Fatima + Jonathan | Tuscan-Inspired Summer Wedding

Fatima and Jonathan met as teens on a youth retreat--but they were from two different states. They maintained a long-distance relationship for three years, only seeing each other at various retreats and youth conferences. Before college, Fatima broke off their relationship; through the pain of their breakup, they both felt God asking them to trust him and grow on their own. Fatima had no idea the Father was preparing their hearts to reconnect, but Jon sensed otherwise.

Fatima began working in Catholic Campus Ministry after graduation, and as providence would have it, she was assigned to Jon's university. They began spending time together that year, and Jon visited Fatima at home several times over the summer. That fall, they began discerning a relationship, and the day after another visit, Jon asked Fatima to be his girlfriend in the Wedding Chapel of Mary and Joseph at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

A year and a half later, they began a 30-day novena to St. Joseph the Worker for discernment in their job situations--unknown to Fatima, Jon was also offering those 30 days for the possibility of their vocation to marriage. He proposed on the last day of the novena, in the same chapel at St. Matthew's, in front of their family and friends.

From the Bride: Planning our nuptial Mass was a beautiful process that took months of prayer and discussion with each other and the priest who was preparing us for marriage. We wanted it to be absolutely perfect, from the traditional hymns that were sung, like the Salve Regina, to the prayers we chose, to who among our 7-person clergy would preside over certain parts of the Mass.

Throughout our relationship, we've maintained a devotion to Our Lady and St. Joseph. They are our biggest prayer warriors. We chose May 30 as our wedding date so that on May 1, the anniversary of Jon's proposal, we could pray our 30-Day Novena to St. Joseph the Worker once again. We couldn't wait to end the novena by reciting it together on our wedding day.

We also incorporated a Croatian tradition into our Mass that includes a marriage crucifix: the couple recites their vows with their hands holding it. The crucifix serves as a visible reminder of the necessity to lay down one's life for another, as Christ did. We also promised to take this special crucifix home, putting it in a special place where we can gather for prayer as a family and be reminded of true love, which is sacrificial. My advice to brides is to keep your marriage fixated on the Cross!

Our reception was Tuscan-themed. We both lived in Italy at different points in our lives, and the country holds a special place in our hearts. We also served an Italian meal selection! My friends and I put together all the decorations, including the centerpieces, favors, sweetheart table, and photo booth backdrop. As an interior designer with a knack for decorating and crafts, I enjoyed using the gifts and skills God gave me to make my wedding more personal.

Our honeymoon was in Italy, including a visit Tuscany. We also had a chance to get our marriage blessed by the Holy Father!

Videography by Kian McKellar

Photography: Cynthia ShippChurch: St Rita Catholic Church Reception Venue: Historic Hollin Hall | Flowers: Frances Batu (friend and bridesmaid) | Stationary: DIY by Bride | Caterer: R&R Catering | Bride's Dress: Oleg Cassini | Bride's Veil: Cathedral Drop Veil by BlancaVeils | Bride's Shoes: J. Renee | Jewelry/Accessories: Gold and Diamond Snowflake earrings (heirloom from Grandmother), Gold and Blue Miraculous Medal Necklace | Rings: Engagement from Helzberg Diamonds, Wedding Bands from Zales | Bridesmaids' Attire: David's Bridal | Groom's Suit: Calvin Klein | Groomsmen Suits: Men's Warehouse | Cake Baker: Buzz Bakery | Hairstyle: Kate Ricasa  | Makeup Artist: Celina Ces | DJ: Archon DJ  | Planning/Coordination: Events by MC+GP