Give the Smallest Details to Jesus.

BECCA AREND

 

I never could have imagined what a simple package of wedding invitation envelopes could teach me about my relationship with Jesus.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    BLITHE AND BLUE DESIGN

It started innocently enough. While I was visiting family in Minnesota with my fiancé, I started looking online for envelopes that would hold our wedding invitations. I quickly zeroed in on some beautiful, matte-gray envelopes that could ship to us in a few days.

“Perfect,” I naively thought. “I’ll have these in no time.”

I mentally crossed “buy wedding invitation envelopes” off my to-do list, only to realize a couple weeks later that I’d never actually ordered them. And by then, I was back home in Canada and the cost of shipping had quadrupled.

It went downhill from there.

Frustrated that I had already wasted so much time, I grimaced and ordered the envelopes, only to realize that I was now subject to expensive international import fees. I suffered through multiple failed delivery attempts and miscommunications with the shipping company until I finally arranged for my envelopes be delivered to a nearby pick-up location so I could grab them after work.

At this point, even the thought of the envelopes made me grind my teeth in exasperation. I felt cheated out of my hard-earned dollars and stressed that they were taking so long to arrive. I ranted to my fiancé daily about how terrible the shipping company’s service was, and I was even getting distracted during my prayer time, seething about the envelopes.

And so, ready to put it all behind me, I went to get the envelopes at the pick-up location, only to find the building closed. I tried again the next day: CLOSED. I had arrived on time, and their business hours were posted in the window, but inexplicably, the door was locked and the lights were off.

Furious, I called my fiance, who found out that an unexpected building problem had forced the place to close for two days. I could not believe that a shipping company would drop off a package at a “convenient” location where they would hold my precious cargo hostage for days on end.

By now, it had been more than three weeks of mounting daily frustration and stress about these envelopes. It was maddening, and boy, was I giving in to every temptation to fly off the handle! It felt justified. Their service was undeniably terrible, and the last thing I needed in the middle of all the logistics of wedding planning was to chase this expensive package all around town. So I took every opportunity to rant and rave to everyone around me about how crazy this situation was.

After seething all night, I went to the pick-up location yet again, ready for a fight. As my fiance and I walked toward the building, I snapped, “Babe, can you imagine if the package still isn’t there? I might just lose my mind.”

So yes, I did lose my mind when the friendly young clerk behind the counter told us there was no package for me. Although the shipping company had notified me that the package had been “delivered” on Thursday, the pick-up location had in fact been closed, and so the clerk guessed that the delivery man must have taken the package back on his truck.

The second we were outside, I burst into angry tears. “I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it,” I fumed, tears streaming down my face. “Why is this happening? Why can’t I just collect my stupid package?”

With infinite patience, my sweet fiance steered me into a pizza joint, bought us each a slice, and told me to breathe. “You know it’s going to be fine, right? The envelopes will come, sooner or later. It’s going to be okay.”

I knew this was all true, and yet the rage inside me wouldn’t die down. What was happening?

In that moment, crying and eating a slice of pizza, I stopped for the first time to ask myself, “Why am I so furious about these envelopes?”

I’m a slow processor. It usually takes me a few hours of mulling over an idea get a good perspective on it. So that evening, during my prayer, I placed that question before Jesus again: Why was I so furious about the envelopes? What was God trying to show me through this maddening experience?

In the quiet pondering and listening for God in my heart, I realized that my issue was what (or who) had control of my heart. In the midst of all the details of wedding planning, I gave in to the temptation to become a “bridezilla” when something didn’t work out the way I hoped.

But this was the opposite of what God and I had already talked about: right from the start, I had promised to give my engagement to Jesus. I promised him that every detail, every moment, every plan would be abandoned to his Divine Providence, and that I would be docile to him, no matter what.

In those early moments of frustration about the envelopes, I should have turned to my Savior with a smile. I should have laughed at the misguided thought that I am in control of my own life. I should have embraced my littleness and entrusted the whole box of envelopes right into his hands, like a child does to a loving father.

By clinging to control over the envelopes, I allowed anger to burrow deeper and deeper into my heart until I couldn’t control it any longer. This was my chance to finally surrender.

Immediately, a quote from Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross sprang to my mind:

“I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details has been marked out for me in the plan of Divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.”

With total peace in my heart for the first time in weeks, I gave the envelopes to Jesus.

The next day, I called the shipping company again. I explained the situation, and they assured me that the package had been dropped at a different location just down the street. All I had to do was collect it. So I did.

Now, I have both the envelopes and a valuable lesson: wedding planning, just like everything else in life, is an opportunity to give the smallest details to Jesus — even the envelopes.


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

INSTAGRAM

Comprehending the Cross

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Death to Self. That doesn’t sound particularly pleasant, does it? Not only that, but it also seems to stand in direct opposition to our human instinct of self-preservation. We were made to survive.

And yet, we are asked to lay down our lives for our spouse not just once but daily for as long as we both shall live. It just doesn’t make sense.

We remember today the greatest of paradoxes--the Cross, an instrument of death that became a symbol of eternal life.


Beaten, bloodied, hanging naked before all, for a crime He didn’t commit. Christ’s body emptied for fallible creatures who would deny Him. His heart spilled out for the imperfect Beloved who would reject Him.

Hours before, He sweated blood in the Garden while asking that this cup pass from Him. In that moment, we see fear of pain, fear of death.

He didn’t have to undergo that suffering. He didn’t have to stay on that cross; He is God after all.

But He did so to show us that, despite the difficulty we may face, despite the moments where our love isn’t perfectly returned, the sacrifice is worth it.

He was held on the cross by the same force that has the power to unite two broken, flawed humans in the sacrament of marriage--Love.

Love makes the suffering of the cross comprehensible.

We look today in a special way upon the cross, upon the perfect Lover. The example set before us on our wedding day of self-gift at its best. The cross offers an honest look at what we are called to in our vocation-- an emptying of oneself, a rejection of the primal instinct of self-preservation to be brought into the greatest of glories. Death and resurrection.

Suffering doesn’t make sense when taken alone. We want our happily ever after, and God-willing, one day we should have it. But we don’t want the mediocre version of happiness the world offers us. Instead our heart longs for the fulfillment of all our desires and we will never be satisfied with anything less.

We enter a new leg of our journey to our heavenly homeland as we enter into our vocation; the heat of the crucible is turned up and there will be moments when we feel the pain of our impurities being burned away.

There will be joy in your marriage, and those moments will be some of the profound moments of joy you will ever experience in this life. But in order to receive what we were created for, those imperfect parts of ourselves must undergo a crucifixtion of sorts, and brought to new life.

As we clear our hearts of our selfishness, we make room for something that is more beautiful than we ever could have imagined--God Himself.

This is what He vows to us on the cross today. This is what He promises to us with His dying breath. I love you, he whispers in the depths of your heart and I want you to spend eternity with me. So, together with your husband, take up your cross and follow me. Lay down your life alongside me, and I promise you will rise with me. I will show you what it means to Love.


Carissa Pluta

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

5 Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know

EMMA DALLMAN

 

As a wide-eyed, newly engaged young thing, I quickly learned planning a wedding takes a village. Whether you’re planning an extravaganza rivaled only by the likes of Jay Gatsby, or an intimate gathering of close family and friends, you’re going to interview and assemble a team of wedding vendors and trust them to help you execute a life-changing event that is special, memorable, and totally unique to you and your fiancé.

I can’t speak to the inner life of florists, DJs or cake decorators, but after 3 years as a wedding photographer, I do have advice to help set your expectations and have the best possible experience while taking your wedding photos.

Consider the following five points the answers to questions you didn’t think to ask and the solutions to problems you didn’t anticipate--all from the perspective of your friendly neighborhood matrimonial shutterbug!

It's okay to feel awkward.

Occasionally a future bride will admit to me (in hushed and sheepish tones), "We're not very good in front of a camera," or "My fiancé is kind of uncomfortable having his picture taken."

First of all, this is super normal! More likely than not, you and your fiancé are not fashion models. Maybe your last experience taking professional photos was during your senior year of high school. An experienced and talented photographer knows how to make you comfortable in front of the camera.

Before every shoot, I come armed with prompts, stories, games, and suggestions to help turn your focus off of me and back onto each other. When you and your fiancé are interacting more genuinely, I'm able to capture what's authentically between you, rather than posing you in a way that's artificial. My favorite thing to hear at the end of a portrait shoot is, ”Oh, that was actually fun!” or, "That was easier than I expected!”

 If you’re worried being trailed by a stranger loaded down with loud and obtrusive camera gear is going to make you nervous on your wedding day, try to book an engagement session with your wedding photographer. Couples who book me for engagement shoots before their wedding day consistently tell me it makes a huge difference in their comfort level. I'm always able to help a willing, cooperative couple look their best in photos, so if you're feeling apprehensive, try not to stress! 

Our insight might be valuable to you.

Photographers and videographers are the two wedding vendors whose job is to follow brides and grooms around All. Day. Long.  From the early morning makeup session to the last guest who won't get off the dance floor, we ride the wedding-day roller coaster with our clients in a way a cake decorator or a calligrapher doesn't. All that to say, we've been around the wedding world, we've seen some things, and we've got some wisdom to share!

I always tell my brides I'm willing to offer as much or little input on timeline planning as they might want. Assuming you have a comfortable, communicative relationship with your photographer, you should feel free to reach out with questions about timing, group dynamics, lighting, and more. You may not realize it, but in your photographer you have an expert wedding resource available to you.

Prioritize the important shots.

Look into the future for a moment to a point in time after  your wedding day: What kind of photos will you want to frame and hang in your new home? What kind of photos will you want to give as gifts to family members? What kind of photos will you use as your first Christmas card? This could vary, but for most couples this will mean portraits of the bride and groom together, along with family portraits.  

When planning your wedding timeline, try to take this into account. Don't allow your poor photographer only 15 minutes out of your wedding timeline to try and snap the most important  photos of the day! I encourage brides to allow at least 30 minutes for family portraits (depending how large your family is), and at least 45 minutes to get some classic and creative shots of the newly married couple alone. So when laying out the events of your day, make sure to allow adequate room for what’s most important to you!

Don't rule out a First Look.

Most brides I work with will initially tell me that they don't want a "first look." They picture a classic scenario of locking eyes down the aisle of a church with their beloved, seeing his reaction to all their bridal glory.

I understand how special and crucial that moment is. Believe it or not, doing a first look may actually allow you to enjoy your wedding day more!

Couples who do a first look still get photos of that awesome, emotional moment when the groom takes in his bride’s beauty for the first time. They get to react with a little more privacy and authenticity, which can be nice if one or both of them is on the shy side.

But best of all,these couples get to head to their cocktail hour and their reception a lot sooner. If you finish those important portraits before your ceremony, then you're free enjoy your guests, relax, and be a part of your own party!

I strongly recommend a first look to couples having an evening or sunset wedding, and to anyone who feels a little conspicuous knowing a whole church full of people is hoping to see them cry.

It's not about the photos!

After all that talk about timing, cocktail hours, and feeling awkward, the most important  thing your wedding photographer wants you to know is that it's not about the photos! Even as a Catholic bride, it can be easy focus on the details you've worked so hard to put together; to inadvertently begin thinking the cake, the flowers, the dress and the photos are what’s making your day special.

In reality, the inverse is true: the beautiful, important, sacramental commitment you make as a couple turns an ordinary cake into a cake that will forever be special to you. It makes the flowers you choose special, the dress you wear special, and every other aspect of your day. In the end, your photos will be special because they'll help you remember what actually happened on your wedding day--even if the weather was bad, your cake turned out funny, or the best man lost his tie.

 As you research, plan, and book professionals to help your wedding day take shape, don’t be afraid to ask for their insight and advice. Most wedding vendors--especially Catholic ones!--get into this business because they’re romantics at heart, because they love beauty, and because they believe in the importance of marriage. Most likely, they’ll be ready and willing to help you in any way they can. I hope this insight gave you the confidence to embrace your wedding photos in a new way, and helped supply some ready-made answers to your photography questions!


Copy of Contibutor headshot MEDIUM 200px.png

About the Author: Emma Dallman, a Spoken Bride Vendor, is a wedding and portrait photographer serving the East Coast and the world beyond. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband Mark and her puppy Hildy. The things that make her happiest include slow weekend mornings, live music, Mexican food and Netflix comedy specials. She is endlessly fascinated by the uniqueness and the beauty of every person she photographs.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

Sabrina + Nick | Handcrafted Jersey Shore Wedding

Sabrina and Nick have always been “adventure buddies.”

During one of their many adventures, volunteering to rebuild historic cottages in the Grand Tetons, Nick asked the love of his life to accompany him on their greatest adventure yet: marriage and family.

Their love story encompasses conversion, Padre Pio, the Jersey Shore, and beehives--all part of their extraordinary, summertime wedding bathed in sunflowers and God’s grace. And it all began in a college architecture class.

From the Bride: Our Catholic relationship was not a typical one. I am a cradle Catholic who started to grow deeper in my faith only after college. Nick's mother is Lutheran, and his dad is Catholic. He was raised primarily in his father’s faith, but he did not receive any of his sacraments beyond baptism before dating me.

Nick and I met during our first year of college at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2010. He had transferred from Hartford, and I had just graduated from high school. Looking back, I almost attended a different college.

God’s plan is perfect, though, and we both chose to attend NJIT in 2010. We were placed in the same studio room for our architecture class and quickly became good friends, especially since we were both commuters. Nick would wait for my dad to pick me up on his way home from work. He would even miss his train ride home to wait with me.

We supported each other through late nights in studio, and he always kept me laughing. We became good friends but didn’t start dating until our fourth year of college because I had been in a previous relationship until then. Nick was quick to seize the opportunity.

Three and a half years later in August 2017, Nick and I found ourselves in the Grand Tetons National Park. For the past three years, we had volunteered a week of our time annually with the National Park Service in the Grand Tetons to stabilize historic log cabins in the park. Nick proposed in the barn we were working on for the week in front of all the volunteers. It was like a dream.

We decided to get married a year later on the anniversary of our engagement. As we prepped for the wedding, Nick went through RCIA with me as his sponsor. He would come to my bible study group, and our faith grew deeper. We attended holy hours together, and I knew I was growing in my faith along with him.

We planned to get married at the church by his family’s shore house that we attended all the years we dated: St. Pio’s. After our engagement, my friend Gabriella found a St. Pio rosary and gave it to me. I prayed on it every week at adoration leading up to the wedding. I even wrapped it around the stem on my bouquet with a miraculous medal.

Nick and I developed a strong devotion to Padre Pio. We prayed his novena and asked him to adopt us as his spiritual children and be the patron saint of our marriage. We also prayed St. Josemaria Escriva’s novena in the days leading up to the wedding, which we loved.

Throughout it all, I petitioned God for Nick’s full and deep conversion to the Catholic Church. And although we both have more room to grow, I’m so proud of how far we have come, especially Nick.

The night before the wedding we went to confession with the priest who would be celebrating our nuptial Mass. We wanted to receive the marital sacrament with pure hearts, and I’m so happy Nick and I made sure we did that. Before going to sleep we called each other and said the last day of the St. Josemaria novena. It was such a beautiful way to countdown to the wedding.

The weather on the big day was hot but not too humid, and I felt like God was smiling on us the whole time. My friend Gabriella said a quick prayer as we walked into the church, but I told her it had to be a quick one because I would be too emotional. I’m such a happy crier!

I kept asking God and Padre Pio to be with me because I was so nervous to walk down the aisle. When they opened the doors, I tripped a little on my dress. This helped me focus on not falling, but I also think it was God’s way of giving me something to think about instead of becoming a crying mess. When I looked up at the end of the aisle, Nick was crying hard. He was so happy, and I felt such peace knowing I was marrying him.

As the ceremony went on, I strongly felt Padre Pio was with us as well as our guardian angels. Nick and I had picked all of the music and readings for the Mass, so it was very meaningful to both of us. When we presented flowers to the Blessed Mother, we prayed a couple of Hail Mary’s and then a prayer we had written together. It was such an intimate and special moment.

Our wedding programs included all the parts in the Mass and a beautiful quote by St. Thomas Aquinas: “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love; it signifies love, it produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”

With that in mind, we received the Body and Blood of Christ together for the first time as a married couple. All I could do was look at Nick and thank God for giving me the man of my dreams and allowing me to lead him closer to Christ.

We had worked so hard on planning the wedding, but the work we put into our faith life was worth more than anything else that day.

After the ceremony we left on a trolley to Smithville to party! The theme of the wedding was “adventure” because Nick and I always say that we are adventure buddies. And we handmade everything for the wedding. We are both architects, so we knew we could do it.

Our invitations, made by hand, included a map of the Jersey Shore with all the significant places to the wedding and to us. Our favors were honey jars made from our own honey that we harvested the weekend before the wedding from our beehive. The table that displayed the honey also displayed birdhouses that Nick had made for me when we were dating.

I wrote all the table assignments on panes of glass from old windows, and the tables were named after different national parks. Nick and his dad built wooden crates for the centerpieces,  and we filled them with flowers and fresh peaches. We told everyone to take home a peach with their honey.

Our sweetheart table had handcrafted signs that I painted as well as more crates. Nick’s mom and I made a quilt together that had Disney’s Up house on it. That became our “guest quilt,” where everyone signed in on a balloon. And finally, we painted a mailbox like the one from Up where guests placed their cards.

My favorite flowers are sunflowers and succulents, so there were plenty throughout the whole wedding. We took photos all over Smithville, a cute, historic town with many photo opportunities. And our wedding band kept everyone dancing all night.

In short, our wedding day was amazing, and I thank God everyday for it. I couldn’t wait to live life with Nick and build on the foundation we built on Christ.

For our honeymoon a month later, we travelled to Rome and Switzerland after my friend Gabriella’s wedding with her and her new husband. In Rome, we attended the Sposi Novelli blessing at the Pope’s general audience. Again, I was praying to Padre Pio that we would get to meet the Pope, but there were so many couples there that it seemed unlikely.

They started gathering all of the couples, and we found ourselves in the wrong spot. It seemed like we wouldn’t get to meet him. I told Gabriella and our husbands that we should stand on a shorter rail that I spotted. I thought even if we wouldn’t meet him, we could at least get a better view.

That short rail ended up being the gate to let all the couples into the main area for everyone to gather. So we were the first ones through! When we got our spot, I realized I had lost my Padre Pio rosary. Gabriella told me not to worry, that Padre Pio was with us anyway. But when we looked down, I saw the rosary had somehow landed in the spot we were going to stand in!

When we met the Pope, we told him we were praying for him and that he needed to rebuild the church. Gabriella and I got pretty emotional about this, so he spent a long time with us saying that he would, and that we needed to keep praying too.

It was one of the most special experiences of our lives to receive the Pope’s blessing. Nick and I have had the most incredible year, and it is all because of God and his perfect plan.

Without a Christ-centered relationship, our entire wedding day and our marriage would've been completely different. It would never have been as fulfilling. You could feel our love for each other and for God that day. Everyone said that is what made the wedding so special.

Photography: Maryanne Photography, Kevin and Aly Photography, Meyer Photo and Video Group | Mass: St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Lavellette, NJ | Reception: The Smithville Inn, Absecon, NJ | Engagement Ring: designed by the groom, via Salt and Stone

Our Origins Point us to our Destiny

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The latin root of the word ‘origin’ is oriri, meaning, ‘to rise.’

We study our origin to know the root from which we rise. This truth is simplified in the common saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” The apple is precisely what it is and where it is because of what and where it came from. Though related to the origin, each fruit carries its own dimension of unique characteristics.

Reading and studying the beginnings of human nature help us more deeply understand our supernatural purpose and eternity in heaven. I imagine studying our origin is like firing a slingshot. The further back you pull the sling—or the deeper you explore your origin—the higher the shot will launch upon release.

Our shared identity as Christian women offers a common foundation. Each of us can say, “I am a human. I am a child of God. I am a woman.” We could explore the roots of our role as daughter or sister. Many of us can say, “I am a wife.” With each piece of our identity, we rise with a beautiful complexity of strengths, graces, skills, weaknesses, and experiences into a wide variety of individuals, called to glorify God in a variety of ways. Let’s begin exploring our shared identity together to strengthen our foundations of self-knowledge and communion with God.

I am a human.

We hear the fulfillment of the universal human heartache in Scripture, when Adam sees Eve and exclaims, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” He received her as his own, she was seen and loved in her pure existence; in that moment, Adam and Eve experienced the fullness of perfection, in unity, without shame. Following the fall of humanity to sin, our ability to achieve perfection on this side of heaven faded. Nonetheless, every person’s desire for pure companionship and reciprocal love with others remains a part of our human origin.

I am a child of God.

For an understanding of our supernatural destiny, we study the origin of creation by God. He creates every natural element on Earth as an overflow of his love. He is love. Every piece of creation is a fruitful act of love, made to reflect and share his glory throughout the world and to offer love back to him. As a child and image of God, our origin—and, thus, our destiny—is to love others, to receive love, and to be fruitful.

I am a woman.

Saint Pope John Paul II offers several beautiful texts on the origin of our identity as women. In his 1988 Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, he encourages women to explore the origin of their femininity in Christ in order to know their destiny, “In the spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a “sincere gift of self” to others, thereby finding themselves.”  

In summary of Mulieris Dignitatem, four qualities inherent to the feminine heart and soul are receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. As we identify the specific roots of our womanhood in these feminine attributes, we rise with confidence in our vocations by nurturing these qualities in ourselves and the women around us. We grow in self-love and develop a greater ability to fruitfully share that love through our specialized feminine gifts.

I am a wife.

Marriage, as a social institution, is rooted in legal, structural and financial benefits to society. Through a historically secular approach, marriage functions to offer foundational assets to a community for the greater good of all.

Supernaturally, or from the perspective of the divine, we are taught that men and women who share life in a covenant are empowered to reflect the image of the creator in a special way. Beyond reflecting God who is love in their individual lives, married couples reflect the inextricable union between Christ and the Church. We look to Christ on the cross to begin understanding the calling of married couples.

As Jesus carried his cross in a journey of salvation for all, husbands and wives are called to carry the burdens and pains of their spouse in their journey towards sanctification. As Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humankind, husbands and wives are called to surrender themselves for the sake of love of another. As Jesus’ side poured out blood and water as a sign of his purifying mercy for the Church, husbands and wives are called to forgive and be strengthened through their marriage to become an overflowing of love and mercy to each other, and their community. As Jesus’ death bore the fruit of grace through the offering of his body and blood, celebrated bodily through the Eucharist, husbands and wives are called to be fruitful through the sharing and offering of their own body and blood in creating new life.

We study our origin to know the root from which we rise.

What is another piece of your identity? I invite you to trace back through your life’s journey of memories, experiences, and callings to solidify your origin in that role. How can a deeper understanding of your origin teach you about yourself, God’s presence in your life, or where God may be calling you? How do your passions, desires, and gifts enable you to love others, to be loved, or to be fruitful in the world?

Reflecting on the origin of your personality, joys, passions, fears, and experiences will undoubtedly pull you to a deeper understanding of your roots so you may rise to the highest heights of your destiny. Ultimately, the ways in which we fulfill our vocations point us to our desire for the ultimate and infinite union with God in heaven.


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

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Editors Share | When Expectations Meet Reality

The beauty of a wedding and joy of fulfilling a call to vocation is daydream worthy. From a young age, girls and women can often identify their ideals for the kind of man they imagine marrying, visions of their wedding day, or expectations of day-to-day married and family life.

In this month’s Editors Share, our team reflects on the dreams we had about marriage as single women, and how those expectations either changed or came to fruition after saying I do.

 

Stephanie Calis, Co-founder & Editor in Chief

During our engagement, I frequently prayed in thanksgiving that no one knew, saw, or understood me in the way my husband-to-be did, and I felt the same about him. At the time, I think we did know each other more fully than anyone else.

After our wedding, however, I started to realize how little a fullness of him I had actually known: I’d never known, for instance, how he liked to load a dishwasher, how he preferred to unwind after a stressful day, what grocery staples he liked to keep on hand. Normal adjustments to married life and significant time spent together--particularly after a long-distance engagement--sometimes made me question how well we knew one another at all.

In hindsight, I see the Holy Spirit drawing us out of self-focused habits and toward a shared life. I now consider it a great gift that even with all the trust, confidence, and admiration I had for my husband (and how well I knew him at the time) on our wedding day, the years have continually revealed new parts of him to me and we are constantly presented with opportunities to know and love each other more deeply through various quirks and discoveries.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I really thought that my future husband would do large showy displays affection (think Toby on This is Us. The guy gets me). I REALLY wanted to be proposed to in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland, but the man I married is a very private person. He and I were the only ones present when he proposed and we had no engagement party. We didn’t even get a photo until a couple of hours after! A part of me was definitely crushed, but the longer I’ve known my husband, I’ve learned how hard it was for him to be vulnerable and propose at all (even when he knew it was a sure thing!) and I’ve learned to embrace the private way he chose.

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder and Creative Director

I am a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, and I too married a perfectionist and overachiever. I was (and still am at times) the sort that if you said “Jump!”, I would ask “How high?”. I always wanted things done efficiently and with the least amount of mistakes as possible on the first try. Because perfectionists and overachievers can often set the bar too high, it can take a great deal to break them out of their unforgiving and sometimes unrealistic expectations.

As an engaged couple, we lived long-distance while being fully immersed in our careers and education at the time; therefore, I did not yet fully realize my expectation for perfection from others. Like many, you sometimes enter into marriage thinking you’re invincible. It was not until my husband and I were expecting our first born immediately after our wedding that my pride got “a swift kick to the pants” and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance during pregnancy. In addition, we were also experiencing our first deployment and his numerous underways out to sea. When you pair separation and illness on top of the “typical” learning to grow and live together as a newlywed couple and later as parents to a colic-y, difficult newborn, it is severely humbling.

Over 10 years of marriage, there has been many good times. However, it is through the times of great suffering that has strengthen us in our vocation — 8 moves around the country, multiple deployments, the loss of two babies, the special needs of our earthly children, and the continued battle with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum with each pregnancy, endometrosis, and as well as post-partum depression that sometimes follows. Each individual within the family unit has their own unique way of processing grief, loss, and trials, and it requires great patience and dying to self when walking in those valleys together. It requires leaning into a support system of people you trust, as well as spiritual direction and professional therapy when necessary. Suffering is sanctifying. It breaks us and molds us. It purifies the heart of its selfish ambitions, and when done in union with Christ, it draws us closer to Him and to each other. While you can never fully anticipate the suffering to which you both will be called to before your wedding day, the reality of God’s abundant Love and Mercy will always greatly surpass your expectations.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

Long before I even knew my husband-to-be, I confidently committed myself to saving a KitchenAid Mixer for marriage. Despite the friends who tried to talk me into Black Friday sales and family who offered to buy one as a college graduation gift, I desired to withhold this life-changing kitchen appliance until the day I became a wife.

At the time, I made this decision simply because I wanted my life to look and feel remarkably different before and after marriage. It is the same line of thinking that held me accountable to not live with a boyfriend or fiancé before we were married. It is the same delayed gratification that saved other highly valued and anticipated experiences with my husband for marriage alone.

My husband and I are well-into our first year of marriage and my life is undeniably different from the life I lived as a single person. Marriage brought me across an ocean, into the military, away from my professional career and apart from friends and family. As it turns out, I didn’t need to save a KitchenAid Mixer for my life to look and feel radically different.

But God used my playful expectation and desire in other ways. My withholding of a kitchen appliance wasn’t about the mixer itself, but was about instilling in me an anticipation for married life to be a remarkably different life. I recognize how “saving a KitchenAid for marriage” was a means for God to prepare and strengthen me for the immense changes that followed our wedding day.

Nonetheless, our mixer has been a means to build community and serve others in our home. It is a means of love in the form of chocolate chip cookies. It is a stress reliever and a source of joy. Although I don't make financial contributions in our family right now, I make meals for our single friends, new parents and neighborhood kids. God is using my desires—both the playful and the serious—to teach me about myself, open my heart to love in creative ways, and be affirmed in my vocation as a wife.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

My story is different than most. To be honest, I never had a rosy idea of marriage at all. Since I was little, God gave me the grace to understand the profound beauty in marriage, but I also never thought about it without remembering how hard and painful it probably would be. I didn’t spend most of my tween and teenage years fantasizing about my future husband, writing letters to him, or praying novenas that I would finally meet him. I’m sure part of that is because I didn’t hear about these typical “Catholic girl” trends until college, and also because I met my future husband at 14...on the first day of high school.

By 15, I knew I was going to marry him, but not in a squealy, teenage, naive way. I told my mom one day that I didn’t know how I knew, but I was going to marry this cute football player. Call it a crazy Holy Spirit moment! I said it calmly, nodded, and fell silent again, just knowing, and my mother didn’t challenge me at all. She has told me since then that she knew, somehow, too. She said I looked at my now-husband at 15 the way she looked at my dad at 15, when they met.

Seven years after meeting, after a lot of high school and college growing pains, we joyfully (and exhaustedly) walked down the aisle and were finally married. It’s difficult for me to say what surprised me about marriage, because my temperament is the kind to anticipate and expect all the possible suffering and little crosses that I could possibly encounter in the sacrament. This has its good and bad consequences. So when, for those first three months especially, hard times came, conflict flared up, or I found myself in tearful frustration at midnight on the couch, I saw it as the inevitable. I wasn’t surprised, just dealing with the suffering in marriage I knew would come.

Perhaps what began to surprise me, little by little, was my husband’s consistent, loving, patient response to all the selfish things I said and did that first year. He truly got the worst of me, because marriage felt like looking into a mirror that showed all your worst weaknesses. But he loved me tenderly in spite of them. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that when I would say something incredibly hurtful, he would often pull me into his arms, apologize for upsetting me, and tell me he loved me so much. He showed me what it was to be quick to forgive, to sacrifice your own desires for the sake of your spouse, without any complaints, and to say sorry even when I was the one who had started a quarrel! He loved (and still loves me) like God loves me: so good that it hurts, because I know I don’t deserve it. By the grace of God, I know the sacrament of marriage is forming us into saints, together.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

Whenever someone asks me what I’ve learned so far in my marriage, I always half-jokingly respond: “I’ve learned how selfish I am.” While I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t a particularly selfish person during my single or engaged years. However, marriage demands so much more of me than anything else I have experienced.

I thought (albeit, naively) that I would always be the best version of myself once I got married. And while marriage has certainly shaped me more into the woman God made me to be, I still frequently have days where I’m grumpy or frustrated or downright annoying. My life is not my own anymore, it’s shared with my husband. Everything I say and do has an intimate effect on him and over the past three years I’ve been learning how to forget myself and actively choose love.

At the same time, however, I’ve found more joy in this process than single me ever could have imagined. I really feel like I have found myself through my vocation and I’ve been able to watch my husband grow more as a man. And through that, I’ve been able to encounter God more fully. It’s through self-denial that God has rooted up the weeds in my life (as painful as it can sometimes be) and has replaced it with fertile soil.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

I was just thinking the other day about how when we were dating and engaged, date nights and alone time spent together were so frequent. It really made me miss those early days! It was so easy to plan a spontaneous night out together at a new restaurant or bar in town. However, almost six years into marriage and add in two small children, our state of life has changed. Budget constraints and parenthood commitments obviously make this impossible, if not difficult. However, I am so grateful for the joy and struggles that come with raising these two little people. As much as I sometimes wish it were the opposite, weekly date nights out just aren’t a priority right now. I do not want to brush over the fact that date nights and quality time spent together are important for marriage and should be made a priority. I realize now though that date nights don’t have to be out to fancy restaurants each week, like I thought in my dating and single days. It’s easy to compare our realities to others’, especially in the age of Instagram stories when you can literally see what others are doing in the moment.

As my expectations change, I have learned to really appreciate the little moments that my husband and I are able to spend together at the end of the long day, praying our rosary, getting to mass together, reading our books of choice next to each other, and even listening to our favorite podcast together or having a special at home date night.

When we are able to secure a sitter and try out a new (or old favorite) restaurant, our nights are especially valued and savored. In fact, this past fall, we were even able to save up for and take a dream anniversary trip to Italy. With a little sacrifice and a lot of help from our families, we were able to spend this amazing, priceless time together and I am truly grateful to the Lord for that!

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

During my single years I fantasized quite a bit about what my future husband would be like. I made a list of the qualities I was looking for in a husband after reading the book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert. I knew I wanted to find a practicing Catholic man who would go to church and pray the rosary with me ­— someone who was handsome, chivalrous, kind, gentle, and had similar interests to me. While the message of the Everts’ book is just as beautiful as the enchanting artwork pictured on the front cover; my own expectations were just about as real as finding a Disney Prince for a husband.

I believe having high expectations is a good thing, and at the same time, there comes a point when it’s important to recognize when those expectations have become unrealistic. Perhaps I sought to find someone so similar to me that I was basically looking for a male version of myself. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that the person I would end up with was not going to be a carbon copy.

The truth is, the man I fell in love with does hold many of the qualities I was searching for in a husband and he is also as different from myself as one can get. We have completely opposite temperaments and personalities. Throughout our courtship I knew that we were very different from each other, but it wasn’t until we were married that those differences became very challenging for us to navigate. Both of us have needed to adjust our expectations.

The extrovert in me is always seeking interaction and attention while the introvert in him is constantly looking for some solitude. My love language revolves around extravagant grand gestures and my husband is more content with the ordinary pleasures of life. Some days it seems like we have come to an impasse; yet somehow the grace of the sacrament has held us together. The reality of marriage means constantly dying to ourselves just a little bit more every day; compromise is an art form that we are still learning as newlyweds.

While the dreamer in me will never stop dreaming, I’ve learned that it’s important to live in our own reality and not to have unrealistic expectations in our marriage. I will always be grateful for the magical moment that was our wedding day, but everyday life in marriage can’t be a perpetual fairytale. It would be unsustainable. And even if it were possible, the magical moments would be less magical. It’s really the storms in life that we experience which help us to appreciate the joyful moments—because without rain there would be no rainbows.

Where Love Dwells

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Then the Angel departed from her.

A friend of mine recently gave a talk that emphasized this line from Luke 1. This, he said, was the scariest line in Scripture. The words that proceed it are the words most of us have heard over and over again: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

PHOTOGRAPHY:    Laurentina Photography

Mary was invited into something so much bigger than herself, which in itself is frightening. Then she makes this bold statement of faith, and then the angel departed from her. No more questions, no explanation, no other answers.

Mary wasn’t given a roadmap, or a glimpse into the future. She didn’t know that she would have to give birth in a stable and then flee to Egypt to save His life. She never would have guessed that she would eventually watch her son suffer and die on a cross, only to come back from the dead three days later.

But it didn’t matter. When Mary gave her fiat, she said yes to everything that was to come, whether she knew it or not. She willingly said ‘yes’ God and in doing so, said yes to whatever would demand of her.

Like Mary, our “I do” at the altar contains a mysterious and sometimes messy reality.

When we make those promises of love we can’t know everything that will happen between then and that moment when death does us part. We don’t know how those vows will take shape. While we can dream about those good times, the bad times will inevitably come. While we can hope for health, sickness may still find its way in.

The promises I made on a spring afternoon almost three years ago look very different after two moves, big decisions, and a toddler later. And it will look even more different fifty years from now as our lives continue to unfold.

On that special day I, in a sense, made a promise to the unknown. I joyfully and willingly said “I Do” to a mystery.

And, similar to the Annunciation, it is in this mystery that Love dwells.


Love, a radical outpouring of self, is not found in knowing what is to come, but in the present. No matter how hard we try, love cannot be planned; it can only be chosen when the moment presents itself.

It is formed in those times of surrender, of joy, of consolation, and of desolation. It takes root among the laundry and dirty dishes, among the moving boxes and new jobs.

It is strengthened in the sleepless nights and early mornings, in the baby cries and smelly diapers. In wounded pride and tearful apologies, in laughter that makes your stomach hurt.

Heaven and earth intersect in a unique way when a man and woman promise themselves to the other. These earthly vows make room in our hearts for the divine, for eternity itself. Our minds cannot comprehend the depths of this Divine love we are promising. We may not understand what the words fully mean until we reach Heaven.

But like Mary we are called to say “I do” with our entire being. And like Mary, we can trust that God will give us the grace to be faithful to our call and make our “yes” truly life-giving.


Carissa Pluta

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