What to Do With Your Dress After the Wedding

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Your wedding dress is arguably the most beautiful, meaningful, and often expensive piece of clothing you will ever wear.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   KASSONDRA DESIGN

PHOTOGRAPHY: KASSONDRA DESIGN

And now that your big day has passed, you may be wondering what you can do with that gorgeous gown hanging in your closet. 

Thankfully, there are so many options for your dress that guarantees that it will remain a special reminder of the occasion. 

Keep it

Many people choose to keep their wedding gown for posterity’s sake. 

Having your dress preserved is not as complicated as it sounds, and it makes it possible for you to pass it down to a sister, friend, daughter or even granddaughter. 

You can do it yourself, however, hiring a professional preservationist ensures that you get the most effective and safe cleaning procedure for your unique gown by surveying its unique material, embellishments, and even stains.

Sell or Donate it

There are many options for people looking to clear up closet space by selling their previously worn wedding dress. 

You can choose to sell your dress online to a soon-to-be bride or you can choose to donate it to a worthy cause. 

There are many nonprofit organizations that gift or repurpose used wedding dresses to support many different groups or individuals. 

Related: 6 Options for Selling or Donating Your Wedding Dress


Repurpose it

The material of your wedding gown can likely be repurposed into another item that can be used again and again. 

You could make it (or, for us less crafty ladies, have it made) into a Christmas tree skirt, pillow, or quilts which will serve as a regular reminder of your special day. 

Or you might consider having your dress made into a baptism gown or communion dress for your children, another option for a bride who wants to create a family heirloom to pass down.

Not only is this a meaningful gift for your children, but it also serves as a powerful visual reminder of the fruit (both physical and spiritual) borne through your vows. 

Wear it 

As I will always consider my wedding dress to be the most glamorous dress I’ve ever worn, it seems a shame to only be able to wear it once. And who says you have to?

Some brides make a new tradition by wearing their wedding dress to celebrate their anniversary. (You can even invite your friends to join you in celebrating by doing the same). 

If your dress still fits and you’d love to get back in it, consider making this part of your annual tradition.


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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Newlywed Life | Supporting Your Spouse During Pregnancy

Preparing for married life is its own journey of knowledge and experience. Preparing for parenthood, a great gift and invitation into the Father’s own creative genius, isn’t so different: there are plans, anticipation, the sense that your life is on the precipice of permanent, formative change.If you and your spouse find yourselves expecting early on in your marriage, how can you support one another?

Here, five suggestions for deepening your relationship and growing in self-gift during the season of pregnancy.

Express your needs clearly.

In these weeks and months of physical and emotional change, any fatigue, sickness, and nesting-induced desires to remain at home more often are normal. As you and your beloved navigate these changes for the first time, communication--just as in so many other dimensions of a healthy relationship--goes a long way in keeping the both of you on the same page. Rather than assuming your spouse knows your current physical and mental states or expecting certain acts of service or help, voice them! A loving spouse will be more than happy to serve you when expectations are communicated clearly.

Are you expecting a “honeymoon baby?” Insights into the joys and challenges.

Know how much--or how little--practical preparation is healthy for you and your beloved.

Some couples devour as much literature on marriage as possible before their wedding day; others prefer more practical wisdom and experience over the written word. Neither approach to preparation is right or wrong, but simply a matter of preference and personality.

In the same way, the world of baby and parenting books is vast. If you find yourselves overwhelmed by information or in disagreement with certain principles you encounter, know you’ll be no less loving or capable parents if you choose to step back from reading and education. As an alternative to intensive reading and research, try simply talking with your spouse about the birth experience, career plans, education possibilities, and family culture each of you envisions.

Develop habits of sacrifice.

The family is built on self-gift and service. Each of our domestic churches is a school of loving sacrifice, and this call is particularly evident in the demands of caring for a newborn. And yet, even before your child is born, you and your spouse can strengthen yourselves in self-giving; willing what is best for another person even when it’s inconvenient and when the feelings aren’t there. During these months of preparation for parenthood, identify concrete ways each of you desire to grow in sacrifice and self-discipline and help one another put these ways into action. Consider practices like fasting, avoiding your snooze button, or limiting screen time.

Find ways to stay connected to your spouse while raising young children.

Seek compromise in all things.

Another milestone, another registry. As you and your spouse choose the items you’ll use to care for your baby, you might find yourselves in varying states of excitement and disagreement, just as you did while creating your wedding gift registry. Strive to see and listen to one another and communicate your priorities.

Compromise in parenting, of course, extends beyond material matters. Know that it’s alright not to be in complete agreement over every matter of sleep, discipline, feeding, and more before your baby’s birth. As you and your spouse enter into your roles more fully after baby arrives, you’ll find greater freedom and flexibility in making decisions best suited to your child’s temperament and to each of your needs. Your child’s life is eternal, allowing you more than enough time to determine your outlook on parenting!

Do decisions about the future stress you out? Read about finding rest in the unknown.

Invite each other in.

Although men and women experience pregnancy in distinctly different ways, there’s no denying the deeper closeness that arises from sharing an intimate, particular love for your child; your love for one another, made embodied and visible. So savor this sacred time, and embrace the gift of being revealed to one another in a new way. Check in frequently on one another’s feelings, meet any fears with hope and sensitivity, and pray together for your child as he or she grows and as you choose a name.

If you and your spouse struggle with infertility, you are seen and aren’t alone. Read past pieces on infertility here.

We love walking beside you in your vocation. Are you currently expecting? Share in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media with your best tips for nurturing your marriage during pregnancy.

Creative October Feast Day Celebrations for Couples

The feasts and rhythms of the liturgical year are a great gift to our faith, building in natural occasions for prayer and community. The forthcoming month of October, in particular, celebrates many Spoken Bride favorites whose lives and spiritualities resonate with the vocation to marriage.

Here, a selection of October feast days, suggestions for entering into them, and some favorite fall date ideas from the team.

October 1, Feast of Saint Therése of Lisieux

Pray: Read a passage from Therése’s autobiography, Story of a Soul, or from Fr. Jacques Phillipe’s The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therése of Lisieux. Remembering Therése’s “Little Way,” offer the tasks and inconveniences of the day for the glory of God.

Celebrate: Therése promised to she would spend her eternity showering down roses upon the earth from heaven, and is particularly associated with the flower. Bring home a bouquet of roses for your table.

October 2, Feast of the Guardian Angels

Pray: Give thanks not only to your guardian angel, but to your beloved’s, asking that he or she be protected, fulfilled, and led closer to the Father on this day and always.

Celebrate: Make an angel hair pasta dish or angel food cake! If you and your beloved don’t have a strong education in or devotion to the angels, seek out media that can spark your knowledge. Formed, available through most parishes, offers a variety of quality video and book resources.

October 4, Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Pray: Franciscan orders take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Discuss and identify ways to live out these virtues in your relationship.

Celebrate: Francis was a lover of God’s creation. Go on a hike or walk together.

October 5, Feast of Saint Faustina

Pray: Read a selection from Faustina’s Diary and pray or sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Celebrate: In thanksgiving for Christ’s gift of endless mercy, plan a date night that begins with going to confession. Saint Faustina frequently described water imagery in her conversations with Jesus, calling his mercy “an ocean,” with our sin but a single, insignificant drop in comparison to his vast love and forgiveness. If you live near an ocean or lake, consider spending an afternoon or evening there.

October 7, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Pray: Say a decade or more of the Rosary with your beloved. If you’re unfamiliar, research the origins of this feast day, on which Our Lady came to the aid of Christian soldiers in battle.

Celebrate: Pick out new rosaries as gifts for each other.

October 15, Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila)

Pray: Teresa, a great mystic and doctor of the Church, is famously depicted in a state of divine rapture in Bernini’s sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Meditate on the sculpture and on the nature of earthly and divine desire--this piece provides a welcome starting point.

Celebrate: Make or go out for a Spanish meal, in honor of Teresa’s heritage.

October 22, Feast of Saint John Paul II

Pray: One of the most prolific popes in recent history, John Paul’s writings illuminate the human heart. Choose a selection from his writings, including his World Youth Day addresses, Letter to Women, Letter to Artists, or the Theology of the Body Audiences, to read and discuss together.

Celebrate: John Paul was a man of many hobbies who strove to be fully alive. Spend time together engaged in one of his favorite pursuits, like theatre, hiking, or skiing.

Fall date suggestions from the Spoken Bride team:

Pumpkin picking and carving, and baking pies. - Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

Wineries, foliage tours, or hiking. - Jiza Zito, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Apple picking, volunteering at a food shelter, or a cooking class to anticipate Thanksgiving. - Andi Compton, Business Director

Brunch and consignment shopping. - Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

We love hearing your stories and traditions. Share your favorite liturgical living traditions and seasonal date ideas in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Laurel Creative, seen in Jamaila + Andy | Nature-Inspired Wedding

Dealing With Spiritual Desolation During Engagement + Married Life

DENAE PELLERIN

 

Desolation characterized most of my dating and engagement relationships with my husband. At one point in dating as we sat outside an Adoration chapel, I confessed, “I don’t think that I believe in God anymore.” 

He looked at me and said, “I will love you regardless and pray for you, because that must be so hard for you.” 

Photography:    Jordan Dumba Photography   , from the author’s wedding

Photography: Jordan Dumba Photography, from the author’s wedding

Faithful for so many years, I was sitting in the midst of the answer of my prayers for a Christ-like man to become my spouse, yet I could not experience the presence of God in a way I once knew. 

My husband’s response to my struggles brought forward an image of a tender Jesus, patiently waiting for me--not a dictator waiting for me to conform. How broken my image of God had become; where I feared him and lived in compliance. 

As we approached our wedding day, I began feeling anxious about whether or not this sacrament would give me the “high” I longed for--that connection I once had felt with the Lord. I began to fear: would it mean something is wrong if that didn’t happen? What do I have to do to make sure I “feel” something? Is my lack of faith a sign that this vocation is not for me?

Faithful trust pulled me forward, helping me believe that even without the spiritual high, God would be present and our wedding day could bring glory to him. 

I also began reflecting on the gift of desolation, which allowed my mind to discern my vocation without the clouding of emotions and “signs” that could lead me to confusion. My past prayer journals showed me how my soon-to-be-husband was exactly what I had always longed for, and I had an immense sense of peace at the thought of marrying him. 

I vowed to put intentional effort into everything about our wedding, as though I had complete trust and faith in God. As I began contemplating the intricacies of our nuptial Mass, I was drawn towards readings and songs that kept me grounded in the truths of the Catholic faith I could believe in this moment, the hope I held for our future, my past experiences and journey to a place of faith, and requests for assistance from God and the saints. 

One of the reasons I chose the parish we were married in was for the stained glass image of the Annunciation right above the altar. For years I had been attending the parish; often during Mass, I would gaze upon the image of Mary kneeling before the angel. At one time, I had a great devotion to Mary and her words “Let it done to me according to thy will” were the words that came to me in moments of great risk and faith.

In this time of desolation and uncertainty, I found comfort and affiliation in the image of me kneeling with my husband, and Mary, before the angel. 

On our wedding day we approached the altar to Sara Groves’ “He’s Always Been Faithful to Me,” a song that proclaims a truth my heart cannot always make. 

Our Gospel reading was the Beatitudes. As the line “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” was proclaimed, it pierced my heart. As a social worker and pro-life advocate, so much of my desolation had come from experiencing immense brokenness and not seeing God’s power within it. 

That desolation had brought me to a place of hopelessness and struggles with sin. Yet here on this day, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me he saw me. 

He saw my merciful heart for others and in response, his mercy would extend, overwhelm, and overlook all the brokenness I had been feeling and experiencing. I was-- and had always been-- enough for him, despite my struggles with lack of belief. 

It did not overtake my body like so many experiences of the Holy Spirit had before;, it was not a fire lit in my soul. The experience was so intimate, and what I realize now is that it was an acknowledgement to the constant burning, which had been there even when I could no longer see.


 About the Author: Denae Pellerin discovered the truth of Christ at an evangelical summer camp as a youth and later made her way to the Catholic Church because of her public Catholic education. Denae loves Catholic Social Teaching, Marian Devotions, and Women-Centered Pro-Life Actions.

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Five Ways Catholic Couples Can Practice Hospitality this Fall

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Married couples can offer many unique gifts to their family, friends, and community that are specific to their particular calling, especially the gift of hospitality. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:   ABBEY REZ PHOTOGRAPHY

By creating a home, married couples create a space in which they can invite others in, a space to allow others to receive a taste of the beauty and communion of our heavenly home. 

Couples can practice hospitality in a variety of ways, but if you are looking for some ideas on how to do this in this new Fall season, give one of these a try!

Host a game night

What better way to spend a cozy autumn evening than with a fun game night! 

Game nights are a laid-back and enjoyable way to host old friends or new ones you want to get to know better. You and your spouse might even consider making it a weekly event. 

You can try out a game you’ve never played before, or bust out a well loved party game. You could even ask your board game savvy invitees to bring their favorite game to share with the group. 

Invite local college students for a home-cooked meal

By now, college students may find that they’ve exhausted the dining options on campus and are itching for a home-cooked meal. 

If you know a student or meet them at Sunday or daily mass, take the time to get to know them and then invite them over to share a meal with your family. 

Students will appreciate delicious food, and will also enjoy experiencing life with a family (especially if you have young kids!) 

Pie Tasting

Take this classic Fall treat and make a night out of it. Buy a variety of pies from the grocery store or from your local farmer’s market, and invite your neighbors over for a tasting.

If you wanted to add another layer to this idea, invite your family, friends, or neighbors to partake in a pie baking contest and then vote on a winner. It’s a fun (and delicious) activity everyone can enjoy.

Invite other couples to pray a rosary

The Church has declared October as the month of the Holy Rosary, so there is no better time to light some candles and pray a decade (or five!)

Invite your friends or other couples from your parish over for dinner (or drinks and dessert) and a rosary. You could simply pray it or you could provide some scripture to meditate on in between each decade. 

This idea can help build a community among other Catholic couples and can allow you to build friendships on a strong foundation.

Host an All Hallows Eve party

The night before All Saints Day (October 31st) has long been known as All Hallows Eve. So you and your husband might consider celebrating the communion of saints on Halloween night. 

Invite guests to dress up as their favorite saints or bring a potluck dish that relates to their favorite saint (perhaps Pope Cakes for St. John Paul II or a rose cake for the Little Flower?) You can have a contest for best dressed or prizes for correctly guessing someone else’s chosen saint. 

Get creative in planning this event and encourage your guests to experience the joy the Church (both on Earth and in Heaven) have to offer.


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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A Reflection on Veiling and Intimacy

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

How did a recent Mass reading about the Ten Commandments lead me to tears over the gift of the body and the hidden, particular relationship spouses share with one another?

Photography:    Fiat Photography

Photography: Fiat Photography

The Book of Exodus accounts how, after times in conversation with God, Moses would descend Mount Sinai radiant; literally and visibly changed by the encounter. The Israelites were uncomfortable at the sight, “afraid to come near him.”

Ultimately, we read that Moses makes the decision to veil himself when he comes down from the mountaintop, covering the radiance upon his face. He only removes it when alone and in the presence of God, in prayer.

How beautifully analogous this sense of veiled radiance is to the way our own prayer lives can or should be, and to the nature of marriage. How there is deep joy in being unveiled, naked before the Beloved, but only within the most intimate, free, and trusting setting.

Why is it I felt shy in front of friends and family after returning home from my honeymoon? Why do we struggle to hide our stupid, seemingly uncontainable grins from others after a moment of transcendence in prayer or in our relationship with our spouse?

It’s hard to re-enter the world right after those mountaintop experiences, still wearing that radiance. Part of my desire to do so, I’ve realized, is a wish to keep the experience sacred. Hidden. Not out of shame, but out of reverence for the gift.

On her wedding day, a bride veils herself, reserving the fullness of a face-to-face gaze for her bridegroom alone. At every Mass, the tabernacle is kept covered or closed until the Liturgy of the Eucharist--the holy union wherein time stops and heaven meets earth.

It is when these respective sacraments are complete--consummated--that an unveiling takes place, honoring the goodness of the body: those of husband and wife, speaking the language of their wedding vows in the flesh, and that of Christ himself, broken, poured out, and given to his bride the Church.

Just as Moses encountered the living God in a direct, personal way, so too do the sacraments draw us into his presence as closely as is possible on earth. And we are indelibly changed: Ven. Fulton Sheen reflected on the knowledge of another that is revealed to spouses in marriage. There is no return to how things were, he says, for “neither can live again as if nothing had ever happened.”

Whether you’re in the season of discernment, of preparing for marriage, or of living out married life, may all earthly joys reveal to you the love of our divine Beloved. May you be encouraged in freedom, unmasked, unveiled, and radiant with his love.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Newlywed Life | A Responsibility to be Obedient

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The first sin in the Garden of Eden was the sin of disobedience. Baptism is the initial sacrament in our Christian journey which cleanses the stain of original sin. 

At the moment of our baptism, we no longer belong to ourselves, but we “belong… to him who died and rose for us.” With the grace of the sacrament comes a responsibility to live in service, obedience and submission to God and the Church. The stain of original sin predisposes us to temptation, to fall away from God throughout our lives.

Throughout the lifespan, every sacrament, including the Sacrament of Matrimony, is a gift from God to empower men and women in their journey of service, obedience, and selfless submission.  

PHOTOGRAPHY:     DU CASTEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Obedience is about responding to a call or a command. Children learn obedience in the home through the instruction and discipline of their parents. An obedient child is one who hears an instruction from a parent and responds appropriately and respectfully. In much the same way, our “grown up” responsibility requires adults to hear the command of God the Father and respond appropriately and respectfully. 

When the two become one flesh, man and woman are called to obey for the sake of their beloved, either in protection of or nurture for the other. And through marriage and family life, spouses collaborate to fulfill God’s commands and live as visible signs of his unconditional love. 

One must first discern the will of God before exercising freedom and choosing to obey him. 

Do you know the call God is asking you to obey? As it may relate to you in your individual life or within the context of your marriage, God yearns to be heard. He speaks through the big moments of our lives as well as the quiet movements in our hearts. In order to discern his will, we must create a space to ponder him--in the Mass, prayer, confession, and personal reflection. 

In the chaos of our lives, the will of God can be muffled amidst external responsibilities or expectations from others. 

Work can be a source of complication; for example, ‘I am confident God called me to this job, but my employer is asking me to sacrifice family dinner in order to meet a deadline... is God asking me to surrender family time for this job?’ 

In another context of extended family life, ‘I strive to honor my mother and father, yet they expect me and my husband to abandon our weekly date-night in order to spend more time with them; is God asking me to abandon intimate time with my husband in order to obey my parents?” 

These questions—and the decisions we must make—are complex and complicated. There is not often a clear “right or wrong” answer. Returning to a process of prayerful discernment and an examination of conscience may provide clarity in making the best choice.

Woman and man were created as reciprocal helpmates for each other. Through the gift and grace of marriage, couples can discern, discuss, and set boundaries for decision making in accordance with both God and their personal family values. 

Making a decision to protect personal intimacy with God and spouse may not be understood by others. Such unpopular boundaries may parallel an experience of Christ’s carrying of the cross; by fulfilling God’s design for his life with obedience, he received blows to his body from his peers and community members. 

An act of obedience, as established through Baptism, is to obey the will of God. As established through Marriage, holy obedience is a means for joint sanctification of both spouses. 


“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.”


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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