Christina + Ben | Candlelight Ballroom Wedding

Christina and Ben met during their freshman orientation at Creighton University and later became study pals for their Theology 101 course. They were good friends, and just friends. Or so Christina thought.

Immediately after Christmas break, Ben asked her out. She said yes. Their first date was to dinner in downtown 11 P.M., due to a delayed drumline practice. On Valentine’s Day they kissed, and became an official couple soon after.

From the Bride: Faith had always been important to us individually, but it became part of who we are as a couple during our sophomore year. We began praying and reflecting on the daily Mass readings each morning over breakfast in the cafeteria. These studies eventually led us to the Theology of the Body, which became a huge milestone in the deepening of our relationship.

As we grew closer, I began to question my decision to seriously date Ben, who was not Catholic. I finally concluded I would rather have someone with a strong, truly convicted faith than someone with a faith so flimsy he would convert to Catholicism to make me happy. Ben did, however, enter the Church later after his own spiritual journey.

Senior year was filled with hard work and more than a little trepidation. Ben was applying to medical school, and I was applying for international fellowship programs. So many nights were spent editing essays and applications. We didn’t talk much about our concrete plans after school, as so much was dependent on location: would we stay together if I was overseas and Ben was in the states? How would our respective careers shape our relationship?

Luckily, I didn’t make the cut for the international fellowships I’d applied for; proof that disappointments are all part of God’s plan.

Ben proposed five days before graduation, the outdoors gli stening from a fresh rain, with a ring he designed with a local jeweler.

We hired a former newspaper photographer and couldn’t be happier with our decision. Our wedding photos look different from most, and we like that. He did an excellent job capturing the energy and emotion of the day, without taking us away from the moments at hand.

My gown was handmade by my great-grandma, for my grandmother and her sister. My mom and her sister wore it, and I had the honor of doing the same. I decided to cut my cathedral-length veil (not an antique) after the ceremony was over--it was a smart choice for me. You only get to wear a veil once in your life, so I figured I might as well wear it as long as I could!

I bought my jewelry on Etsy the week before the wedding. Both pieces were vintage, from the 1930s and 40s. Our wedding bands were a gift from my grandparents, both of whom passed away when I was young. My mom, aunt, and bridesmaids made bouquets and corsages using flowers from Sam’s Club.

When we arrived at the church, there was scaffolding everywhere--no one had told us about the summer-long construction project! Music is so important to us, especially to Ben, and the songs for the liturgy included “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Love Divine All Loves Excelling,” accompanied by a beautiful organist and trumpeter.

We spent significant time choosing the Mass readings--Isaiah 43:1-3a, Psalm 128, Ephesians 5:2, 21-33, and Matthew 10:5a, 8-16--and writing our own petitions. It was incredibly special to share with our loved ones the words that spoke to us.

Our priest, Fr. Appel, gave the most beautiful homily. He spoke of the roots of the word "marriage," coming from the idea of “throwing your lot in” with another; in other words, taking a gamble. He explained that marriage is not intended for those who plan their entire future or have set expectations. Marriage is saying yes to the risk of committing your entire life to another.

Nearly every bride says her wedding day goes too fast; that she blinks and it’s over. We didn’t feel that way, and I credit it a single decision: to eat dinner by ourselves. Ben and I escaped to a side room during the cocktail hour to a side room and spent twenty minutes as just the two of us. Instead of running around, this time slowed us down and re-centered our focus: we had just gotten married! In the quiet, we were able to reflect on and celebrate what had just taken place.

Our reception venue was a beautiful club established in the 1800s, with wood paneling, antique lighting, a ballroom, and even an old-style bowling alley. We enjoyed having multiple spaces for hosting. The cocktail hour was held on the main floor of the building, where a wraparound porch overlooks an expansive front lawn prepared with tables, drinks, and yard games. Dinner and dancing were held upstairs in the ballroom, featuring chandeliers, wood floors, and a balcony. The movement was a key factor in the atmosphere--we wanted to transition our guests between relaxed socializing for cocktails, intimate dinner party vibes for dinner, and lively dancing for the rest of the night.

For reception décor, we sent our families on a mission to buy as many candles as possible. The room was aglow with over 800 candles in crystal holders Ben’s dad has collected over the years. My mom sewed all 88 yards of the table runners we used.

There were so many happy tears on our wedding day, particularly when my dad asked to cut our first dance short because he just couldn’t take it anymore! We danced to the lullaby he sung my sister and I every night before bed.

All of the speeches were beautiful, but my dad’s especially. He brought out the 2x4 board my family had used to measure our heights as children. He got out the measuring book and pencil, and measured Ben on our childhood memory, making him officially a part of the family. He also prepared the back of the board for the next generation of grandkids.

Ben and I both use one word when describing our wedding day: humbled. Humbled by the help our family and friends gave so readily in the months beforehand. Humbled by all our loved ones who came to celebrate with and show their love for us. And humbled by the blessing that is a lifelong union with each other and with Christ.

Photography: Mike Burley Photography | Church: St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Davenport, IA | Wedding Reception Venue : The Outing Club, Davenport, IA | Rings: Doland JewelersBorsheims | Flowers: Sam’s Club | Invitations/Stationary: Designed by bride, Printing | Brides dress and veil: Handmade | Jewelry: Terry O’sFemByDesign | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | The Tie Bar | Hairstylist: Annette Johnson | Rentals: Century Car and Van RentalTriple A Rentals