Chelsea + Nick | Pittsburgh Black Tie Wedding

Nick and Chelsea first met at an interview for a college ambassador program. He was asking the questions, and she a freshman and the interviewee. Nick had been prompted to prepare two "creative" questions to ask Chelsea in the presence of an academic judging panel. First, he asked, if you could bring one person to a party, who would it be and why? Chelsea answered Mother Teresa, a woman who was never afraid to be vulnerable and act courageously; the perfect wingwoman. Second, Nick asked what Chelsea would name her ship if she were a pirate captain. Her response was, "Discovery. Because I hope never to cease my love for life's adventures. You either learn or succeed; you never fail."

Later that school year, Chelsea and Nick talked again, and never stopped. He’d never fail to walk her back to her dorm after spending time together. Their first official date was at a beautiful, tiny Italian restaurant with only six tables! Chelsea spent the entire day with her friends, getting ready, wondering if all the effort was too much. But when Nick walked in from the rain to pick her up, flowers in hand, she took notice of the effort he’d put in to look and be his best for her, in turn. He was constant in those efforts, even running across campus on his way to ROTC lab to visit Chelsea for just a few minutes at the program she ran for special needs students, a cause precious and fulfilling to her heart.

Chelsea met Nick’s seasoned Army family only a month after they began dating, on Valentine’s Day weekend. Prior to the visit, the two had spent significant time discussing religious faith. Chelsea had a strong spiritual life and made it clear from the start that God meant everything to her. Nick’s father was baptized Catholic and his mother was Christian, but they didn’t practice their faith much. Her nerves evaporated when Nick’s parents welcomed her like family.

To their surprise, when Chelsea and Nick sat down with his family to eat, his parents led them in grace. Chelsea knew right then that the Father was with them, and that this relationship was possible.

From the Bride: I remember telling Nick that whoever I marry must understand that the main purpose of marriage is to get each other to heaven. At the wedding, our priest and dear friend Father Mac said this exactly: "It is your responsibility to get each other to the kingdom of God. " Nick and I want to build a life centered around God. This will take unconditional love, a strong commitment to one another, our children, our families, and our faith, and a true understanding that challenges must be looked at as learning experiences, moving us closer to the glory he has in store.

I never knew how to witness to my faith until Nick told me that through faith in action--Mass, daily prayers, and serving the communities around us in need--I had been evangelizing all along. We went to Mass together every week. On Pentecost during my freshmen year, I remember Nick just staring in the eyes of God at the altar. I didn’t know if he was bored or zoned out, but then he told me how incredible the feeling of the Mass and God's love felt around him, like nothing he had ever experienced. This was monumental in our journey of faith, and Nick ultimately made the decision to enter the Catholic Church.

Through Nick’s ROTC and military training, it was extremely trying to attempt going through RCIA. We tried for years, and it was frustrating. Finally, things just truly fell into place, and with an exception granted from the typical RCIA schedule, Nick received all of his sacraments over Labor Day weekend, 2015. We felt sure we were called to marriage, but Nick knew I couldn't get married until he had become Catholic--not for my sake, but for his own, because he loved his faith so much and so fully desired to be married as Catholics.

Growing up, I honestly thought I would marry someone who was already Catholic. My, did God have great plans for me! I thank him every day for the gift of journeying towards faith with Nick. I have learned so much about myself and my own faith in this process. My newfound appreciation for who I am allows me to proclaim my faith as my own, not merely a result of my upbringing; a bond that ties Nick and I together under a truly sacred bond. A sacrament. Nick thanks me for giving him his faith, but I thank him for giving me mine.

We both knew we wouldn’t be truly happy on our wedding day unless our guests were happy, too. We planned a weekend around our favorite things in our city to give people the feeling of a vacation, hoping they’d return home rejuvenated in faith and love. We held our rehearsal dinner at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and our Mass and reception as black-tie affairs.

During our wedding Mass, Nick held the rosary I gave him on his first ROTC training in college. I held the one he made for me at that training out of army string and military beads. I also held scapulars from my dad's dad. It meant the world to me hold a piece of my grandfather, my father, and my husband as we entered into the sacrament.

Everyone deserves love. Nick and I set out to make that truth known through the atmosphere of our big day. We prayed, first, to make everyone feel as beautiful outside as they are inside, and second, to remind our guests through the simple emotions between friends, family members, and spouses that all deserved to feel loved and worthy. Nick and I savored every moment. The images of how our loved ones looked at and admired each other that day is something that will inspire my love for Nick for years to come.

Photography : Levana Melamed Photography | Church: SS john and Paul Roman Catholic Parish  | Wedding Reception Venue : Le Mont Pittsburgh  | Second Photographer: Kristen Vota Photography | Flowers: Gida’s Flowers  | DJ: Andy Booth  | Bride’s Dress: Hayley Paige  | Bride’s Shoes: Nina’s Shoes  | Bridesmaids Dresses: Nordstrom designed by Adrianna Papell  | Groom’s tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse