Grief + Grace: Suffering a Miscarriage as Newlyweds

KATE THIBODEAU

 

As newlyweds, we approach our first years of marriage in a blissful state of faith and hope. We make vows to our spouses to remain with them for better or worse, richer or poorer, till death do us part.

I specifically remember the utter happiness of my wedding day--the very best day of my life--with no thought that sadness could so easily creep into these early days of joy and peace.

God gifts to married couples a specific store of grace to carry them through the learning curves and the hardships of creating a life together. These graces  help us to learn sacrifice and charity and to offer ourselves and our desires up for the better of our spouse.

It is through these graces we are able to heal from wounds given to each other, the daily hardships we encounter, and for my husband and I, the greatest trial of all--the loss of our children.

 A few months into our very ordinary and blissful marriage, my husband and I suffered the miscarriage of our first baby. We had not planned for this little one; in fact, we had prayed for clarity in our decision to start our family and discerned that waiting was in God’s plan for us. However, the short duration of our unexpected baby girl’s life tugged at our heart strings. Despite God’s prudence to call her home so soon, we grieved the loss of his gift.

In our sorrow, I remember both a spiritual darkness and an overwhelming shower of grace that affected not merely my personal grief, but our marriage. My husband and I were called to grieve together; to openly suffer and mourn in a new way.

I remember thinking the honeymoon phase was officially over as I sat speechless, watching my husband sob for our baby girl.

There was no more need for blithely skirting around each other and putting on a happy face, confident our love would overcome hardship. Our strength now was found in experiencing, together, God’s change of plan for our lives.  

Sorrow and tears were followed by anger with God, frustration with my body, and an overwhelming sense of questioning our loss. I found myself sitting in the confessional, telling the priest through tears that I struggled with doubt in God’s decision, failing to understand how his sense of timing could be just or correct.

I fought fears that my husband could not suffer in communion with me, as he did not physically carry our child as I did. I listened to songs that made me think of my girl. I wrote letters to her that she would never read, bought a Christmas ornament to suffer through the holidays without her, and I cried through the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, searching for the joy in my life.

My husband and I sought out the sacraments for graces and worked together to grow through our loss. We prayed a novena for answers, we picked a name for our little one (Charlotte Rose), inspired by St. Therese, who gave us great peace. We asked Charlotte’s intercession in her closeness to Jesus, that she may petition for the safety of her brothers and sisters to come. My husband and I prayed together through the tears and questions.

Our miscarriage journey is the greatest test of our faith as a couple so far: faith in our strength as a team, faith in our Catholic family, and most importantly, faith in God’s ultimate timing in our lives. 

We are daily showered in grace upon grace. We are gifted humility in trust of God’s plan and his full control of our family. We are gifted patience as we yearn for another child following baby Charlotte Rose. We are gifted contentment in approaching our newlywed existence sobered and stronger to pursue God’s mission for our family.

In sharing our loss with other newlyweds, I hear a common cry of families who suffer their losses both in silence and in community. Their relationships are tried by fire and strengthened by God’s infinite store of grace given through the sacrament of marriage. God calls couples to the joy and pain of marriage together. He does not give us tasks that are beyond our reckoning.

While there is no deadline to the grief that comes with the loss of our child, my husband and I are still learning to grow as one in our suffering, having found a new depth in dependence on each other and God’s mercy.

With the blessing of our “rainbow baby” to come this fall, I am daily reminded of the gifts of life and love to marriages, and those that are taken too soon.

May we always keep those couples suffering in our prayers, that they may not lose faith in God’s timing, but to be encouraged to look for the grace and strength that follows the storm. May we ask our angel babies to intercede for us from their blessed seat with God. May we ask Mary to bring joy into our newlywed struggles and fill us with restored hope.


About the Author: Recently married to her best friend and partner towards salvation, Kate Thibodeau is learning how to best serve her vocation as a wife while using her God-given talents. Mama to angel baby, Charlotte Rose, and soon-to-arrive Baby Thibs, Kate has an English degree from Benedictine College, and strives to live in the Benedictine motto: that in all things, God may be glorified. Kate loves literature, romance, beautiful music, pretty things, wedding planning, and building a community of strong Catholic women.

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Resi + Jason | Fairytale-Inspired Filipino Wedding

For Resi and Jason, what began as an unlikely online match turned into something so much more.

By the time they reached the altar, their courtship had transformed both their spiritual lives and taught them a more Christ-like meaning of love and marriage. Their wedding reflected the beauty of the sacrament, a deep appreciation for their families’ culture, and the beginning of their vocational path to heaven.

From the Bride: My husband, Jason, and I met in one of the most unexpected, probably “least-Christian” ways: through Tinder, the dating app! Fortunately, he was the first and only person I ever met online.

I am a “cradle Catholic,” but if it wasn’t for my husband and his family, I might not be Catholic today. After going through another breakup, I prayed to God for someone to love, but only if he thought I was ready. I felt that I was. Not long after that prayer, I met the man who would become my husband.

They say not to talk about religion on the first date, but we did. I was exploring non-denominational Christianity, and Jason was a lukewarm Catholic. In spite of this, he invited me to go to Mass with him one Sunday a few weeks into our courtship.

I had not been to Mass in a long time, but I agreed. It was the first time I had been invited to church by a man I was dating. It would be the first of many Masses together at the church where we would be married, but I didn’t know that at the time.

His older sister was also a big influence in my return to the Catholic faith. She introduced me to the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly that sparked a fire in my search for truth. Since then we have all been growing together in understanding and love of the faith we were raised in.

Jason proposed on Christmas Eve 2016 while we were opening gifts with his family, two and a half years into our relationship. My family was unable to make it to dinner, but I was on the phone with them immediately after it happened. About a year and a half later, we were married on May 12, 2018 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Poway, California.

The theme for our wedding was “simple, elegant, and fun.” We are both huge Disney fans, so we wanted it to have a fairytale touch without overspending on insignificant details. We both come from large Filipino families as well, so we had a grand celebration with around 220 guests!

I chose two matrons of honor, and my husband had two best men. All four were equally special to us and played a significant role in our relationship. My six bridesmaids wore floor length burgundy dresses, and the flower girls wore ivory and gold. Jason’s six groomsmen picked burgundy-patterned neckties, and our fathers wore black bow ties. My handsome groom decided on a blend with a burgundy-patterned bow tie.

I found my wedding dress on an unexpected shopping trip with my sister-in-law. It was love at first sight!

Women my size, petite (4’11”), are commonly advised not to wear ball gowns because they tend to overwhelm us. But this is not always so. I almost didn’t try on a ball gown, but my stylish future-sister-in-law insisted I try one on for fun--and how fun it was to wear! I was debating between that and a figure flattering dress when the stylist came out with a big ruffled ball gown skirt to wear over a sequined mermaid style dress. It was the best of both worlds!

I wore the overskirt for the ceremony until the start of the reception. I truly felt like a bride and a princess. It was so big that after taking pre-ceremony pictures with it, I had to remove it, take it with me, and put it on again at church.

The shoes I chose to wear were also special. They were the same ones I wore for my 26th birthday, the day Jason and I officially became a couple.

Jason is the last of his siblings to get married. We were so blessed that our celebrant, Father Mel Monreal, is a close friend of his family; he celebrated all my husband’s siblings’ nuptial Masses as well.

Choosing how to walk down the aisle was another decision that took some thought. I wanted my entrance to represent coming to the altar of my own free will, but I also wanted to have both my parents walk beside me. We decided to, literally, meet in the middle. I went solo for the first half down the aisle and was then accompanied by my parents the rest of the way.

Jason and I did not do a pre-ceremony “first look.” While neither of us shed a tear during the procession, the moment we said our vows was a different story.

Our priest allowed us to step into the sanctuary so the entire congregation could more easily witness our vows. As I looked across to the man who was about to become my husband, my throat began to tighten. Realizing that this was the moment we would become one flesh, I was barely able to talk. I could see the emotion in my husband’s eyes as they began to water, just like mine. It was truly a beautiful moment.

At the beginning of our engagement, I learned about Theology of the Body. This completely changed my understanding of marriage and sexuality. My husband was reluctant to accept the theology at first, but after our Engaged Encounter retreat his heart opened, and we vowed to follow the life Christ wanted for us in marriage.

And so, we came to the altar on our wedding day with a deeper understanding of the vows were making to each other and to God. We still remind each other often of these vows and what they mean as we continue to grow deeper in our faith and in our marriage.

Jason and I had a traditional, Filipino Catholic wedding, which means we included coins, a cord, and veil ceremonies. I don’t think many people knew this, but the cord and veil we used were the same ones my parents used in their wedding 31 years ago! The thirteen coins, which are shiny, gold Philippine currency, were given to us by one of my matrons of honor; she had an extra set from her wedding. All of these are symbolic of the everlasting bond, unity, fidelity, and wealth and prosperity (in all forms) that we promise to each other.

After the nuptial Mass, when our coordinators showed us the ballroom before the reception began, I surprised my husband with my form-fitting dress. It was like having another “first look!”

I surprised everyone else during our grand entrance as we shimmied down the hall to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” After our entrance, Jason’s aunt led us in a thoughtful, extemporaneous prayer before dinner. We wanted food to be served during everyone’s toasts so our guests wouldn’t be hungry.

The most memorable thing about the speeches was that they all recognized how God has been at the center of our relationship. My dad even recognized my sister-in-law for playing such a significant role in my spiritual growth. By the end, there was no dry eye left in the reception hall.

Unlike most weddings, our first dance didn’t immediately follow our grand entrance. We decided to wait until after all the toasts and father-daughter/mother-son dances so we could open the dance floor to everyone. It was a nice transition to go from formal dining to dancing.

Before the wedding, Jason and I took dance lessons and modified the choreography to match the music cut by our DJ. We had two different songs: a slow song, “Beautiful As You” by Jim Brickman ft. Wayne Brandy, followed by the upbeat song, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. My husband is known for his dance moves, and he surprised me with a solo dance in between the transition of the two songs. After all the stressful planning, it was fun to have a little surprise!

Our wedding day was such a meaningful, joyful occasion, and it was only the beginning. It went far beyond the aesthetics and making a promise to love one person for the rest of our lives; our wedding wasn’t just about choosing another person to “get through life with.” It was the first day we vowed to lead each other to heaven.

Additionally, our wedding wasn’t just about us. It was about our community and our faith. Our families are now joined together, and we have a whole army of people to lift each other up! In choosing a sacramental marriage, we promised to be an effective sign of God’s love, and we are constantly learning how to love each other as Jesus loves us. In doing so, we hope that when people see us, they are directed towards Jesus and his love for each of us. It is my hope that our faith in God will continue to be deeply reflected in our marriage.

Videographer - Blue Tiger Films

Photography: True Photography | Church: St. Michael's Catholic Church - Poway, California | Reception: Maderas Golf Club | Wedding Dress (& Veil) - Enzoani & Ysa Makino via Here Comes The Bride | Wedding Planner - Lavish Weddings | Rings - San Diego Jewelry Brokers | Hair - Mish Mucho | Lashes - Kailani Blue | Makeup - Kristine Davis | Florist - Tessfresh Flowers | Videographer - Blue Tiger Films | DJ - DreMotion Entertainment | Cake - Jessie's Bake Shop | Bridesmaid Dresses - Mori Lee via 2000 Dreams Bridal

Love is Accountability, but Accountability is Not Always Love.

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Holding someone accountable can be an act of love, but loving someone does’t always include strict accountability. At times, there is an intersection between spousal love and accountability. How do you and your spouse hold each other accountable for virtue while maintaining free, total, faithful, and fruitful love?

Imagine, for example, if my husband sets a goal and asks me to hold him to not eat dessert for three months. Because I love him and want to support his ambition for a greater good, I would do everything in my power to limit the temptations. I wouldn’t make his favorite chocolate chip cookies, I wouldn’t eat dessert in front of him (or if I did indulge myself, I would not tempt him with an offer). Maybe I would consider joining him for part of the fast as a partner along the journey.

But perhaps the cravings become too much to bear and my spouse ends his plan early. If he makes up his mind and calls it quits, I arrive at the crossroad: do I respond as his accountability partner or his spouse?

As an accountability partner, detached from marital love, I would remain in encouragement mode. I would pull out all the tricks to help him stay the course and, if necessary, use a stern approach of tough love, set towards fulfilling my role in holding him to his plan.

The reaction must shift, in some ways, when I see his struggle and love him as my husband. In the shared journey toward sanctification, I will initially encourage my spouse to fight through temptation toward a greater good—to a point. Eventually, we have to let our loved ones make their own choices. In these moments, we are called to prudence and self-control to uphold our spouse’s freedom.

The 1968 Encyclical Letter, “Humane Vitae,” defines four core adjectives of pure love: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Fruitful love is open to new life—in parenthood, virtue, or spiritual fruits of the Holy Spirit. Faithful love echoes the marital vows, “I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer; I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” For love to be total, it is an absolute gift of self—mind, body, and spirit—from one person to another.

Love is free in how it is given and received. Pure love is a free gift without expectation to receive anything in return. There is no room for manipulation or coercion. Free love grows through the virtue of complete generosity.

In some ways, loving someone with freedom can pose an obstacle in holding someone accountable when we surrender our mission of accountability in order to respect their free will. When we love someone, we don’t want to see them fail or fall, especially when we have been tasked with supporting them. Yet with a purity of heart, we must honor the freedom of the other. In marriage, the crossroad between love and accountability is where God must enter, filling our hearts with trust, peace, and hope.

We look to the way God loves us to understand how to love our spouse with a pure heart. From the beginning of time, God offers every human autonomy and free will in decision making with a promise of unconditional love. When we reach to him as our divine accountability partner, he provides grace and encouragement, but his steadfast love will never force us to make a choice against our personal freedom.

His example of perfect, unconditional love models the balance between serving your spouse solely as an accountability partner and loving your spouse as your beloved.

By rooting ourselves and our marriages in Christ’s love, we can hold our spouse accountable yet show them mercy when they fall to temptation. We can ask God for prudence and wisdom through the challenges of marital love. We can confidently hope for redemption and sanctification.

Holiness does not look like one spouse dragging the other to the gate of heaven, against their will. Holiness is remaining side-by-side, though perhaps several miles away from heaven’s gate—loving through freedom, for freedom, and by the power of free love. In the pure and holy spousal union, God’s mercy reaches beyond our human limitations, redeems our brokenness, and carries us to his infinite peace. ”This love… is an act of free will, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.”

I encourage you to reflect on past or current circumstances where the responsibilities as a spouse intersect with the responsibilities as your spouse’s accountability partner. Let us grow in love as we discern the opportunities to love with greater freedom, deeper mercy, and stronger hope in the journey toward sanctification.

When have you and your spouse held each other accountable while maintaining free, total, faithful, and fruitful love? What circumstances bring you to the crossroad between accountability and freedom? Share your story with our community on Facebook or Instagram.


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

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Finding Heaven in a One-Bedroom Apartment

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Throughout engagement my husband and I dreamed of the home we desired to live in—a cozy little home on a nice plot of land. There would be a garden and some chickens and room for our many children to explore. It would be filled with fresh cut flowers and fresh baked bread, and the kettle would never be cold.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

As I write this I am surrounded by piles of moving boxes preparing to move to our third apartment home in three years of marriage (not to mention the countless places we stayed while we couch-surfed for the first three months of our marriage).

We are city-dwellers and renters. We’ve yet to have a yard, and unless the little flower pot on our patio counts, we haven’t had a garden. We don’t live in a permanent residence, and won’t for at least another year or so.

We still occasionally catch ourselves dreaming about that home we envisioned for our family, but whether or not that dream is ever actualized remains to be seen.

The desire for a place that my husband and I can call our own finds its roots in the Garden. God entrusted the care of a place to the first man and woman.

After the Fall, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, and the loss of this place was a reminder of an even greater loss--the loss of unity with God and eternal paradise.

This scene in Genesis teaches a deeper reality contained in the idea of “home.”

Home is a foreshadowing of heaven.

The space you inhabit, big or small, is sacred. And like our first parents, husbands and wives are entrusted with the divine duty of placemaking.

Being made in the image and likeness of the God who made heaven and earth, we are called to be “co-creators” of a little Heaven.

Whether you find yourself in your forever home, a small studio apartment, or a spare room at your in-laws’ house, you are called to cultivate a place of beauty and communion.

Our tiny, one-bedroom apartments have each been filled with just as much life as the farmhouse we once dreamt of.

Between Bible studies and dinner parties, Sunday morning breakfasts and afternoon tea, the lives of so many people have intersected in our little living spaces.

They are often filled with fresh flowers and fresh bread, and usually bursting at the seams with music and laughter.

In them, we have encountered God and his immense love for us, and facilitated that encounter for others.

Even amid changes and transitions, trials and hardships, the little home we created together serves as a constant, unchanging reminder of our eternal home.


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

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Tips for Forgiving Your Spouse

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Forgiveness plays a huge role in any healthy relationship, especially your marriage. But as most of us know, forgiveness is often easier said than done.

Every couple knows that disputes and miscommunications will happen in even the best of marriages. And when they arise, it can be easy to shift blame or hold grudges.

I personally am often stubborn and slow to forgive. I prefer to nurse my hurt feelings and hold on to anger longer than I should. But married life has challenged me to let go of my harmful pride and more readily extend forgiveness.

Keep in mind these tips are for “minor” marital disputes and issues. Consider counseling if there are more serious problems or issues that need attention.

Give them the benefit of the doubt

When arguing with your spouse, it’s easy to assume the worst in them. More often than not, the problem is caused by a lack of communication or a moment of immaturity than viciousness or spite.

Remembering that your husband is on your team and ultimately desires your good helps you listen with more fairness and understanding. It’s not meant to undermine the harm done, but helps you approach the situation with more clarity and trust.

Switch perspectives

When you start to get frustrated or angry, it is helpful to try to put the shoe on the other foot. Try to ask yourself: “how would I want him to respond if I was apologizing for the same thing?” We would want to be forgiven, of course!

Viewing the situation with this mindset can help soften your heart and put you in a disposition to forgive.

Pray

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you need a little extra grace when it comes to forgiving your spouse.

Saying a prayer like the “Our Father” or the Jesus Prayer can help prevent your feelings of frustration from escalating. It can calm you and recenter you on what is truly important.

But you don’t have to wait until the moment you need the grace the most to ask for it! Ask God daily to help you be more forgiving so, when the opportunity arises, you are more prepared.

Say it Aloud

Saying the words “I forgive you” are more than a formality, it is actually a major part of the forgiveness process.

This phrase is far more powerful than saying “It’s OK” to someone’s apology. It not only recognizes and affirms that a wrong has occurred but also makes your forgiveness more tangible. It’s humbling, not only for the person you are forgiving, but for yourself as you make the choice to live out your vows.

These words are empowering to both hear and say, as they restore trust and love within your relationship


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

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Love and Sacrifice Say the Same Thing.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

What is beautiful draws our senses to the sacred. At a recent wedding I attended, a harp, organ, and choir lifted their melodies to the heights. The groomsmen wore tailcoats; the bridesmaids, embellished gowns the color of jade. Even these breathtaking details, however, were nothing compared to the radiance of the liturgy, or the couple themselves.

After a tear-filled procession and Liturgy of the Word, the celebrant’s homily illuminated an essential truth of our vocations, one embodied in a particularly tangible way through the call to marriage: love and sacrifice say the same thing, but only to the extent that we embrace them.

“You love,” he said, “as much as you sacrifice, and you sacrifice as much as you love.”

What does this mean?

As a wedding guest, I took these words as a prayer for the couple about to become one, that they might spend their lifetime willing one another’s good and fulfillment.

On a personal level, I heard them as a call, insistent and clear: along this path, my husband’s and my pilgrimage to the eternal wedding feast, our vows merit that we love with the entirety of our hearts, even when emotion runs dry and when we’d prefer not to make the effort. That we embrace the good times and bad, knowing that in making a gift of our actions, time, and entire selves to one another, we’re free from enslavement to self-serving desires.

I often consider the link between the words integration and integrity when it comes to relationships. That is, the times when the complementary parts of who I am--body and soul, reason and emotion, and more--are well-integrated and not in conflict with each other, are the times I find myself treating my husband with the greatest sense of integrity.

These are the times when my love for him and the sacrifices I’m willing to make for him--taking on extra chores when he’s busy, respecting our budget, putting our kids to bed on the nights he has to bring work home--speak a language of wholeness and good will.

When our hearts are integrated, love and sacrifice say the same thing: I give of myself to you, I place your present wants and needs before my own, I enter into your burdens and carry them alongside you.

In the times I turn to my own selfishness, preferring personal convenience or comfort above what’s best for my marriage and family, I see our relationships being chipped away at. I see them quite literally dis-integrate.

Thanks to grace and mercy, these breaks can be restored to something like their former wholeness, and only in eternity will they be brought to perfection.

Only in eternity. The words of this wedding homily, an occasion of such heavenly rejoicing, drew my attention down to earth and to the tension we live out in our vocations. We are earthly and imperfect, yet our call is focused on eternal life; on bringing our spouses and children (biological or spiritual) to the banquet by way of love.

And how to pour out that love? Through our acts of sacrifice. Saint John Paul II said, “There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

By praying for your spouse, by serving and assisting him without keeping score, by keeping your shared goal of each other’s fulfillment and salvation at the forefront--even when it feels too hard--you become living icons of self-emptying love, bearing Christ to the world.


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

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Brooke + Austin | Timeless Autumnal Nebraska Wedding

“If there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From the beginning of their romantic relationship into their new marriage, Brooke and Austin have strove to live in the wisdom of Scripture and the beauty of the sacraments. They know that saying “yes” to a strong relationship with the Lord is a “yes” to greater intimacy as husband and wife.

Their elegant, timeless wedding, centered around the sacrifice of the Mass, shows the joy of a community celebrating the union of this abundantly blessed couple.

From the Bride: Austin and I travelled in the same college friend group for three years. During our junior year, he showed up at my front door and asked to take me out on a date. He wanted to get to know me better.

I knew in that moment that Austin was something special, because you don't see men pursue a woman like that too often.

It was important to incorporate our faith from the very beginning. Throughout our relationship, we went to Mass together on Sundays and at least once during the week. Austin even shared his testimony with me one night and explained that I inspired him in his faith, and that I made him want to be a better man of God. I told him he inspired the exact same aspiration in me.

And so, we got engaged.

Austin and I wanted the Mass to be the center and most important part of our wedding day. I had not been living in Omaha long before we got engaged, so I had not yet found my home parish. I was looking for a place that felt like home and radiated God's presence. I knew after the first Mass I attended at St. Robert's that it was the church community I had been seeking. It would also be the parish where Austin and I would be married. They welcomed us with open arms.

Before the wedding began, the bridal party and parents gathered for a prayer led by our celebrant, Fr. Matya. The readings we chose were not common readings for a nuptial Mass, but were readings that spoke to our values as a couple that we wanted to build our married life on.

The gospel was Philippians 4:4-9, which includes a verse we both love: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

The most special part of the Mass was our time after communion praying and asking for Mary’s intercession. We truly felt the presence of God in that moment and prayed that Mary would guide us along our new path as husband and wife.

Our wedding style was elegant and classic. Chic while remaining traditional. I am not all about glitz and glam, but I love a simple, timeless look. Because the wedding was in the fall, I chose a color theme with darker tones and greenery touches. I focused on the "burnt mauve" color and gold accents.

Looking back, our wedding day was another huge reminder of how much God has blessed Austin and I. One memorable thing we did happened during the reception. We stood in the back of the room and looked out at everyone celebrating our marriage. It was a day spent with all our loved ones supporting us during this special time.

Austin is the man I have prayed for my entire life. Actually, he's even better than the man I prayed for. I asked God for a faithful, loving husband, and God sent me that in Austin--and more. We are constantly striving to be better stewards of God’s grace and learning how to carry out his plan for us every day. We have learned the challenges it brings, but Austin and I have fought through them together.

The biggest challenge we have encountered is figuring out how to pray together, not settling for less in our faith lives, or becoming distracted away from time with God. We pushed past this challenge by reading a spiritual resource every day together and reflecting on it. Our favorite readings include the Bible (of course!), Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen, My Daily Bread, and Fr. Mike Schmitz’s podcast.

Austin and I know if we choose to say "yes" to having a strong relationship with God, we will also feel closer to one another and become better versions of ourselves.

Photography: Kelli Dornbos | Church: St. Robert Bellarmine, Omaha NE | Wedding Reception Venue : Embassy Suites in the Old Market, Omaha NE | Bride's Wedding Gown: Ready or Knot | Bride's Veil: Ready or Knot | Alterations: Livia Designs | Graphic designer for all wedding stationery (invites, programs, placecards, etc): Brooke Sankey | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ready or Knot (Jenny Yoo collection in Cinnamon Rose) | Groom's Suit: Jerry Ryan | Groom's Tie: Tie Bar | Groomsmen suits: Jerry Ryan | Groomsmen/Ring Bearer Ties: Tie Bar
Makeup artist: Kate Johnson | Hair Stylist: Emily Jackson | Florist: iBloom (Lincoln, NE) | Reception Wedding Planner: Adrianne Lescanic
Flower petals for throwing: Sam's Club | Videographer: Tom Hoxmeier | Party Bus: Emerald Limosine | DJ: Complete Wedding and Events | Cake: Whisk + Measure | Biscotti: Enjoy Biscotti Company (based in Colorado) | Jeweler: Wrights Jewelry (Lincoln, NE)