Stressed By All the Tasks and Projects of Wedding Planning and Newlywed Life? Words of Wisdom from St. Teresa of Calcutta.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

When asked where she drew the energy to serve the poorest, sickest, and most unseen individuals of her city day after day, St. Teresa of Calcutta expressed that time and attention are gifts to be given from one human heart to another. It wasn’t about quantity, she emphasized, because “love is inefficient.”

Love is inefficient. A privileged world away from the streets of India, these words rang out nonetheless as I prepared to enter into my vocation. 

Throughout my engagement, and on into marriage and young family life, I have experienced love’s inefficiency and am better for it.

I experienced it the afternoon my husband and I met halfway between Pennsylvania and West Virginia and attempted to create a wedding registry in a single afternoon. Arguments ensued as we felt the temptation to materialism and pressure of limited time together. 

I experienced it in my desire to spend significant time with each of our wedding guests as we circled the tables at our reception, wishing I could sit down for an extensive catchup while knowing there were dozens of other friends and family members to greet. Feeling the tension of being gracious for photos and hugs alongside the need to continue moving through the room.

I experienced it in our new apartment after our honeymoon, frequently prioritizing cleaning, unpacking, decorating, and thank you notes over quality time with my husband. And I continue experiencing it now, fighting digital distractions and my desire for an orderly home while striving to be present and attentive to my children. 

Have you been through something similar? A goal with a need for convenience and speed--a need for efficiency--that can come at the cost of your relationships and your spiritual life.

Wedding planning and the transition to married life bring with them countless tasks to resolve and check off, yet I’m reminded that love is my ultimate vocation and ultimate priority: reverence and thanks to the Father who has given these gifts and opportunities; sacrifice for and sincere attention to my family.

Though I remain far from perfect in this dimension of love, I’ve often recognized that perceived inefficiencies and inconveniences that I view as slowing me down until I can enjoy the “real” goal of time, conversation, and leisure with those I love, aren’t actually steps along the path to an end point at all. Instead, the Lord repeatedly shows me that in detours and on the path itself, I am prompted to embrace inefficiency and be present for the moment in which he has placed me. 

If that means our wedding registry could have been broken down into separate tasks as my husband and I enjoyed our weekend together instead of running to accomplish as much as possible; if the dishes aren’t done but I’ve gotten to read on the couch with my kids, what might seem like inefficiency is, in reality, an opportunity for connection, encounter, intimacy. An opportunity for a greater love.

What might seem like a distraction or inconvenience from a task at hand can, with a changed perspective, become invitations to realize our own poverty: without the Father, we’re capable of nothing.

When we reject the idols of efficiency and productivity in wedding planning and in daily married life, we allow ourselves to step forward in trust, to embrace his mercy, and to let our eyes be opened to a true seeing and deeper understanding of those we are called to love.

We love hearing your experiences and growing together in sisterhood. What areas of engagement or newlywed life have brought you struggles with efficiency, and how have you overcome them? Share in the comments and on our social media.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

BOOK | INSTAGRAM

Rhoslyn + Adrian | Traditional Ukrainian Greek Rite Wedding

Rhoslyn and Adrian were married in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Their “Divine Liturgy” was celebrated in the Eastern liturgical rite, in a ceremony rich with profound symbolism.

Weddings in the Ukrainian Catholic Church traditionally have two parts: the betrothal, or the promise and exchange of rings, and the “crowning ceremony” during the nuptial liturgy. On the day of a couple’s marriage, or crowning, the bride traditionally walks from her home to the church in a joyful procession.

As can be seen in their beautiful wedding photos, there is a cup of wine, the Holy Gospel, and two wedding wreaths (or crowns) on a table near the front of the church. These verdant wreaths will be placed upon the heads of the bride and groom during the Crowning, the most solemn part of the wedding liturgy.

This website of a Ukrainian Catholic church explains that in that moment, they “are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom: [their] home and domestic church.” Then the Gospel passage about the wedding at Cana is read, and the bride and groom drink from the cup of wine in remembrance of it.

Finally, the priest leads the newly married couple around the table which now holds the Gospel and a cross. “The husband and wife take their first steps as a married couple, and the Church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which is the Gospel and the cross of our Lord.”

In Eastern Catholic churches, the sacraments are often referred to as the “Holy Mysteries.” And so, on their wedding day, Rhoslyn and Adrian entered into the Holy Mystery of marriage, excited and hopeful for what their life together would bring.

From the Bride: Adrian and I met while praying at a 40 Days For Life vigil in Cardiff, Wales during Lent 2018. We went on our first date soon after on February 22, 2018. 

Our courtship moved quickly, but we were both very cautious. I had suffered a failed engagement before meeting Adrian, and he had two children from a previous relationship before he was a practicing Catholic. We prayed the rosary together every day and went to Mass frequently. We met up daily and spoke even more on the phone.

We waited for what felt like a long time to get engaged, but may seem very quick: the 15th of June!

Our biggest wish for our wedding was that the liturgy should be reverent, beautiful, and traditional. The Ukrainian rite naturally encompasses all of that. 

The Ukrainian Catholic community in Cardiff is small, and they were using a temporary church at the time, which was not in good condition. Because the church was not a particularly “beautiful” one, we made sure to focus on the beauty of the liturgy. 

We spent quite a bit of money on flowers for the church, and they turned out beautifully. The vestments which Fr. James wore during the liturgy were also stunning. 

My parents very generously bought my wedding dress, which was handmade for me, and it was amazing! I had based my dream dress on the gown worn by St. Gianna Molla on her wedding day. 

Almost everyone in attendance had never been to an Eastern Rite wedding, but we were so pleased with how people prayerfully partook in the liturgy. My dad was part of the crowning, which is like the exchanging of rings in the Latin rite. That was so special for us. 

And finally, one of the most important things to us was that Adrian's children should feel like they were a part of the day. They were so excited for the wedding, and they loved the whole celebration. Deo gratias!

Photography: Peter Jones  | Church: St Theodore of Tarsus Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, Pomeroy Street, Cardiff, CF10 5GS (on google maps, it comes up as St Cuthbert's) | Reception: Bay Den Scout Hall, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0XR |  Engagement ring: Aardbark Jewelry  | Weddings rings: Jonathan David | Flowers: Bank of Flowers | Wedding cake: Francesca’s Cakes | Wedding dress: Zelie’s Roses

Wedding Planning | Father Jacques Phillipe and Detachment from Wedding Planning Desires

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The wedding planning process can be a stressful one. A bride-to-be not only yearns for the fulfillment of her visions of beauty, but often faces the expectations from her fiance, bridesmaids, mother, sisters, mothers-in-law, and friends. Even more, the wide world of Pinterest and Google introduce infinite vendors, budgets, designs, and decisions.

In the face of overwhelming options, it can be easy for a couple to forget God’s providential role in their wedding planning process.

Father Jacques Phillippe offers encouragement to acquire a steadfast peace of heart in his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace. Though his wisdom is not written in relation to wedding planning, his words speak truth into the decisions—and holy detachment—involved in planning a wedding with God. 

“Very frequently… the Lord asks only an attitude of detachment at the level of the heart, a disposition to give Him everything. But He doesn’t necessarily “take” everything… This detachment, even though it is painful at the moment, will be followed by a profound peace. The proper attitude then is simply to be disposed to give everything to God, without panic, and to allow Him to do things His way, in total confidence.”

Is the Lord asking you for a spirit of detachment in the midst of your wedding planning desires? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of decisions and pressures in this process, take your worries and your desires to him in prayer. With a desire to give it all to him, release your desires into his providence and trust that he will fill your heart—and your wedding day—with joy and peace. 

“Abandonment is not natural; it is a grace to be asked of God. He will give it to us, if we pray with perseverance.”

This abandonment of desire is not easy to our human nature. But your efforts to collaborate with God in this process and to glorify him through your sacrament are acts of trust and love. He is with you throughout this journey. 

“Obviously we do not want to say that it is a bad thing to be able to anticipate things, to develop a budget or prepare one’s homilies. Our natural abilities are also instruments in the hands of Providence! But everything depends on the spirit in which we do things.”

You can leave the homily preparations to your priest. In the meantime, detachment does not mean you stop doing the necessary work. Fulfilling a call means you receive an opportunity from God’s providence and you work in collaboration with him. Continue utilizing your strengths, trusting your intuition, and remaining in a posture of receptivity for the next grace. 

“Once could even say that the surest way to lose one’s peace is precisely to try to assure one’s own life solely with the aid of human industry, with personal projects and decisions or by relying on someone else… To preserve peace in the midst of the hazards of human existence, we have only one solution: We must rely on God alone, with total trust in Him, as your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:32).”

Offering your wedding planning desires to God is counter-cultural and, quite frankly, it’s not popular. Friends and family may not understand your peace which follows detachment. But, as Father Jacques Phillippe warns us, relying more heavily on human will rather than on God alone is the surest way to lose peace. Keep you heart on your heavenly Father and trust, with confidence, that your wedding day desires will be fulfilled. 

“The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the heart of Jesus.” 

“To grow or to enrich one’s spiritual life is to learn to love.”

What’s the point of detaching ourselves from our desires and abandoning them to God? Love. As we grow in virtue, we grow in holiness and love. This season of preparation for your wedding day is about planning a beautiful day. More importantly, however, this is a season to prepare your heart to love and be loved by your groom and to grow in holiness through your sacrament of marriage. 


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Actively Listening to your Spouse

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Communication does not merely involve verbalizing our own thoughts and feelings, but listening to those of our spouse. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

Listening well helps couples communicate more effectively, and ultimately deepens intimacy between the individuals. But it can be difficult to do, especially when discussing a sensitive subject.  

Here’s how to make listening a less passive (and more fruitful) process.

Pay attention

This first tip should go without saying, but you would be surprised at how often we listen to our spouse without giving them our full attention. 

Put down your phone, close your laptop, or turn off the television. Even if you aren’t looking directly at your various devices, it can be hard to listen when distractions lie just within arms reach. 

Watch your body language

Not only does our body communicate messages to the people we interact with, but it also affects how we perceive a situation and receive others. 

If it is a heated topic, don’t scowl, roll your eyes, or cross your arms. These bodily cues communicate a negative message to our spouse, and can even influence us in a harmful way, hardening our hearts and preventing us from listening with compassion.

Sit upright, face your spouse and look him in the eyes. This will help you pay more attention to what is being said, and will show your husband that you hear him. 

Don’t interrupt

When we aren’t actively listening, our mind begins to craft our response or argument before the other person finishes speaking. This can lead to us to jump into the conversation and interject with our own thoughts

Don’t dominate the conversation and don’t interrupt, even with well-meaning advice. You aren’t listening if you are speaking, so be patient and honor them by giving them a chance to express their thoughts and feelings. 

Reflect and rephrase

When they are done speaking, help your significant other know that you understood what they said by restating their point. Avoid jumping to conclusions. 

If you aren’t sure what they said or what they meant, ask for clarification. Make sure you listen and then respond appropriately. 

Be Empathetic

Try to understand where your spouse is coming from, especially if he shares a problem, concern, or difficulty. Validate their feelings; even if you don’t totally agree, look for some truth in their words. 

Sometimes your spouse just needs a listening ear. So seek first to understand your spouse, before offering advice. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

BLOG | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

How to Avoid Fights about Money

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Much stress and many arguments in a marriage often result over money.

In fact, studies have shown that money is the number one issue couples fight about. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some ways to help you and your spouse avoid those dreaded money fights.

Talk about your financial history

Many marriage prep programs include discussion on finances but they don’t always dive as deep as they should. You and your partner should not only talk about how much debt you might be bringing to a marriage, but also about each individual’s “money mindset.”

How was money talked about in your home growing up? How do you feel about how it was talked about? Are you a spender or a saver?

Getting to the root of your money mindset can help them better understand their significant other, and help you as a couple to make adjustments.

Share your expectations

Many arguments in marriage result because of misunderstandings. If the couple does not clearly communicate their expectations when it comes to finances, it will likely result in an argument.

Will you have a joint bank account when you get married? Will you need to discuss with one another before making large purchases?

Sharing your expectations when it comes to money with your spouse or fiancé can help eliminate any confusion between the individual philosophies. It also allows the couple to have more meaningful conversations about finances, that will help avoid potential future arguments.

Set financial goals together

When my husband and I got married, we had several large student loans that we needed to pay off so getting out of debt became our major financial focus. But as we near the end of our student loans, we have shifted our focus on saving for the future.

What do you hope to accomplish in the realm of personal finances? Do you want to get out of debt? Do you want to buy a house? Save for your kids to go to college? Discuss your hopes and dreams with your significant other.

Laying out your desires will motivate you and your spouse to achieve them and help you create a more organized plan to meet these goals.

Create a budget and stick to it!

Whether you are trying to get out of debt or trying to save, making a budget with your partner can help.

After calculating your monthly income, create a budget that reflects your goals and family’s vision. How much will you save? How much will you tithe? Will you put aside money for a date night out or for a child’s birthday?

Be sure to revisit this budget monthly and adjust it to meet your family’s needs. A monthly finance meeting can help keep communication about money between spouses open, honest, and stress-free.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

BLOG | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Is There a Definition of a "Catholic Wife?" How I Found My Identity in the Feminine Genius.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

So many of us pray throughout engagement and marriage to be good and holy wives. What does that actually mean, and how does it look in each woman’s life? For several years, I struggled to define who a holy, truly “Catholic” girlfriend, fiancee, and wife actually was.

I first heard the term “feminine genius,” as coined by Saint John Paul II in his apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women, on a summer retreat. The retreat introduced me to the letter and to Love and Responsibility, John Paul’s work illuminating the dignity and purpose of the human person, particularly as it relates to sexual ethics, the complementarity of men and women, and the real-life implications of how men and women relate to one another. 

These texts wrecked me, in the best way. My simpler, more youthful deas of love as feelings and gestures were torn down, replaced with the principles that love is an act of the will. Self-gift.

I attended the retreat with my college boyfriend. To be in a serious dating relationship, while reading a book about dating and all the potential obstacles to authentic love, struck me with insecurity. All of these ideas--love over utility, sincerity, honesty, chastity--grabbed my heart and made so much sense, yet they seemed like impossible standards. 

As a result, for several months I overanalyzed the nature of complementarity: I wondered if my actions communicated a sense of receptivity that the Pope said was integral to womanhood,while letting my boyfriend take a more initiating, leadership-focused role. I frequently questioned if I was living in a way that was truly “feminine.” 

My heart lived in a tension: I desired to be what I mistakenly perceived as the holiest type of Catholic woman, while also resisting passivity or weakness. When I was so concerned with whether I was being feminine in the right way, I wasn’t free.

Have you ever had a similar experience, wishing to be a prayerful, feminine, holy wife who is also a woman of strength and conviction? I found freedom in looking to Our Lady.

As I returned to school after the retreat and began attending a Marian prayer group, I delved into the mysteries of the Rosary for the first time. As I grew in devotion to Our Lady, I realized there is no single “type” of feminine genius, nor type of Catholic spouse, I needed to live by or fit into, because it is already there, integral to who we are. 

Within the term feminine genius there are as many ways to express femininity as there are unique, unrepeatable women in this world. Each of us is loved and willed into existence so specifically, with our own particular gifts.

If you find yourself looking for your purpose, particularly in preparations for marriage, I invite you to contemplate Mary as our ultimate womanly example. In her Magnificat at the Visitation, she joyfully proclaims, “my soul magnifies the Lord.” 

As women, we deeply desire to be seen. We can also help others to see the presence of the Lord. Mary proclaimed God’s love--magnified it--with her life. A prayer to do just that--to reveal God’s love to your husband, in body and spirit--radiates the Lord’s love. 

Where I used to mistakenly believe femininity meant a singularly calm, pious womanhood, I now know, through Mary’s making visible God’s love, that in reality the Father wants and needs women of all temperaments, spiritualities, hobbies, and strengths to make known his kingdom through their vocations. Only you can tell your story and share the love of God in a particular way; can love and sanctify your husband and future family in the ways they most deeply need.

The only true definition of a “Catholic wife” is the one specific to who you alone were created to be.

When I met and began dating my husband, there was an immediate ease. I saw “...that femininity doesn’t mean one thing only: it’s not always being the asked, never the asker; always the pursued, never the pursuer; always the comforted, never the comforter. It doesn’t mean being afraid to argue or voice strong opinions. It means loving my husband, in his uniqueness, and every person I encounter, in the specific way only I can.” 

My favorite Adoration chapel has a monstrance in the form of a wooden sculpture of Our Lady, holding out her arms. In her arms is the space for the Eucharist. We see how a woman is both holding--receiving--and magnifying her for all to behold. If we look to her, we can constantly revisit what it means to reveal him to others and bear his face, not our own, to the world.

In our identity as brides, the feminine genius calls women to be like a monstrance: only a vessel--a beautiful one, in soul and body--for revealing the Lord to our beloved, magnifying his love and presence to others. 


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

BOOK | INSTAGRAM

Claire + Andrew | Silver-Gilded Winter Cottage Wedding

Claire and Andrew’s wedding was planned with profound excitement, the generosity of their family and friends, and a deep desire through it all to bring praise and glory to God.

This rooted purpose, to become a “praise of glory” for God, (a beloved quote from their favorite saint) helped guide them from their earlier days as FOCUS missionaries through an intentional relationship that would blossom into marriage.

From the Bride: Andrew and I met in college through mutual friends and cultivated a deeper friendship while serving on the same campus as missionaries with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Though attraction between us was obvious, dating between teammates is usually not a prudent decision in FOCUS, so waited until the end of the year before we pursued anything serious. To say this was difficult would be an understatement, but when we were finally able to go on a date, neither of us doubted this was much more than a simple attraction.

We dated long-distance during our second year with FOCUS. Andrew was in Gainesville, Florida, and I was in Nashville, Tennessee. Countless Face-times, phone calls, and airplane tickets got us through this time--not to mention a lot of intentionality. 

In fact, Andrew was consistently clear, thoughtful, and intentional in his pursuit of me. He led our relationship by making regular conversations a priority while balancing our call as missionaries; we needed to make sure we were still being present to those around us. Prayer was also an important part of our relationship. Praying rosaries, intercessory prayer over the phone, and always making time to pray when we were together were priorities. 

Though long-distance was difficult, it was such a gift to be able to pursue our relationship without becoming overly consumed in each other’s lives or codependent. 

My father passed away on Easter Sunday my senior year, and Andrew knew this was very important to me. For months he planned an Easter weekend I would never forget. After going on retreat near Nashville, we spent Easter Vigil with my students and drove to Knoxville for Easter Sunday with my mom and sister. After Mass that morning, we went out to eat, and Andrew asked if I wanted to go to the cemetery and pray for the repose of my dad’s soul. After we prayed, we went on a walk.

At the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Andrew got down on one knee and proposed with my mother’s engagement diamond in a rose gold ring. Engraved in the ring were the words “Praise of Glory” after our favorite saint: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. 

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity played a curious part in our relationship since the beginning. I had been falling in love with her understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in our souls and was beginning to talk more and more about her. Andrew and I read a book about her while we were friends and missionaries to try and find out more--even though I never finished the book. 

In an attempt to move slowly and intentionally in our dating process, I asked Andrew if we could date for six months before we talked about marriage and the far-off future. I didn’t know that exactly six months after we started dating was the feast day of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. St. Elizabeth called herself “Laudem Gloriae” which means “Praise of Glory” because she believed her mission was to do just that: be a praise of God’s glory. And so, Andrew had “Praise of Glory” inscribed in my engagement ring.

He shared with me that he had been praying a 54-day rosary novena for our engagement. The graces of this were so present. We went to the cathedral to pray and thank God for this wonderful gift, and when we got back to my house our family and friends were waiting to surprise and congratulate us! 

Our engagement included two new jobs, a new city and state, and a month serving with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Through all of this, the Lord was softening and preparing our hearts to make the radical “yes” to our vocation seven months later on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

When we chose that date, we didn’t know the second reading for the feast was from Ephesians 1, the same verses where St. Elizabeth got the idea for her name “Laudem Gloriae.” This brought such consolation and was a clear sign of God’s blessing and sovereignty over our marriage.

From the beginning of our planning, Andrew and I wanted to throw a party that would serve the many people who meant so much to us. Every detail had one aim: to be a praise of God’s glory. We wanted people to have an encounter with the living God through the revelation of his beauty, love, and grace.

I chose the Marian color of blue in a winter combination with silvers and grays to run throughout the attire and decor. Each of the bridesmaids had a unique dress that, when seen with all the other dresses, showcased a uniquely beautiful winter look. The flowers were a combination of whites, grays, and greens with fun sparkly pine cones and faux fur-tailed stems of white fluff. Attached to my bouquet was my “something blue:” my dad’s wedding ring tied to a blue ribbon and a black-beaded rosary; a rosary made by the man who creates them for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.

Our ceremony was held in the newly constructed Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This absolutely gorgeous cathedral, finished in March 2018, featured countless symbols, rich colors, and the faces of some of the most beloved saints in our modern day. From the marble floors, to the rich blue ceiling tiles, to the towering dome, everything about this place of worship draws your eyes and heart to the God who loves us.

Our musicians, all friends of ours, played songs that resonated deep in our hearts. “O God Beyond All Praising” was the song we chose as our entrance hymn because the purpose of the day was to give glory to God. As the violin welcomed Andrew and I into the church, he couldn’t help but break down in tears as I stood beaming beside him. Because my dad had passed away years ago, we chose to have Andrew walk me up the aisle as we prepared to enter into this sacramental covenant together.

Incense filled the altar and the entrance antiphon directed our hearts and minds to the Blessed Virgin Mary on her special feast day. Our good friend, Fr. Victor Ingalls, reminded us in the homily of my bridesmaids that Andrew had previously dated, which brought a rather comic tone to an already joyful day. He also reminded us of our most important mission: to get one another to Heaven.

My favorite part of the ceremony, besides singing with Andrew to some of our most beloved hymns, was looking into the congregation and seeing all the people who had helped us become who we are today. This included our parents, siblings, family, our friends who saw us in our most awkward times, those who served with us in FOCUS, our mission partners who had supported us as FOCUS missionaries, and our students we had labored for on various campuses. 

We were surrounded by such an incredible group of people who had given of themselves to help us try and become the saints God was calling us to be. As they witnessed to our promise of marriage, I couldn’t help but praise God for the gifts he had given us in each and every one of them.

Many people told us that the Mass was a spiritual experience, and I believe it was because God was being revealed so vividly through the beauty and liturgy of the Mass. It emanated from the building itself, through the music and community, and through the great “cloud of witnesses” who were there praying for us and united to us as we participated in the sacrifice of Christ on the altar. It was clear that the Lord greatly desired to come into the hearts of each person gathered there to celebrate.

Our reception was a blur, but from what I remember, my mom gave a long-winded speech that had people crying from laughing and crying from just plain crying. Because my dad couldn't be there, each of my ten uncles danced with me instead. We partied the rest of the night away with an amazing band that covered the classics and brought in some more modern music as well. 

Greenery hung from chandeliers, glittering Christmas trees welcomed the guests, and blue, silver, and white candles caused the whole room to glow. Our cakes were almost too pretty to eat, except for the donut covered groom’s cake. And most importantly, the smiles and laughter and joy of our guests made my heart want to burst.

It’s okay to be excited about details when planning your wedding, but it’s also important to realize that the day is about so much more than that. You want everything to be beautiful, to be special, and to be unique to you and your husband. But in each detail you choose, remember what your purpose is for that day and who you're really celebrating.

We wanted good food, a band, a large guest list, and beautiful flowers. We wanted to serve our friends and family and give them an experience of beauty. But we also didn't want to get carried away with unnecessary excess. 

At the end of the day, the whole point was that God had invited us into this beautiful sacrament to honor and glorify him. This was something that Andrew had to be constantly drawing me back to and reminding me of. This day wasn't for everyone else's approval or for our own vanity, it was for bringing glory to God.

As we started to plan and realized our budget didn't allow for certain things I wanted, it became clear that God wanted to provide in bigger ways than I could ever hope. Our venue provided incredible resources, we found lesser known, more affordable, high quality vendors, and we met people who “randomly” had connections with a band or wedding programs. Others offered to donate their time or resources to helping us make the event beautiful. Over and over again, God wanted to show his providence in every little detail of the day.

I have always struggled with trusting in God's goodness. Will he really provide? Is his plan good? Can I trust in his timing? These fears followed me throughout being single and even once Andrew and I started dating. I grasped for control every step of the way to make sure I wasn't going to be disappointed or hurt. But as wedding planning began and I had to let go of things I was grasping onto, God showed me that his plan for providing was so good. It would exceed so many of my expectations.

As Andrew and I walked down the aisle, I stood in awe of the beautiful day that God had created. It felt like so many things that day came together completely out of my control, and it's only because of God's grace to let go and let him do the work. The truth is that no matter what you think you might need on that day, God wants to be the one who makes it beautiful.

Photography: Ashleigh Jameson Photography | Videography: David Barretto | Church: Sacred Heart Cathedral, Knoxville, TN | Reception: The Reserve at Bluebird Hill, Lenoir City, TN | Planning, Design, & Florals: Windsor & Willow | Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals | Band: Trapped on Earth  | Food: @brownbagnow  | Bar: @thepourguys | Hair: Color, Cuts, & Curls | Make-Up: @makeupbychesni | Chauffeur/Car: @regal_carriages | Cake: @sarahsstapleton | Gown: Signature Bridal