative or artistic, encourage him to go research photography or videography vendors. If he loves craft beer or bourbon then let him figure out how to incorporate that into the drink menu. I think most grooms think of things like flowers and stationary when they think of wedding planning.

Like most things in marriage, a couple should figure out their complimentary strengths and passions and then align planning responsibilities to that.

Derek: Flowers and frills may not be a groom's thing, but there are many areas where he can support his future bride. So much of a wedding day is ultimately a thank you note to the people who got him to this point: to marry an amazing woman. Jump in. Put together a Spotify list of songs you both love for reception inspiration. Pick a song that means a lot to both of you as a first dance suggestion. Work on the readings and dig a little bit deeper. There are many day-of items where a little effort will go a long way.

More importantly, take the preparation seriously. Honestly discuss things that come up. Be vulnerable. Be a leader. Say lots of thank you’s to those who help put everything together, especially your soon-to-be wife. Ultimately, it's just the two of you, as partners, each other's first draft pick to get them to heaven. That's what really matters.

Claire: Fellas, realize that when you participate in wedding planning, you are essentially saying to your bride, What can I do to celebrate you becoming my wife? What can I do to make that day one step closer?

Is it to call the church and set up meetings? Is it to price out caterers? Is it to get some recommendations for DJs from friends that got married last year? Is it to make a date night out of sitting down to choose your readings? Remind each other often that the labor of planning a wedding is from a heart of service to your future spouse and family.

Kate: Brides-to-be, invite him into the process. Go for a cup of coffee or make it a lunch date, and make it a point to ask him what his top three priorities are for the day. Then, ask him to be charge of orchestrating those priorities.

If you could make one song suggestion for every wedding reception, what would it be?

Steve: I'm going to go with the opposite of the question and say that all line dances should be made illegal.

Derek: “Can't Stop the Feeling,” by Justin Timberlake. Little kids know it, adults and grandparents will dance to it, it has such an easy beat to dance to and can mix into so many directions. I can jump into a ton of other great songs and genres, but this song has been a staple near the beginning of my sets since it came out.

Claire: It is nearly impossible to remain seated when "Uptown Funk" comes over the speakers.

Kate: Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me."

Follow along with more insights next week on Spoken Bride’s blog and social media. Are you recently engaged? Search Catholic wedding vendors by region and category here.

Images & calligraphy: Sea & Sun Calligraphy

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.

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Why a Christmas Octave Wedding is a Beautiful and Unique Choice + How to Plan One

MARIAH MAZA

 

On December 30, 2017, I entered into a mystery, the sacrament of holy matrimony, with my high school sweetheart and love of my life--only five days after Christmas and one before New Year’s Eve!

I never thought I would get married during the Octave of Christmas, the period of eight days after the second highest solemnity of the Church: the Nativity of our Lord.  

In fact, the end of December was far from my first choice. I had begun blissfully imagining a spring or summer wedding, since winter was my least favorite season. Unfortunately, my college schedule and that of my fiancé, who went to school two hours away, made it one of the few available weekends. So I reluctantly agreed. Our engagement was already going to be 18 months long, and after seven years of dating I couldn’t wait any longer to finally be married.

At first, I was afraid that a “Christmas” wedding would feel like one more holiday event for my family members to drag themselves to after the exhausting celebrations at the beginning of the same week. My wedding, the happiest day of my life, was about to be sandwiched uncomfortably between Christmas and New Years.

Fortunately, I was very wrong! And as my nuptials loomed closer and the planning progressed, the more excited I became about my winter wedding. In his generosity, almost like a divine wedding present, the Lord surprised me with a gift I didn’t even know I wanted.

So if you are still trying to settle on a date for your big day, and the Christmas season is one of your only possibilities, here are five reasons a Christmas wedding is a beautiful option:

The holiday cheer and festivity.

This one element of the season, which I thought would most distract myself and everyone else from the actual wedding, was ultimately one of the best parts of getting married right after Christmas. As I opened presents, feasted, and spent amazing quality time with my family and soon-to-be in-laws, the excitement of my wedding coming only a few days later heightened the Christmas joy to a level I had never felt before. I celebrated knowing our families would soon be united forever by my marriage, and that thrilled me.

I drifted from the celebration of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ made flesh, to the celebration of another kind of incarnation: my husband and I made one flesh.

Advent.

The liturgical season leading up to Christmas is a time of preparation and joyful anticipation. What better way to spend the last weeks before your wedding than in a spirit of stillness and anticipation with the whole Church?

When wedding planning gets stressful and chaotic, take this time of Advent with your fiancé for extra spiritual preparation and intentional silence. This prayer time and reflection will benefit you greatly the day after the wedding is over, and the lifelong marriage covenant begins.

The church is already decorated.

Who doesn’t love to save money? Decorations are a major part of wedding planning that can easily cost thousands of dollars, especially between beautifying a church and a reception venue. When you choose a church, keep in mind that during the Octave of Christmas, a lot of flowers, lights, and trees (and possibly a beautiful Nativity scene) will still be up for Christmastide. Besides Eastertide, this is one of the weeks the inside of a church is most beautiful.

If you are beginning to plan more than a year before your wedding, go check out how the local Catholic churches are decorated for Christmas. You may not only save on flowers, but someone else will have done the work of decorating days before your wedding! Scratch that off the list.

Christmas music!

There is something about Christmas music that is both incredibly special and nostalgic. Most people have at least one or two Christmas hymns that they look forward to singing and hearing every year. If you are planning your liturgy during the Octave of Christmas, you may have the unique opportunity to choose favorite Christmas hymns for the nuptial Mass.

What would it be like to hear a rendition of “What Child is This” played after communion? Or “Joy to the World” as the recessional song, as you walk out of the church as husband and wife for the first time? Some other ideas could be “O Holy Night,” “The First Noel,” or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Check with your pastor or musicians to find out what kind of music is allowed or possible.

Winter and Christmas color schemes.

I admit my first choice for wedding colors was something more pastel and softly pretty that would go with the feeling of a spring wedding. But when I set my date for five days after Christmas, I felt like a spring color scheme would feel very out of place in a season of red and green.

I decided to do some research into deeper, more wintry color combinations, just for fun.

Think deep maroons, wine reds, emerald greens, dark navy blues, rustic browns, off whites, and silver and gold accents.

These colors together, in the right shades, were strikingly beautiful in a solemn and elegant way.

We decided on wine red, emerald green, navy blue, rustic brown, and gold accents. For a girl who prefers silver over gold in almost everything, I was surprised how much I loved the look of the glittering gold pieces in my decorations and wedding ensemble.

It is true, there are some drawbacks to planning a wedding during the Octave of Christmas: some guests may have been traveling, for instance, or maybe you live in a state where the end of December and early January is unbelievably cold, and a wedding during this time would mean being buried under feet of snow.

And yet, I have no regrets about my December nuptials. Looking back, I would not want to get married any other time of the year. Almost everyone we invited was able to attend, and nobody froze to death at the reception.

The day after our wedding was the Feast of the Holy Family, an extremely fitting celebration. On this day, my husband and I celebrated the miraculous creation of our new, little holy family for the first time.

Two days after our wedding, we started the new year as newlyweds. It was powerfully symbolic of the end of the first chapter of of our lives and the start of our vocation together.

Even if it never occurred to you before, consider the Christmas season for your I dos. I pray that as you discern the date for your wedding, you’ll be filled with the joy and peace that God loves to grant his children--should we seek it--every day of the year.  

Are you planning a December or January celebration? Find more inspiration here:

Winter Weddings | Holiday Weddings


About the Author: Mariah Maza is Spoken Bride’s Features Editor. She is the co-founder of Joans in the Desert, a blog for bookish military wives. Read more

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Inviting God into your Wedding Planning Desires

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

God created us, and he creates our desires to point us towards goodness, beauty, creation, and virtue. When we are attentive to our desires--both the lighthearted and the deepest desires of our hearts--Christ can teach us something about ourselves or about himself. (Or really about anything, because he is God.)

Does your season of engagement feel overwhelming and distracting due to stress or expectations of wedding planning? With a prayerful approach, the desires and details in our wedding planning can become a sacramental aspect within the sacrament of matrimony. When we seek God in our desires, the smallest wedding details can give visibility to a truth of our faith, to our relationship with Christ, or to the deeper desires of our hearts.

The sacramental aspect of our Catholic faith describes the ways physical objects make an invisible truth visible. For example, water is the physical object signifying the spiritual cleansing, or rebirth in Christ, through the sacrament of Baptism. In marriage, the first night together as husband and wife, and every act of love thereafter, makes tangible the unifying vows of the sacrament of Matrimony.

So how do we uncover the deeper meaning of our desires in wedding planning? How do we tune in to the songs our hearts are singing?

First, we have to know what we want. In the gospel of John, the first question Jesus asks is, “What do you want?” It’s not a selfish question to ask ourselves, especially when we are striving to know ourselves and know Christ in a pursuit of holiness.

Despite how clear your vision for your wedding day might be, consider pausing to journey into that vision with God. Invite God into your head and your heart and ask yourself, “What do I want to see at my wedding?” Note the first things that come to mind. Is it a specific flower, color scheme, or song? Is it a desired anticipation for how a moment will play out?

Perhaps a surprising  answer will pop into your mind! In those moments, you can certainly say “hello” to the Holy Spirit who is guiding your heart.

Perhaps answering the question “what do I want?” is challenging. Is there a tinge of fear, anxiety, or apprehension that bubbles to the surface of your heart when you try to dive in that deeply? If so, keep going, trust the Lord, keep Him close; He wants to show you something good! Rather than fearing the fear itself and suppressing those feelings, take Mary or Jesus’ hand and prayerfully walk into those desires.

Second, take to Christ whatever comes to mind and let him begin to unfold the mystery of your heart. A prayer as simple as, “Okay, Jesus. I want ____ at my wedding. I imagine ____ at my wedding. What is it about ____ am I attracted to? I ask you to reveal something deeply beautiful about these desires to me.”

God might reveal these answers to you in that exact moment of prayer, or maybe over a series of days. Maybe he will withhold his response until the wedding day, or even weeks after when you’re turning back through pictures. Regardless of how he answers this prayer in his timing, he hears you. He is with you in your desires. The things we are attracted to are ways God romances us towards his goodness, his beauty, his creation, and his love.

We want more than we think we want.

Even after the wedding day has come and gone, this conversation with Christ is one we can continue in any season of life.

In my most recent personal experience, praying through my desires was an effort to clarify if my desire was from God or from my own selfishness. When my husband and I moved overseas, it took over two months for our belongings to arrive from the United States to our new (and first) home. The time of waiting tested my patience and led to my restless wanting of our stuff. In the past, I’ve done well with traveling out of a backpack and maintaining a relatively simple profile, so this deep feeling of need for my things was surprising to me.

On the one hand, it takes a personal touch to create a home. We were living on rental furniture and bare walls; I desired our personalized bookshelves and coffee mugs and photographs. I desired to create a home with my husband.

But on the other hand, I was tempted to shame in those desires because I was being “too materialistic” and “too selfish” and “too needy.” The latter experience led me to my knees in a prayer to see God in those desires.

He shattered the glass of my temptation to self-shame. In his most gentle and straight-forward way, God first allowed me to speak my fears: “I feel like I am a bad Christian if I want my stuff.” Nearly instantly thereafter, he provided a sanctifying clarity: it’s not the stuff for the sake of having stuff I desire, but the love, joy, memory, journey, hope, and faith that those things represent. A home is a place of hospitality, rest, unity, and love; beyond the desire for “stuff” is a beautiful desire for a home.

And beyond the desire for a home is a desire for our eternal home, heaven. The ache for what I want now opened my perspective to what I want forever.  

My patience was restored and the process of building our first home has filled my heart with gratitude and hope for all the goodness to come--both in this life and in heaven.

Oftentimes, the details we want to see on our wedding day are a manifestation of our heart’s yearning for beauty and virtue and love. Through the gift of free will, God will patiently wait to show us those deeper layers of our hearts until we ask him to show us. When we invite him into our wedding planning--the season of preparation toward the vocation to a sacrament of marriage--he will undoubtedly show up and love on us as he does so well.

He has already shown up by inviting you into this sacrament--one of the beautiful ways he reveals his love for his people! Why would he stop there? Our God is a God of infinity.

What does he want to show you? What does he have to teach you? What beauty can be revealed as we journey through wedding planning and decision making processes with Christ by our side?

May the journey continue for you with infinite beauty and surprise.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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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.