The Unplugged Nuptial Mass: What It Is and Why It’s Valuable



In our digital age, it’s common to see wedding guests with smartphones or devices in hand. Everyone is excited to witness the joyous event, and with technology (and creative wedding hashtags), we are able to immediately share the day’s highlights with friends, family, and followers.

Photography: c/o    Studio Senn

Photography: c/o Studio Senn

While it is a great gift to instantly capture and share images instantly, the constant presence of devices can also be a source of distraction and can prevent us from fully experiencing the moment. Hence, the coined phrase: the unplugged wedding.

What is an unplugged wedding?

An unplugged wedding is when the bride and groom request that guests refrain from taking photos and videos with their devices during the wedding ceremony--and sometimes the reception, as well. This includes--but is not limited to--smartphones, iPads, and digital cameras.

While it may initially seem off-putting and forward to make such a request, here are some reasons to consider an unplugged wedding Mass, and tips for making that request charitably.

Less distraction, better images

As a wedding photographer, there have been numerous times in my career when guests have obstructed an important image. Most guests like to snap a photo when the bride walks down the aisle, for instance, and during the exchange of vows, the kiss, and procession out of the church. I’ll never forget the wedding I shot where right as the bride’s father shook hands with the groom after walking his daughter down the aisle, a wedding guest got up from her seat and stepped directly across me in order to grab a shot with her cellphone.

The exchange itself between the groom and the father, as the bride looked on with a smile, was beautiful. The image, however, now has a very obvious fourth person--and her cellphone--in the frame. For me as a photographer, it was disheartening. At the end of the day, your photographer only wants to give you and your spouse the very best photos, ones you can cherish for the rest of your days.

So, although Uncle iPhone or Aunt Samsung Galaxy mean well with their desire to take a few photos, requesting an unplugged wedding is a good option if you don’t want them and their devices to make it into the sidelines of your album images.  

Getting the most from your investment

Part of hiring a wedding photographer is trusting he or she will do the job well. Your photographer is working as a professional, and you are putting forth a good investment to ensure they will capture all of the important moments of your day. Depending on your photographer’s contract, there may also be a section stating there must be no other photographers at the wedding.

If you happen to be doing a live stream of your wedding Mass for a family member or loved one who cannot be physically present, be  sure to let your pastor, photographer, and videographer know.

Mass is a time for worship

Our Catholic faith considers the Mass to be the highest form of prayer. If non-Catholic guests are attending, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to experience the beauty of the Mass and to learn more about the faith. By being present at Mass, we directly encounter Jesus Christ in his Real Presence, in the Most Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life (CCC 1324).

So, with all the angels and Saints, we are worshipping God in a very tangible way at Mass alongside the bride and groom. With an unplugged wedding, we not only give the couple our attention. More importantly, we’re better able to give God our full attention through our worship.

"When you’re a guest, your job and privilege is to witness and pray." - Claire Watson, Claire Watson Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor

How to request an unplugged wedding?

If you and your fiancé opt for an unplugged wedding, it’s helpful to give your guests a heads up .

Spoken Bride vendor and calligrapher Sarah Erikson of Sarah Ann Design shared this simple note in her wedding program:

"To preserve the spirit of worship, please refrain from all cell phone use (including photography) while inside the church.”

Other ways to communicate your expectations are asking the priest or a loved one to make an announcement before Mass, displaying an attractive hand-lettered sign before the church entrance, or sharing the information on your wedding website and in your Mass programs.

What are your thoughts on having a unplugged wedding?

About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more


Considerations and Tips for a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Do you have plans to invite many children to your wedding?

The decision of whether to include, limit, or omit kids from your guest list is a personal choice, one unique to your relationships and directly affected by your wedding budget, venue, and time of day.

If you and your beloved are currently working out which--if any--younger friends or family members might be invited to your celebration, it’s useful to consider particular realities for the parents in your life. You might be the oldest in a large family, for instance, or have many recently married friends with babies. Parents’ ease of traveling long distances or arranging childcare can be a major factor in their ability to attend your big day and is worth bearing in mind.

Whatever your call, the temptation to fear is real: how can you avoid wounding guests or prodding sensitive relationships while maintaining healthy boundaries around your decisions? It truly can be hard to feel a sense of freedom when so many others’ expectations influence your actions.

As with many wedding-related choices, it’s helpful to discern with sensitivity, move forward with prudence and conviction, and strive for peace over attempting to please everyone. Chances are, guests who have been through the wedding planning experience themselves--especially in more recent memory--will be reasonably disposed to your choices regarding kids, understanding financial constraints and the challenges of managing a chorus of opinions and expectations.

For Catholic couples in particular, concern might arise in the heart that excluding children from your wedding--whether by necessity or choice, or even de facto circumstances--conveys a closed-off attitude to life. But don’t let yourselves believe that. Openness to life involves so much more than who is or isn’t on the guest list.

If, however, you and your fiancé do decide to have children attend, their presence is a visual testament to the fruits of married love and to your families’ history in the making, across generations. There are no guarantees they’ll behave perfectly, eat everything placed in front of them, keep their best outfits spotless. In a way, that’s the point. The family is a beautiful mess; a cenacle of growth through its very imperfection.

That said, having kids at your wedding isn’t without challenges. Here, our suggestions for cultivating a kid--and parent--friendly atmosphere.

Offer materials for the liturgy.

A month or two before your wedding, ask friends and family members to loan you any Bibles, prayer books, and religious picture books for children to page through during the Mass. Place the books in a basket near the entrance of the chapel, and designate a family member to offer them as guests arrive and regather them at the end.

If possible or necessary, consider kids when booking.

If you anticipate early on that your guests have a significant number of kids, consider keeping their needs in mind as you make your plans. A reception venue with an outdoor area, for example, facilitates play and breaks for kids and makes it easier and more feasible for young parents to attend. Serving a buffet-style meal rather than individual entrées is usually more cost-efficient.

Enlist help.

Hiring high school or college-age babysitters to assist with on-site childcare can result in a lower-stress evening for both parents and children--younger siblings of your close friends or members of your parish’s youth group are a good choice for this role. Provide activities like coloring, books, Polaroid or disposable cameras, bubbles, and board games.

Create a space for downtime.

If the layout of your reception venue allows, creating a nearby area for kids to rest or decompress is a welcome gesture. A downtime space might be as simple as blankets, snacks, and Netflix; a few chairs for nursing mothers are also thoughtful.

Encourage kids’ participation in your guest book.

Childlike faith is more than a figure of speech. For some children, your wedding might be the first they’ve attended; a glimpse of romance and joy that stirs the heart, and an experience more formal and special than their everyday . A sign inviting them to write (or dictate) a message to the bride and groom is sure to elicit humor; and most likely, wisdom.

We love the opportunity to walk beside you in the steps toward your vocation that will end--and begin--at the altar, with the help of so many like-minded sisters. Brides, we want to hear from you in the comments and on our social media: have you and your beloved struggled to come up with guidelines for inviting children to your wedding? How did you approach it, and if you had them attend, what measures helped make the day more kid and parent-friendly?

When You're the Maid of Honor



We spent hours of our childhood dreaming of this day: what our dresses would look like, how the man would react as we walked down the aisle to him, and so on. Olivia fell in love first, with a marine (she set the bar high). Watching my sister-not-by-blood fall in love was honor enough, but when she asked me to stand by her on her wedding day, I was flushed with warm admiration. It was an honor to participate in so many small, intimate ways that weekend; something I will truly cherish forever.

Listening to her tiptoe upstairs the night before, having that moment together to eat toast and sip coffee the morning of, when the earth was defrosting itself, is a cherished memory. Standing behind the church doors, as I straightened her dad's tie, she whispered, "Carolyn?" And I turned.

"Do I look okay?"

My eyes smarted with tears as I straightened her veil once more and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She pulled me into a hug, kissed my cheek, and told me she loved me. And then I had to go ahead of her.

So you're here, too--the Maid of Honor? I'm sure you're feeling just as honored as I did. Sisterhood is something so beloved, so I want to share ways to incorporate as much prayer into your best friend's day as possible. And if you're like me, I no longer lived close to the bride during her engagement, and couldn't run across the street to her house like we did when we were little. I wasn’t able to walk over and help her tie 150 ribbons for her favors.

But you can do the following, no matter how far apart you and the bride are.

Pray for her guests.

I was privileged to write out Olivia's wedding invitations, something I could do on quiet evenings in my apartment three hours away. As I wrote out her guests’ names, I realized just how many names I didn't recognize. I was curious as to who these people were, people who meant so much to Olivia and her fiancé that they were invited to join them on their big day. So over each envelope, I thanked God for their presence in the bride and groom’s lives.

I also wrote out her escort cards. Over each of these, I prayed for each guest’s safe arrival to the ceremony and reception.

Create a spiritual bouquet.

I know it's tradition to collect the ribbons from bridal shower gifts to build a bouquet for the bride to carry at her rehearsal. When I tried, it was the saddest-looking thing ever! So instead, I reached out to Olivia's friends and mine to create a spiritual bouquet. I bought white roses and scribbled the sacrifices, novenas, rosaries, and prayers our friends offered for Olivia, tying  them with twine onto the flowers. I thought she would feel more comfortable walking down the aisle holding a bouquet of prayer (some from women she’d never met) than one made of ribbon!

Take a moment to pray over her.

Even if you don’t often pray in this way, in that moment when she looks immaculate, it's minutes before go time, and the butterflies are raging, she’ll welcome it. Invite the bridesmaids to join you in prayer, place a warm palm on her shoulder for physical support, and let your heart sing its praise.

Reflect on honor.

That's who you are! The Maid of Honor. What does it mean to honor someone? What does honor deserve? What place does honor have in our faith? If we believe our Holy is who he says Hh is, then we must understand who we are.

And on this weekend, on that altar, that's what you represent.

About the Author: Carolyn Shields is the founder of The YoungCatholicWoman and is fresh off of the wedding of her sister (she set up the bride and groom!). Her current projects include web design and engagement and wedding photography


Behind the Scenes | Andi's Insider Look at the World of Catholic Wedding Planning

Andi Compton, our Business Director, planned her own birthday parties as a girl, spent hours making wedding collages as a teenager, and worked at the largest bridal store on the West Coast during college. She eventually answered the call to turn her organization and creativity into a business, Now That’s a Party, wherein she coordinates weddings primarily for Catholic couples.

Today, we’re excited to share with you an inside look at a wedding coordinator’s responsibilities--and how you, as the bride, can have the best experience with your coordinator, if you’ve chosen to hire one, and to anticipate the details that make for a smooth wedding day. Read on for Andi’s testimony, her advice for a joy-filled marriage--the fruit of 10 years with her husband, Matt--and the #1 piece of information to share with your coordinator.


You've loved weddings and had a creative streak for a long time! How did you get started in the wedding industry?

I've been planning parties since my fourth birthday, when I told my parents we were having it at Chuck E. Cheese! Each year my parties got increasingly complex. My parents were very supportive of my ever-growing love of crafts, taking me to the store for classes and demos and letting me take over a cabinet (then a closet) for all of my supplies.

Then at 15, I saw the movie The Wedding Planner. I had no idea people could earn a living getting to help others with parties! This is long before Pinterest, so I’d save my allowance to subscribe to any bridal magazine I could get my hands on, then cut and paste together mock weddings.

In college I worked at Mon Amie, the largest bridal store on the West Coast. I learned so much about the wedding industry and even got to model dresses on the weekends.

When my husband proposed, we came up with a budget and I finally got the chance to learn exactly how to put together the ideas I’d been reading about for so long. After our wedding we were blessed with a bunch of babies (and lots of birthdays to plan!), and I would occasionally help a friend with her wedding.  

Soon I was being asked to essentially coordinate these weddings. I felt a pull towards making things official with a name, website, and branding. Then came networking and coordinating styled shoots, where I could meet other local vendors and build a relationship.

Do you work mostly with Catholic couples, or with others, as well? What, to you, sets a Catholic wedding apart?

The majority of the couples I work with are Catholic, and I would really enjoy that being my focus. I still work with secular couples, but they are mostly family friends or referrals.

Jesus Christ is what sets a Catholic wedding apart! Having the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord truly present at a wedding is just beyond phenomenal.

Do you have any stories of seeing the faith come alive in the couples you've worked with?

I arrived to the church an hour early before one wedding and prayed in the Adoration chapel until the wedding party arrived. At that time, I noticed the groom was nervous. I told him to go and sit in front of our Lord for awhile, and it was beautiful to see him, his brother, and their friend in prayer.

Now That's a Party offers services from basic wedding day timelines to full-on coordination from start to finish. What aspects of wedding planning are your brides most surprised by?

I think the biggest surprises are the little details that can easily be overlooked--like ordering meals for your vendors, packing an overnight bag if you're staying with your new husband in a hotel, and designating plans for cleanup and taking gifts home.

Here’s an example of unexpected details it’s important to plan for: one wedding I did was in a park overlooking the ocean, and the bride had ordered rose petals. I had her look over city regulations, pack a rake for after the ceremony, and schedule the petals into the timeline.

Brides have so much access to visual inspiration, message boards, and dozens more resources when planning their weddings, often before they even meet their vendors. As a coordinator, have you noticed pros and cons to this?

Pinterest can be an awesome tool to visualize your ideas and discover what trends you’re drawn to. On the flip side, it can make everything seem overwhelming; almost paralyzing. The biggest downside for me is having clients say, "Sorry, this isn't really going to be Pinterest-worthy wedding," as if that were the goal.

Becoming a Pinterest trend or getting featured on a wedding blog should never be your focus. Viewers will care about it for a day or so, then move onto the next thing. But the man you're engaged to wants to be your husband for the rest of your life.

Another disadvantage of inspiration overload is that so many wedding images on Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs are simply unattainable to the average couple, yet it can tap into our vanity because we want to fit in. Few wedding blogs feature simple receptions in church hall, yet I've happily coordinated those; and truly, the couples are so filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit from their wedding. It is just beautifully infectious to all their guests.

What's the most helpful thing a couple can do for you, as their coordinator, before and during the big day?

Hands down, send me copies of every single signed contract and give me contact info for each vendor, friend, or family member who will be there for setup, as well as emergency contacts. Once I have all of that info, I can contact each vendor and helper so I know what to expect and can construct a timeline for each person involved, so we are all on the same page. That timeline is gold on the day of!

We’d love to hear stories from some of the weddings you've worked on! Are there any particularly profound moments that stand out to you? Any funny or otherwise memorable ones?

One of the most fun moments at a wedding was when a bride and groom surprised their families with a belly dancing ensemble. One of the groom's cousins came out and played drums with the drummer, and everyone there was really into it. They even danced with swords! Another couple went all out smashing cake into each other's faces. That was rare for me; in my experience, most couples are nice and don't want to make a mess.

Does being immersed in weddings and, by extension, marriage, influence your relationship with your husband and family, and vice versa?

Yes! A big trend I've seen in the past several years is elaborate, showy proposals. They are featured on blogs, go viral on YouTube, and are all over Pinterest. Though I, of course, cherish my husband, he absolutely did not stage a "dream proposal," and I've had to try really hard to develop humility, accepting the reality of what happened and growing in gratitude for who he is. A proposal is all of five minutes, but having someone by your side, someone who constantly chooses to love you in sickness and in health, in bad times and in good…well, that's real love.

Lastly, what distinctively Catholic planning secrets can you share with brides-to-be?

First, before booking any vendors, book your church. Many dioceses require 6-9 months of preparation before the wedding. Second, develop an openness to Natural Family Planning. For many couples, it's their first time delving into the technical aspects after years of just hearing about it. No matter where you’re coming from, learning about the body God gave you is truly empowering.

Photography: Leif Brandt Photography, as seen in Sara + Calvin | Sophisticated Handcrafted Wedding, coordinated by Andi.

Andi Compton is Spoken Bride's Business Director. She is the owner of Now That's a Party where she coordinates weddings, fundraising galas, and social events. Read more


3 Tips for Choosing Your Mass Music



Picking the readings and the music for your wedding Mass is an opportunity to show the beauty of the sacrament. And while it can be fun to choose the music, it can also be a daunting task. There is no end to options for liturgical music and if you haven’t grown up singing in a Church Choir, you may not know where to begin. Here, some helpful tips and suggestions to get you started.

Talk with your fiancé.

Do you imagine all the Mass parts sung in Latin? Do family members have strong opinions about what instruments belong inside a Church? Many of our Church music preferences have been deeply ingrained in us from our Mass-going days throughout our lives. You may assume your fiancé wants, for instance, to walk down the aisle to a guitar Matt Maher song like you do, when in reality he envisions Gregorian chant. You never know until you discuss it! If your tastes differ, be willing to compromise, like opting for a traditional Ave Maria along with a more modern Offertory hymn.

Get on the same page with your Music Director.

While it’s good to have some idea what music you and your fiancé like, having your parish’s  Music Director on board will ease much of the selection process. Many parishes have a guide with certain rules about what pieces you’re permitted to use--for example, did you know Wagner’s “Heres comes the Bride” is not used at Catholic Weddings? It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the rules beforehand to prevent any conflict. Then, have an open mind! Chances are, the director has been doing this a long time and will have great advice and suggestions.

Research, research, research.

Once you know what the both of you are drawn to and have guidelines from your Music Director, it’s time for the fun part: actually choosing the music. If you don’t even know where to start, think back to your experiences at Mass: Are there any songs that particularly move you? Ones you love grabbing the hymnal and singing along to? You might also consider asking recently married friends about their selections. Put together a Spotify list of any potential songs, and once you have lots of options, take a day to go through the list together and pick some favorites. If you are still stuck, below is a list of suggestions:


In the end, your wedding Mass, including the music, is a prayer you are offering to God. The beauty of music lifts our souls higher. If you approach your selections with that in mind, you will not fail.

About the Author: Clare Smillie works in development for her diocese's local social service. She is passionate in her work for the Church and enjoys volunteering with her parish and Young Adult Group, and is looking forward to her Summer 2018 wedding. Clare and her fiancé, both graduates of Thomas Aquinas College, bonded over their love of Aquinas, G.K Chesterton and C.S Lewis. Her current favorite saint is Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, a.k.a. Edith Stein, and is inspired by Theresa's love of the intellectual life and pursuit of truth. Clare loves her home state of Montana and is a (very) amateur wedding cake baker.



When You and Your Sister Are Both Engaged



Do you have not just your own wedding drawing near on the calendar, but that of someone else you’re close to?

Kat and Genevieve are sisters who got engaged within three days of each other and were married in the same year. “Wedding planning together was one of the sweetest experiences of our lives,” shares Kat, “but it can also come with some challenges.” For other women planning their weddings at the same time as their own sisters, family members, or close friends, we’re honored to share the fruits of these ladies’ wisdom.

Practical Considerations

In Kat’s words: One of the more obvious benefits to being engaged at the same time as your sister is the mutual experience of planning for one of life’s biggest moments. You get to giggle over wedding magazines and dream about the future together. It’s like that time you marched down the aisle of your shared bedroom together, humming “da da da dum” and wearing veils made of curtains, only it’s real. Take some time together to go to lunch and let it sink in that this is really happening. Take pictures. Toast each other. Soak it up.

A great practical benefit of getting married around the same time as my sister was familiarizing ourselves with vendors in the area. You might consider working with wedding vendors who offer referral packages, should you both choose to book with them. We used many of the same vendors, not only because we liked what they had to offer, but also because many of them had referral offers in exchange for spreading the word about their businesses.

One possible downside: we were concerned since our weddings were in the same year, our guests would have déjà vu once they went to the second wedding. The key when using the same vendors is to stay true to your own taste. It was very tempting for me to just copy all of Gen’s décor, simply because I knew she had great ideas and her wedding would be beautiful. But even though I loved everything about Gen’s wedding and the details she chose, I would have been untrue to myself if I hadn’t gone with my own choices. Never compromise your own style, even when your bestie’s is temptingly gorgeous.

In Genevieve’s words: Kath and I even had some of the same bridesmaids, so we tried to be conscious of cost when making choices for our bridal party. That's at least two dresses, showers, and bachelorette parties your favorite girls might feel pressure to pay for, so consider what investments could be optional. For example, does it really matter that all of your bridesmaids are in heels? No. So request that your girls wear nude shoes, but don't specify a style. If you want everyone in the same kind of jewelry, provide that as your bridesmaid gift.

Lots of these little things won't actually matter to you in the end, but they can provide big savings for some of the most important women in your life. I actually wish I hadn't been so firm on the color of bridesmaid dress for my wedding, because I now love the trend of mismatched but coordinating gowns. This cost consideration goes for wedding guests, too. If you have a registry, include a wide range of items and price points. Whether you’re getting married in the same year as your sister or not, this is a considerate thing to do.

Things to Do Together and Apart

Kat: One of the best decisions Gen and I made was to scheduling our own individual dress appointments, as opposed to trying to find our dresses at the same time. The first time we ever tried on dresses, we decided we’d go and both look together. It would kill two birds with one stone, right?

Wrong. We ended up not really being able to shop well, each wondering if our sister was going to want the same dress or bringing dresses off the racks for each other while forgetting to look for ourselves. We hated every dress we tried on that day and felt discouraged after leaving. This may not be how everyone experiences shared dress shopping dates, but both of us highly recommend making separate appointments. The main reason is it takes the pressure off and allows you to better dote on your friend or sister as she shops for her gown.

Genevieve: Ultimately, this day is about you, your future spouse, and your marriage. It can be easy to forget about that when you’re covered in bridal magazines and fabric swatches. Some things, like choosing shoes or wedding jewelry, are naturally going to be better sister activities.

Most wedding decisions and preparation, however, should be focused on you and your spouse. You probably will be able to identify which wedding tasks your fiancé won't care too much about, but give him the opportunity to make decisions with you before assuming he won't be interested. For example, I knew my fiancé cared not at all about flowers, so this was one aspect of planning Kath and I had a great time tackling together.

Keeping It Prayerful

Kat: We suggest saying a novena together in preparation for your weddings. Obviously this can be done with your fiancé, but it can also be done with your bestie. Nothing is more important in the wedding planning process than spiritual preparation. And when you know you have the spiritual support of your best friend, it can be a real source of grace and inspiration during a potentially stressful time.

Gen and I both took different routes for marriage prep within the Church. It’s good to recognize that your relationship and your sister’s are different, and that no one option is a “best” choice; there’s only a best choice suited to you and your fiancé as a couple.

My fiancé and I met regularly with the deacon at the church where we got married, along with about a dozen couple-to-couple meetings. I couldn’t recommend this more, especially if you know a couple you admire and if you have the time to meet. This brought up so many difficult questions that we were able to answer before getting married, and we had tons of fun with the couple who guided us. The downside to this route is if you don’t know the couple leading you or have trouble relating to them, this could be a very dull, drawn out, and frustrating process, so the Engaged Encounter weekend may be better if you don’t have a mentor couple in mind.

Genevieve: My husband Dalton and I chose to do an Engaged Encounter instead of a mentor couple. We liked the idea of being isolated in a retreat-type setting for our marriage prep, away from distractions.

I could probably write an entire book on the pros and cons of that weekend. Overall, it was very meaningful. We learned a lot about each other, ate bad retreat food, prayed for our future family, learned an overview of NFP (luckily we had our own Creighton instructor to fill in the rest), and generally felt a lot more prepared for marriage. If you have some hurdles to overcome prior to your wedding day--differences in faith practices, family of origin issues, or questions about Church teaching, the couple to couple option might be a more fruitful experience for you.

Finally, try to resist the temptation to compare your engagement, wedding, or relationship to that of your sister and her fiancé. We have found the best way to overcome this is to simply love and want the best for each other. Prayer can help with this, and so can open communication with your future spouse and your sister.

I found that my biggest point of comparison with Kath was actually our rehearsal dinner speeches. Her toast was the perfect blend of humor and emotion, and even as she was delivering it, I was regretting that mine wasn’t as good. I had to try to let that feeling go quickly because I wanted to enjoy the moment, but I’m still kind of jealous, even now! That girl can give a speech.

The joyous swirl of wedding planning is made even better when you are experiencing it with your sister. No one can better understand why you might feel the need to burst into tears when you finally find the perfect cake topper after hours of browsing on Etsy. No one is better at letting you know when you might be veering off into Bridezilla territory. No one's smile will be bigger when you finally walk down the aisle. Well, your fiancé's smile should probably be bigger, but yours might be almost as big.

Visit, or revisit, Kat and her husband Jonathan's wedding here and Genevieve and her husband Dalton's, both rich with New Orleans traditions, here.

About the Authors: Genevieve and Katherine are sisters and best friends from New Orleans, Louisiana. Gen is the older sister, a nurse and lactation consultant living in Louisiana. Kat is a former high school religion teacher who now stays at home in Pittsburgh with her daughter. Gen loves to stay inside and cozy up to a good book; Kat loves to be outside and to do karaoke with her husband. Gen is the introvert; Kat is the extrovert. Since they live far away from each other, they use their blog, The Sister Post, as one way to keep up communication lines and to share ideas and stories with each other and their readers. The purpose of their blog is to empower women to share in a common sisterhood; they see each other as their best resource, and they hope by sharing their own ideas, tips, and stories, other women will be uplifted by the online sisterhood they've created.



A DIY Bouquet for Literature-Loving Brides



"Can you give me your bouquet for a moment?" asked the Lorax-mustachioed priest at our wedding Mass. I was surprised and a tad embarrassed; I don't love attention, even on my wedding day.

Photography:  Jocelyn's Photography , from the author's wedding

Photography: Jocelyn's Photography, from the author's wedding

My bouquet had caught many eyes, including our priest's, because it wasn't made of flowers. I’d created it from the pages of books. Our priest asked for my bouquet during the homily. I handed it over and he started to ad lib about how the novels whose pages I included were symbolic of my husband and I. These books, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (barring its problematic ending), reminded me of how open my husband and I are with each other and how we love doing unusual things together. We each make the other better and are always working at our relationship. Books, said our priest, can already be good as their own entitiesu. But when transformed by marriage and by God, they can become something even more beautiful--like my bouquet.

Two people, their own individuals, become one new entity in marriage, better than they could be alone. How much more beautiful and meaningful could marriage get?

Truthfully, I didn’t think anyone would really care about my bouquet. In fact, when friends and family members heard about the DIY project I’d planned, they did the polite head nodding thing while saying “Oh, that sounds interesting,” which almost always actually means, “Okay, good luck with that.” I continued anyway, a sucker for meaningful things.

Practically, I created this bouquet because I was getting married in February in the Midwest, where fresh flowers would have cost an arm and a leg. But I also did it because my husband and I read The Fault in Our Stars together in our early days of dating. We both identified with the characters' interactions. I love personalizing everything I can and creating meaningful moments. I chose my bouquet as an opportunity to personalize our wedding liturgy.

I bought the books and began tearing out their pages, cutting out petal shapes, and wrapping them around floral wire. It was a long process, yet incredibly worth it--it is something I can keep forever. After the wedding, a friend asked if she could write about it for Reader's Digest in an article about alternative wedding bouquets. I was honored, and sort of stunned that my simple bouquet would reach the amount of people it did.

But isn’t this like marriage? A marriage is hard work: lots of menial tasks, yet so full of sacred meaning. A marriage starts with something ordinary, like a book or like two independent people, and makes it into something extraordinary, like a bouquet or one in the eyes of God. And then these two people go out together and serve. So without trying to, or seeking it, God taught us and our wedding guests the meaning and the call of marriage: to join together and create something extraordinary.

Let God work through your creativity. After all, he is the creator of all life.

About the Author: Lauren Henderson is a newlywed and convert to the Catholic faith who loves cooking, baking, reading, and singing in the car. She studied Psychology in college and enjoys guessing whodunit in mystery shows. A lover of children, she cannot wait to be a mother someday. Lauren and her husband host the podcast God Winks and the Kitchen Sink.