Emily + Jose | Romantic Candlelit Rose Wedding

There is something so beautiful about the nuptial Mass and the heavenly celebration of two lives becoming one. There are graces in engagement and the marriage sacrament that transform broken hearts. 

Emily didn’t know what would happen next. Recovering from a previous relationship and loss of a job, she fell back on prayer. Then, through the intercession of St. Joseph and the courage to jump into community, Emily met Jose. The rest is history.

From the Bride: I made one of the hardest decisions of my life when I called off my engagement to an emotionally abusive fiancé and moved back home with my parents at 27 years old. And despite having amazing colleagues at work, I was not feeling fulfilled at my job either, which made the transition harder. 

During the following fall, I prayed constant novenas to St. Joseph asking for a purposeful, meaningful job. A few months later in December, I found out I was being laid off, and my last day would be in January. Even though I wasn’t in love with my job, I knew I needed to work, but nothing piqued my interest. 

So I kept praying. My mom knew I was developing a special devotion to St. Joseph and gave me a special bracelet with his icon on it as a little gift to cheer me up.

Around the same time, I found a new parish and began attending their young adult group. I’m a natural introvert, but I knew I needed to be around other people my age for support. I decided to sign up as a volunteer for a new event held at a local, historic theatre that recurred monthly,  because I knew the accountability meant I wouldn’t bail last-minute (a bad habit of mine). After the event I left on “Jesus high.” I loved feeling like I was a part of a community, of something greater than myself.

I was surprised to get a phone call the next day from a guy I had talked to the night before, asking me out to dinner, and I accepted! I had enjoyed talking to him and figured it wouldn't hurt to get to know him a little better--and yet I did not want a boyfriend. It sounds cheesy, but I didn't think I could find anyone who would make me happy and feel loved without any hidden agenda.

Jose brought the smile back to my face and the sparkle back into my eyes. We were very open and honest with each other from the start, since I learned just how important communication was from my last relationship. Most importantly, I looked forward to going to Mass with him on Sundays, something that I never thought would be so meaningful to me. 

A few weeks after I started dating Jose, I realized that Jose means Joseph in Spanish. Coincidence?

Several months later, I was hired by the organization that put on the young adult ministry event and ironically became one of the main people in charge of running it. Since Jose and I met at the theatre and spent a lot of time there, he decided it would be the perfect place to propose.

He contacted one of my colleagues who put him in contact with the event manager at the theater. The event manager then contacted me to come in and go over event details on a Sunday afternoon. I arrived for the “meeting” at the adjoining restaurant, and my manager asked if I wanted to go inside to listen to a band while they were doing their sound check. I thought, “sure, but won’t it be a little loud to talk?” After a few minutes inside the theatre, we headed back out where Jose was anxiously waiting.

He nervously turned me around and showed me the marquee where “Emily, will you marry me?” was written and got down on one knee. His whole family and my parents (along with restaurant diners across the street) were there to witness the joyous occasion. A champagne toast at the restaurant’s rooftop followed, and then we all went to the restaurant where we had our first date to celebrate our engagement! 

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As a former secular wedding coordinator, I hate to admit it, but I was hesitant to have a full Mass. Only about a third of our guests were Catholic and wouldn’t know what was going on. I also worried they would complain about the length of the ceremony. I spent twelve months of our fifteen-month engagement wrapped up in other details like most brides do: flowers, color palettes, catering, and on and on.

I felt like once I had my dress, the aesthetic details would fall into place. One of my old colleagues, Brittany, worked at a bridal boutique and told me about a trunk show they were having. I sent her pictures of dresses I liked and told her what I did not want. I wanted something not as “traditional” that reflected my personality, so when my guests saw me in my dress they would say, “that’s so Emily!” 

I have heard of people (or while watching too much “Say Yes to the Dress”) trying on twenty or more dresses, so I was expecting to visit several shops before I found “the one.” I must have been an exception, because it didn’t take me long to find my dress. In fact, it was the first one I tried on! The dress was not normally for sale, but it was brought in specifically for the trunk show that weekend. It had a crocheted lace top and a loose, chiffon bottom that had vertical panels of the same lace all around. It was meant to be. 

I never imagined wearing a long veil--I thought they were for royalty getting married in castles--but the church we were getting married in had the most beautiful, long aisle. I felt it would be a disservice not to have a long veil. The one I tried on when I bought my dress wasn’t long enough, so I chose to have it custom made to the cathedral length I wanted. It was an unexpected expense, but even my frugal mother felt it was worth it for my special day. 

One of my favorite details was the broach I pinned on my bouquet. It was given to my maternal grandmother from my grandfather on their wedding day and also worn by my mother when she married my father.

Then, a few months before the wedding, something unexpected happened. All of the superficial details and feelings of self-consciousness about the ceremony went on the back burner as Jose and I began planning our liturgy. We both became enamored with choosing the readings and music. We didn’t want it to feel “predictable,” and we wanted to make it our own, which I worried would be difficult with the pre-selected readings and music limitations to choose from. So we took our time, carefully studying each of the readings and psalms to decide which ones reflected our relationship with God as a couple.

Two weeks before the wedding I was at my parent’s house, and my mom, feeling nostalgic, pulled out a few things from her own wedding. As I scanned over the program, I thought the Gospel reading looked familiar. It turned out the Gospel reading we chose (John 15: 12-16) picked up from the verse where my parents had left off (John 15: 9-12). It was such a special surprise from the Holy Spirit.

I sprained my left wrist a week before the wedding. Other than the bruising, I worried how I was going to get everything done before the big day. No matter how prepared you are, there are some things you just can’t do in advance (like buying fresh popcorn for hotel welcome bags). 

I feel like God was telling me to slow down and ask for help, two things I am not good at. So instead of dwelling in pity, I made the situation as comical as I could. My dad and I joked about buying a brace to match my dress, and my mom told me I got all the “day-of mishaps” out of the way early. 

It was such a lesson in humility. Having your almost-husband tie your shoes and people open bottles for you really puts little things into perspective. As much as my naturally independent spirit wants to believe it, I can’t do everything alone. A beautiful representation of this was stated in our first reading, Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.”

It also reminds me that marriage is not something I can do on my own. You need the love and support of others. You need God. You need to sit back and listen to him when the world is loud, and you want to give in to what is popular, which is often not from him.

When the big day finally arrived, we were married at the church where we met almost two years before. Jose and I opted out of a first look, but exchanged hand-written cards and prayed together before the ceremony. 

Though “Canon in D” is a very common bridal processional, I got chills when the organist first played it during our engagement. I was reminded of how I had always pictured myself walking down the aisle to that song, and I didn’t care how many other brides made it their grand entrance. Other pieces that added meaningful touches to our ceremony were “I am the Bread of Life,” “Oh God Beyond All Praising,” and “Ave Maria” when we offered roses and prayers to Mary.

Meanwhile, Jose was persistent that we would have the full sacrament, and for that I am forever grateful. I designed our programs to note when to sit, stand, and kneel, and our deacon helped explain different parts of the liturgy to our guests. 

Throughout the whole ceremony, I felt like it was just the two of us on the altar, and my last thought was what others were thinking.

One of the biggest blessings of the day was that Jose’s uncle, a bishop from Mexico, was able to celebrate our nuptial Mass. He spoke of his brother, Jose’s father, who passed away several years ago from cancer. His mother carried a rose in remembrance of him and placed it where he would have sat during the ceremony. Even though nothing could replace him being there physically, we felt his presence during the Mass and throughout the day.

Everyone says that weddings go by fast, and it did. It felt like an out-of-body experience. We were surrounded by family, friends, and most importantly, Jesus. The day was a true celebration of joining two vastly different lives and cultures into one. It wasn’t just the end of my countdown app, but the beginning of a beautiful, God-centered life together.

Photography: Megan Eidson | Church: St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church | Dallas, TX | Reception: Howell & Dragon | Dallas, TX | Videographer: Chevy Chey Photography  | Flowers: Lizzie Bee’s Flower Shoppe  | Caterer: CN Catering | Invitations: Vista | Bride’s Dress (Pronovias)/Veil (Bel Aire): Lulu’s Bridal Boutique  | Bride’s Earrings: PeonyandPearlWedding | Bridesmaid’s Attire (bill Levkoff): Molly’s Bridal  | Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Banks | Rings – engagement: Shapiro Diamonds  | Rings – wedding bands: Zales  | Cake Baker: Arielle Pastry Works | Hair: Brittainy Boggs | Music – Ceremony: Michael Conrady | Music – Reception: Vida Weddings and Events  | Coordination: Stacey Williams

Erica | Wedding Day Tribute to Her Beloved

Erica and Christopher’s love story is powerful. It is a real-life tale of love, hope, loss, grief, and supernatural joy in the midst of unimaginable suffering. 

When they first met over ten years ago, Erica did not know the ending of their story, or that God would use their love to show, in the most radical way, that even “through death there is joy in the resurrection.”

This was the reflection their wedding photographer had Erica and Christopher answer in their couple questionnaire. Erica remembers asking him to go on a date night to work through the questions together. Their response is below, and it is followed by, in Erica’s words, how Christ continued to be the center in Christopher’s remaining moments: 

Photo courtesy: Erica Damler

Photo courtesy: Erica Damler

“After Christopher and I met in 2007, we kept in touch long-distance between Indiana and North Carolina. We spent many long hours on the phone and visited each other a couple times. At this point, Christ was not yet a central part of our relationship. 

After ending our relationship in 2008, we each dated other people, but we kept in touch and saw each other a few times in those in-between years. In 2016 we reconnected over the internet and became friends, but I was adamant we would remain only friends. I was not interested in entering a relationship while I was trying to “find myself” and improve my spiritual and emotional life. 

But alas, when we saw each other at Christopher’s birthday in 2016, I knew I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. I prayed about moving, and everything for my move seemed to fall into place. So I left Indiana to be in Raleigh with him in February 2017. Best decision we ever made--besides our later decision to make going to church and prayer part of our lives. 

We have definitely grown in our relationship with God as a couple and as individuals. St. John Paul II is the patron saint of our relationship. When things began to get serious last year, Christopher started the annulment process. So we lit a candle in our parish asking for St. John Paul II’s intercession to help us with patience, chastity, guidance, and healing as we moved through this time. And we asked people to continue praying for JPII’s intercession in our marriage by including prayer cards in our wedding invitations.”

From the Bride: After Christopher was diagnosed in the emergency room with cancer, the only thing I could think to do was pray. I prayed with him and for him continuously over the less than 48 hours between his diagnosis and his eventual passing. I prayed myself to sleep the second night and awoke in prayer the next morning. 

The foundation we had built, as well as my devotion to Mary, gave me the strength to get through those unfathomable times. I knew Christopher was going to be okay, and I continuously repeated that to everyone. I knew whether he lived on this earth or continued his life in Heaven, he would be okay. 

Mary showed me that in her sorrow the greatest joy she received was in her son’s resurrection. I held on to that then and still do today.

The day of our wedding came after Christopher passed, and it was one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I have ever had. My hope for the day was to honor the love that Christopher and I shared, that we could be a witness of deep, genuine love for all who were in attendance, and how special we were to one another. 

Getting ready with my mom, sisters, and bridesmaids, taking photos in the sanctuary, praying a decade of the rosary with our photographer in the Marian chapel, and the time before Mass really set the tone for the day. It truly honored the love shared between Christopher and I--the love that had been given to us by the Lord. 

Every moment of picking out our wedding details was a whirlwind, but we were very intentional. Christopher and I wanted our day to be about the sacrament and joining our lives together as husband and wife, with God as our witness. For us, it wasn’t about a big party or “glitz and glam.” It was about being together “until death do us part”. 

We chose every vendor because they were the best reviewed and the first to respond, except our florist and photographer. I knew hiring people who understood the beauty of the Mass and the sacrament was imperative. In the end, we could not have chosen better, because each of these vendors showed up for me in more ways than I ever could have asked for. Not only did they provide great products, but they prayed with me, talked with me, and shared in my sorrow too.

I remember when I picked out my dress (the day after I got engaged!), and I knew it was going to be perfect. The gown was full but fitted with an off-the-shoulder detail that Christopher would have loved. When I chose it as my dress at the store, I closed my eyes, imagining his face when he would see me walking down the aisle for the first time, and it brought tears to my eyes. 

It took me months to put the dress back on. My sister was sweet enough to call the store and tell them what had happened, asking if they would contact her when the dress came in. After I picked it up, it took a good three months to put it on. I knew I would have to have special strength on that day, but I would know when the time was right, just as I always have when hard trials come along. 

Wearing it on our wedding day was bittersweet, but I felt beautiful. 

All day long on our wedding day, I felt closer to Christopher than I have in a long time. He was there, arms wrapped tight around me, keeping me strong as I prayed for him and celebrated our love. 

I had asked our photographer if it would be okay for us to take photos of me in his suit jacket. I wanted to have a part of him physically there, and I couldn’t think of a better way. His hands had touched that fabric, and he always looked so handsome when he wore it! 

My mom helped me put his jacket on, and I felt an instant, overwhelming happiness which our photographer captured perfectly. Because he was so tall (6’5”), the jacket was huge on me, but that made the moment even better. We could laugh and remember him. The longer I had it on, the more I did not want to take it off. 

To be honest, I remember feeling like I wanted to collapse on the ground and wrap the jacket around me tighter. I didn’t, but I know it would have been totally acceptable, and everyone there would have loved me through the moment, just like they did the whole day. 

I wish I had the exact transcript of father’s homily, because it was perfect. I requested that Fr. Danda make the day about happiness and love instead of focusing on sadness and loss. He chose to do a Mass to St. Joseph and spoke about the love of the Holy Family and how we should live that love in our lives.

Our wedding could have become a day of sadness, but with the love and support of my family, it turned into a day of joy and celebration. I will remember it forever and hold it close to my heart. The validation of love and the close moments that have come from the event mean so much to me. 

I looked out that day from the pulpit while proclaiming the second reading and felt an overwhelming sense of love. I could not have asked for more. But none of it would have been possible except through faith. My faith has kept me strong and has reminded me that through death there is joy in the resurrection which we celebrate each weekend at Mass--or daily if we choose. Keeping Christ the center of my life and building community has been the rock I never knew I was going to need so desperately.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor | Church: St. Malachy Catholic Church, Brownsburg, IN | Wedding Reception: The Alexander Hotel, Indianapolis, IN | Rings: Bailey Box | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridal Gown: Marie Gabriel Couture | Bridesmaid Dresses: Amazon | Stationary / Invitations: Zola | Florist: Graceful Hands Floral Design | Hairstylist, Makeup Artist: B.Buttler Styles

Sandra + Shaheen | Glamorous Orange County Wedding

Sandra and Shaheen believe that their story began with the intercession of the Holy Family. Shaheen grew up with a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, and Sandra learned to love and cherish the intercession of St. Joseph.

They now look back on their love story as their “very own St. Joseph miracle.”

From the Bride: Thanks to my mother, I grew up with a deep love for St. Joseph. She would tell me to ask him to pray for me and my future husband, if that was the vocation God called me to live. As a baby I was baptized at a parish named after St. Joseph, and since then I have always felt him walking close to me. 

My husband, Shaheen, was born in Amman, Jordan. He was baptized at a parish named after our Lady, St. Mary of Nazareth, before moving to the U.S. He is a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy” because he grew up with a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother, like he was taught by his earthly mother before she passed away. 

This is the start of how our love for the Holy Family shaped the love we have for each other--and most importantly for God. 

Shaheen and I are both cradle Catholics who have experienced varying degrees of commitment to our faith. Throughout our lives, we have depended on God’s love and mercy to carry us in the areas we are weak and have failed. Consequently, our love story began in the place where we get to experience God’s love and mercy at its best: the confessional.

At that time, my husband was regularly attending confession every week. One day he got off his work shift unusually late, causing him to miss confession at his regular parish. As a police officer, being stuck on a call is not unusual, but it was unusual that the only parish offering confession instead was my home parish: St. Anthony Mary Claret. It was his first time visiting there and meeting Father Douglas. 

Shaheen went into the confessional, and after he received absolution Fr. Douglas asked him to stay. He had a question. Father asked Shaheen how old he was and if he was married. When he answered “no,” Father asked “why not?” Shaheen thought these were odd questions, but proceeded to tell him he had just not found “the right one.” At this point in his life he had surrendered to God’s will in the field of dating. He had experienced disappointment in the past when he tried to take control instead of giving it to God. 

Father Douglas then asked him to pray a nine day novena asking St. Joseph to find him “a good Catholic wife.” Shaheen prayed the novena, and on the tenth day his friend Mike came over to his house for coffee. 

At this point in my life, I spent most of my volunteer time in working with children or adults significantly older than me in religious education, youth ministry, and music ministry. I was yearning to find a group of young adults to share the faith, but had not invested the time to find activities or a group. I asked one of my good friends, Justin, to let me know if he knew of any events coming up. 

I was also working and finishing up my schooling to become a school psychologist, so free time was scarce. Justin ended up inviting me to a Young Catholic Professionals event a couple weeks later. I saw a lot of old friends there and met some new people, one of which was Mike. On the first day after Shaheen finished his novena to St. Joseph for “a good Catholic wife,” Mike went over to his house, and that was the first time I came into the picture. 

Mike told Shaheen about me and had plans to set us up if we were willing. Shaheen was not initially interested in dating because of a recurring issue; he would meet people who said they were “Catholic” (knowing it was a deal breaker), but while dating, Shaheen would realize it was not their true priority. 

My husband said he was not interested at that time unless the person was completely serious about their Catholic faith. As I let the idea marinate that weekend, I met a woman who helped me chaperone a group of youth ministry students. She told me she just “went for it” and met her husband on a blind date. 

Once Shaheen and I met, the rest was history. One of the first questions he asked me was if I had special devotions to any saints. I revealed my love of St. Joseph and how my mom told me even as a child to ask St. Joseph to pray for my future husband. 

I had no clue that Shaheen had just prayed the St. Joseph novena. He hesitated to tell me, thinking it might scare me off, but he realized that if I was who God had intended for him, I wouldn’t leave. Once he shared this with me and our family and friends, there was no denying that we had just experienced our own St. Joseph miracle! 

Three weeks later we became boyfriend and girlfriend, and six months later we were engaged. Eight months after that we were married and received a blessing from Pope Francis. We are preparing to hold our firstborn in our arms by the end of this month. Again, in the month of St. Joseph.

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We chose to celebrate our nuptial Mass on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, June 24. He is one of our favorite saints for multiple reasons. He is my husband’s confirmation saint and a favorite of mine because he’s the patron of spiritual joy and Jesus’ cousin. Most importantly, he is one of two saints, along with St. Thomas More, who died protecting the sanctity of marriage. 

My mother-in-law passed right before I met Shaheen, and when my father-in-law called our parish to schedule a day they could offer Mass for her, they told him the only date available was June 24, 2017. It was nice to know she would be present in spirit during our nuptial Mass, especially because her love of the faith was what my husband admired in her the most. 

As we prepared for our wedding day, it was initially bittersweet for my mom. My parents and I have always had a very tight bond--until she had a dream that St. Joseph appeared to her, patted her back, and told her not to worry because he was taking care of us. 

On our wedding day, we had four priest friends concelebrate our Mass, including the priest who asked Shaheen to pray the St. Joseph novena after confession. Our Mass was celebrated in English, Spanish, and Arabic, to honor our family’s ethnic backgrounds. 

We wanted to incorporate our faith throughout the day as much as possible. We assigned a saint name to each table instead of table numbers, placed corresponding prayer cards on the tables, gave out rosaries as party favors, and included the washing of the feet during our reception. Afterwards, a lot of people came up to us to say how much they loved it. Our friends created the hashtag “#StJosephmadeusdoit” on social media to share our wedding photos.

My husband and I have deepened our gratitude for the sacrament of marriage, all its graces, and especially the presence of the Holy Family in our lives that led us to our special day.

Photo Courtesy: Sandra Shaheen | Church: San Antonio De Padua Catholic Church- Anaheim, CA | Reception Venue: Orange Hill Restaurant- Orange, CA | Honeymoon: Rome | Rings- Geiger Jewelers- Brea, CA | Bride’s Dress/Veil/Bridesmaids attire- David’s Bridal- Costa Mesa, CA | Jewelry/Accessories- Givenchy Jewelry | Suit/tux/Groomsmen’s attire- San’s Suit Outlet- Lakewood, CA | Cake Baker- Patty’s Cakes- Fullerton, CA | Makeup Artist/ Hairstylists- Pauline Calanoc- Orange County, CA | DJ Music- DeeJay Ayo- Orange County, CA | Zaffe Band/Arabic/dabke band- Samo’s Dabke Band- Orange County, CA | Mariachi- Mariachi Anacatlan- Orange County, CA

Lea + Walter | Autumn Schoolhouse Wedding

Lea and Walter met at school--as teachers! Their friendship slowly blossomed over lunch duty, and their eventual engagement took place in the candlelit classroom where they first met.

Through the intercession of St. Jude and the graces of adoration, Lea entrusted her future spouse to the Lord, and her prayers were heard. 

From the Bride: I wasn’t looking for anyone when I first met Walter. We both worked at the same school; he was a substitute teacher covering a maternity leave, and I was a program assistant and taught an elective class. For the most part, we only saw each other as coworkers, and that was fine with me.

Even though I wasn’t looking, I prayed a novena to St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible cases, for my future spouse. The school days continued, and we continued to “just be coworkers” until Walter and I found ourselves on lunch duty together. 

Wanting to be courteous, I asked how his year was going and other niceties. I knew he grew up in the area, so I asked, “Where was it you went to grade school?” Quite plainly, he replied, “St. Jude’s.” I smiled, realizing I was about to finish my novena the following day. I wasn’t sure if God was trying to give me a sign, but I could tell he was working. 

For one of the elective classes I taught at the middle school, I took my students to adoration once a month. Because I taught multiple classes, other teachers came into the church to keep watch while I took one class out and brought in the next. During this time, I started to pray for my future spouse again. 

When I looked to see which teacher had come to help with the transition, it was Walter. “Interesting,” I thought. I decided to pray for him, saying, “Lord, bless Walter and whoever you would have for him to marry one day.” I felt peaceful about my unexpected prayer and headed out to get my next class of adorers. As the Holy Spirit would have it, I thought about Walter a lot during those next hours of adoration. The Lord was at work again. 

Although conversations were still casual and rather “lunch-timey”, we started to build more of a relationship. I learned that he liked (no, loved) sports. I liked...dance. He liked the Blackhawks and I liked...hummingbirds! I knew I had a lot to learn about this clam of a guy, but we were becoming friends, and our coworkers were taking note. 

It wasn’t long before his position was almost finished, and I started to feel sad. The lunch time conversations and hallway “hellos” were potentially coming to an end, and there was still so much I didn’t know about sports! Looking back, there were a lot of get-togethers his last month of subbing. It wasn’t long after that before we were officially dating. Our anniversary is the Epiphany of the Lord, and I think it’s quite clever. 

Later on, about one year ago, our journey to the altar started where it all began: at school. 

It was my birthday weekend, and Walter, my boyfriend, had made big plans for us. Progressive dinner dates are my favorite type of date, so that’s what filled our agenda for the night. At our first stop, we snacked on appetizers and enjoyed pub-type beverages. I couldn’t help but wonder where we would go next. 

I love surprises, but Walter does not. He told me he had a present waiting for me in the car, so I was eager to keep the night rolling. How had he kept it a secret since he had picked me up for dinner? When we got back into the car, I couldn’t spot a gift anywhere.

“So, where’s the gift?” I asked. 

“It’s actually something at the school. I’m going to take you there now.” 

At that point I was so excited, I couldn’t stop asking questions.

When we got to the school, we went into the classroom where we first met. It was dark. Why is it so dark, I wondered. Why is there a tablecloth on the side table and a vase with a dozen red roses? How is there a candle already lit? Why is he getting down on his knee? What is he saying right now? What is in that small box!? 

Needless to say, Walter and I were engaged that night, and so began our journey to becoming a wedded couple.

The process of our wedding and marriage preparation was truly a community effort. I lived with two of my bridesmaids at the time who helped me to organize plans, pick out bridesmaid dresses, colors, and flower and table arrangements. They served as my overall “wedding helpers.” 

My mom and Walter’s mom helped to gather addresses, and my sisters, Jenna and “Sis,” helped plan a super rad bachelorette party. Jenna even lent me her wedding dress to wear for the big day--unbeknownst to Walter, of course! I had a very talented friend use her artistic skills to hand write table cards, create wedding blackboards, and style hair for my bridesmaids. A bridesmaid even did my hair for the wedding. 

We were married in the same church where I had prayed for my future spouse that Friday afternoon in adoration.

I love my husband, but we could not be more different. He loves baseball, and I love dance. He loves hockey, and I love friendships. He loves golf, and I just don’t like sports. Even with our differing passions, we understand that our interests help make our relationship more balanced. He’s good at analyzing data, and I’m good at expressing my feelings. He’s strategic about problem solving, and I like executing plans. He’s good at finishing tasks, and I’m good at refining the details. 

Even just three months into marriage, we strive to understand the beauty of our wedding vows and try to uphold them as best we can. What we ultimately want in our marriage is God’s will for us. 

From the Groom: God’s intention for marriage to be between a man and a woman just makes sense. He made us perfectly ourselves, and yet we are so completely and amazingly different. My wife and I compliment each other and help one another to grow in holiness. She offers strengths that I do not have myself, and I offer strengths that she does not have. Together, we are seeking the ultimate end of marriage: heaven!

Photography:  Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Monica Catholic Church, Mishawaka, Indiana | Wedding Reception Venue : St. Hedwig Parish Hall | Florist: Martins Supermarket | DJ / Band / Live Music: Bov Knows Music  | Cake Vendor: Bit Of Swiss  | Caterer: St. Hedwig | Rings: JR Fox, | Groom’s Suit/Tux: JC Penny | Menswear: JC Penney| Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie |Stationary / Invitations: Minted

Rhoslyn + Adrian | Traditional Ukrainian Greek Rite Wedding

Rhoslyn and Adrian were married in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Their “Divine Liturgy” was celebrated in the Eastern liturgical rite, in a ceremony rich with profound symbolism.

Weddings in the Ukrainian Catholic Church traditionally have two parts: the betrothal, or the promise and exchange of rings, and the “crowning ceremony” during the nuptial liturgy. On the day of a couple’s marriage, or crowning, the bride traditionally walks from her home to the church in a joyful procession.

As can be seen in their beautiful wedding photos, there is a cup of wine, the Holy Gospel, and two wedding wreaths (or crowns) on a table near the front of the church. These verdant wreaths will be placed upon the heads of the bride and groom during the Crowning, the most solemn part of the wedding liturgy.

This website of a Ukrainian Catholic church explains that in that moment, they “are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom: [their] home and domestic church.” Then the Gospel passage about the wedding at Cana is read, and the bride and groom drink from the cup of wine in remembrance of it.

Finally, the priest leads the newly married couple around the table which now holds the Gospel and a cross. “The husband and wife take their first steps as a married couple, and the Church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which is the Gospel and the cross of our Lord.”

In Eastern Catholic churches, the sacraments are often referred to as the “Holy Mysteries.” And so, on their wedding day, Rhoslyn and Adrian entered into the Holy Mystery of marriage, excited and hopeful for what their life together would bring.

From the Bride: Adrian and I met while praying at a 40 Days For Life vigil in Cardiff, Wales during Lent 2018. We went on our first date soon after on February 22, 2018. 

Our courtship moved quickly, but we were both very cautious. I had suffered a failed engagement before meeting Adrian, and he had two children from a previous relationship before he was a practicing Catholic. We prayed the rosary together every day and went to Mass frequently. We met up daily and spoke even more on the phone.

We waited for what felt like a long time to get engaged, but may seem very quick: the 15th of June!

Our biggest wish for our wedding was that the liturgy should be reverent, beautiful, and traditional. The Ukrainian rite naturally encompasses all of that. 

The Ukrainian Catholic community in Cardiff is small, and they were using a temporary church at the time, which was not in good condition. Because the church was not a particularly “beautiful” one, we made sure to focus on the beauty of the liturgy. 

We spent quite a bit of money on flowers for the church, and they turned out beautifully. The vestments which Fr. James wore during the liturgy were also stunning. 

My parents very generously bought my wedding dress, which was handmade for me, and it was amazing! I had based my dream dress on the gown worn by St. Gianna Molla on her wedding day. 

Almost everyone in attendance had never been to an Eastern Rite wedding, but we were so pleased with how people prayerfully partook in the liturgy. My dad was part of the crowning, which is like the exchanging of rings in the Latin rite. That was so special for us. 

And finally, one of the most important things to us was that Adrian's children should feel like they were a part of the day. They were so excited for the wedding, and they loved the whole celebration. Deo gratias!

Photography: Peter Jones  | Church: St Theodore of Tarsus Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, Pomeroy Street, Cardiff, CF10 5GS (on google maps, it comes up as St Cuthbert's) | Reception: Bay Den Scout Hall, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0XR |  Engagement ring: Aardbark Jewelry  | Weddings rings: Jonathan David | Flowers: Bank of Flowers | Wedding cake: Francesca’s Cakes | Wedding dress: Zelie’s Roses

Claire + Andrew | Silver-Gilded Winter Cottage Wedding

Claire and Andrew’s wedding was planned with profound excitement, the generosity of their family and friends, and a deep desire through it all to bring praise and glory to God.

This rooted purpose, to become a “praise of glory” for God, (a beloved quote from their favorite saint) helped guide them from their earlier days as FOCUS missionaries through an intentional relationship that would blossom into marriage.

From the Bride: Andrew and I met in college through mutual friends and cultivated a deeper friendship while serving on the same campus as missionaries with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Though attraction between us was obvious, dating between teammates is usually not a prudent decision in FOCUS, so waited until the end of the year before we pursued anything serious. To say this was difficult would be an understatement, but when we were finally able to go on a date, neither of us doubted this was much more than a simple attraction.

We dated long-distance during our second year with FOCUS. Andrew was in Gainesville, Florida, and I was in Nashville, Tennessee. Countless Face-times, phone calls, and airplane tickets got us through this time--not to mention a lot of intentionality. 

In fact, Andrew was consistently clear, thoughtful, and intentional in his pursuit of me. He led our relationship by making regular conversations a priority while balancing our call as missionaries; we needed to make sure we were still being present to those around us. Prayer was also an important part of our relationship. Praying rosaries, intercessory prayer over the phone, and always making time to pray when we were together were priorities. 

Though long-distance was difficult, it was such a gift to be able to pursue our relationship without becoming overly consumed in each other’s lives or codependent. 

My father passed away on Easter Sunday my senior year, and Andrew knew this was very important to me. For months he planned an Easter weekend I would never forget. After going on retreat near Nashville, we spent Easter Vigil with my students and drove to Knoxville for Easter Sunday with my mom and sister. After Mass that morning, we went out to eat, and Andrew asked if I wanted to go to the cemetery and pray for the repose of my dad’s soul. After we prayed, we went on a walk.

At the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Andrew got down on one knee and proposed with my mother’s engagement diamond in a rose gold ring. Engraved in the ring were the words “Praise of Glory” after our favorite saint: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. 

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity played a curious part in our relationship since the beginning. I had been falling in love with her understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in our souls and was beginning to talk more and more about her. Andrew and I read a book about her while we were friends and missionaries to try and find out more--even though I never finished the book. 

In an attempt to move slowly and intentionally in our dating process, I asked Andrew if we could date for six months before we talked about marriage and the far-off future. I didn’t know that exactly six months after we started dating was the feast day of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. St. Elizabeth called herself “Laudem Gloriae” which means “Praise of Glory” because she believed her mission was to do just that: be a praise of God’s glory. And so, Andrew had “Praise of Glory” inscribed in my engagement ring.

He shared with me that he had been praying a 54-day rosary novena for our engagement. The graces of this were so present. We went to the cathedral to pray and thank God for this wonderful gift, and when we got back to my house our family and friends were waiting to surprise and congratulate us! 

Our engagement included two new jobs, a new city and state, and a month serving with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Through all of this, the Lord was softening and preparing our hearts to make the radical “yes” to our vocation seven months later on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

When we chose that date, we didn’t know the second reading for the feast was from Ephesians 1, the same verses where St. Elizabeth got the idea for her name “Laudem Gloriae.” This brought such consolation and was a clear sign of God’s blessing and sovereignty over our marriage.

From the beginning of our planning, Andrew and I wanted to throw a party that would serve the many people who meant so much to us. Every detail had one aim: to be a praise of God’s glory. We wanted people to have an encounter with the living God through the revelation of his beauty, love, and grace.

I chose the Marian color of blue in a winter combination with silvers and grays to run throughout the attire and decor. Each of the bridesmaids had a unique dress that, when seen with all the other dresses, showcased a uniquely beautiful winter look. The flowers were a combination of whites, grays, and greens with fun sparkly pine cones and faux fur-tailed stems of white fluff. Attached to my bouquet was my “something blue:” my dad’s wedding ring tied to a blue ribbon and a black-beaded rosary; a rosary made by the man who creates them for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.

Our ceremony was held in the newly constructed Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This absolutely gorgeous cathedral, finished in March 2018, featured countless symbols, rich colors, and the faces of some of the most beloved saints in our modern day. From the marble floors, to the rich blue ceiling tiles, to the towering dome, everything about this place of worship draws your eyes and heart to the God who loves us.

Our musicians, all friends of ours, played songs that resonated deep in our hearts. “O God Beyond All Praising” was the song we chose as our entrance hymn because the purpose of the day was to give glory to God. As the violin welcomed Andrew and I into the church, he couldn’t help but break down in tears as I stood beaming beside him. Because my dad had passed away years ago, we chose to have Andrew walk me up the aisle as we prepared to enter into this sacramental covenant together.

Incense filled the altar and the entrance antiphon directed our hearts and minds to the Blessed Virgin Mary on her special feast day. Our good friend, Fr. Victor Ingalls, reminded us in the homily of my bridesmaids that Andrew had previously dated, which brought a rather comic tone to an already joyful day. He also reminded us of our most important mission: to get one another to Heaven.

My favorite part of the ceremony, besides singing with Andrew to some of our most beloved hymns, was looking into the congregation and seeing all the people who had helped us become who we are today. This included our parents, siblings, family, our friends who saw us in our most awkward times, those who served with us in FOCUS, our mission partners who had supported us as FOCUS missionaries, and our students we had labored for on various campuses. 

We were surrounded by such an incredible group of people who had given of themselves to help us try and become the saints God was calling us to be. As they witnessed to our promise of marriage, I couldn’t help but praise God for the gifts he had given us in each and every one of them.

Many people told us that the Mass was a spiritual experience, and I believe it was because God was being revealed so vividly through the beauty and liturgy of the Mass. It emanated from the building itself, through the music and community, and through the great “cloud of witnesses” who were there praying for us and united to us as we participated in the sacrifice of Christ on the altar. It was clear that the Lord greatly desired to come into the hearts of each person gathered there to celebrate.

Our reception was a blur, but from what I remember, my mom gave a long-winded speech that had people crying from laughing and crying from just plain crying. Because my dad couldn't be there, each of my ten uncles danced with me instead. We partied the rest of the night away with an amazing band that covered the classics and brought in some more modern music as well. 

Greenery hung from chandeliers, glittering Christmas trees welcomed the guests, and blue, silver, and white candles caused the whole room to glow. Our cakes were almost too pretty to eat, except for the donut covered groom’s cake. And most importantly, the smiles and laughter and joy of our guests made my heart want to burst.

It’s okay to be excited about details when planning your wedding, but it’s also important to realize that the day is about so much more than that. You want everything to be beautiful, to be special, and to be unique to you and your husband. But in each detail you choose, remember what your purpose is for that day and who you're really celebrating.

We wanted good food, a band, a large guest list, and beautiful flowers. We wanted to serve our friends and family and give them an experience of beauty. But we also didn't want to get carried away with unnecessary excess. 

At the end of the day, the whole point was that God had invited us into this beautiful sacrament to honor and glorify him. This was something that Andrew had to be constantly drawing me back to and reminding me of. This day wasn't for everyone else's approval or for our own vanity, it was for bringing glory to God.

As we started to plan and realized our budget didn't allow for certain things I wanted, it became clear that God wanted to provide in bigger ways than I could ever hope. Our venue provided incredible resources, we found lesser known, more affordable, high quality vendors, and we met people who “randomly” had connections with a band or wedding programs. Others offered to donate their time or resources to helping us make the event beautiful. Over and over again, God wanted to show his providence in every little detail of the day.

I have always struggled with trusting in God's goodness. Will he really provide? Is his plan good? Can I trust in his timing? These fears followed me throughout being single and even once Andrew and I started dating. I grasped for control every step of the way to make sure I wasn't going to be disappointed or hurt. But as wedding planning began and I had to let go of things I was grasping onto, God showed me that his plan for providing was so good. It would exceed so many of my expectations.

As Andrew and I walked down the aisle, I stood in awe of the beautiful day that God had created. It felt like so many things that day came together completely out of my control, and it's only because of God's grace to let go and let him do the work. The truth is that no matter what you think you might need on that day, God wants to be the one who makes it beautiful.

Photography: Ashleigh Jameson Photography | Videography: David Barretto | Church: Sacred Heart Cathedral, Knoxville, TN | Reception: The Reserve at Bluebird Hill, Lenoir City, TN | Planning, Design, & Florals: Windsor & Willow | Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals | Band: Trapped on Earth  | Food: @brownbagnow  | Bar: @thepourguys | Hair: Color, Cuts, & Curls | Make-Up: @makeupbychesni | Chauffeur/Car: @regal_carriages | Cake: @sarahsstapleton | Gown: Signature Bridal

Anna + Greg | Southern Vintage Hometown Wedding

From the Photographer: Anna Paige is a sweet, caring Southern lady from Arkansas, and Greg is a kind man who hails from way up north in Wisconsin! The two met while serving with  Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

From the Bride: Greg and I met during a year of service with Amate House through the Archdiocese of Chicago. Greg lived in a community of volunteers on the north side of Chicago, and I lived on the south side, but we would see each other during weekly volunteer meetings and other social gatherings. 

From the Groom: Anna Paige and I were volunteers in the same AmeriCorps program. We first met at a block party where I tried really hard to be cool and interesting while I “chatted her up.”

Bride:One of my first memories with Greg happened over Labor Day weekend. Our community of volunteers from Amate House met up for the jazz festival in Millennium Park and afterwards planned to watch the fireworks on Navy Pier. On the way to the pier we “accidentally” got separated from the rest of the group and ended up watching the fireworks alone together from the shoreline. That whole year was full of special moments of excitement and growth together.  We both knew from early on that we had found the person we wanted to spend our lives with.

Greg and I would go to Mass together almost every weekend in Chicago. There are so many beautiful churches to choose from, and it was always the highlight of my week. From Old St. Pat’s to St. Clement to St. Sabina, there were many great communities to worship with. Those Sunday mornings together really solidified our relationship, and Mass has remained an important part of our week. 

After our year of service ended, Greg and I went back to our home states. I got a job back in Arkansas, and he planned to move back to Wisconsin. 

However, that summer Greg sacrificed his plans of moving to Milwaukee to move to Arkansas to be closer to me. His selflessness has always been so amazing to me. He is accepting, encouraging, and loving. Greg always says, “You get to be the face of Christ to others.” I am thankful for his wisdom.

After a year of trying out new jobs and figuring out our career paths, Greg proposed to me. He asked me to go to a state park one Saturday morning, which was a totally normal thing for us to do. We walked around a lake in the park, and I noticed that Greg’s hands were ice cold despite the summer heat. I didn’t know that his hands were cold from nerves. At a certain point on the path, Greg bent down to look at a “cool rock,” and when he turned around he had the ring in his hands. It was simple and sweet, and I said yes!

We decided to get married in the small church where I grew up in the Arkansas delta. It is the same church where my sister, brother, and grandparents married, so it made the day even more special. 

We felt so loved on our wedding day. So many of our family and friends from all over the country joined us for the ceremony. Greg’s family from Wisconsin, our friends from our year in Chicago, and my friends and family journeyed to my little hometown to celebrate with us. 

The most important part of our wedding was that God would be honored through our vows and through the intimate gathering of our family and friends in his church. We sang “Lord of all Hopefulness” during the ceremony, and when the sound of the congregation filled the church I felt a profound peace. 

Groom: Our life together is pure wonderment. She’s my best friend and partner-in-crime through thick and thin.

From the Photographer: The wedding was on a perfect fall day. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is the bride's home parish where her family members have been united in marriage for years, so it was only fitting that her and Greg chose to be married there as well. 

The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has old, squeaky floors that have been worn by decades of priests’ and parishioners’ prayers. The stained glass windows let in lovely light in the afternoon. The altar is center-stage once 5 PM hits, surrounded by a stunning sanctuary for Christ with beautiful representations of the Holy Family. 

Greg and Anna Paige both wanted to honor their Catholic faith, choosing a full Mass, with organ and violin accompaniment. Guests were close family and friends, while more friends awaited them at their reception due to the occupancy limits of the church. 

The bride's gown was purchased just around the corner from the church at Low's. It had beautiful ivory lace with beading throughout. The groom chose a simple black suit, allowing full attention to be on his precious bride.

What struck me throughout the entire wedding process with Greg and Anna Paige was how kind and sincere they both are. When anyone spoke to them, they listened with their full attention. While this may be part of their personality, some of this must come from their Catholic faith. 

We also saw how valued they are by their friends and family. People were thrilled to see them wed and to celebrate this union with them! The entire process was very God-honoring, beautiful,  and joyfully celebratory.

Photography: McDuff Photography | Church: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Brinkley, Arkansas | Reception: Brinkley Convention Center| Dress: Low's Bridal