Bridget + KC | Traditional Christmas Octave Wedding

During a carpool to a retreat at a dinnertime pit stop, Bridget and KC met in a Wendy's checkout line as sophomores in college.

During the retreat, they bonded over The Food Network, dishwashing, and prayer. These conversations sparked a wonderful friendship. They looked forward to running into each other at their St. Paul University Catholic Center, and KC walked Bridget to her car each evening to make sure she was safe.

One afternoon after daily Mass, KC asked her on a date. Bridget thought about how much she appreciated him asking in person, and specifically "on a date" before enthusiastically saying yes. They went to a pumpkin patch and corn maze and were amazed to spend six hours together without a single lull in conversation.

After some prayer and discernment, they officially started dating a few weeks later.

From the Bride: For the next two years our “ongoing date” was trying to visit as many churches as we could. At each location we prayed in, we picked up a rock from outside the church and numbered it. Looking back on these rocks, we like to think about the churches and the prayers they represent. They are the rocks we have built our relationship with, like the reflection in Matthew 7.

During this time, I was able to spend two weeks visiting KC while he studied abroad. We went to Italy for Holy Week and spent Good Friday in Assisi. We even attended the Easter Vigil in St Peter's. Being in Rome for Easter was such an amazing opportunity for prayer, joy, and discernment for our relationship’s future.

While we were long-distance, we also scheduled holy hours together, taking into account the time difference, so that we could still pray together. Being united in prayer made the distance more bearable.

KC proposed in September 2016 at St Mary’s of Pine Bluff church. The proposal was at the end of a scavenger hunt for letters that each included a puzzle piece. When I found him in front of the altar he said, "I think you have some puzzle pieces. We work best together as a team, will you help me put it together?"

The puzzle read "Will you marry me?" and KC asked me, "Bridget, would you do me the honor of allowing me to love you into heaven?" I obviously said "yes!

Our engagement seemed like a long one, but the whole time it was apparent that Christ was still working on our hearts and helping us to become better versions of ourselves so we could be the best spouses for each other. Every aspect of our marriage prep highlighted areas we still needed to grow personally and spiritually. We named Sts. Francis and Claire patrons of our engagement.

Planning a wedding together was so much fun, and I was very excited to have KC's enthusiastic help in the process, especially with the nuptial Mass.

Our main goal and theme of our Mass was "verso l'alto" (an Italian phrase made famous by Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that means “to the top” or “towards the heights”). We wanted everything to point to Christ and to give glory to God.

When meeting with our main celebrant, Fr. Eric Sternberg, he asked us, "What is our goal here? Have a beautiful Mass and a fun party, or knock everyone’s socks off by being a tool of evangelization and praise the Most High God?" We laughed a little, not really seeing the difference, and said "both?" He chuckled a little and responded, "right answer, I am so excited."

We knew we were lucky to be married at St. Paul’s, the university chapel where our relationship began and grew. Additionally, we told Fr. Eric the more smells, bells, and gold we could incorporate, the better. Our wedding was planned to take place within the octave of Christmas, so why not? Not only were we receiving a sacrament, we were also celebrating Christ's birth!

My family has been blessed to have many priest friends, several of whom are godfathers to my siblings, so naturally they had to be included in the Mass. The total number of celebrants came to seven, plus a deacon. We had hoped to have Bishop Morlino there too, a good friend of my family, but we were not able to extend an invitation before his passing in November. Our Mass was served by several seminarian friends and two of my brothers.  

KC and I wanted to make sure there was a lot of symbolism and tradition in the Mass, even if only the two of us noticed or knew about it.

For example, both of our rings are custom-made. KC’s ring was crafted with a band of gold from his mom's old wedding ring and set between two bands of silver from her purity ring. His growth and spiritual life was kindled by his mother. Now it is my responsibility to support and care for him in this vocation.

My engagement ring has his mom's diamond from her same old wedding band, and my wedding band has fifteen tiny diamonds that I associate with a number of spiritual references: the fifteen prayers of St Bridget, my patron saint, the fifteen original mysteries of the rosary, and the fourteen stations of the cross, plus the resurrection.

My bridal colors we also chosen for religious symbolism: burgundy for the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen's ties with gold as an accent. Not only was our wedding within the octave of Christmas (and those are both great Christmas colors), it was on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and we decided on red for those precious martyrs. Shades of red also symbolized devotion to the Sacred Heart, which runs through our family and social circle.

KC and I had a candle lit in the sanctuary with Bishop Morlino's photo in memory of him, and our recessional hymn, “O God Beyond All Praising,” was partially chosen with him in mind, since it was one of his favorites.

We also memorized our vows, rather than repeating after the priest. KC and I wanted to make sure our vows were ones that we knew forward and backward and fully understood what they meant. It was a little weird to practice our vows with each other in the months before our wedding, so we replaced "husband" and "wife" in the first line with "friend" while we practiced.

At our wedding, we both almost said “friend,” and it was funny for the two of us, even though no one else knew! But it was very worth it, and we still hold hands once in a while and repeat our vows to each other.

The Mass was celebrated ad orientem, and we incorporated many Latin responses. Readings were chosen with Theology of the Body in mind and as much foreshadowing of the heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb as possible. The gospel reading (Jn 2:1-11) is one of our favorites because it contains the last recorded words of Mary: "Do whatever He tells you." They are a good command for us to remember as we begin our life together following God's plan.

We each had a holy hour the morning of the wedding and went to confession the night before. My father walked with me to the bride and groom’s "first look." KC and I wanted to process into the church together, so in order to still give my dad the opportunity to "give the bride away," we had him escort me then.

After our first look, my parents gathered with us to share a prayer they had written for us. KC and I read our letters to each other and prayed together for a brief, special moment. Then, just before starting the processional, my bridesmaids prayed over me.  

The Mass was a dream. Everything went smoothly; our musicians (all music majors and two opera/musical theater majors) were phenomenal.  KC says that our friend Ben put Andrea Bocelli to shame with his Ave Maria for our Marian consecration, which was the final day of our 33 Days to Morning Glory renewal. There was so much joy, peace, and excitement for both of us as we knelt and prayed after communion.

One of the priests told us afterwards that seeing the joy and radiance on our faces as we prayed gave him so much hope for the future and deepened his flame of love for his own bride, the Church.

We didn't share our first kiss at the altar. Rather, we snuck off for a few moments alone in one of the spiritual direction rooms in the basement of the Newman Center. Those moments were so important for us to share our joy, prayers, and thoughts from Mass and to take a deep breath before family photos and being passed around from guest to guest the rest of the evening.

Our honeymoon was in Italy, where we made another pilgrimage to Assisi to thank Sts. Francis and Claire for their intercession in our engagement and to Rome for the Sposi Novelli blessing.

Wedding planning can be a lot of fun if you are striving to have a celebration that reflects goodness, truth, and beauty. KC and I encountered our own share of spiritual warfare, but because God always comes through on his promises, we received many, many comments from our priests and our guests about how peaceful everything and everyone was.

We could feel that peace too. When we trust the Lord, really trust him to take care of things and to have a better plan than we have, everything works out, and it brings joy and light to other people's personal and spiritual lives.

Photography: Wild Elegance LLC | Church: St. Paul's University Catholic Center | Reception: St. Paul's University Catholic Center | Rings: Diny's Diamonds (Madison, WI) | Dress: Brides N Belles (Reedsburg, WI) | Veil: JJ's House | Shoes: Amazon, Overstock | Brides Jewelry: Handmade | Groom's Suit: JC Penney | Cake: To Di For (Stoughton, WI) | Hair and MU: The Posh Beauty Bar, done by Katrina (Stoughton, WI) | Caterer: Blue Plate Catering | DJ: Midwest Sound DJs | Flowers: DIY, purchased through Costco floral | Girls dresses and mens suits were purchased on their own. Men's ties were from Amazon. | Invitation Suite: By the bride

Jenny + Sam | Summertime Texas Wedding

“Through desire, [God] enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity for receiving him.” These words from Pope Benedict XVI echoed in Jenny’s heart as she prepared to marry her beloved Sam.

Jenny and Sam’s love story is one of virtuous patience and beautiful triumph, the rich fruits of Jenny’s trust while suffering a deep desire and longing to begin her vocation--for marriage.

Through their mutual devotion to their faith and love of Mother Mary, Jenny and Sam were married on a bright, summertime day in Texas.

From the Bride: It was a struggle for me to deeply desire marriage and not enter my vocation until I was 34 (and 1/2) years old. I had already watched many of my friends get engaged, married, and start a family. I did not know why God would have me suffer with such a deep desire for the vocation of marriage and not fulfill it.

I didn’t know it, but he was working out everything for the good--it just wasn't time yet. Through my suffering, my relationship with God became stronger and stronger. I even traveled to be a missionary teacher abroad for two years in the hope that maybe God wanted to work in me more before he revealed my husband to me.

When I returned from missionary work, I dated a little and put myself out there, going to young adult retreats and social functions at my church. But it seemed that many times, as most singles will complain, "the good guys are all gone."

Finally, after a summer of getting my heart broken and many unsuccessful dates, I decided to try one last round of online dating. I had joined an app when I came across Sam's profile. I thought he was cute, and he made some funny comments. He also said he was Catholic. What?! We connected and hit it off.

I quickly discovered that our morals and values as well as our devotion to our Catholic faith aligned perfectly. We also found out we had many common interests, like running. On our first date, he told me he was looking to get married. Wow, I thought. This was a first. I knew he was special, and we quickly prayed about the next steps. Before long, we knew the Lord was bringing us together for a purpose.

What I loved about Sam was his patience with me. Throughout our courtship he showed me the man he truly was. Although we lived across town from each other, we made it a point to attend Mass together every Sunday. We enjoyed attending confession and both had a devotion to Mary, Our Mother, and prayed the rosary often. We truly believe she helped guide us on our journey.

Sam planned the perfect proposal; it was just him and I. We had gotten coffee, and I was getting stressed with work and felt unsure where our future was heading. He told me that Mary would make it all better and show us the way, so we prayed the rosary together. In that moment I knew Sam was truly the one the Lord had planned for me. I prayed “not my will but your will, Lord, but I really like him!” When I opened my eyes, Sam was on his knees, and he asked me to be his wife. God's perfect plan was unfolding in front of me, and I was overjoyed to start the next chapter with this man.

Our engagement was a whirlwind since I was a teacher who was off work in the summer. We were eager to start our lives together, and we knew we wanted a summertime wedding.

But that meant we had only six months to plan a wedding for three hundred guests! Although it was stressful at times, Sam and I really enjoyed our Pre-Cana classes and preparing for marriage. We learned so much about each other and our faith, and we know it prepared us for the sacrament.

Our wedding day was the best day of our lives.

Pope Benedict XVI, said “Man was created for greatness–for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. By delaying his gift, God strengthens our desire; through desire, he enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity for receiving him.”

My entire life has been a process of God enlarging my soul and increasing my heart’s capacity to receive the gift of my marriage on July 21, 2018.

Through suffering, a lot of waiting, prayer, brokenness, redemption, and through the Eucharist, Christ was preparing me for Sam. He was preparing me to say my own “fiat” like Mary did (Luke 1:38) when he offered me the wonderful gift of my husband and our new journey together.

My mom was in charge of most of the planning for the reception, and Sam and I planned the ceremony. We wanted a beautiful, holy Mass and a joyful reception with all our family and friends. We were married in Sam's childhood church and included many Catholic traditions such as the lazo in the liturgy. We knew from the start we would also include the presentation of flowers to Mother Mary. After we prayed together and laid flowers at the foot of Mary, we gave a special rose to our mothers.

Sam and I found out during the wedding process that we have many of the same favorite Catholic hymns, like the communion hymn “Taste and See,” and incorporated them into the Mass. The priest gave a wonderful homily about the love of Jesus and the great sacrament of marriage.

When I saw Sam standing at the altar, all I remember is thanking Jesus. And as I walked with my father down the aisle, carrying my new mother-in-law’s rosary as my “something borrowed,” I smiled as I gazed at Sam, who was crying. It was a beautiful moment, and I felt so close to Christ.

The reception afterwards was a night to remember! We had delicious food and great entertainment. We did the Grand March (a German tradition) that got everyone out on the dance floor. Then came our first dance. Sam and I love to two-step to country music, and it was a special moment as all of our family and friends surrounded us to watch us have our first dance as husband and wife.

There was pure joy and peace the whole day of our wedding, and it remains even now in our marriage. Christ is so good and faithful!

Photography: Meeker Pictures | Church: Saint Mary Catholic Church-Plantersville, Texas | Bridal Portraits- Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church- Houston, TX | Reception: The Brownstone Reserve- Bryan, Texas | Food: City View Catering | Cake: Cakes by Gina | Gown: Stella York @ Whittington Bridal | DJ: DJ Mark Bobo | Florist: Trica Barksdale Designs | Hair/Make-up: Naturally Flawless | Bridesmaid Dresses: KFbridal | Flower girl dresses: Pink Princess | Men's suits: Men's wearhouse | Wedding planning: Ashley &Co. | Invitations: Dromgooles | Bridal portrait flowers: Lambrie Floral designs

Meg + Tim | Vintage Italian-Inspired Wedding

Meg and Tim deeply desired that their wedding be a witness to the beauty of the sacrament and of their beloved Catholic faith. Incorporating their love for the Latin Mass into the Novus Ordo liturgy, they gave their guests an experience of grace, tradition, and God’s enduring love.

Their love story is one of online dating, adventure, and homemade limoncello.

From the Bride: Tim and I met on Catholic Match in late 2014, but we didn't meet in person until June 2015. We finally stood face to face on a softball field a few days before I left for a new adventure in Italy and Tim left for a camping trip in Quetico, Canada. But we didn’t know the biggest adventure of our lives was around the corner.

After Tim survived a canoe capsizing in Canadian waters (rough stuff), and I endured Italian wine and culture (even rougher), we returned to the U.S. and began forming a friendship founded upon a mutual love of good music, friendly sports competition, and our Catholic faith.

Our devotion to Our Lady, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John Paul the Great have been at the core of our relationship even into marriage. We just welcomed our first child, a daughter, on November 11 of last year. We named her Teresa "Tessa" Rose after the Little Flower.

Tim and I knew from the beginning that we wanted our wedding day to be about Christ and his Mother, our families, and being a beautiful witness for the Catholic faith. We had grown in our faith life separately and together, but we were excited to share the Father's love with our guests as well.

I grew up attending the Latin Mass, and knew I wanted our nuptial Mass to reflect many of the traditions from the Tridentine Mass. So we planned a Latin Novus Ordo Mass that was a beautiful mix of old and new traditions.

I will never forget what our priest, Father Nathan Caswell, said during his homily: “You don't know the beauty and mystery of the good times and the hard times that await.” It made me all the more excited for the vows we would be exchanging just moments later.

It was really important to us to include Psalm 34, "I will bless the Lord at all times" into the liturgy. It echoes how we want to live our marriage; through the good and the bad, we will bless the Lord. The gospel reading was equally important because we saw our nuptial Mass as an opportunity to evangelize. We chose John 5:12-16 to share Christ's message:

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

The aesthetic of our wedding was meant to echo a vintage, summertime Italian day. We wanted it to be reminiscent of the summer Tim and I met. Only a few days after our meeting, we continued communicating while I was in Italy, a beautiful, romantic country where I couldn't help but think that Tim and I had a bright future together.

In keeping with our vintage theme, my dress had short sleeves, an ivory hue, delicate details, and many buttons. My shoes were a vintage heel and were my "something blue." My necklace had a gold chain that held an aquamarine heart and was my “something borrowed.” Just two months after they began dating, my dad had given it to my mom, which is also when they were engaged! More than thirty years later, they are still going strong.

As I was getting ready the morning of the wedding, I knew I'd have trouble bending down in my form-flattering dress to strap my shoes, but my younger brother was at the ready. He helped me strap them in a loving, organic moment that I will remember forever. His simple act of service started the day out right.

Our reception was held at the Old Towne Hall in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It was the place I had envisioned hosting a wedding reception at ever since I had been there for a swing dancing social years earlier. It was quaint and vintage-y in so many ways. The tin, scalloped ceiling especially was our favorite element.

To further include the Italian theme and my Italian heritage, Tim and I made our own limoncello, an Italian liqueur made from lemons, vodka, and sugar, as favors for our guests. I designed the label and wrote out tags that read "Grazie!" That’s Italian for "thank you!"

A few close family members brought homemade desserts to share as well, which added a special touch. A family favorite is “baklawa” (similar to the Greek dessert baklava). My husband has Iraqi roots, and this was a special nod to his mother's side of the family.

But perhaps the greatest surprise of the day was my two sisters' performance of the "Sisters" skit from White Christmas. They really kicked off the reception with a bang. I had no idea it was coming, and I laughed and laughed, all while singing along with them. My bouquet landing on one of the chandeliers during the toss is probably the second biggest surprise of the day--if not the most embarrassing! We still laugh about it!

In the days, and especially the night, before the wedding, I was praying for peace and to be fully present during my wedding day. I woke up on June 10 and felt absolutely at peace. I experienced incredible joy the whole day, and I knew my prayer had been answered by the Holy Spirit. Ask, and you shall receive.

I felt the closest I have ever felt to our Lord as I knelt with my husband in the sanctuary. Our guests were so thoughtful, and their support was so important to us on that day, but it seemed like everything melted away. In that moment, it was just God, Tim, and I on the altar.



Photography: Kyle and Heidi Photography | Church: St. Peter Catholic Church - Volo, IL | Reception Venue: Old Towne Hall, Crystal Lake, IL | Calligraphy: Calligraphy by Meg Em | Wedding Cake: Konrad's Bakery | Bridesmaids' Dresses - JJ's House | Groomsmen Attire - Perry Ellis | Reception Music - Music That Moves | Wedding bands - Zales | Engagement ring: Groom's mother | Hair: Bella Vita Salon | Flowers - Debbie Strand Designs | Bride's Dress/Veil: David's Bridal | Invitations: Vistaprint


Fabiola + Cole | Vatican City Basilica Wedding

Gratitude, love, and faith can exist in the midst of profound suffering, through God’s miraculous grace. This is what Fabiola experienced when she faced her mother’s unexpected diagnosis, two years after meeting her future husband, Cole.

A couple years later, to her great joy, her mother sat, beautiful and glowing, at her daughter’s wedding. Fabiola and Cole’s unspeakably beautiful nuptial Mass took place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

From the Bride: Meeting Cole was a gift from God. I met him at a time of my life when I was worry-free, in college, always smiling, and thanking the Lord for so many blessings.

Four years later, I am still striving to live that way, but life has gotten harder. Two years after we started dating, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I prayed for strength to help my mom fight, and, of course, for healing.

I have always been a girl of strong faith, but this was incredibly difficult. And in the midst of it, Cole was there to remind me, "Fab, hold on to your faith. God's got this." He was right. God answered my prayers and sent me strength, and that strength was through Cole. He was, and is, my rock.

Cole proposed in front of my whole family, and we got married in the most beautiful place in the world: St. Peter's Basilica. The doctors were unsure if my mother would attend our wedding, but I knew in my heart she would be there, and she was.

Our ceremony was so incredibly beautiful. During the Mass, a light shined on my mom the whole time, and the amount of love in the church was breathtaking. The Holy Spirit was alive in all of our hearts.

The celebration was in English, Spanish, and Italian, our three languages. The priest who celebrated our marriage was Father Claudio Barbut, who we met at a healing Mass for my mom. His homily was all about Christ living within us.

We had almost 200 guests attend from all over the world. There were many different beliefs and religions in one room, but every guest held the crucifix that Fr. Claudio handed around before I arrived. When I saw the cross with a beautiful prayer in the hands of my family and friends, my heart was filled with joy.

Fr. Claudio gifted us a wooden cross which we held during the ceremony. Cole and I kissed the cross and promised to keep Christ the center of our marriage forever. When I close my eyes and relive that day, I smile and thank God for every second of it.

I felt so much gratitude. For my mom and how beautiful she was. To know she was right there with me. It was the perfect start to my marriage, and it made Cole and I thankful for every blessing that comes our way.

He knew Christ was the center of my world when he met me, and now Christ is the center of our marriage. At the end of the day, instead of asking for something, I have learned to start every prayer with “thank you.”

We make plans, but God has a perfect plan, and we're ready for what he has planned for us. Marriage is not perfect, and life is not perfect, but when Cole and I look at each other and love each other as Jesus would, we can overcome anything.

Photography: Aberrazioni Cromatiche Studio | Church: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City | Reception: Casina di Macchia Madama | Flowers: Dordas Flowers

Resi + Jason | Fairytale-Inspired Filipino Wedding

For Resi and Jason, what began as an unlikely online match turned into something so much more.

By the time they reached the altar, their courtship had transformed both their spiritual lives and taught them a more Christ-like meaning of love and marriage. Their wedding reflected the beauty of the sacrament, a deep appreciation for their families’ culture, and the beginning of their vocational path to heaven.

From the Bride: My husband, Jason, and I met in one of the most unexpected, probably “least-Christian” ways: through Tinder, the dating app! Fortunately, he was the first and only person I ever met online.

I am a “cradle Catholic,” but if it wasn’t for my husband and his family, I might not be Catholic today. After going through another breakup, I prayed to God for someone to love, but only if he thought I was ready. I felt that I was. Not long after that prayer, I met the man who would become my husband.

They say not to talk about religion on the first date, but we did. I was exploring non-denominational Christianity, and Jason was a lukewarm Catholic. In spite of this, he invited me to go to Mass with him one Sunday a few weeks into our courtship.

I had not been to Mass in a long time, but I agreed. It was the first time I had been invited to church by a man I was dating. It would be the first of many Masses together at the church where we would be married, but I didn’t know that at the time.

His older sister was also a big influence in my return to the Catholic faith. She introduced me to the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly that sparked a fire in my search for truth. Since then we have all been growing together in understanding and love of the faith we were raised in.

Jason proposed on Christmas Eve 2016 while we were opening gifts with his family, two and a half years into our relationship. My family was unable to make it to dinner, but I was on the phone with them immediately after it happened. About a year and a half later, we were married on May 12, 2018 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Poway, California.

The theme for our wedding was “simple, elegant, and fun.” We are both huge Disney fans, so we wanted it to have a fairytale touch without overspending on insignificant details. We both come from large Filipino families as well, so we had a grand celebration with around 220 guests!

I chose two matrons of honor, and my husband had two best men. All four were equally special to us and played a significant role in our relationship. My six bridesmaids wore floor length burgundy dresses, and the flower girls wore ivory and gold. Jason’s six groomsmen picked burgundy-patterned neckties, and our fathers wore black bow ties. My handsome groom decided on a blend with a burgundy-patterned bow tie.

I found my wedding dress on an unexpected shopping trip with my sister-in-law. It was love at first sight!

Women my size, petite (4’11”), are commonly advised not to wear ball gowns because they tend to overwhelm us. But this is not always so. I almost didn’t try on a ball gown, but my stylish future-sister-in-law insisted I try one on for fun--and how fun it was to wear! I was debating between that and a figure flattering dress when the stylist came out with a big ruffled ball gown skirt to wear over a sequined mermaid style dress. It was the best of both worlds!

I wore the overskirt for the ceremony until the start of the reception. I truly felt like a bride and a princess. It was so big that after taking pre-ceremony pictures with it, I had to remove it, take it with me, and put it on again at church.

The shoes I chose to wear were also special. They were the same ones I wore for my 26th birthday, the day Jason and I officially became a couple.

Jason is the last of his siblings to get married. We were so blessed that our celebrant, Father Mel Monreal, is a close friend of his family; he celebrated all my husband’s siblings’ nuptial Masses as well.

Choosing how to walk down the aisle was another decision that took some thought. I wanted my entrance to represent coming to the altar of my own free will, but I also wanted to have both my parents walk beside me. We decided to, literally, meet in the middle. I went solo for the first half down the aisle and was then accompanied by my parents the rest of the way.

Jason and I did not do a pre-ceremony “first look.” While neither of us shed a tear during the procession, the moment we said our vows was a different story.

Our priest allowed us to step into the sanctuary so the entire congregation could more easily witness our vows. As I looked across to the man who was about to become my husband, my throat began to tighten. Realizing that this was the moment we would become one flesh, I was barely able to talk. I could see the emotion in my husband’s eyes as they began to water, just like mine. It was truly a beautiful moment.

At the beginning of our engagement, I learned about Theology of the Body. This completely changed my understanding of marriage and sexuality. My husband was reluctant to accept the theology at first, but after our Engaged Encounter retreat his heart opened, and we vowed to follow the life Christ wanted for us in marriage.

And so, we came to the altar on our wedding day with a deeper understanding of the vows were making to each other and to God. We still remind each other often of these vows and what they mean as we continue to grow deeper in our faith and in our marriage.

Jason and I had a traditional, Filipino Catholic wedding, which means we included coins, a cord, and veil ceremonies. I don’t think many people knew this, but the cord and veil we used were the same ones my parents used in their wedding 31 years ago! The thirteen coins, which are shiny, gold Philippine currency, were given to us by one of my matrons of honor; she had an extra set from her wedding. All of these are symbolic of the everlasting bond, unity, fidelity, and wealth and prosperity (in all forms) that we promise to each other.

After the nuptial Mass, when our coordinators showed us the ballroom before the reception began, I surprised my husband with my form-fitting dress. It was like having another “first look!”

I surprised everyone else during our grand entrance as we shimmied down the hall to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” After our entrance, Jason’s aunt led us in a thoughtful, extemporaneous prayer before dinner. We wanted food to be served during everyone’s toasts so our guests wouldn’t be hungry.

The most memorable thing about the speeches was that they all recognized how God has been at the center of our relationship. My dad even recognized my sister-in-law for playing such a significant role in my spiritual growth. By the end, there was no dry eye left in the reception hall.

Unlike most weddings, our first dance didn’t immediately follow our grand entrance. We decided to wait until after all the toasts and father-daughter/mother-son dances so we could open the dance floor to everyone. It was a nice transition to go from formal dining to dancing.

Before the wedding, Jason and I took dance lessons and modified the choreography to match the music cut by our DJ. We had two different songs: a slow song, “Beautiful As You” by Jim Brickman ft. Wayne Brandy, followed by the upbeat song, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. My husband is known for his dance moves, and he surprised me with a solo dance in between the transition of the two songs. After all the stressful planning, it was fun to have a little surprise!

Our wedding day was such a meaningful, joyful occasion, and it was only the beginning. It went far beyond the aesthetics and making a promise to love one person for the rest of our lives; our wedding wasn’t just about choosing another person to “get through life with.” It was the first day we vowed to lead each other to heaven.

Additionally, our wedding wasn’t just about us. It was about our community and our faith. Our families are now joined together, and we have a whole army of people to lift each other up! In choosing a sacramental marriage, we promised to be an effective sign of God’s love, and we are constantly learning how to love each other as Jesus loves us. In doing so, we hope that when people see us, they are directed towards Jesus and his love for each of us. It is my hope that our faith in God will continue to be deeply reflected in our marriage.

Videographer - Blue Tiger Films

Photography: True Photography | Church: St. Michael's Catholic Church - Poway, California | Reception: Maderas Golf Club | Wedding Dress (& Veil) - Enzoani & Ysa Makino via Here Comes The Bride | Wedding Planner - Lavish Weddings | Rings - San Diego Jewelry Brokers | Hair - Mish Mucho | Lashes - Kailani Blue | Makeup - Kristine Davis | Florist - Tessfresh Flowers | Videographer - Blue Tiger Films | DJ - DreMotion Entertainment | Cake - Jessie's Bake Shop | Bridesmaid Dresses - Mori Lee via 2000 Dreams Bridal

Brooke + Austin | Timeless Autumnal Nebraska Wedding

“If there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From the beginning of their romantic relationship into their new marriage, Brooke and Austin have strove to live in the wisdom of Scripture and the beauty of the sacraments. They know that saying “yes” to a strong relationship with the Lord is a “yes” to greater intimacy as husband and wife.

Their elegant, timeless wedding, centered around the sacrifice of the Mass, shows the joy of a community celebrating the union of this abundantly blessed couple.

From the Bride: Austin and I travelled in the same college friend group for three years. During our junior year, he showed up at my front door and asked to take me out on a date. He wanted to get to know me better.

I knew in that moment that Austin was something special, because you don't see men pursue a woman like that too often.

It was important to incorporate our faith from the very beginning. Throughout our relationship, we went to Mass together on Sundays and at least once during the week. Austin even shared his testimony with me one night and explained that I inspired him in his faith, and that I made him want to be a better man of God. I told him he inspired the exact same aspiration in me.

And so, we got engaged.

Austin and I wanted the Mass to be the center and most important part of our wedding day. I had not been living in Omaha long before we got engaged, so I had not yet found my home parish. I was looking for a place that felt like home and radiated God's presence. I knew after the first Mass I attended at St. Robert's that it was the church community I had been seeking. It would also be the parish where Austin and I would be married. They welcomed us with open arms.

Before the wedding began, the bridal party and parents gathered for a prayer led by our celebrant, Fr. Matya. The readings we chose were not common readings for a nuptial Mass, but were readings that spoke to our values as a couple that we wanted to build our married life on.

The gospel was Philippians 4:4-9, which includes a verse we both love: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

The most special part of the Mass was our time after communion praying and asking for Mary’s intercession. We truly felt the presence of God in that moment and prayed that Mary would guide us along our new path as husband and wife.

Our wedding style was elegant and classic. Chic while remaining traditional. I am not all about glitz and glam, but I love a simple, timeless look. Because the wedding was in the fall, I chose a color theme with darker tones and greenery touches. I focused on the "burnt mauve" color and gold accents.

Looking back, our wedding day was another huge reminder of how much God has blessed Austin and I. One memorable thing we did happened during the reception. We stood in the back of the room and looked out at everyone celebrating our marriage. It was a day spent with all our loved ones supporting us during this special time.

Austin is the man I have prayed for my entire life. Actually, he's even better than the man I prayed for. I asked God for a faithful, loving husband, and God sent me that in Austin--and more. We are constantly striving to be better stewards of God’s grace and learning how to carry out his plan for us every day. We have learned the challenges it brings, but Austin and I have fought through them together.

The biggest challenge we have encountered is figuring out how to pray together, not settling for less in our faith lives, or becoming distracted away from time with God. We pushed past this challenge by reading a spiritual resource every day together and reflecting on it. Our favorite readings include the Bible (of course!), Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen, My Daily Bread, and Fr. Mike Schmitz’s podcast.

Austin and I know if we choose to say "yes" to having a strong relationship with God, we will also feel closer to one another and become better versions of ourselves.

Photography: Kelli Dornbos | Church: St. Robert Bellarmine, Omaha NE | Wedding Reception Venue : Embassy Suites in the Old Market, Omaha NE | Bride's Wedding Gown: Ready or Knot | Bride's Veil: Ready or Knot | Alterations: Livia Designs | Graphic designer for all wedding stationery (invites, programs, placecards, etc): Brooke Sankey | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ready or Knot (Jenny Yoo collection in Cinnamon Rose) | Groom's Suit: Jerry Ryan | Groom's Tie: Tie Bar | Groomsmen suits: Jerry Ryan | Groomsmen/Ring Bearer Ties: Tie Bar
Makeup artist: Kate Johnson | Hair Stylist: Emily Jackson | Florist: iBloom (Lincoln, NE) | Reception Wedding Planner: Adrianne Lescanic
Flower petals for throwing: Sam's Club | Videographer: Tom Hoxmeier | Party Bus: Emerald Limosine | DJ: Complete Wedding and Events | Cake: Whisk + Measure | Biscotti: Enjoy Biscotti Company (based in Colorado) | Jeweler: Wrights Jewelry (Lincoln, NE)

Wedding Week Hospitality Tips

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Hospitality is a virtue, especially during wedding week.

The days leading up to the wedding can make a bride’s life hectic and navigating the craziness can pose challenges. Not only are you the guest of honor, but you also play the role of hostess, extending hospitality to all of your guests, especially those coming from out of town.

Here are some ideas to help your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and out of town wedding guests feel welcomed and loved:

Accommodations

Finding accommodations may be challenging for out-of-town guests and members of the wedding party, so they would probably appreciate help finding nice (and affordable) places to stay.

Block rooms at a local hotel or, if possible, offer your spare room as an option. You could also ask around; if you have family or friends that live nearby, they may be willing to house incoming guests.

Welcome bags

Consider leaving small gift bags or baskets for your guests to receive when they arrive at their hotel.

You can fill the bag with items that may be helpful throughout the weekend such as water bottles, snacks, mints, pain relievers, and directions to the ceremony and reception. Or you might want to throw in some fancier items like a small bottle of champagne, chocolates, or local delicacies.

If you are on a strict budget, consider leaving a little welcome note or brochures about local restaurants and attractions in the rooms of your guests instead.

Provide for your Wedding Party

Chances are members of the wedding party have probably spent a fair amount of money to help make your wedding day even more special. Anticipating and filling their needs is a wonderful way to show them that you appreciate them.

Offer them a ride from the airport, and help them find a place to stay. You can host a dinner after they arrive into town or provide a nice breakfast the morning of the wedding. You can also have some snacks and drinks available wherever they are getting ready.

Having their basic needs met will help them more fully enjoy their weekend celebrating you and your soon to be spouse.

After the Ceremony

With the already packed wedding day itinerary, many couples understandably opt not to have a receiving line after the ceremony. But if your schedule allows it or if you are looking for a way to make sure you have a moment with all your guests a receiving line is a great option.

When planning the reception, keep your guests in mind. The party is for them, to celebrate you.

Make sure the food, music, and beverages can be enjoyed both by you and your new spouse, as well as the majority of your guests. That doesn’t mean you have to take every song request or have a full bar, but that you give everyone a chance to truly celebrate the great sacrament that just occurred.

Morning-after Brunch

Hosting a brunch the morning after the wedding is a special way to wrap up your wedding weekend especially if you aren’t taking a honeymoon right away.

The morning-after brunch provides a more intimate space in which you can catch up with some of your loved ones. It’s generally less hectic than the wedding reception and with the stress of the wedding day behind you, you can really enter into the joy shared by your friends and family.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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