Editors Share | First Dance Songs

The first dance as husband and wife is often the most awaited part of a wedding reception. It is a special and romantic moment between the newlyweds and it highlights the unique personality of the couple.

In this month’s Editors Share, our team remembers their first dance and explains why they chose their song.

PHOTOGRAPHY :  MEL WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY
 

Stephanie Calis, Co-founder & Editor in Chief

My husband and I danced to the song “You are the One” by Matt Hires, which had come on my iPod as we drove to a holy hour one night during our engagement. It’s a sweet, simple song that still brings back precious memories, but the truth is, we were too shy to set our first dance to the one we truly felt defined us! The ideal selection, for us, was “In My Arms” by Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot. Despite our love for it we ultimately felt too shy to use such a quiet song, with such intimate lyrics, in front of all our guests. For any couples like us hesitating to choose particular reception music because of self-consciousness, I’d encourage you to communicate and discern what you’re comfortable with and to pray for a sense of freedom with the necessary attention your wedding day brings!

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

We chose Matt Maher’s version of “Set Me As A Seal” because we simply liked the song. I wish I had a deeper explanation, but we both just felt like it was the right song. We ended up having a dance choreographed. If you know my husband, you know that we’re complete opposites. I love to dance, he likes to not dance. But for me he was willing to take ballroom dancing lessons and perform in front of our families..

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder and Creative Director

My husband and I chose “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows. Mark and I had a stressful engagement since he was serving overseas with his military command, all up until a few days before the wedding, so we wanted something fun and upbeat. Mark was also an avid swing dancer during his college years at the United States Naval Academy, which we got to enjoy together a few times during our courtship, so we wanted to share that part of our relationship with our friends and family on our wedding day as well.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

For our first dance, we moved in sync with Michale Buble’s “Hold On.” My husband suggested many ideas for our first dance song, but many focused on the beauty of the bride or the groom’s love for his bride; I was uncomfortable choosing a wedding song about the bride. This song was a great fit because it captures the essence of the mutual and reciprocal love of a married couple. The lyrics also serve as a reminder to grow in affirming physical touch in the midst of stress, frustration, sadness, and joy. Although physical touch is not my number one love language, a good hug often breaks through heavy emotional tension. As this song builds up to its finale, it reinforces the power of holding onto love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part.

Though we both enjoy jumping around during spontaneous dance parties, neither of us are organized dancers. With that in mind, we invested in dance classes at a local studio—and loved every second. Beyond the benefits of feeling confident in our plan for our first dance, lessons were also a special opportunity to learn something new, be challenged, move our bodies and laugh together in preparation for our wedding day.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

Our first dance song was “God Gave Me You,” the version performed by Blake Shelton. My husband and I first met when we were 14 and high school sweethearts, and we were a country couple. On our first date he drove me to dinner in his white Chevy pickup truck in blue jeans, boots, and all. Many, many years and a wedding later, we still own that truck!

When we decided to pick “our song” for our relationship (which was definitely inspired by Taylor Swift’s 2009 single by the same name — released only the year before!), we decided on two requirements: the melody needed to mention God and needed to be a country song. I suggested “God Gave Me You,” and it became the song we grew up with together, from the age of 14 to (now) 23.

A couple years before we got married, I taught my husband how to country dance, and it is now one of our favorite things to do together. So when our wedding day finally arrived, seven years after we met, we country danced to the song we fell in love to as high school freshmen.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

My husband and I chose the song “God Moves Through You” by Jason Mraz for our first dance. My husband has been a Mraz fan for a long time, which is how he first heard this song; Jason Mraz actually wrote it for his sister’s wedding so it’s not on any of his albums. It’s a really beautiful song, and was adapted from a collection of poems by Kahlil Gibran.

One of my favorite lines from the song is: “Let the wind of heaven dance between you too/Allow the space and time to bring you closer to everlasting love.” The song speaks of the love between a husband and a wife being a movement of God, a grace working in your life. We also loved that it also speaks of children as a gift.

Since it isn’t on an album, our friend Steve the Missionary offered to play it on his ukulele and sing it live during our reception. It was such a memorable moment from that day.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

In the last couple weeks before our wedding, Patrick and I decided we really needed to sit down and make a decision on our first dance song. We never really had a song in the five years of our friendship/dating relationship, so we didn’t have too many ideas. One afternoon, while hanging out in my parents’ kitchen, we ended up Googling “First Dance Song Ideas” and decided to just go through the list until something resonated with us. We stumbled across “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding and both really liked it.

I love that it’s soulful and with a beat, but still a slow song that makes it easy to dance and sing along to. We actually ended up taking a couple of dance classes at Fred Astaire with a Groupon I had purchased. In the end, I think we just decided to sway to the music, not worrying about counting steps, but it was still fun!

I have no regrets about our choice, but funnily enough, we were just talking a couple weeks ago about our first dance. We said we probably would have picked the 1998 classic “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo if we had thought of it at the time!

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

Our first dance was inspired by the waltz in Disney’s live-action Cinderella, where Ella greets the Prince on the dance floor in her beautiful blue ballgown for the first time. Since we wanted to dance a traditional waltz we looked through a variety of instrumental songs that had the right ¾ time signature we needed for the dance. As I was searching for songs I came across, "The Princess Diaries Waltz," by John Debney from the score of The Princess Diaries. After listening to it I knew, in my heart, it was the right song for us.

The Princess Diaries is a favorite childhood movie I watched growing up with my maternal grandmother, who passed away in 2012. One of her biggest dreams was to see me get married. While I wish she had lived longer to see me take my marriage vows, this song made me feel close to her on our special day.

Dancing a waltz at our wedding was an incredible experience and it was everything I had hoped for. Jeff and I had practiced dancing for many hours during our engagement and it certainly paid off! During the dance, I felt like I was flying and it was truly magical.

Now that we are married, I am still practicing the art of dance through life as a married couple. It may not always be as graceful as it was on our wedding day. Occasionally we may stumble. But it’s good to know that as long as we have each other we can make it through anything together.

 

Tasha Johnson, Administrative Assistant

A couple of years ago, I got to fly across the country to attend the wedding of two former missionary teammates of mine. I served with the husband my first year and the wife my second, so I had really gotten to know them separately, and it was such a joy to finally see them together.

Their choice of Matt Maher’s “Hold Us Together” was a perfect fit for their small, intimate wedding, because it was so evident that their love for each other was already something fruitful; it really spoke to the care they had taken to welcome all of us to share life with them throughout their courtship, and even especially in the days leading up to the wedding! It was definitely a fun song to watch them twirl and dip to, but it was even more so a reminder of the ways their relationship had already served as a shelter, both for them and for those of us who had the honor of walking through life’s storms with them. It was an absolutely beautiful theme for the first day of the rest of their lives!

Editors Share | When Expectations Meet Reality

The beauty of a wedding and joy of fulfilling a call to vocation is daydream worthy. From a young age, girls and women can often identify their ideals for the kind of man they imagine marrying, visions of their wedding day, or expectations of day-to-day married and family life.

In this month’s Editors Share, our team reflects on the dreams we had about marriage as single women, and how those expectations either changed or came to fruition after saying I do.

 

Stephanie Calis, Co-founder & Editor in Chief

During our engagement, I frequently prayed in thanksgiving that no one knew, saw, or understood me in the way my husband-to-be did, and I felt the same about him. At the time, I think we did know each other more fully than anyone else.

After our wedding, however, I started to realize how little a fullness of him I had actually known: I’d never known, for instance, how he liked to load a dishwasher, how he preferred to unwind after a stressful day, what grocery staples he liked to keep on hand. Normal adjustments to married life and significant time spent together--particularly after a long-distance engagement--sometimes made me question how well we knew one another at all.

In hindsight, I see the Holy Spirit drawing us out of self-focused habits and toward a shared life. I now consider it a great gift that even with all the trust, confidence, and admiration I had for my husband (and how well I knew him at the time) on our wedding day, the years have continually revealed new parts of him to me and we are constantly presented with opportunities to know and love each other more deeply through various quirks and discoveries.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I really thought that my future husband would do large showy displays affection (think Toby on This is Us. The guy gets me). I REALLY wanted to be proposed to in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland, but the man I married is a very private person. He and I were the only ones present when he proposed and we had no engagement party. We didn’t even get a photo until a couple of hours after! A part of me was definitely crushed, but the longer I’ve known my husband, I’ve learned how hard it was for him to be vulnerable and propose at all (even when he knew it was a sure thing!) and I’ve learned to embrace the private way he chose.

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder and Creative Director

I am a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, and I too married a perfectionist and overachiever. I was (and still am at times) the sort that if you said “Jump!”, I would ask “How high?”. I always wanted things done efficiently and with the least amount of mistakes as possible on the first try. Because perfectionists and overachievers can often set the bar too high, it can take a great deal to break them out of their unforgiving and sometimes unrealistic expectations.

As an engaged couple, we lived long-distance while being fully immersed in our careers and education at the time; therefore, I did not yet fully realize my expectation for perfection from others. Like many, you sometimes enter into marriage thinking you’re invincible. It was not until my husband and I were expecting our first born immediately after our wedding that my pride got “a swift kick to the pants” and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance during pregnancy. In addition, we were also experiencing our first deployment and his numerous underways out to sea. When you pair separation and illness on top of the “typical” learning to grow and live together as a newlywed couple and later as parents to a colic-y, difficult newborn, it is severely humbling.

Over 10 years of marriage, there has been many good times. However, it is through the times of great suffering that has strengthen us in our vocation — 8 moves around the country, multiple deployments, the loss of two babies, the special needs of our earthly children, and the continued battle with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum with each pregnancy, endometrosis, and as well as post-partum depression that sometimes follows. Each individual within the family unit has their own unique way of processing grief, loss, and trials, and it requires great patience and dying to self when walking in those valleys together. It requires leaning into a support system of people you trust, as well as spiritual direction and professional therapy when necessary. Suffering is sanctifying. It breaks us and molds us. It purifies the heart of its selfish ambitions, and when done in union with Christ, it draws us closer to Him and to each other. While you can never fully anticipate the suffering to which you both will be called to before your wedding day, the reality of God’s abundant Love and Mercy will always greatly surpass your expectations.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

Long before I even knew my husband-to-be, I confidently committed myself to saving a KitchenAid Mixer for marriage. Despite the friends who tried to talk me into Black Friday sales and family who offered to buy one as a college graduation gift, I desired to withhold this life-changing kitchen appliance until the day I became a wife.

At the time, I made this decision simply because I wanted my life to look and feel remarkably different before and after marriage. It is the same line of thinking that held me accountable to not live with a boyfriend or fiancé before we were married. It is the same delayed gratification that saved other highly valued and anticipated experiences with my husband for marriage alone.

My husband and I are well-into our first year of marriage and my life is undeniably different from the life I lived as a single person. Marriage brought me across an ocean, into the military, away from my professional career and apart from friends and family. As it turns out, I didn’t need to save a KitchenAid Mixer for my life to look and feel radically different.

But God used my playful expectation and desire in other ways. My withholding of a kitchen appliance wasn’t about the mixer itself, but was about instilling in me an anticipation for married life to be a remarkably different life. I recognize how “saving a KitchenAid for marriage” was a means for God to prepare and strengthen me for the immense changes that followed our wedding day.

Nonetheless, our mixer has been a means to build community and serve others in our home. It is a means of love in the form of chocolate chip cookies. It is a stress reliever and a source of joy. Although I don't make financial contributions in our family right now, I make meals for our single friends, new parents and neighborhood kids. God is using my desires—both the playful and the serious—to teach me about myself, open my heart to love in creative ways, and be affirmed in my vocation as a wife.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

My story is different than most. To be honest, I never had a rosy idea of marriage at all. Since I was little, God gave me the grace to understand the profound beauty in marriage, but I also never thought about it without remembering how hard and painful it probably would be. I didn’t spend most of my tween and teenage years fantasizing about my future husband, writing letters to him, or praying novenas that I would finally meet him. I’m sure part of that is because I didn’t hear about these typical “Catholic girl” trends until college, and also because I met my future husband at 14...on the first day of high school.

By 15, I knew I was going to marry him, but not in a squealy, teenage, naive way. I told my mom one day that I didn’t know how I knew, but I was going to marry this cute football player. Call it a crazy Holy Spirit moment! I said it calmly, nodded, and fell silent again, just knowing, and my mother didn’t challenge me at all. She has told me since then that she knew, somehow, too. She said I looked at my now-husband at 15 the way she looked at my dad at 15, when they met.

Seven years after meeting, after a lot of high school and college growing pains, we joyfully (and exhaustedly) walked down the aisle and were finally married. It’s difficult for me to say what surprised me about marriage, because my temperament is the kind to anticipate and expect all the possible suffering and little crosses that I could possibly encounter in the sacrament. This has its good and bad consequences. So when, for those first three months especially, hard times came, conflict flared up, or I found myself in tearful frustration at midnight on the couch, I saw it as the inevitable. I wasn’t surprised, just dealing with the suffering in marriage I knew would come.

Perhaps what began to surprise me, little by little, was my husband’s consistent, loving, patient response to all the selfish things I said and did that first year. He truly got the worst of me, because marriage felt like looking into a mirror that showed all your worst weaknesses. But he loved me tenderly in spite of them. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that when I would say something incredibly hurtful, he would often pull me into his arms, apologize for upsetting me, and tell me he loved me so much. He showed me what it was to be quick to forgive, to sacrifice your own desires for the sake of your spouse, without any complaints, and to say sorry even when I was the one who had started a quarrel! He loved (and still loves me) like God loves me: so good that it hurts, because I know I don’t deserve it. By the grace of God, I know the sacrament of marriage is forming us into saints, together.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

Whenever someone asks me what I’ve learned so far in my marriage, I always half-jokingly respond: “I’ve learned how selfish I am.” While I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t a particularly selfish person during my single or engaged years. However, marriage demands so much more of me than anything else I have experienced.

I thought (albeit, naively) that I would always be the best version of myself once I got married. And while marriage has certainly shaped me more into the woman God made me to be, I still frequently have days where I’m grumpy or frustrated or downright annoying. My life is not my own anymore, it’s shared with my husband. Everything I say and do has an intimate effect on him and over the past three years I’ve been learning how to forget myself and actively choose love.

At the same time, however, I’ve found more joy in this process than single me ever could have imagined. I really feel like I have found myself through my vocation and I’ve been able to watch my husband grow more as a man. And through that, I’ve been able to encounter God more fully. It’s through self-denial that God has rooted up the weeds in my life (as painful as it can sometimes be) and has replaced it with fertile soil.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

I was just thinking the other day about how when we were dating and engaged, date nights and alone time spent together were so frequent. It really made me miss those early days! It was so easy to plan a spontaneous night out together at a new restaurant or bar in town. However, almost six years into marriage and add in two small children, our state of life has changed. Budget constraints and parenthood commitments obviously make this impossible, if not difficult. However, I am so grateful for the joy and struggles that come with raising these two little people. As much as I sometimes wish it were the opposite, weekly date nights out just aren’t a priority right now. I do not want to brush over the fact that date nights and quality time spent together are important for marriage and should be made a priority. I realize now though that date nights don’t have to be out to fancy restaurants each week, like I thought in my dating and single days. It’s easy to compare our realities to others’, especially in the age of Instagram stories when you can literally see what others are doing in the moment.

As my expectations change, I have learned to really appreciate the little moments that my husband and I are able to spend together at the end of the long day, praying our rosary, getting to mass together, reading our books of choice next to each other, and even listening to our favorite podcast together or having a special at home date night.

When we are able to secure a sitter and try out a new (or old favorite) restaurant, our nights are especially valued and savored. In fact, this past fall, we were even able to save up for and take a dream anniversary trip to Italy. With a little sacrifice and a lot of help from our families, we were able to spend this amazing, priceless time together and I am truly grateful to the Lord for that!

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

During my single years I fantasized quite a bit about what my future husband would be like. I made a list of the qualities I was looking for in a husband after reading the book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert. I knew I wanted to find a practicing Catholic man who would go to church and pray the rosary with me ­— someone who was handsome, chivalrous, kind, gentle, and had similar interests to me. While the message of the Everts’ book is just as beautiful as the enchanting artwork pictured on the front cover; my own expectations were just about as real as finding a Disney Prince for a husband.

I believe having high expectations is a good thing, and at the same time, there comes a point when it’s important to recognize when those expectations have become unrealistic. Perhaps I sought to find someone so similar to me that I was basically looking for a male version of myself. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that the person I would end up with was not going to be a carbon copy.

The truth is, the man I fell in love with does hold many of the qualities I was searching for in a husband and he is also as different from myself as one can get. We have completely opposite temperaments and personalities. Throughout our courtship I knew that we were very different from each other, but it wasn’t until we were married that those differences became very challenging for us to navigate. Both of us have needed to adjust our expectations.

The extrovert in me is always seeking interaction and attention while the introvert in him is constantly looking for some solitude. My love language revolves around extravagant grand gestures and my husband is more content with the ordinary pleasures of life. Some days it seems like we have come to an impasse; yet somehow the grace of the sacrament has held us together. The reality of marriage means constantly dying to ourselves just a little bit more every day; compromise is an art form that we are still learning as newlyweds.

While the dreamer in me will never stop dreaming, I’ve learned that it’s important to live in our own reality and not to have unrealistic expectations in our marriage. I will always be grateful for the magical moment that was our wedding day, but everyday life in marriage can’t be a perpetual fairytale. It would be unsustainable. And even if it were possible, the magical moments would be less magical. It’s really the storms in life that we experience which help us to appreciate the joyful moments—because without rain there would be no rainbows.

Editors Share | Participating in the Mass

At the start of a new year and a new season of the liturgical calendar, we consider ways to refresh our habits and live each day with intention. Today, the Spoken Bride team shares some of the practices that shape their preparation for and engagement during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Stephanie Calis, Editor in Chief & Co-Founder

In this season of raising young children, my husband and I have had to adjust our expectations of what we hope to “get” from the Mass, and I think after several years we’ve reached something of a sweet spot. In doing so, my view has shifted to the reality that Mass is, in fact, not about getting, but about gift: Christ’s free, faithful, total, and fruitful sacrifice poured out and re-presented to us at every liturgy. I have to remind myself that even on days when I miss every other word of the homily or when my baby tries to escape under the kneelers over and over, Jesus is truly present and desires to enter into my life and vocation in such a specific, intimate way.

That said, I do make efforts to devote myself to worship and prayer. As I approach the altar for communion, the song “Sanctuary” frequently echoes in my head, underscoring for me the beautiful nuptial significance of the sacraments and helping dispose me to receive the Eucharist. The thought of humbly approaching the altar, walking toward the Bridegroom, is so moving to me.

My husband and I try to take turns handling and praying with our kids after communion, so that we can each have personal prayer and reflection time. We sometimes alternate taking them outside immediately after Mass, as well, to give each other additional time to pray in the chapel. Since college, I have always prayed after Mass the St. Michael prayer (which my parish now says collectively, before the final blessing), a prayer to St. Raphael for friends and family members and their future spouses, and have renewed my consecration to Mary.

 

Jiza Zito, Creative Director & Co-Founder

My family arrives early, brings missals, and says a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. I try to go to confession at least twice a month with my husband or as a family, and to daily Mass at least once a week.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I meet with my Gospel Group weekly and we read the Sunday Readings and discuss the readings, upcoming feast days, and liturgical living. I am an Every Sacred Sunday drop out—at this season in my life with five kids, including a newborn, I just can’t remember to bring books and take time to write notes. But I do use the Laudate app to keep up with the readings whenever I’m in the cry area and a book isn’t available. Our goal is to make it to confession once a month. Our two oldest can now receive reconciliation and it’s so important to us to model us admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness by going regularly.

Honestly, during this season of my life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because what I plan to do is interrupted by my actual life. I’ve learned to think of these interruptions as opportunities to offer up for our family’s salvation and any other intentions I can think of. At Christmas Eve Mass I was really wrestling with all my emotions of the process of bringing the whole crew to Mass (baths, getting dressed, leaving too late, parking far away, walking through the crazy parking lot, not finding seats, dealing with usherettes on power trips) but when the Eucharist was held up and the priest said “Behold, this is Lamb oh God…” a very clear voice in my head saying “This is why.” So even if you’re in a season where you can’t do all the things you desire in your prayer life, know that you can find Jesus exactly where you are.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

There are many little habits I have started to acquire that allow me to prepare better and go deeper into the great gift that is the Catholic Mass. I am not perfectly consistent yet, but I find that my spiritual life is much stronger when I am more intentional about them.

Something new I am doing this year is using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal to pre-read the readings at home on Sunday or Saturday, take notes, reflect, and prepare spiritually for my upcoming week. I also use the journal to take notes during the homily! I haven’t received any weird stares yet.

In preparation for receiving the Eucharist again the next time I am at Mass, I strive to make daily (if not multiple times a day) spiritual communions. There are many different prayers you can chose from to “make” a spiritual communion. I pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

When my husband and I are driving to Mass together, we pray St. Ambrose’s before Mass prayer in the car. I keep the paper with the prayer on the visor above the driver’s side, so I never have to think about remembering it; it is always there. I also try to listen to Christian or sacred music or ride in silence.

Additionally, I find it much easier to focus my Mass time when I arrive at least 10 minutes early to say hello to Jesus and tell him what my intentions for the Mass are.

For several months now, I have been accountable for attending daily Mass on Thursdays. A dear friend agreed to go to morning Mass with me on Thursday, and then we get coffee together! This makes sure I show up instead of making an excuse or sleeping in, and it cultivates a beautiful friendship founded on faith and virtue (and coffee).

During Mass, whenever I am about to enter the communion line, I pray in my head, “Mama Mary, prepare me to receive your Son in a way that does not desecrate His most holy body.” It can be so easy for me to get distracted right before I get up receive the Eucharist or while walking in line. I forget that I am walking the wedding aisle to my Bridegroom. So I call upon Mama Mary to clear my head and keep me focused on the sacrament.

When the priest raises the Body and Blood after consecration, I pray “my Lord and my God, thank you Jesus.”

I try not to go more than two weeks to a month between confessions. Getting over the “public shame” of staying in your seat during communion if you are not properly disposed to receive has also been transformative for my conscience and my soul. It also increases humility and my desire to get to confession so I can receive in a state of grace at the next Mass.

And finally, I veil at every Mass, in adoration chapels, and in the church when I go to confession, because those are all places I am in the presence of the Eucharist. Veiling has been immensely transformative for me. It changed my interior dispositions during Mass and even transformed the outward way I dress inside and outside of church. I am in love with this tradition the Church offers us as women.

 

Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large

I love to volunteer as a lector at Mass as a way for me to serve in our community and to engage more intimately with the readings. I am re-building a habit of bringing a small notebook with me to Mass so I can note specific readings or excerpts from the homily that I want to reflect on again at home. I strive to consistently pray a prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass, “for the beauty of this day and the sacrifice of your son.”

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

My family and I have recently started attending a Latin Mass parish. I know this is not the case for everyone, but we are blessed that we are relatively close to two parishes that offer the TLM (one of them is the parish we were married in!). My husband and I both have experienced great fruits since attending consistently.

We like to prepare by making sure we have the readings handy during Mass. We currently use the missal and leaflets that are offered at our Church since we don’t have our own Missals yet. It is one of my goals for 2019 to acquire our own though! In a pinch, the Laudate app on my phone has been helpful as it has all the daily readings and prayers of the Mass.

After communion, I like to pray the Anima Christi prayer, and I also try to kneel and pray in silence. It can be tough with two small children though. We each get up with one of the kids at least once during the Mass due to someone needing to go to the bathroom or getting too fidgety. When I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that this is just the season of my life right now. Quietly explaining the parts of the Mass or pointing our candles, the Crucifix, or statues seem to help draw their attention to the Mass. My kids also seem to prefer to sit closer to the altar so they can see. Getting to Mass a little early makes this possible and gives us some extra prayer time. We sometimes also bring in a couple books or quiet toys. We try to go to daily Mass a couple times a week at a few different parishes nearby, too.

Outside of Mass, we pray a family rosary together every night. It has become part of our routine before the kids go to bed and it’s so nice to have those 15 minutes of quiet and peace together. The kids definitely fidget and sometimes fall asleep before we finish, but it definitely feels like it brings peace and order to our day, no matter how the rest of the day has been. In addition, I try to go to the confession at least once a month. My goal for this year is to add in at least 20-30 minutes of spiritual reading in during the day, as well.

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.

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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

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Insider Tips for your Dress Shopping Appointments

ANDI COMPTON

 

I spent six months working as a sales representative at Mon Amie Bridal, one of the largest bridal stores on the West Coast. It was my first experience in high-end retail; we sold dresses anywhere from under $1000 to $10k. During my time on staff, I had the opportunity to meet several designers visiting for trunk shows, and l also got thrown into modeling gowns at our fashion shows.

Here, from the fruits of my experience, my tips for planning and attending your dress shopping appointments.

Before you go

How to stay on budget

I suggest starting your shopping with an overall Apparel budget,  meaning all the items you'll be wearing. For instance, an apparel budget of $1000 might look like:

  • Dress (don’t forget sales tax!), $500

  • Alterations, $150

  • Undergarments, $50

  • Veil, $100

  • Shoes,$75

  • Accessories (be specific), $125: necklace, bolero for Mass, tiara/headpiece, etc

Additionally, it’s wise to come up with a number value before going in and trying on gowns. It’s so easy to get attached to gowns you can’t afford. And know that “affordable” isn’t a number; it means something different to everyone. Be able to tell your consultant at the store, “I’m looking for a dress in the range of [number] to [number].”

Keep dress codes in mind.

Check with your church to see your shoulders must be covered, or if other guidelines are requested for for brides and bridesmaids. Because your wedding will be before the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament--as well as in a house of worship--modest dress is appropriate. Many brides opt for shawls or small jackets to be removed after the ceremony. There are also so many beautiful, current gowns available with sleeves.

Pray.

Give everything to Jesus in prayer. For inspiration, begin with this beautiful prayer for brides as they prepare to dress shop. Each time we bring the Lord into the center of our decisions, we can trust that he will provide and can practice keeping him at the center of our lives.

Consider timing. Shop earlier, rather than later.

Even if you have a long engagement, plan to purchase your dress 6-8 months before your wedding. If your dress has to be custom-made--through Etsy, for instance--or ordered from overseas, you’ll have plenty of time for its creation and journey through customs.

Short engagement? Pick out a dress as soon as you’re able. The bride’s gown often sets the tone for the formality and style of the wedding, and it will help you make other aesthetic decisions down the road.

If you can swing a weekday appointment, the salon will be much calmer. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest times, as is typical with retail. The same applies right after the New Year, when many holiday proposals have taken place.

At Your Appointment

Two’s company, three’s a crowd.

Take a small number of trusted individuals with you when you shop; women you can trust to give you an honest opinion on fit and style. The first time I went dress shopping, I actually took my mom and dad, and tried on the gown I would end up buying five months later. It was simply the right one for me.

Get a sense of what you like.

Bring a few photos with you, or whip out your Pinterest board. If your consultant has a keen eye, he or she will be able to notice patterns in your selections and offer some great suggestions. With that in mind…

...Let your consultant make a few recommendations.

Even if you are dead set on a sparkly ballgown, it’s okay to try on a lace sheath with sleeves, just to rule it out. You may end up realizing certain details or silhouettes you hadn’t considered are flattering and beautiful.

Additionally, don’t be afraid of sample dresses or those off the rack--these items can be a great fit and perfect deal. Many stores like ModCloth, Nordstrom (be sure to check out the white bridesmaid section for beautiful, more affordable options), and BHLDN have dresses you can purchase online and try on at home. Rent the Runway also offers fun dresses and accessories worth peeking at.

It’s okay to say “no thank you.”

If for any reason your consultant is being pushy or pressuring you to buy, it’s alright to politely say, “no thank you.” It’s also okay to speak to a manager and ask for a new consultant if the one assigned you is not treating you well in any way. Be an advocate for yourself.

Consider accessories.

This definitely applies if you find your gown at your appointment. Try on different lengths of veils, ones with lace or edging, and different headpieces while you’ve got the gown on. Feel free to ask the consultant for bustle recommendations if your dress has a train. Your gown will be bustled either during photos or at your reception, which means it will appear this way in a large portion of your wedding images.

Buy for the size you are now.

You are beautiful, just the way you are. Don’t purchase your dress in a smaller size than you need. It can always be altered down, but it can be next to impossible to size up with certain styles.

Speaking of sizing, bear in mind most designers do not use “street sizing,” so if you’re normally a size 8, you could end up ordering a 10 or 12 according to their size chart. Bridal stores generally go by your largest measurement, but you ultimately have the final say--it’s your money and you are the person signing the contract. Just remember, it’s only a number. If size bothers you, you can always cut the tag out. No one will know the size anyway, and the right dress will make you look and feel amazing!

The Final Purchase

Read and understand every detail of your contract. Ask questions if you need clarification. This applies to every single contract you sign for your wedding--no exceptions!

Photography

When you arrive, check with your salon about their photography policy. Some permit you to photograph anything, while others only allow picture-taking once you’ve purchased a gown. Be respectful of their policy.

I hope this guide helps you feel more confident as you prepare to shop for your wedding gown. It’s not often we get to shop for sacraments!

Share with our community; what was your wedding dress shopping experience like?


About the Author: 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

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Reflections on 10 Years of Marriage

ANDI COMPTON

 

By the grace of God, my husband Matt and I have now been married for 10 years. We were married on one of Our Lady's feast days, and she really took care of all the details that day and throughout our honeymoon. Twenty-one year old Andi had no idea what the next decade of her life would bring, but standing here on the other side, I’d love to share with you some insights I’ve gained through it all.

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Pray for each other unceasingly.

Thank God on your knees for the gift of your spouse and your vocation. Invite him into your decisions, large and small. Even a simple prayer of, “Lord, help me be a good steward of our money while I grocery shop” helps us keep God at the center of our thoughts and reminds us where all our blessings flow from.

There will be seasons.

Some years are just amazing, completely full of grace and tangible joy. Others have felt like overwhelming dark valleys where we’re just barely hanging on together. This is why I love the part in the traditional vows where we promised to love each other for better or worse. Because there really will be better and worse days and seasons.
 

SPOKEN BRIDE / Photo Credit: Rae & Michael
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Stay close to the Church.

Make Sunday Mass, Holy Days, and confession a priority for your family. Even on vacation. Even when you have to split up and take kids to different masses. Even when it seems pointless, just go and give yourself to God. Try to go to confession once a month and make a date out of it. If it becomes a habit now, it’s much easier to incorporate kids into the routine later on.

New identities and roles take time to get used to.

It takes awhile getting settled into a new identity as a wife (or a husband) and to set healthy boundaries with family and friends. It’s all trial and error. For me, the two hardest adjustments were learning how to have a roommate and checking in with my husband before making large purchases. As an only child who lived at home until marriage, I’d never really learned how to share my space with others, and I had no idea of all the work it takes to take care of a home (bills, maintenance, cleaning, cooking, and more). I even joked with Matt that we should just get a bunk bed so I didn’t have to share my bed with him. Fast forward to ten years later and I can’t sleep if he’s not there!

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Embrace NFP, especially when it's hard to do.

Natural Family Planning has been a real gift to us despite it being something so counter cultural and, some days, a huge spiritual battle for me to want to stick with it. Every couple will have a different experience during different seasons, and I want you to know that it’s okay.

Some couples will choose never to use NFP, joyfully accepting children if and when they come. Others will struggle immensely to abstain during fertile times but know it’s a cross they have to bear for a season. And then there will be those who honestly don’t struggle as much with abstinence and, due to circumstances have to abstain for months or years at a time. I’ve experienced all of the above situations and it’s likely you and your spouse will encounter a wide range of emotions towards how God is calling you to use NFP for the moment. And that's alright.

So long as we hold to the truth that God is in charge of our families, use our best discernment through prayer--individually and as a couple--and bring in a spiritual director if needed, we can make the best decisions for our families.

Learn to be vulnerable.

It takes time and patience to trust another person 100% with your spiritual life, emotions, sexuality, possessions, and the parts of your personality the rest of the world doesn’t see. There have been times in our marriage where that trust has been broken, and when we had to show love for one another by asking forgiveness and working towards complete vulnerability once again. Couples therapy can be a wonderful tool, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help when you need it.

I think the wedding toast we’ve prepared for our kids pretty much sums up our thoughts on marriage: “May you be a slave to one another, but most of all to Christ.”

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your months or years of marriage that you’d like to share with other brides and wives?

Photography: Rae and Michael Photography | Shoot Location: Rancho Buena Vista Park, Vista, CA | Cake: Mili's Sweets | Andi's Apparel: Shirt, J. Crew. Necklace, Loft. Dress, Adrianna Papell. Shoes, Sam Edelman.


About the Author: 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

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How to Create + Give a Spiritual Bouquet

ANDI COMPTON

 

On the morning of our wedding, my Maid of Honor presented me with a bouquet of daisies. Tied to the flowers were sweet cards written with prayers and sacrifices our bridal party and friends had been offering for my husband and I as as we prepared for our wedding day. I was absolutely floored by this wonderful, thoughtful gift; a spiritual bouquet. It was incredible to see all the ways our loved ones were bringing us to the Lord. A reminder of how we are all part of the body of Christ, praying and sacrificing for one another always.

There is no right or wrong way to create a spiritual bouquet, a lovely way of gathering prayers either from yourself or a group, for anyone who could use some spiritual encouragement. Essentially, it is a gift of prayer--like a bouquet, a collection of beautiful offerings intended to bear fruit, goodness, and beauty in the life of the recipient--that can be presented in a creative, tangible way to commemorate a significant event.

If you’re a bridesmaid looking to intercede for a bride, or a bride hoping to infuse your gifts for parents and wedding party members with a spiritual dimension, here are ideas to inspire you.

Binder of prayers

This works well when you’ve got a large amount of people--even groups of several hundred--contributing, or when flowers simply wouldn’t be practical or affordable. Use the free printable we’ve created below to distribute the cards. Have participants to fill in with prayers and sacrifices, then collect them and use plastic trading card sleeves to put them in a binder.

Embroidered flowers or a floral painting

For flowers that last forever, considering ordering or creating your own work of art. Hyssop and Honey turns your prayers into flowers for a lasting keepsake. If you're feeling artistic, try painting or crafting your bouquet as you pray.

Greeting cards

Something as simple as sending a loved one a card like this one, citing prayers you’ve offered for them, is a great way to show your love and encouragement.

Download our Spiritual Bouquet printable below:


About the Author: 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

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