Christine + Mark | Traditional Chinese Wedding

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Christine and Mark’s Washington, D.C. wedding was a beautiful intertwining of traditional Catholic nuptials and Chinese customs.

Their relationship began when Christine stumbled upon Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch. It had been months since Christine began praying to Blessed Karl of Austria for her future husband. Even though she had seen many interesting profiles on CatholicMatch, she felt there was something special about Mark’s.

Christine didn’t start a conversation, but instead waited to see what Mark would do, since the site allowed a him to see who had visited his profile.

She didn’t have to wait long.

From the Groom: From the first moment I saw Christine’s profile picture, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And after reading Christine’s profile, I was even more certain she was too good to be true. This was the internet version of love at first sight, and I sent a message right away.

From the Bride: Every time Mark talks about this, I can’t help but laugh. He is always so sweet. When I first saw Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch, I felt there was something special about him. And ever since then, I kept him in my daily prayers and waited for God to do the rest.

Mark: After exchanging a few messages on CatholicMatch, I invited Christine to pray together over the phone. She only had thirty minutes for our first call, but we spent most of that time praying the rosary together.

After that we started a tradition which we have continued even when in very different time zones: praying daily Compline (Night Prayer) together, usually over the phone.

Christine: Praying together always reminds me God is at the center of our relationship. I’m always excited to pray with Mark because it is such a powerful experience for us.

A few short weeks after we began speaking, May—the month of Our Lady—arrived, and it was time for me to graduate from my master’s program. My parents and sister came to D.C. to attend my graduation ceremony.

I had been telling my parents a lot about Mark, and they really liked him, or at least my descriptions of him. On May 11, a couple days before my family would return home to China, my mom suggested we set up a meeting with Mark. Although I felt a little uncertain, knowing Mark’s busy work schedule, and, more importantly, that Mark and I had never met in person, I reached out to him to see whether he would be able to meet the next day.

Mark: That was a very busy time for me at work, but I pulled a very late night and managed to meet Christine and her family for coffee the next day. Luckily, I was too tired to be nervous! I was overjoyed to meet Christine’s family and moved by how genuinely kind and joyful they were.

Christine: My family and I really enjoyed meeting Mark, too. In fact, Mark and I soon began going on dates: attending Sunday Mass together at St. Mary’s in Washington D.C., followed by lunch and activities like visiting museums and going to concerts. After Mass, we would usually pray together before the image of Blessed Karl.

As we got to know each other better, we hung out more often. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, went hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and visited the elderly at a nursing home. Through it all, we enjoyed every moment together.

Fast forward to October 2017. We had been discerning engagement and working through a book titled 101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged. This went on until one Saturday when we visited St. Mary’s. Just as we were finishing our prayer before the image of Blessed Karl, Mark proposed.

What a joy that we were engaged in the Real Presence of Our Lord!

A mutual friend played my favorite Chinese hymn on the organ (Mark had remembered I had sung the hymn while we were praying together one evening), and the proposal was filmed by Mark’s best friend and soon-to-be best man.

We learned that our archdiocese required six months of marriage preparation. During this time we would continue to grow in our relationship and discern our vocation. We also found, to our surprise and delight, that May 12, 2018—the one-year anniversary of the first time we met in person—was a Saturday, and we decided to set that as our wedding date.

The wonderful Fr. Martin Yip agreed to meet with us for monthly marriage preparation sessions focusing on the sacramental meaning of marriage. We also attended an Engaged Encounter retreat.

This provided a precious opportunity for us to spend focused time getting to know each other and diving deeply into various practical topics, all under the guidance of experienced married couples and a priest.

One month before the wedding, we visited a couple from our parish who have been married more than thirty years. They warned us of potential challenges in married life and provided advice and insights from the unique perspective of Chinese culture.

We were overjoyed when Bishop Mario Dorsonville agreed to celebrate our nuptial Mass. Another joyful surprise was that Fr. Conrad Murphy was willing to be the Master of Ceremonies when we couldn’t find another deacon available for our wedding day.

From the very beginning, we knew the nuptial Mass would be the most important part of our wedding day. So we spent a lot of time preparing the Mass program in both Chinese and English. It turned out to be very beneficial in helping us and our guests get better acquainted with the various parts of the nuptial Mass.

Our liturgy was celebrated at St. Mary’s in D.C.. Although we belong to the Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, ours was the first nuptial Mass in ten years to be celebrated at St. Mary’s for a couple in our community. Our parish family was excited for us and showered us with so much love and joy. They celebrated our engagement in the parish hall and supported us through the wedding preparation and our wedding day.

One week before the wedding, my family travelled from Shanghai to Washington. It was so exciting because I hadn’t seen my family for a year. They helped with the wedding favors and decorating the reception venue. Meanwhile, Mark’s parents prepared heart-shaped chocolates for our guests and set up the rehearsal dinner.

In the early afternoon of our wedding day, we had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, customary for weddings in China.

We knelt before our parents and offered tea to them, showing our respect and gratitude to them for all the years of love and care.

In return, we received gifts in red envelopes from them.

Our nuptial Mass was very beautiful and went quickly, but we enjoyed every moment. My brother and sister did the readings, and our parents offered the gifts. When Bishop Dorsonville introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. Ma,” we had our first-ever kiss on the lips at the altar. With the violin and organ playing Ave Maria, we prayed before a statue of Mary, offering our marriage to Our Lady.

Our reception was held at Phoenix Park Hotel, a historic hotel in Capitol Hill. The hotel ballroom and our honeymoon suite were lovely. They had been decorated with love and care by our families and friends. My brother made a video using a collection of our photos from childhood to the time we met, which was played at the beginning of the reception. It was received by the audience with lots of laughter and awws.

Right after we entered the ballroom, we played a violin-piano duet of Canon in D. Mark was on violin, and I played piano. My dad presented raffle prizes of his own excellent calligraphy and Chinese traditional painting.

Finding each other and taking our first steps in marriage has been so amazing, and we are excited to continue our journey together!

From the Photographers: Christine and Mark's wedding was such a joy-filled event that uniquely combined beautiful cultural and liturgical traditions.

We loved witnessing and documenting their day, and especially loved how they planned a wedding that really fit their personalities. For example, during their reception they replaced the usual dance party with a talent show and games, which was so fun.

More than anything, we loved seeing how tangible their love was and how joyful they were to be husband and wife. It felt so real during their portrait session at the Jefferson Memorial. We wish them all the best for their marriage!

Photography: An Endless Pursuit - SPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Washington DC | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Park Hotel | Ceremony Site: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church | Florists: Louisa Sun | Reception Site & Tea Ceremony Site: Phoenix Park Hotel | Videographer: Onyxx Communications LLC | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts | Reception: MC
David Hu | Hair & Make-up: Iris Zou

Renae + Steven | Winter Clubhouse Wedding

Renae and Steven met shortly before Renae entered into a dating fast. During this time, she grew to know and love Steven as a brother in Christ, sparking a desire in both of them to get to know each other on a deeper level.

And so their courtship began. Through the intercession and guidance of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, Steven and Renae were engaged and then married in God’s peaceful and perfect timing.

From the Bride: Steven and I met in a young adult church group. We got to know each other better over the next year--during which I began a dating fast. I knew at the time that I needed to start treating the men in my life as brothers in Christ instead of potential suitors. This profoundly changed the way I interacted with the guys around me.

Just days after my dating fast ended, I returned to the young adult group. I was still treating the men in the group as brothers in Christ, confident my new perspective was both healing and consistent. Steven later told me this was the time he started desiring to know me better.

It truly is by God’s grace that we grew interested in each other when we did. Once we started dating, we quickly discovered our confirmation saints, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, worked together. This led to great discussions about our individual spiritualities, which greatly aided our relationship discernment.

On April 10th, I began my preparation for consecration to Jesus through Mary using 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley.

I didn't know that in just twelve days, my future fiancé would be driving to my parents' house to ask their permission for my hand in marriage.

After thirty three days of prayer, I made my consecration to Jesus through Mary. That same day, May 13th, Steven and I finished our novena to Our Lady of Fatima. It was the 100th anniversary of the famous Marian apparitions in Portugal.

Steven chose that day to propose, in an antique mall from our first date.

Our engagement showed how in tune Steven was with my spirituality.

His loving awareness and connectedness allowed us to intentionally pray through the discernment process. And while I waited for a proposal, God taught me to trust in his timing.

I received the engagement ring Steven intended to propose with weeks after he’d initially asked. He had created a design of three infinity symbols merged into a cross. This was etched into the inside ridge of the ring. The main diamond came from my mother’s engagement ring, which originally came from my grandmother’s engagement ring. It has become a family heirloom.

We knew weddings traditionally took place in the bride’s hometown church, but Steven agreed to a wedding in the church that has spiritually impacted me the most: St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Anderson, Indiana, connected to the school where I worked for four years. During my career, I have spent many days of prayer there at school Masses and in Adoration.

Even the building itself reflected who we are as a couple: the old church had been well worn over time, just like the times Steven and I had fallen and turned to God’s grace. Likewise, St. Mary’s has long relied on the intervention of caring parishioners to keep it a living and growing parish.

My classroom was where the bridal party got ready the morning of the wedding. I was ecstatic to see that my students had written “Congrats, Mrs. Cox” on the the chalkboard! The groom and groomsmen got ready in the library. Spending this precious time with our bridal parties before the ceremony calmed our nerves and allowed us to be in community with those who truly cared about our future. Steven played a board game with his groomsmen, and my sister brought tea and scones for the ladies.

Taking time for prayer with my bridesmaids before the ceremony allowed me to deeply understand the support they desired to give me, on our wedding day and throughout all the years to come.

They are still my rock when grief strikes because they are so firmly rooted in Christ.

The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph played a huge part in our courtship. Our Lady of Fatima was present and represented in my handkerchief, and my sister brought a small statue of her for the time before the ceremony.

I had a family friend design a choker necklace with the Miraculous Medal attached to the clasp. For me, this represented how Mary has always “had my back.” The idea came from a friend who always wore a Miraculous Medal on the clasp of her cross necklace.

I wore my sister’s veil. She was the first of the girls in my family to get married. My twin sister also wore the veil on her wedding day; it has quickly became a family tradition.

We met in the annex of the church before the ceremony, with Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pieta both in the room with us. These moments felt powerful and prayerful, even as I also felt the jittery nervousness of the morning.

At the reception, we had our father/daughter and mother/son dances. My father and I danced to a Dean Martin song--one I always remembered my dad dancing to when he felt happy. Steven had tissues prepared for his mother, and they still joke about the joyful tears she shed as they danced together.

Throughout the entire process, Steven and I strove to understand that our marriage wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses.

So we gathered an amazing support system filled with the Christ-centered people in our lives.

We truly felt the love of Jesus in those around us during our engagement and on our wedding day. Now that we are united in Christ through the sacrament of matrimony, we feel we can endure whatever life throws at us.

We both feel peace knowing the other will keep each of us focused on God. And I often remind Steven our marriage is a means to help each other to heaven. We strive for this through the hardships we experience together, forgiving the sins of the other, enduring the selfishness we both exhibit, and being thankful for the beauty we witness in our marriage.

Photography: Soul Creations PhotographySPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary's Catholic Church, Anderson, IN | Reception: Indianapolis Yacht Club, Indianapolis, IN | Cake: A Slice of Heaven | Bridal Gown: A Moment in Time Bridal | Engagement Ring: Reis Nichols | Wedding Bands: Shane Co. | Bridal Necklace: Brenda Jarrett | Shoes: Modcloth | Florist: Joann Ryan | DJ: Midwest Sound | Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie | Menswear: Jos A. Banks | Videography: Fiat Films

Mary + James | Sacred Heart Cathedral Wedding

Mary and James first connected online, and it quickly became obvious that they were both looking for similar qualities in a spouse.

Although circumstances kept them long distance, their relationship remained strong, and the Lord blessed them with an unexpected grace: a wedding on the solemnity of his Sacred Heart.

From the Bride: James and I met on Catholic Match. We were both looking for someone who shared our faith and way of life--the most important things to us. After that, we dated long-distance between Jefferson City and St. Louis for a year and a half.

Before boarding his train back home one day, James asked if I wanted to go visit St. Peter’s church nearby. Next to the statue of Saint Louis, James told me that our time in the city had taught him that the world was not enough. He wanted to give me more than this world could offer, just like Saint Louis himself who lived his life not for this world but the next.

He proposed to me at St. Peter’s in Kirkwood, Missouri. Needless to say, I said yes!

Shortly after getting engaged James left to Army JAG (Judge Advocate General) Training in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Charlottesville, Virginia for five months. During this time, our Pre-Cana classes were put on hold while he completed his training and I finished grad school.

When he returned we hit the ground running with our Pre-Cana courses at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis under the supervision of Deacon Todd.

A month before our wedding we were told it fell on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. This meant we would not be able to use any traditional wedding readings or psalms. Although we did not realize it when we picked the date, we were now presented with a great opportunity.

It was a chance to show our guests the love of Christ found in His Most Sacred Heart and the reflection of this love found in the marriage of a husband and wife.

Our wedding mass was special in many ways. The biggest grace was celebrating our big day on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart in the beautiful Cathedral Basilica. Another fun and unique bonus was when the Archdiocesan Handbell Choir volunteered to play for the wedding, since I am a member! Hearing the beautiful bells ring throughout the cathedral was such a wonderful gift to us.

Additionally, even though James and I both have big families, we wanted everyone to have a part in the Mass if possible. Every member of the family was either in the wedding party or had a role as a lector, usher, or gift-bearer. Our photographer told us that our Mass was the most spiritual that he has ever witnessed.

Right before I walked down the aisle my bridesmaids and I began to pray, I could not hold back the tears of joy because I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the wonderful ladies in my life. As the tears began to flow my future sister-in-law took over the prayer, somehow taking the words right out of my mouth. It was such a special moment I will always remember.

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Photography: Mirage Photo | Church: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MI | Reception: The Christy, Saint Louis, MI | Music: Archdiocesan Hand Bell Choir | Reception Music: DJ Connection | Hair & Makeup: New Seasons Hair Spa | Flowers: Carol’s Corner Florist & Gifts

Kimber + Stephen | Vintage American Baseball Wedding

Kimber and Stephen met through the invitation of a mutual friend. When they spent their first summer together in 2013, before Kimber went off to college, they began dating. Kimber had previously insisted on beginning school without a boyfriend, but something kept them together.

Looking back, Kimber and Stephen think this was the first “Jesus thing” in their history together.

Theirs is a beautiful story of heartbreak, conversion, and love. When they met, Kimber was not a religious person, and Stephen mourned this difference in their relationship. But distance, trust, prayer, and a semester in Ireland would change that.

Kimber and Stephen were married on a beautiful spring day in May 2018, grateful for the journey that had brought them to the altar.

From the Groom: On May 26, 2013, Kimber and I met for the first time; we were both invited to a mutual friend’s house for a bonfire. After that night, we got to know each other as the days of summer progressed and Kimber prepared to leave for college. In our short time together that summer, we started dating--even though she was adamant about starting school without a boyfriend.

But when the time came for Kimber to leave, we didn’t break up. We both believe this is what our best friend would call a “Jesus thing”.

Kimber was not a religious person when we first met. Early in our relationship, I asked her every week to come to church with me on Sunday, and she refused. As I began to imagine my future with someone not as faithful as I was, I was heartbroken, and I wasn’t sure how I could have a Catholic wedding.

I quietly held back on the topic of church around Kimber and prayed she would one day find her faith on her own. Nearly one year after we started dating, Kimber left for a semester abroad in Ireland. While she was there, she discovered the beauty of religion and changed her perspective on God.

She started going to Mass in Ireland, and when she came home she officially started her journey to become Catholic.

God has a plan for everyone. We just have to be patient.

Throughout our relationship—like any other—we had our ups and downs but never faltered. There was never a time when either of us considered breaking up because we knew we could work through anything with God’s help.

It was with this faith and love for each other that I decided to propose almost four years after our first summer together. With blessings from Kimber’s family, I secretly planned to propose on her capstone presentation day.

Knowing Kimber would be completely focused on preparing for an A+ presentation, I asked Kimber’s roommates to secretly get her “proposal-ready”. I wanted to pop the question on the “island” at Saint Mary’s College. Local legend says if you cross the bridge with the one you love, that is the person you will marry. I had walked Kimber across the bridge a few years before when I knew she was the one. Now I took her across to ask her to marry me.

On an April day, I asked Kimber to be my wife, and she was overcome with emotion. She had no idea how momenotus that day would be.

From the Bride: I became Catholic during my senior year of college, only a couple months before Stephen proposed. During the time leading up to my First Communion and Confirmation, we practiced our faith separately. We would go to church together on the weekends, but Stephen was much more comfortable in his relationship with God, while I was just in the beginning of mine.

I am so grateful Stephen didn’t push me during this time. He let me find the path to God on my own. When he proposed, we agreed it was important to both of us that we get married in the Catholic Church.

So on our wedding day, despite our different relationships with God, Stephen and I truly felt God’s presence together as we became one in flesh and in our faith.  

Our wedding Mass was held at the church where Stephen and his family have been parishioners for years. In fact, the priest who gave Stephen his First Communion celebrated it. We were beyond excited when he agreed to officiate our wedding, and the planning truly began.

I went wedding dress shopping with my bridesmaids, mom, and college roommate, Maureen—I really hoped to find my dress that day, because Maureen would be in Ireland on our wedding day. Everyone knew trying to find the dress during the first outing was a large feat, but nearly seven try-ons later, by the grace of God I found the one.

We wanted a reception venue that was industrial and rustic, and the Armory fit our description perfectly. When we booked the place, it was still under construction, but we had faith the owner would finish in time and create a great atmosphere for the reception.

When selecting our vendors, we knew we wanted to provide a fun environment for everyone attending. We agreed that neither of us really wanted cake. So instead of having traditional wedding cake, we served a frozen yogurt bar that allowed guests to create their own desserts.

After all, the first reason we ever ended up together was because Stephen asked me to be his girlfriend on a frozen yogurt cup.  

Our DJ stole the show with an awesome set list, and no one wanted to leave at the end of the night. He is a relative of mine, which made the evening even more special.

In the end, our vendors created a wonderful atmosphere, and our guests loved the frozen yogurt bar and photo booth. The pictures from the booth are priceless, and our guests were able to leave with precious memories from the evening.

The following morning as we first awakened as a married couple, we attended Mass at Our Lady of Loretto on Saint Mary’s College campus. The Mass felt strange because although it was normal for us to go there together, were were husband and wife, instead of boyfriend and girlfriend or engaged! It was the perfect way to start our married life.

I am overall grateful that, in the midst of all the planning, Stephen and I participated in a Pre-Cana program with our priest, Father Bob. We were nervous and excited to attend these meetings because we felt so ready to express and live our love for each other.

After that first meeting, all our nerves turned to excitement and a desire to keep moving forward. We wanted to keep learning about ourselves and what marriage meant in the eyes of God.

We talked about the sacredness of the sacrament and how it truly embodies the love between God and his people and the power of prayer as a couple.

Even though these meetings were difficult to attend because we both lived over an hour away with competing schedules, every minute was worth it. We believe Pre-Cana made us a stronger couple, ready for a lifetime together.

As we sit back and think about all the people that were part of our journey and all the chaotic moving pieces of a wedding, we can’t help but think about all the little “Jesus things” that led to us meeting each other, staying together, my conversion, and our perfect wedding day.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Mary of the Annunciation, Bristol, IN | Reception Venue: The Armory, South Bend, IN | DJ: relative of the bride | Caterer: Navarre Hospitality | Rings: Zales | Bridal Gown: Blushing Bride on 17 | Shoes: DSW | Photobooth: TapSnap | Groom’s Tux: Men’s Wearhouse | Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal | Cake: Martin’s Bakery | Stationary Invite: Shutterfly & eInvite

Melissa + AJ | Romantic Marian Wedding

Melissa and AJ met in 2016 at the same church they would get married in two years later. During their courtship, it only took a couple months for them to both discern a call to marriage.

As they traveled the road to the altar, one constant remained in their relationship: the intercession of the Blessed Mother. They consecrated themselves and their relationship to Jesus through Mary the December after they met.

They consecrated themselves again on their wedding day.

And since then they have renewed that consecration a third time.

Their wedding day would be marked by abiding peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and a joy shared by everyone who attended.

From the Bride: I was introduced to AJ one night at church by a good friend who knew both of us well. A few weeks later on the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, after a Latin Mass at the oldest and most beautiful Catholic church in Miami, he asked me on our first date.

Kneeling together during the Eucharistic liturgy during that Mass, AJ says an image came to his mind of his cousin’s wedding, when she and her husband presented flowers to Mary. It was then he decided he better ask me out.

We began seeing each other regularly and from the very beginning prayed together each night.

Two months later we had already started talking about marriage and the good things the Lord might have in store for our future.

After that, on the days leading up to the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we made our first consecration to Jesus through Mary, using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.

The next January, our first trip together was with friends from our community to Washington, D.C. for the March For Life; it was an incredible weekend to experience and passionately defend life in the womb together.

And following my graduation from my master’s program, we set off to explore the national parks and celebrate finishing school. AJ proposed at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, on the feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim: the parents of the Blessed Virgin, patrons of marriage, and now our personal patron saints.

It was time to plan a wedding.

While I was in charge of the logistics, aesthetics, and reception planning, AJ took the initiative planning our Mass. There were many precious aspects included in this, and he thought through each detail with love and care.

We had four priests concelebrate our wedding Mass: one from AJ’s dormitory at the University of Notre Dame, one who served AJ his first communion, another who has been his spiritual director over the years, and one involved with our young adult community.

We knew from the start that we would include the presentation of flowers to Mary in our Mass. In fact, it had been at that same church, in front of that same statue of Mary almost two years earlier that AJ and I received the Eucharist kneeling together before he asked me on a date.

I think back now to our wedding day, entrusting ourselves to Jesus through the intercession of our beautiful Blessed Mother, when we brought her flowers and consecrated ourselves for the second time.

Another addition we both felt strongly about was a foot washing ceremony. This was something we had never seen during a Catholic wedding Mass, but after getting the approval of our priests, we were thrilled to include it.  

For us, marriage is about a willful choice to love and serve the other by giving the gift of ourselves. In order to display that gift of self, service, and humility we each got down on our knees in front of the altar and washed each other’s feet.

This was just as Jesus said:“So if I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done for you.”  

The two of us have also served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in the past. We knew that in addition to serving each other throughout our marriage, we also desired to serve our family, friends, and community on our wedding day. Thus, we decided to serve as Eucharistic ministers at our nuptial Mass and distribute communion to our guests. This was a beautiful moment, getting to serve the Bread of Life to those that we loved most.

Our nuptial Mass was not only the best part of our wedding day; it was the most special event of our lives.

It meant so much to us to hear similar sentiments not only from those attending our wedding who were practicing Catholics, but also from those who did not regularly attend church or who may not even believe in God. Each person we spoke with shared that our Mass was special, deeply meaningful, and touched them in a unique way.

My sister-in-law sang two songs during our Mass. One of our lectors was the same friend who first introduced AJ and I. We were able to include so many loved ones, aunts, godparents, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, and others in our wedding day.

The music was absolutely beautiful, the church was stunning, the flowers added a feeling of life, and our guests filled the place with joy. And yet, more than all that, the Holy Spirit was what illuminated our nuptial Mass and made it the divine event it was.

We both truly felt it was just the two of us there with Jesus, vowing ourselves to the other on the most important day of our lives.

Before the event, I was concerned I would be distracted with so many loved ones there to celebrate or by trying to remember what came next. I was afraid I would not be able to appreciate living in each moment during the wedding ceremony.

But that could not have been further from how I felt during those ninety minutes. I have never been so fully present to any event, Mass, or moment in my life.

I was filled with more peace than I have ever felt. On my way down the aisle, my eyes locked with AJ’s and did not wander away.

During the Mass the world seemed to become still and present with us, to allow us peace to soak in every second of this time. I was completely present in each moment, not paying attention to what anyone else was doing. It was such a gift.

The rest of the day absolutely flew by.

With so many family and friends visiting from out of town, and even out of the country, we tried to enjoy them all while remaining focused on each other.

Now, we are so thankful to live around the corner from Gesu Catholic Church, where it all began at that Latin Mass on the feast of the Assumption several years ago. We were married there, and it is currently our home parish where we serve as Eucharistic ministers and lectors.

This year, on August 15, 2018 we consecrated ourselves for the third time to Jesus through Mary during the Latin Mass of the Assumption at Gesu, now as a joyfully married couple in our home parish.

We have our families to thank for raising us to be who we are, supporting our decisions and desires, helping us plan our big day, and hosting the most wonderful wedding for us.

Looking back as a bride, planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. As a marriage and family therapist, I know the engagement period is typically the most difficult time in a couple’s lives. The pressure of such a big life event and the constant input they get from everyone around them can be overwhelming.

My takeaway is that it all would have been meaningless without Jesus.

He brought us together, made our relationship good, and helps us to love each other in a life-giving way. I am so thankful for my husband’s faith and dependence on God. Without that, our marriage would not be the good, selfless, sanctifying one that it is.

Although AJ and I have different interests and strengths, we use those differences to compliment one another, just as we did with our styles on our wedding day to create our perfect aesthetic.

When we experience difficulties, as every couple will, we have a greater understanding of how to handle those times and tackle them together because of our faith. I am so thankful our wedding day set us up for a lifetime grounded in the rock-solid foundation of Christ.




Photography: Tara McGovern | Church: Gesu Catholic Church, Miami, FL | Reception Venue: Club of Knights, Miami, FL | Videography: Creative Fox Films | DJ: Miami DJs | Vintage Furniture Rentals: Mi Vintage Rentals | Day-of Coordination: Le Blanc Events | Makeup: Cristal Allure | Dress: Belissima Bridal | Flowers: Simple Rustic | Hair: Styles by Renee

Jessica + Brian | Classic Winter Manor Wedding

Jessica and Brian met at college in 2010. At that moment, they had no idea that seven years later they would walk down the aisle and enter together into the sacrament of matrimony.

It only took a couple months of dating to realize their mutual desire for marriage, but different career paths and an uncertain military schedule kept Jessica and Brian apart. This only grew their desire to be united in marriage, and Brian finally proposed to Jessica in March 2017.

On a magical, snowy day in a beautiful chapel, the happy couple celebrated a winter wedding.

From the Bride: Brian and I both attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and were both business majors. We were in some of the same classes during our freshman year, but we didn’t meet until sophomore year in September 2010.

Brian introduced himself after my presentation during one of our business classes, and we spent some time together that weekend. We became quick friends, but he wasn’t looking for anything more than friendship at that time. As for me, I was open to the possibility of a relationship! So we continued to spend time together as Brian prayed and reflected about our future.

Three months after we met, he gave me a letter conveying all he had reflected on and asked me to be in a relationship with him. After only two months of dating, we knew one day we’d be husband and wife.

Over the next six and a half years, our love steadily grew through attending weekly Mass, praying together, and sharing countless memories.

We also identified our lay vocations and began our careers. As Brian started his time in the Marine Corps and I pursued a career in finance, we were separated for months at a time. This transition was extremely challenging, and I leaned heavily on prayer as I learned to trust in God’s plan.

Being separated by geography and Brian’s irregular schedule taught us not to take our relationship for granted. In March 2017, he proposed to me on the front steps of Mount de Sales Academy, my alma mater.

As we began planning, Brian and I wanted our wedding day to be centered on our love for God and each other. And we wanted each of our guests to feel this love coming through every detail.

Our celebrant, Father Thomas Haan, had been Brian’s college lacrosse team chaplain, a close friend and spiritual guide throughout our relationship. He celebrated our nuptial Mass on a beautiful, snowy December day at Mount St. Mary’s in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

This was our favorite part of the day: the nuptial Mass and exchange of vows. As Catholics, making a commitment to God and each other in front of our families and friends was very important to us.

We also felt blessed to have our families involved in our wedding day in big ways. Brian’s aunt made the invitations, and my loving godparents provided my entire wedding ensemble. My godfather bought my veil, headband, and dress, and my godmother made my faux fur shawl.

Everything put together made me feel truly beautiful as I married Brian.

From Elizabeth, the Photographer: Shooting a lot of Catholic weddings, I hear a lot of homilies. But every now and then one of them forces me to stop and listen instead of moving around the church wondering what shot I should capture next.

Father Haan nailed it for Brian and Jessica! There was something so personal about his sermon. It was evident that he knew the couple well, and that he and Brian had a great relationship.

He highlighted how the Lord favors their union, specifically through the Blessed Mother's constant intercession for them.

Brian was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and Jessica developed a strong devotion to Our Lady in high school at Mount de Sales Academy. Both Jessica and Brian chose to attend Mount Saint Mary's University. Then on December 9, one day after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, they were married in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's.

Father explained that it wasn't a coincidence their faithfulness to the Lord and his Blessed Mother was made visible in their union as husband and wife.

It was beautiful.

Photography: Elizabeth M Photography | Church: Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's University (Emmitsburg, MD) | Reception: Springfield Manor (Thurmont, MD) | Make-up: Autumn Estelle | Hair: Erica Noccolino Thorowgood | Bride’s Veil: Mon Cheri, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Headband: Morilee, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Dress: Stella York, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Rings: King’s Jewelry, Alexandria, VA | Bride’s Shoes: Tieks by Gavrieli | Bridesmaids Dresses: Dessy, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Caterer: The Carriage House | Cake/cupcake baker: Kupcakes &; Co. | DJ: Jack Seghetti | Planning: Ida Rose | Flowers: Shelly Black Custom Floral | Videographer: Jon Sham

Danielle + Jeff | Latin Mass Fairy Tale Wedding

We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.

Read more here for the story of Danielle and Jeff’s engagement, a tale of patiently growing attraction after Jeff discerned out of the seminary during their time in grad school.

Shortly after celebrating their first anniversary as husband and wife, newlywed Danielle reflects back on her wedding day with her husband, Jeff.

She says, “The memory of that special day is never far from my mind. I still recall something that our priest said during the homily at our nuptial Mass, which was, "Take this early time, this time in which despite whatever fears and anxieties you have, most everything that you dream of seems possible. And cherish that time."

For Danielle, the whole day felt like a fairy tale come true.

From the Bride: It was finally here! Friday, August 4th 2017. The day I had prayed and waited for my whole life, and it was such a beautiful day, with sun rays beaming brightly through the windows.

The bridesmaids and I got ready in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in Vermillion, Minnesota. The girls donned floor-length dresses in a rose-violet shade. My wedding dress was a pure white ballgown with a layered tulle skirt. It had a sweetheart neckline, overlaid with lace, and was cinched at the waist with a crystal belt. I had help fastening my cathedral-length veil and jeweled comb in my hair. The bridesmaids put on their veils and said a silent prayer over me.

Since Jeff and I were having a Solemn High Nuptial Mass, it was fitting for the ladies to also wear a veil, according to the reverence and tradition that we wanted to uphold.

The Extraordinary Form had become something special for Jeff and I throughout our relationship, and it was exceptionally meaningful for us to have it for our nuptial liturgy.

Throughout the morning, my soon-to-be-husband and I made sure we didn’t see each other before the wedding. We wanted to save that moment for the time I approached him walking down the aisle.

At 3 PM the choir chanted Atténde Dómine (Hear Us, O Lord) for the procession of the clergy, and the organist played Canon in D for the entrance of the wedding party. Just before my turn to walk down the aisle, the ushers closed the giant double doors that led into the church.

When the doors swung open again, I saw everyone. The church was incredibly grand and beautiful to behold. I stood there with my blusher draped over my face, holding onto my bouquet of white roses with Grandma Rother’s rosary wrapped around it.

This rosary was special because Jeff’s grandmother received it from her husband. She walked down the aisle with it on her wedding day, just like I was about to do.

My dad and I started walking down the nave of the church, and I saw Jeff standing at the end of the aisle. As we got closer, his smile turned into tears of joy. When we approached the end of the aisle, my dad lifted the veil from my face.

I took Jeff’s hand, and we ascended the stairs into the sanctuary to take our vows. In the tradition of the Latin Mass, the vows are said at the very beginning of the ceremony.

It was very special to be in the sanctuary. Traditionally the sanctuary is reserved for the clergy, but during the sacrament of holy matrimony the bride and groom are permitted to enter beyond the altar rail.

In that moment I felt so close to God.

Once we exchanged consent, Jeff and I joined our right hands, and he made his vow to me. We were asked to release our hands and then join them together again. Then I made my vow to him.

This act of joining, releasing, and joining hands again signified that our vows were made individually. We each had our own responsibility to the other.

At the completion of the sacrament, Fr. Byron Hagan, our celebrant, prayed over us and sprinkled us with holy water. The ceremony continued with the Mass after the Rite of Marriage, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

After the Gospel reading, Fr. Hagan gave an excellent homily and made powerful points about how society has made our generation fearful of marriage; that people today are not rising to the occasion to live out God’s calling in the sacrament of holy matrimony. They fear it is too much of a weight to bear.

“I want to tell you something today,” Fr. Hagan said.

“It is not too heavy for you.”

“Because you are Catholic, because you are confirmed, because you have been living your life with the Church’s faith, in penance, obeying the sacraments, and humbly confessing your sins before God.”

“You now have the power to do something which otherwise cannot be done: which in the deepest heart of hearts all of us desire, and increasingly in our time feel too weak to even approach...This power now is attached to you because of the sacrament.”

He continued, “Danielle, your task is to, in virtue of the priesthood of your baptism, help prepare your husband to see God...And Jeff, you have the responsibility, in a priestly way, by virtue of your baptism, to help prepare your wife to meet God. To help mediate the Lord Jesus Christ…This is your test for one another.”

While he acknowledged that the married state would bring challenges for us, he reminded us we must always remember the Divine Third in our marital union: God Himself.

The Mass continued with chanting and incensing of the altar. During the consecration the priest faced the altar and said the words of consecration silently over the host and chalice.

It was completely silent now in the church except for the bells that were rung three times during the elevation of each of the sacred species.

In keeping with the tradition of the Latin Mass, the altar rail was used for the distribution of Holy Communion. The communion hymn we choose was Adóro Te Devóte (I Adore You Devoutly), written by St. Thomas Aquinas and used as his private prayer during Eucharistic adoration.

After Mass, we got in the car and drove to the reception venue, a golf club.

The day before, our family had gone to the venue and decorated the tables with mirror and bud vase centerpieces. All of our guests had a stick of bubbles by their place setting, which was a fun and interactive way for them to participate in the grand march and the rest of the evening.

The final moment of the night was our first dance. During our engagement, Jeff and I had practiced for hours to master the waltz. And even though we had done it many times before, I was nervous having all eyes on us.

Jeff and I looked at each other intensely, counting the beats of the music in our heads. All of a sudden, the music intensified, and we were off. It was like I was floating on air, even though I was just trying to stay balanced in my high heels. I had never danced in my wedding dress before either, so it was quite a new experience.

But it was magical. It twirled around me gracefully across the dance floor, and I truly felt like a princess.

After dancing for a few seconds, I realized we were actually doing it. All of those hours of practice had paid off. We were dancing a beautiful waltz, and everyone applauded. It only increased their desire to get out on the dance floor later that night.

Although there were a few things that could’ve gone better, the vast majority of our wedding was a fairytale-come-to-life. It was a dream come true!

To all single women out there, waiting for their prince charming, please remember that this story is a testimony of years and years of prayers finally answered. God hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart. He will answer them in his, time in a better way than you could ever possibly imagine.

In our first year of marriage, we developed a special devotion to Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria and his holy wife, Servant of God, Empress Zita. We look to them for their intercession in our marriage and for all married couples.

A quote we both appreciate from Blessed Karl was when he told Zita on the day after their wedding, "Now, we must help each other to get to Heaven." I am very blessed and thankful to have found a husband who also desires to lead me closer to Christ each and every day.

Blessed Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, ora pro nobis!

Photographer: Amy K Photography | Church: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Vermillion, Minnesota | Reception: Dakota Pines Golf Club in Hastings, Minnesota | Rings: Gittelson Jewelers in Minneapolis, Minnesota | Flowers: Flowers For All Occasions by Ginny Majeski in Hastings, Minnesota | Caterer: Rudy’s Redeye Catering in Rosemount, Minnesota  | Wedding Attire: Raffiné Bridal in Woodbury, Minnesota | Invitations / Save-the-Dates / Wedding Program: Created by the Bride | Caterer: Rudy’s Redeye Catering in Rosemount, Minnesota Nicole Sindelar | Wedding Attire: Raffiné Bridal in Woodbury, Minnesota | Designer for Bride’s Dress: Stella York | Designer for Bridesmaid Dress: Kenneth Winston | Designer for Groom & Groomsmen Tuxedo Attire: Savvi Formal Wear | Bridesmaid Veil: The Veiled Woman | Cake / Cupcake Baker: Emily’s Bakery & Deli in Hastings, Minnesota | Hairstylist: Michelle Wilcox | Salon for Manicure and Pedicure: Spalon Montage in Woodbury, Minnesota | Disc Jockey: C & C Sound