10 Products for Radiant Wedding-Day Makeup



To me, makeup is an accessory. It highlights the God-given beauty of each face, and each of us have different features that we love to “dress up”, whether that be our skin, eyes, brows, or smile. That is why I have loved teaching women how to apply natural-looking makeup for over a decade as a makeup artist and beauty consultant. Though some use makeup as a way to mask or change their features, there are a few techniques and products that enhance rather than hide. A few minute check-in in the mirror before starting the day can boost self-confidence, even if it’s just a little mascara, concealer, and lipstick.

Makeup for special events isn’t the same as makeup for everyday. There are a few tricks and types of products that ensure it will last from morning to night, and even look flawless in photos.

I have a list of 10 tips to use to make your makeup look professionally done, even if you do it yourself.


Clean skin makes an even canvas.

Before applying your makeup, use a cotton pad to wipe a micellar water (something without alcohol) over your bare skin. This will remove any residue from soap and leftover makeup to make your skin look much more even and bright.

Always moisturize!

Moisturizer is a necessary part of getting foundation to look most like skin, and not like a mask of color. Test a few before your wedding day to see which one looks best under your foundation. If it balls up as your foundation goes on, it could be too heavy--something to save for a nighttime regime.

On the other hand, if your foundation goes on looking chalky, your moisturizer isn’t doing its job to plump the skin. Supple, hydrated skin allows the makeup to look most natural. Allow your moisturizer to set for a few minutes before the next step.

Primer is the glue.

If you struggle with getting your complexion products to last all day, you probably need a primer. Primer creates a barrier between moisturizer and foundation. It smoothes uneven texture and has an almost magnetic effect on foundation, allowing it to last an entire day without caking, creasing, or rubbing off.

 Liquid foundation, not powder.

One mistake I often see in bridal and special event makeup is the use of too much powder. Mineral powder and powder-based foundations are excellent for day to day use, though they look best on oily skin types because they mattify naturally. Liquid foundation slides onto a primed, moisturized face and blends effortlessly into skin. It is the most forgiving formula to use, especially when you apply it in the middle of the face first and blend outwards as you go. Always match foundation to your jawline so it blends seamlessly.

Matte bronzer adds warmth, not shimmer.

For photography, it’s important to keep products with shimmer or iridescence on the eyes, lips, or cheekbones so it catches light in the right way. I always recommend a matte bronzer because it warms up the skin gently, and doesn’t make the face look like a disco ball in photos.

Warmth needs to be added back into the skin after applying foundation to bring natural dimension back to the face. I like to apply it with a fluffy brush to the hairline, tops of the cheeks sweeping toward the ear, and lightly on the bridge of the nose. It ends up looking sun-kissed and glowy without sparkle.

Finely-milled setting powder prevents shine.

A finely-milled setting powder is absolutely key for setting makeup, preventing oil patches, and locking all your hard work in. Look for powders that say triple-milled, and apply them with a small fluffy brush in a patting motion. A cheaper powder that is not triple-milled will immediately look heavy, as if it is sitting on top of the skin, similar to the texture of chalk. And finally, if you rub the powder brush over the skin rather than tap it gently, you risk pushing the products around, which may result in the makeup looking patchy, creating discoloration and unevenness.

Create a base for eyeshadow with longwear products.

A longwear base, whether a cream shadow or eyelid primer, works the same way as a face primer. It gives eyeshadow something to cling to and prevents creasing. If you apply primer, then shadow, then liner, and waterproof mascara, your eye look will last all day.

Tame the brows.

Whether your brows are full or thin, brow gel is going to set the hairs in place and add texture to make them look 3D, rather than flat or painted-on. I like to backcomb the brows, rubbing the application brush from tail toward the nose, and then brush the hairs up to frame the face and lift the eyes.

Some of these products can flake after a few hours, so be sure to test a few before your big day.

Skip glossy and super matte lips.

Look for a lip product with a satin finish, meaning it is comfortable to wear, but gives an opaque color to the lips, and shouldn’t transfer heavily onto anyone you kiss. This kind of lip is perfect for photographing both indoors and outdoors, because it has just a hint of shine and won’t crack or dry the lips out.

 Waterproof mascara is a must.

Rather than risking a black smudge across your face--which can easily happen from tears, humidity, or rain--use a waterproof formula that won’t flake or run. From drugstore to department store, many brands make reputable waterproof formulas, but once again, give them a go before the big day. Maybe even watch your favorite tear-jerker movie as a test.

 Whether you’re a beauty junkie or are trying this on your own for the first time, these products will help you get the best result. Think of your makeup as an accessory, just like a beautiful shoe or necklace, and let it enhance--not overshadow--your natural beauty.

Images by Meaghan Clare Photography, seen in How to Do Your Own Bridal Makeup | Video Tutorial

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About the Author: Nicole M. Caruso is a wife, mother, makeup artist, and writer. She believes her mission is to inspire women to invest in their self-worth. Formerly the Beauty Editor of Verily Magazine, Nicole now shares her expert style and beauty advice, tips on healthy living, and reflections on marriage and motherhood on her website. The New York native now resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and daughter.


What We Should Have Asked During Marriage Preparation



Our first marriage prep meeting was in the deacon’s office of the large parish where we were to be married. As we sat facing his desk, we noticed the shelves facing us; they were filled with binders labeled ‘Annulments A-Ba,’ ‘Annulments Ba-Ce,’ ‘Annulments Ce-Di,’ and so on. As we stared at the bewildering number of annulment binders, the deacon informed us that, as twenty-somethings, the odds are against us: statistics show married people in our age bracket are more likely to end up divorced.

We left our first meeting discouraged, our second underwhelmed, and our pre-Cana retreat scared. We desired to make our marriage preparation worthwhile, but all of the support offered by our diocese and parish left us feeling more lost and confused than ever.  As an engaged person, it is often difficult to find the all-encompassing resources to feel spiritually prepared for marriage.

If you are already married and feel as though your marriage preparation was lacking, there are resources available for married couples. You can still seek a deeper understanding of this wonderful sacrament.

Although our diocesan-level preparation lacked convicting formation, we did not  advocate for stronger pre-cana support for ourselves because we did not know what questions to ask. After reflecting on these shortcomings over the past year, here are some of the questions I wish I had asked in the deacon’s office.

What have been the best ways that you have seen couples prepare for marriage?

Maybe the Pre-Cana retreat in your diocese is not up to scratch, but your parish may have an excellent sponsor couple program. Working with a mentor couple who has many years of experience in marriage and marriage preparation can provide trusting relationships and additional ideas during your engagement.  Ask around to friends and family as they may have recommendations as well.

What resources are available to us?

Little did we know, there is a fantastic office full of Catholic marriage counselors down the road from our parish. We never heard about these services while we were preparing for the sacrament of matrimony, probably because we never asked. Every diocese has its own resources, and there are many more online. The right resources are often hard to find, but the first step is to ask the right people in your community.

What books can you recommend?

Ask your married friends for helpful books from their engagement. Ask priests or religious sisters for books to deepen your understanding and knowledge of the sacrament of matrimony. Consult blogs and articles for recommended readings. With your beloved, consider the options and discern which resources you want to dive into together. Even if there are not many formal resources available in your area, you can form a self-guided  marriage prep course with the help of a good reading list.

Are there any ministries geared toward people who are already married?

Marriage preparation is only one part of the equation. Marriage is not an easy vocation; husbands and wives need all the support they can get in a world that consistently tears down the call to marriage and family life. Are there any groups in your parish or in your diocese which can connect you with others trying to live the vocation of marriage?

There are many resources to help you prepare for your lifelong marriage, and many people who aspire to share their wisdom--and your excitement--in your preparations. Do not be afraid to ask for the things you need, both in your desires for more and in the midst of a struggle. As Matthew 7:7 reminds us, “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

About the Author: Ada Pimentel studied English at the University of Dallas and currently teaches elementary school. She married her college best friend in November 2017. When she is not teaching, Ada can be found contemplating classical education, redecorating her apartment for the hundredth time, and reading British novels.


My Marriage Prep Experience Was More Intense Than Most. Its Surprising Fruits.



Six months after our college graduation, as I began a corporate job in my hometown and my boyfriend moved across the country for military service, he made a surprise visit and proposed on the campus where we fell in love. Giddily, we walked hand-in-hand. I looked up at him and asked, “Now what?” to which he replied, “Let’s go to the church!”

With the exception of extreme circumstances, the Church calls us to take time as a couple to prepare for marriage. Due to our long-distance circumstances, my fiancé and I hoped to get married sooner rather than later, in the church we attended together back in college. Excitedly, we walked into the office, asked, “how can we get married here?,” and were given a booklet of instructions. It was here I learned the Church must be notified at least six months in advance of a couple’s desired wedding date to ensure sufficient preparation for the sacrament.

A few days later, my fiancé and I were thrilled to find an available date that worked with his military commitment. We met with a priest to discuss our formal preparation with the church over the next nine months. Along with a retreat and written materials for pre-marriage counseling, our priest requested we meet with him 6-8 times throughout our engagement. This posed a challenge, with our eight hour separation and work obligations--our visits were limited to one weekend every few months. At this first meeting, he assured us that as long as my fiancé could call or Skype into the meetings, this would not be an issue. We were pleased with the plan.

When we shared these details with our families, my parents were taken aback that the parish required so many pastoral meetings. My fiancé and I were confused by their reaction.

Other family members, including grandparents, continued to surprise us, asking questions like,Why do you two need to meet with the priest so many times? Isn’t it enough that you want to get married in the Catholic Church, when so few couples do these days? Though they’ve encouraged my faith throughout my life, my family viewed the time commitment as burdensome during an already stressful period of separation. 

I liked our priest, however, and I rationalized that it was not a huge time commitment. Still, when my spouse and I attended a Pre-Cana retreat and learned from other attendees that frequent meetings were  fairly uncommon, I was a bit surprised. Most other parishes in our geographical area did not require couples to commit to more than a Pre-Cana retreat and a meeting or two. Friends of ours getting married in another state were only required to do a Pre-Cana retreat.

So as our first official marriage preparation meeting approached, I grew frustrated: Why do we have to commit to so much more than other couples preparing for marriage in the Church?

It took time and prayer to find an answer. My fiancé and I were facing the stress of the military, illness in the family, uncertainty about my career plans. We both worked long hours, and the wedding was suddenly six months away.

After our first meeting, it hit me: we were not spending enough quality time with God. The Father had his hand in us getting married at this particular church. He wanted to make sure we were prepared for the sacrament. Taking time to go the church where I would marry my husband, either in person or attending by phone, gave me much needed time for prayer and reflection.

 Our priest’s approach also provided valuable insight into our expectations for marriage. I learned right away that my vision was far too idealistic. The priest pointed out that on our formal assessment, I agreed with the statement, “I will always love my intended as I do now.” I now see that as naivety. Of course, love matures and grows. Through our conversations, I grew more realistic about the future and potential challenges ahead. We created a budget, discussed how we might share household responsibilities, and came up with potential date ideas--all as part of our marriage preparation.

 As much as we kept Christ at the center of our dating relationship, the busyness and stress of engagement made it more difficult--and the commitments with our priest ensured we still made the Lord our priority.

If you are preparing for the sacrament and feel burdened by the obligations, talk with your fiancé and encourage each other to fully commit to what the Church asks of you. In the case that your parish does not require a marriage prep course, I push you to take the leap yourself and schedule some time to talk as a couple with your priest. Our Father gave us the beautiful gift of marriage. And like all of the sacraments, we must ready our hearts in order to fully enter into it.

About the Author: Megan graduated from John Carroll University in 2017, where she studied Management, English Literature, and Spanish--and met her husband. The couple currently resides in Tennessee, where Megan works as a data analyst. Together, they enjoy day trips, movie marathons, and spending time with friends and family around the country. Megan's passions include baking, reading, and taking on DIY projects.


Creating a Unique Wedding Registry



Wedding registries can be both an exciting and anxious part of wedding planning. Who doesn’t get excited about making the ultimate wish list for their new home? This is an opportunity for you and your fiancé to decide your style as a couple and how your future home will reflect that.


At the same time, it can create an extra level of stress as you scrutinize each item you add to your registry. What does it mean to be a good steward of your friend’s and family’s generosity? How much should you consider the price range of items? Is it wiser to restrict your registry to necessities, or is this an opportunity to include things you would not consider purchasing yourself? What is the balance between kitchen items, larger furniture pieces, linens, and miscellaneous?

A little prayer and confidence in the joyful generosity of your friends and family during this season of engagement can help alleviate these anxious questions.

A wedding registry is an opportunity for those who love you to channel their affection into acts of charity. And there is never another time in your life when you’ll get to create such an exciting wish list!

And so, it can be fun to find ways to veer from the traditional aspects of wedding registries and add some uniqueness to this part of wedding planning. Here are three ways to make your registry more personalized towards your future life as a married couple:


What better way to celebrate your marriage than growing your new family’s library? Though my husband and I accumulated a large number of books during our years as English majors, I wish we had added the missing classics to our wedding registry. This is a wonderful way to infuse your personality into your registry and give your guests the opportunity to add to your book collection. It is also a great way to include your fiancé—who may be apathetic about towel and sheet colors—in the registry selections. Giving your guests the option to purchase books might be a welcome change from the usual selection of linens and kitchen items.


As you and your fiancé begin creating your registry, this is a wonderful time to discuss how charitable giving will be incorporated into your marriage. In the midst of picking items that you will no doubt enjoy in your future home, it is nice to consider how your upcoming marriage will benefit others. Is there a specific charity that is significant to you or your fiancé? Is there a ministry that has supported you and your beloved’s spiritual growth?

As a couple, you have the opportunity to begin your marriage prioritizing charitable giving and inviting your friends and family to join you. What a beautiful testimony to the life-giving fruit of marriage!


One of my favorite developments in wedding registries is the incorporation of experiences. Most registries now have the option for couples to create individual experiences that their guests can choose to help fund. This is a nice way to balance the many physical gifts on a registry with experience gifts that build memories rather than clutter. I used this option to create specific experiences that our guests could gift us for our honeymoon. Tickets to the Vatican Museums and to a play were just two of the options that guests could use to help us celebrate our first few weeks as a married couple.

In the midst of the chaos of wedding planning, the registry can be an opportunity to relax and enjoy dreaming up the trimmings of your future home. Adding a few unique additions to your registry is a fun and refreshing way to incorporate your interests as a couple. What are some unusual items that you have added to your registry?

About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   


Moments that Matter, Memories that Last



On a wedding day, the bride and groom’s carefully selected vendors come together to serve specific roles with a shared objective of making the day a run smoothly. Coordinators keep everyone on schedule as bouquets and floral arrangements are assembled, finishing touches are added to cakes, and priests deliver their homilies. The wedding photographer is there to capture and preserve these memories.

As a wedding photographer, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of one of the most monumental days in people’s lives. This role is unique from other vendors. I remember the pressure I felt the very first time I was charged with the responsibility of photographing a wedding, “These photos could hang on their wall for generations; make sure you don’t miss any of the big moments!” I thought.

While I still feel a certain type of pressure going into wedding days, my outlook on capturing them has changed slightly over the years. This is partly due to my own experience as a bride, but mostly because of seasoned knowledge of how a wedding day will unfold. I have seen enough wedding days to anticipate how they will likely progress; most vendors will tell you the same thing, echoing the words of Julius Caesar, “experience is the best teacher.” Yet, the tangible anticipation of serving a couple as a wedding photographer prevails (even with years of experience) because the intimate moments that matter are fleeting.

In the photography community, there is an emphasis on capturing "moments that matter.” These moments happen between the scheduled events, or they might not be noticed by the bride and groom until they look through their gallery of images long after their wedding day.

It is impossible for the bride and groom to see every aspect of their wedding day when they are in the spotlight. They will miss the look on the father-of-the-bride’s face when his daughter vows her life to her husband, and they might not see the wedding guests in prayer during the dedication to the Blessed Mother. As the day unfolds, I am constantly on the lookout for these moments. It is a more organic approach than simply working from of a shot list or checking items off of a list; there is always a sense of anticipation.

Of course, it cannot be denied that there are parts of a wedding day that require structure. The family formal photos and standard portraits are important. As part of a pre-wedding questionnaire, I have all of my couples list any guests of honor who will be in attendance, and the family photos that they, or their parents, wish to have.

I thrive on looking for unique ways to capture the ceremony, depending on each church--as no two are the same. Parish churches, Cathedrals, and chapels all radiate a different type of beauty, and it is fun to get creative.

Although I have documented many types of wedding ceremonies over the years, a majority of my experiences have been in the context of a Catholic Mass.

The sacrament of matrimony adds an entirely new meaning to the phrase “moments that matter” because of the sacramental graces bestowed upon the couple. While these graces can never be fully captured in a picture, their essence is what I aim to reveal in the photos I take.

I try to focus on moments throughout the day that will last long after the sparkler send-off. While the handcrafted invitations and DIY centerpieces are exquisite and deserve to be remembered, they do not bear the same importance as those intangible moments. I can recognize a bride who values sacramental elements when she is seeking a photographer who is familiar with the  beauty of the Catholic Mass.

It is a gift when I am able to partake in the Mass as a photographer. I have heard homilies that are edifying to my vocation as a wife, joined in prayer for couples alongside the congregation, and gratefully received communion as a part of my work day.

While I want my clients to have an overall enjoyable experience throughout wedding planning, it is most important that they cherish the photographs from their wedding day for years to come. If you are seeking a wedding photographer, look for someone whose work highlights what is most important to you. If you and your photographer value the same aspects of a wedding day, you will capture and cherish those fleeting yet precious “moments that matter” forever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth is a national wedding + portrait photographer and Spoken Bride vendor. Although based in Maryland, she has traveled the country photographing weddings from California to Maine and everywhere in between. She loves old movies, the Green Bay Packers, and learning any/everything about American history. Elizabeth is married to her college sweetheart, Patrick, and the two are raising their baby boy Theodore just outside of Baltimore, MD.


3 Tangible Ways to Include the Saints in Your Wedding Day



For as long as I can remember, saints and their stories have played a huge part in my spiritual life.

As a child, I loved learning about Saint Fransisco, Blessed Imelda, and other children who achieved holiness at a young age. In my teenage years, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Saint Dominic Savio, and Blessed Chiara Badano began inspiring me. Learning about holy men and women who related to my current stage in life strengthened and encouraged me on my spiritual journey.

Once engaged, I began considering ways to incorporate the saints into my wedding. They have been alongside me through every part of my life, and I wanted to include them as I entered this vocation. Here, three ways I have seen the saints’ intercession incorporated in Catholic weddings:

Wedding bouquet medals

During my engagement, I asked friends and family to pray for us in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I may have tentatively suggested--or not so tentatively, as my siblings tell me--that they ask the intercession of specific saints on my husband’s and my behalf. I then invited my prayer warriors to bring a medal of their specific saint to the wedding and tie it onto my bouquet before I walked down the aisle.

I can’t tell you how touching it was to receive so many medals on my wedding day and to feel the weight of my bouquet carrying the symbols of many prayers. Since the bouquet was too large to preserve, it became especially significant to have those medals long after the flowers and greenery faded.

Stories of married saints

As I planned my wedding, I began seeking out saints who were called to the vocation of marriage: Saints Gianna Molla, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Jane Frances de Chantal just scratch the surface of many amazing married women. I found it incredibly powerful to study the lives of Catholic wives who lived out their vocation with such holiness.

I also learned of many married couples who are both saints! While Joseph and Mary are the epitome of a holy marriage, there are a variety of others to learn from: Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, Joachim and Anne, and Blessed Charles of Austria and his wife, Servant of God Zita, are just a few from whom I drew inspiration. Learning about these holy relationships is a great way to reflect on your hopes for your own marriage.

Litany of the Saints

When picking Mass music, my friend chose the Litany of the Saints to be sung while grandparents, parents, and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. She and her fiancé were able to pick some of their favorite saints to include in the litany, making it particularly personal. While not a traditional piece for a wedding, I found it a beautiful testimony to watch the couple’s closest friends and family escorted down the aisle as their closest friends in Heaven were called on to intercede.

Our brothers and sisters in heaven are such a wonderful aspect of the Catholic faith. What are ways you have seen them included in weddings?

About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   


4 Tips for Peaceful Wedding Planning



“So, how’s wedding planning going?”

If you’ve been engaged for more than a week, you’ll understand when I say that this question has been coming up a lot in casual conversation lately. My fiance and I have been engaged for many months already (with only a few to go!), so my answer usually sounds something like this:

“Oh, you know, we’re just trying to focus on the important things like deciding on a church, reception venue, caterer, musicians, dress, photographer, videographer, picking colors, doing marriage prep, choosing our wedding party, and, you know...everything else.”

When I was a single young adult watching my friends plan their weddings, I swore that I would not let the commercialism of the wedding planning industry stress me out for my entire engagement. And yet, even my most easy-going friends seemed to fall into this trap.

In fact, the rebel in me always wanted to sneak away to some little chapel with my beloved, a priest, and our immediate families to have a simple wedding. Just to spite the industry that tells me I can’t get married without a stressful, expensive party.

Meeting and falling in love with Chris definitely changed my perspective. He loves me with such a selfless, strong, Christ-like love that I wanted the whole world to witness it! So now we’re planning a wedding and reception for a few hundred of our closest friends and family. But my inner rebel still refuses to be swallowed alive by the all-consuming wedding planning industry.

Here are a few ways that my fiance and I are trying to keep our peace during the wedding planning process:

Be realistic about your timeline.

My fiance, Chris, proposed in April 2018, and we were so excited to get married. But we set the date for June 2019. Why did we choose a fourteen month engagement when we were so eager to start our lives together?

Chris and I looked at our situation and knew that we would need some extra time to adjust to this new stage in our lives. When we got engaged, I was getting ready to move from Denver, Colorado to Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada so that we could live in the same city.

I was adjusting to a new ring on my finger, not to mention a new job, new home, new friends, and a new country. Even adapting to the metric system was a challenge.

Personally, I process new information slowly and internally, so it was important for me to remember my emotional needs as we planned our timeline. Chris knew we would benefit from adding a few extra months to our engagement so I didn’t get overwhelmed. And now that I’m getting used to life in Canada, I’m better prepared to tackle the logistics necessary in wedding planning.

Maybe you are in the opposite situation. Maybe you have both been awaiting your vocation eagerly for many years or have dated for a long time. Whatever the situation, don’t feel pressure to pick a certain date or timeline based on anyone but you, your fiance, and the marriage prep requirements of your diocese. Take the time you need.

Choose your top priorities.

After a few weeks of engagement, Chris and I sat down and talked about what aspects of wedding planning were most important to us. He really wanted to find a beautiful, big venue to host all our loved ones, while I wanted the Mass to be at the church where I grew up. I also really wanted an excellent photographer.

I love this strategy, because once we picked our top three or four priorities for our wedding itself, we were free to be flexible about the rest of the details.

This means that I bought a lovely dress at a great price, and we plan to email all of our save-the-dates rather than mailing them. Our friend is going to DJ the music at the reception, and we are borrowing most of our decorations from a friend.

Most wedding stress, in my opinion, comes from thinking that every Pinterest-worthy detail is essential. In reality, you get to decide what is and isn’t important on your wedding day. To make this easier on everyone involved, communicate your priorities to the people who are helping with the wedding.

I was able to realize this first-hand when my sister got married a few weeks ago. It struck me that the things I remember most vividly from that day are the details that she and her husband prioritized: the beautiful chapel where they got married, the way they planned the dinner hour to make sure everyone got to eat right away, and the epic glow-stick dance party at their reception.

Every detail was beautiful, but I could easily distinguish what was most important to the couple. Decide what matters to you, and give yourself permission to be flexible about the rest.

One thing at a time.

Here’s the most practical wedding planning advice that I have received to date: do one thing per  week and nothing more.

Try to imagine a plate spinner performing at a circus. They run around a stage trying to keep a dozen spinning plates and bowls balanced on top of sticks.  Watching that much chaos would make me anxious!

It’s so tempting  to try to “spin” a dozen tasks at once, especially if you are a multitasker like me. Often, my days include calling the caterer, and while I’m waiting to hear back, I email a bunch of photographers. In the meantime, I buy the craft supplies to make gifts for my bridesmaids while scrolling endlessly through centerpieces on Pinterest.

The problem with this approach is that, unless you’re superwoman, something comes crashing to the ground from neglect. You definitely don’t want to be three months away from the big date, meticulously crafting those centerpieces, only to realize that you never actually got back to that photographer with the deposit.

When we get wrapped up in these last minute details, we lose our peace, and it gets harder to prepare our hearts for the sacrament we are about to receive.

Get an excellent planning checklist (find one that works for you), and check off one thing at a time. Don’t move on to something else unless you’ve finished the previous task, or at least added a note on how to finish it later.

Remember your “why.”

I recently watched an excellent TED talk that reminded me to make wedding planning decisions based on why I’m getting married in the first place. The speaker illustrates how companies and organizations should start by talking about why they exist, determining how to share that with the world, and finally focusing on what products or services they should offer as a result. In reality, most organizations get that order flipped and focus too much on petty details instead of remembering the underlying meaning behind everything they do.

We can be tempted to do the same thing. We get so focused on the details, or the “what”, that we start to forget our “why”.

Ultimately, I want to marry Chris because I love him, I trust him completely, and I am convinced that he will do a better job getting me to heaven than anyone else. He has given his heart to me and his life to the mission of the Church. I want to join him in that mission to bring Jesus to the world. That’s my “why.”

Because of those reasons, we can better know some of our desires: we want a beautiful wedding Mass with all our friends and family present so that we can give witness to the centrality of God in our lives. When I think about it from this position, the tactical decisions come into perspective.

During my sister’s recent wedding, one the bridesmaids kept saying, “All the details seem to work themselves out. As long as the bride and groom show up with the priest and make those vows, the whole day is a huge success, in my book.”

Our wedding is about celebrating the vocation that God is calling us to embrace. Chris and I want all those little details, from the photographer to the music to the reception decorations, to point to the beauty of the sacrament. And yet I want to look back on our wedding day and remember not the stress of worrying about the details, but the joy of becoming Chris’ wife.

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About the Author: Becca Arend is a twenty-something who loves Jesus. As a proud Minnesotan who recently moved to Halifax to be nearer to her fiancé Chris. She loves American things, like Chick-Fil-A, spelling words without an extra u, and the Imperial System.