NICOLE M. CARUSO
Engagement is a time of expectation and preparation for one of the most important milestones a couple can share: marriage. Amid the checklists and details of wedding planning, it is easy to forget about preparing your heart and mind to be a wife.
As a lover of makeup and beauty products, and as one who knows that within our dignity as women lies the truest, most real beauty, I recommend taking time during your engagement to frequently call to mind that inner worth and radiance. Rather than spending all your time and energy devoted to finding the perfect dress and planning the best reception, take 30 minutes out of each day to cultivate your own inner beauty. Not only will you ready yourself to receive the gift of your husband, but you’ll become ready to be a gift to him as the best version of yourself.
Here are 3 ways to cultivate inner beauty that reinforce good habits and bring about peace of mind and heart.
Mindfulness, as defined by psychologist and Catholic Mindfulness instructor Dr. Gregory Bottaro, is “non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.” Flowing from one present moment to the next--rather than serious multitasking--reduces anxiety, frustration, second-guessing, and wandering thoughts. In the midst of the biggest pre-wedding crisis, remember that the goal of your wedding is not to throw the best party, but to rejoice in the sacramental grace you will receive.
I was thrown many, many curveballs during our five-month engagement, all of which had me speed-dialing my then-fiancee with hopes of troubleshooting together. The worst one of all was the night before our rehearsal. One of our priests found us decorating the Church Hall and remarked that we had not completed the inventory interview required to go ahead with the wedding.
I panicked. I abandoned my friends to finish decorating the reception space and started down a spiral of anxious thoughts, most of which revolved around the idea that my wedding was going to get cancelled. In reality, our parish was fairly small, our priests were very accommodating, and we got the inventory completed in time for our ceremony. Had I known how to be more mindful, I would have helped finish decorating, laughed a little more about the irony of the whole thing, and not let a little setback steal my joy.
Mindfulness is not about controlling your thoughts or emptying your mind, but allowing thoughts to pass through without reacting. As we practice mindfulness, it is easier to focus and give ourselves more wholly to each moment of the day.
It enables us to form healthy boundaries, make better decisions, and be intentional about how we treat others. Inner beauty beams out of us when we experience inner peace.
Self care is the practice of incorporating moments that bring joy into your day; things that express your talents, inspire, and give that inner sigh of peace. More than an indulgence, dedicated “me time” is what you need in that particular moment. During my engagement I found I needed both time alone and social time. For me, there was nothing better than lighting the five candles in my bedroom, listening to jazz, painting my nails, and sketching or editing photos. Yet I also knew I was most energized by meeting friends for coffee, taking a day trip to Manhattan, or going shopping with my sister.
For some, self care can look like spending quality time with dear friends, solo outings to a cafe, reading, writing, creating art, or catching a sunrise. For others, it could be a book club, girls night in, a special treat from the grocery store, or a massage. Whatever is your way to unwind, laugh, or get in touch with what makes you feel like you, make sure to do one thing each day that feeds your mind and body.
Prayer is centering. It connects us in conversation with God, consoles us, and inspires us. It reveals to us what is true, what is good, and what is God’s will for our lives. During engagement, it is so important to spend a few moments in prayer each day, hopefully at the same time to make it easier to form a routine. Prayer can start with five things you are grateful for that day, intentions for your future spouse and your relationship, or a guided morning offering from The Magnificat, Blessed is She, or the Laudate app.
My favorite way to pray is in front of the tabernacle. Many nights during my engagement, I walked to the Adoration chapel to say nightly prayers, journal my thoughts, or pray for a special intention that was particularly tugging at my soul. Most of all, I always sat there imagining our lives together, praying for the success of our marriage, and hoping for children. Being there reminded me that my wedding day was not about me, nor any family expectations, but about starting a new family with the grace of God, and following through on his plan for my life, with my future husband at my side.
Finding inner beauty during your engagement requires dedicated time each day. If you’re able, a silent retreat is another way to incorporate mindfulness, self care, and preparing your soul for your wedding day.
The sacrament of marriage presents a husband as a gift to his wife, and a wife as a gift to her husband.
When your husband-to-be sees you walking up the aisle, he will see your beautiful dress and smile, thinking of how incredibly beautiful you are. When he holds your hands in his, gazing into your eyes as you say your vows, he will see the steadfastness of a soul radiating inner beauty as you say, “I do.”
About the Author: Nicole M. Caruso is a wife, mother, makeup artist, and writer. Formerly the Beauty Editor of Verily Magazine, Nicole now shares her expert style and beauty advice, tips on healthy living, and reflections on marriage and motherhood on her website, where she hopes to inspire women to invest in their self-worth. The New York native now resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and daughter.