We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.
When Sally’s friend told her she knew a man who was tall, handsome, and serious about his Catholic faith, she jokingly suggested Sally marry him. Sally was intrigued, yet hesitant; her job required a significant time commitment, and Matt had just begun medical school. At the time, he had made a decision not to date until he was done with his studies. The Lord has a way of changing our plans for the better.
When they met, spending time together among their local Young Adult ministry, the attraction was mutual. Despite the other obligations in their lives, Sally had the boldness to ask Matt out! A sense of trust and certainty about their call to marriage was clear from the beginning, and Matt proposed, with Sally’s grandmother’s ring, the following year.
From the Bride: I was talking with a few girlfriends recently about how important, but also difficult, the season of engagement tends to be. At least in my experience, it was difficult to balance planning a wedding with preparing for marriage.
Matt and I had such a desire to be together--to be fully united as husband and wife, to live in the same house, to make all our decisions together--but the reality was that we weren't there yet.
We were also learning how to build our relationship with each other and Christ, alongside the very real and often overwhelming responsibility of planning a wedding. In all of it, we received great advice from another young couple and from dear priest friend that helped us tremendously during our year-long engagement: first, focus on planning the Mass. When we felt overwhelmed by cake flavor choices or dress colors, we remembered to keep our focus on the sacrament of marriage itself.
Second, a priest told us to be at peace, because ultimately, it was Jesus who would be there on the altar with us on our wedding day.
How could we be afraid, nervous, or overwhelmed knowing that the Lord of the universe loved us so much that he would be there to unite as husband and wife, and to accompany us in our married life?
The day before our wedding, Matt and I went to confession and then Mass, just the two of us, before a flurry of family and friends arrived. I remember walking out of Mass hand in hand with a sense of peace just washing over me. We had spent the last two years falling deeper in love with each other and with Christ. We had grown in patience and trust, practiced chastity even when it was difficult, learned to pray as a couple, and finally our wedding had arrived. From that moment on, the weekend was filled with joy.
We decided to take pictures before the Mass because we wanted to spend as much time as possible at the reception with our friends and family. We took pictures at a nearby park, first just the two of us, and then the bridal party joined for group pictures. I was a little apprehensive that seeing each other before the wedding would somehow ruin the big reveal as I walked down the aisle, but it ended up being the only real opportunity Matt and I had all day to just take a deep breath and be together.
We spent a lot of time thinking through the details of our Nuptial liturgy. We were blessed to have four priests concelebrate; all of them, along with the bridal party, processed in behind the raised Cross to the hymn "O God Beyond All Praising." An unexpected benefit of choosing hymns instead of more traditional instrumental pieces for the procession is that every time one of these hymns is played at a regular Sunday Mass, it brings back all the great memories from our wedding day.
We provided wedding programs since not everyone who attended was Catholic. By including the music and major Mass parts in the program, we hoped people would feel more comfortable participating in the liturgy. One of my bridesmaids and dear friends designed the front of the program. She did an ink drawing of the altar from our home parish, where the ceremony took place. She had the original print framed, and it now hangs in our home as a beautiful reminder of our wedding day.
We chose Matthew 22:35-40 for our Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That really is what this whole Christian life is about. In marriage, God has given us the immense responsibility to help get our spouse and children to heaven, and we do this by learning to love God more perfectly.
After communion, we approached Mary and asked for her intercession in our marriage. While we spent a quiet moment at the foot of her altar, our family and friends sang the Salve Regina.
My favorite part of the whole Mass was getting to say our vows and slipping a ring over my husband's finger. I thought I would be nervous in that moment, but the Holy Spirit was so present to us. I'll never forget looking into Matt's eyes and being overwhelmed with gratitude for what God had done for us.
The reception passed by in a flash. We were lucky enough to have a wedding coordinator who snuck us into a back room of the venue for a bite to eat before we made our entrance on the dance floor. I can't recommend this enough to friends who are engaged!
Once we entered the reception, every moment was spent either dancing or hugging all of our dear friends and family who had traveled to be with us. We wouldn't have eaten anything if it weren't for those first 15 minutes in the back!
We knew that we wanted to have a fun, family-friendly reception. We decided to forego the bouquet toss, but did a traditional first dance as well as Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances. We had a simple wedding cake from a local bakery we both love, and also offered two other passed desserts.
Matt felt really strongly about choosing to wash my feet at the reception in place of a garter toss. I still remember what he said before he knelt down to wash my feet:
"Tonight, I promised you, Sally, that I would spend every day of the rest of my life loving you and serving you. So as my first act of service to you as my wife, I would like to wash your feet."
The moment was brief, but so sincere and I think speaks volumes about the kind of man my husband desires to be.
As reception favors, we gave out 4x6 watercolor prints by the talented Katrina Harrington of Rose Harrington Art that read, "The human heart is always drawn by love." We hoped this quote by Saint Catherine of Siena would be a small reminder to our guests of how much we love them.
We also had a lot of fun planning the smaller details of our day. My engagement ring was originally my grandmother's ring, which she generously gave to Matt before he proposed. His wedding band was his grandfather's; I had it engraved on the inside with totus tuus, meaning “totally yours.” This phrase was Saint John Paul II's apostolic motto and referred to his total devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary. To us, the phrase reminds us to entrust ourselves fully to Mary and, ultimately, to Jesus--but also completely to one another.
Marriage is such a precious gift from God because it reveals--albeit inadequately--the mystery of God's love.
I marvel at the fact that in marriage, God invites me to love as he loves.
In our vows we promised "to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life." It is our job to try to live that out each day since.
We love imperfectly because we're human, but the experience of Matt loving me completely and unconditionally is truly the biggest gift I have ever received. I cannot begin to comprehend how much more God must love me. Instead, I try to simply give thanks to God daily for his abundant blessings and to serve him unconditionally.
Photography: Kelly Ginn Photography kellyginnphotography.com | Church: St. Peter Catholic Church in Memphis, TN | Wedding Reception Venue : The Atrium at Overton Square | Wedding Coordination: Michael Doyle of Lynn Doyle Flowers
Flowers: Lynn Doyle Flowers (https://www.lynndoyleflowersandevents.com/) | Catering: CFY Catering (http://cfycatering.com/) | Make-up: Kasey Acuff | Hair: Salon 387 (http://salon387memphis.com/) | DJ: DeepBlu Entertainment (http://www.deepblu.net/) | Cake: | Muddy's Bake Shop (https://www.muddysbakeshop.com/) | Wedding Favors: Rose Harrington Art (https://roseharrington.com/) | Wedding Dress & Veil: BHLDN (https://www.bhldn.com/) | Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids (https://bellabridesmaids.com/) | Tuxes: American Tuxedo (http://www.americantuxedomemphis.com/) | Invitations: Shine Wedding Invitations (https://www.shineweddinginvitations.com/)