Mercedes + Davide | Traditional Mexican-Italian Baltimore Wedding

Mercedes and Davide, both first-generation Americans, incorporated many family traditions into their wedding day to create a unique celebration of culture and festivity. 

Their respect and love for the dignity of the marriage sacrament is evident in their story, as they learn to listen to God’s will and find harmony in their different temperaments. In the end, Mercedes reflects that they are not isolated in their vocation; they are surrounded by the love of family, friends, and the eternal communion of saints.

From the Groom: Mercedes and I met in June 2015 as we walked with our young adult group to a pub in downtown Baltimore. It was after evening Mass on a Sunday. Our first glance was filled with charm, and our first chat was intriguing, because an introspective and cautious introvert (me) was attracted to an outgoing, enthusiastic extrovert (Mercedes). 

On our first few dates, I learned we had both been brought up as first-generation Americans, and we shared a similar family structure. We both lived lives that spanned two cultures, and that helped us feel uniquely and mutually attracted.

I began to realize, however, that we communicated in very different ways. I started to feel the first fire of attraction die down within me, especially when I felt confused and unable to express myself adequately. But in empathy, true love, and hope, we listened to the voice of God and found ways to understand each other in communication. We came to appreciate each other's humanity and unique traits, and from the day we met, our appreciation and admiration of one another has steadily grown.

I tell Mercedes all the time that I was ready to marry her in October of 2017 when I was in search of a ring. Instead, I proposed in March of 2018 on the grounds of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater, after five months of preparation and prayer. That day, we declared our love for each other and our willingness to pursue marriage.

We were overjoyed to call and notify family about our engagement, and they have certainly helped support our relationship. Yet our relationship with God, the author of marriage, was always very important. Through prayer and the sacraments, Gold keeps our marriage holy and stable. In addition, our love and empathy for each other provides fuel for us as we move forward in Christ.

Mercedes and I believe deeply in the sacramental institution of marriage. This was clear as we recited our vows during our nuptial Mass, which closely reflect the "three matrimonial goods" described by St. Thomas Aquinas: to be open to children and raising them in the Catholic Church, to be faithful and always act in the best interest of our spouse, and to create a new spiritual unity with each other through God's grace.

From the Bride: Dave showed me he was a thoughtful, patient, generous, and dedicated man from the moment we met. When I knew he was the one I wanted to marry, I also knew I would most likely have to move wherever he got a job. Along with two friends, we started to pray for the intercession of St. Joseph in our lives. We were all discerning marriage in addition to career changes in order to be closer to our future spouses. While things didn’t move terribly fast, we are all happily married now and in good jobs. 

Dave proposed on March 10, the day the novena to St. Joseph began (unbeknownst to him), and my women’s bible study hosted a surprise engagement party for us on his feast day. Even though we don’t have a special devotion to St Joseph in our marriage, I know he is a steadfast guide and counselor in our vocation, and I have a special place for him in my heart.

Living in Baltimore, we found community and spiritual nourishment at the local parish, Saints Philip and James Catholic Church, which is run by the Dominican friars. We were blessed to have attended multiple weddings for dear friends there, and knew that once we moved to Philadelphia, Baltimore would still be the place we wanted to get married. 

The lovely mosaics, tall stained glass windows, and high-arched ceilings made the church breathtakingly beautiful and helped make Mass the focal point of the day. Elizabeth, our photographer, captured some of my favorite elements, such as the large crucifix by the Marian shrine and the dome over the altar. It was special to share this church with so many friends and family who traveled for our wedding day.

Looking back, the nuptial Mass was my favorite part. It felt like it was just Dave, myself, and the priest for most of the ceremony, especially during the consecration, because we had kneelers facing the altar directly.

We recently attended another wedding at Saints Philip and James parish, and hearing them make the same vows on the same altar was a powerful reminder that our marriage is supported by the whole Church. We made our vows along with thousands of other Catholics striving for holiness in this vocation.

Dave and I chose to incorporate a variety of traditions into our wedding. In addition to wearing my mom’s wedding gown and veil, which my aunt helped modify, I wore jewelry that belonged to my grandmother and carried my great-grandmother’s rosary around my bouquet. My matron-of-honor carried this same rosary around her bouquet at her wedding as her “something borrowed”. 

During the wedding Mass, we were joined under a wedding lazo (lasso), a traditional practice in Mexico and many other Spanish-speaking countries. It symbolizes the unity of husband and wife under the protection of the Church and their joint responsibility in living out their vows. We were blessed to use the same lazo my parents had at their wedding almost thirty years ago.

At our reception, we served Italian confetti at the dessert table, which is sugar or chocolate-coated almonds with various flavors. On a recent trip to visit family in Italy, Dave and I picked out bomboniere (wedding favors) with his mother. We selected wooden trivets that looked like potted flowers which can be displayed on a small stand. There were so many that it almost filled an entire room in their basement! My aunt also brought traditional papel picado (decorative tissue paper) from Mexico, which she customized with our names and other expressions of love. Altogether, they made our reception venue beautiful.

Looking back, our entire wedding day was filled with the love and support of so many people. Many of our family members flew in from abroad, and we know our grandmothers who live abroad (two who are 93 and one who is 88) made the greatest effort to be present that day. My mother and mother-in-law dedicated themselves for many months to make the wedding beautiful and helped with every aspect of planning. My father gave a beautiful speech in three languages that made several guests cry! My cousins helped as day-of coordinators and brought fun accessories for the dance floor. 

Our group of Catholic friends from Baltimore curated a prayer calendar for us, which now hangs in our kitchen as a reminder that we have people praying for us. They offered us sage advice, joyful encouragement, and gladly partook in the ceremony as readers and ushers. Our florist, Emma, is a close family friend who owns an amazing floral design company in the city. She was able to source giant coral peonies for my bouquet, and the colorful bouquets and centerpieces were everything I dreamed they would be. Elizabeth, our photographer, was a connection through the Catholic community in Baltimore and has captured meaningful moments for many close friends. 

In some way or another, loved ones gave of their time and talent, and it moved us deeply. We had so many guests that we struggled to make our way to every table during the reception. Everywhere I turned, there was another face who was there not just for the wedding day, but to give us love and support for our future as a married couple. I ran around giving hugs and high-fives and dragging people to the dance floor, and I still feel the joy to this day.

I knew I could never marry someone who didn’t love the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” The main character, Toula, comes from a loud, crazy family that yells over each other, cooks big meals, and throws great parties. In many ways her Greek immigrant family resembled my Mexican family and the group of friends I grew up with. Additionally, Dave’s Italian family certainly knows how to feed large amounts of people and bring family together for big celebrations. 

Growing up, I loved this movie, and I always imagined my wedding day would be something like it: a dizzying day full of tradition, love, big families, and intense emotions. It is safe to say our wedding was very much like that. And even now, some nights before bed, I look at our wedding photos framed on the wall, turn to Dave, and quote one of the last lines Toula says in the movie: “Sometimes I’m afraid that it didn’t happen…but it did happen! It did!”

Likewise, the greatest takeaway from our wedding is that we did not enter into this sacrament in isolation. 

Just as we were able to incorporate family, cultural traditions, and heirlooms into our celebration, the nuptial Mass itself included readings and vows that are used by many other Catholic couples. We were blessed to enter into marriage surrounded by family and friends, and we are reminded through their love and support that we are supported by the universal Church and the community of saints, who desire fruitfulness and holiness in our marriage.

Photography: Elizabeth M. Photo | Church: SS. Philip an James Catholic Church, Baltimore MD | Reception Venue: The American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore MD | Flowers: Steelcut Flower Co. | Catering: Zeffert and Gold | Cake: Sugar Bakers Cakes | Stationary: Printed with Catprint | Hair and Makeup: Heather from Brushed Beauty LLC | Bridesmaids Dresses: Revelry | Necklace: The Little Catholic | Rings: Brilliant Earth and Robbin’s Diamonds  | Suit: Men’s Warehouse (Calvin Klein) | Ties and Pocket Squares: The Tie Bar | Bride's Dress: mother's dress

Leah + Seth | Southern Indiana Chapel Wedding

Simplicity, intentionality, and authenticity. These are the virtues Leah and Seth pursued in their relationship after their lives crossed paths again. And after a mountaintop proposal, they carried these values into their wedding planning. 

Faith and family became their focus, and it shone through in the beauty of their wedding day.

From the Bride: It is amazing the way God works in our lives. Seth and I were friends all through high school, but lost touch after we left for college in different states. Years later, after I moved back to Indianapolis, I began seriously thinking and praying about God's plans for my future. 

My sister suggested we start a 54 day novena to St. Anne for the intention of our future spouses. Halfway through this novena, Seth and I ran into each other at Sunday Mass. As we caught up, we realized how much we had in common beyond our high school years, and we were eager to spend more time together. 

At one point, when we were going on dates but “not yet dating,” my sister said to me, "don't you think it's crazy that Seth came along right as we prayed this novena?" I waved her off as "reading too much into it," because I secretly thought the same thing and was afraid to hope too much. 

Seth had also been praying about his vocation the spring before we reconnected. He was determined that any relationship he entered into would be grounded in prayerful discernment of marriage and authenticity. It is easy in any new relationship to become caught up in a desire to impress the other person and hide aspects of yourself you dislike. We were both very committed to being as genuine as possible about the good and the bad. In this way, we slowly built a solid relationship based on friendship and honesty. 

Eighteen months later, Seth was attending graduate school in Virginia while I worked in a nearby city. One beautiful but cold December day, we hiked to a well-known mountainous overlook, praying the rosary and discussing our philosophies of marriage at Seth's suggestion. This discussion did not clue me in to Seth's plan to propose at the top of the overlook! 

His proposal was as simple and genuine as he is, and it was one of the happiest days of our lives. We knew that our prayers before and during our relationship as well as our commitment to being intentional and authentic brought us to that joyous day.

Seth and I were married in St. Agnes Catholic Church, a beautiful wooden chapel hidden away in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. We chose the music and readings to reflect the simple beauty and solemness of this little church. We made no plans to decorate the inside, as our concentration was on the liturgy itself. However, a thoughtful member of the parish gathered wild flowers to adorn the altar space for us. 

Our whole wedding day was characterized by small, thoughtful acts like these made by many of our loved ones. The day before our wedding, we invited family and friends to spend an hour in prayer with us. It was a powerful moment, seeing so many people praying for us in preparation for our marriage. 

These same family and friends showed us their support throughout our engagement by taking over many of the wedding duties. From liturgical music to flower arrangements to desserts at the reception, they pitched in to offer their talents to make our day special. 

A particularly special gift was made by my eldest sister, who was unable to travel to our wedding because she was nine months pregnant. She gave me the beautiful mantilla veil she had worn at her own wedding. When I put on the veil the morning of my wedding, I felt as if a small part of her was with me. 

One of the best pieces of advice we received was to talk on the phone before the wedding began. Since the end of the aisle would be the first time we saw each other that day, a normal conversation the morning of our wedding helped calm our nerves and made us that much more excited to get married. 

The nuptial Mass itself was incredibly special, not only because we chose the readings and the music, but because everyone partaking was someone dear to us. The best part of the Mass was kneeling so close to the altar during the consecration. 

Our reception after Mass was a joyous occasion. Rather than the usual sweetheart table, Seth and I chose to create a "king table" where both our immediate families could sit with us. This was yet another way we ensured family was the center of our celebration.

Seth and I have talked many times about our wedding day in the months since. We are happy that it reflected our priorities of God and family. The truth is, after your wedding, you realize how many of the small details you obsessed about simply do not matter in the grand scheme of your marriage. Your wedding should be a time to honor the serious commitment you are making and to celebrate it with the people you love.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Agnes Catholic Church, Columbus, IN | Reception: Factory 12 Event Loft, Columbus, IN | Officiant: Fr. Eric Augenstein | DJ: Cade Grubbs (family member) | Caterer/Bartender: Factory 12 | Rings: Touch of Silver, Gold, and Old | Bridal Gown: David's Bridal | Dresses: David's Bridall

Amy + Jay | Fort Harrison Wedding

Amy and Jay met later in life, after experiencing the joys and losses of their first marriages. At their wedding, their lives, hearts, and children came together to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter and the healing power of God’s grace.

From the Bride: I am a widow. My late husband, Karl, and I had eight children together. One died an hour and 27 minutes after birth. Sometimes, we talked about how we wanted the other to feel free to marry again if one of us passed away. I would always say, only half joking, “Who’s going to marry a woman with seven kids?” 

Then Karl died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 54, after 21 years of marriage. When he passed, the remaining seven children were between the ages of 6 and 20. 

Life as a single mom with five kids at home and two away at college was hard. Harder than anything I had ever done. One evening, after a particularly rough and emotional day, I found myself becoming increasingly tearful after dropping off one of the kids at an after-school event. I eventually pulled over in a parking lot and, sobbing, cried out, “I can’t do this by myself! Send me some help! Dear God, send me some help.” I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe a coupon for free maid service?

That night, to distract myself, I logged onto Catholic Match and finished a previously started profile. All the while I thought, “Who wants to marry a 47-year-old woman with seven kids?” The next day at work was slow, so I started flipping through profiles. Few caught my eye. Even fewer lived close enough to consider, as I knew I wouldn’t be pulling my children out of school. 

But three days after my breakdown, Jay popped up as a possible match. It was clear from his profile that he loved the Lord and his Blessed Mother (you’d be surprised how many on Catholic Match don’t agree with all the teachings of the Church), so I sent him a message on the app. And he answered! I thought surely he hadn’t read my profile, as I had explained my whole story to avoid getting involved with someone who couldn’t handle my history. But we quickly hit it off. Soon we were sharing stories of broken hearts, broken marriages, and the children caught up in all of it--Jay is a divorced father of two.

He says he knew almost immediately that he would marry me, but I was trying to keep some distance. Karl’s first birthday without him here was quickly approaching. I told Jay we couldn’t meet until after my family had gotten through that first, and he was immediately supportive. But as the day loomed ahead, I realized I didn’t have anyone to help me through it. 

I reached out to Jay and asked if there was any way he could spend the day before with me. I had already arranged to be off work to deal with my own emotions, and then Karl’s birthday, a Saturday, I could devote to my children. Jay arranged to be off work and drove 200 miles to be with me. 

My heart was so confused the first time I was within ten feet of him. I was missing my late husband terribly, and yet there were butterflies at meeting Jay. We embraced like old friends and went to the cemetery, where he sat with me in my sorrow for an hour.

He let me sob and never once felt threatened by my tears. Never once tried to hurry me along. Never once tried to tell me to stop crying. He just sat with me, his arms around me, trying to bring whatever comfort he could through his presence and prayers. Who does that for someone they hardly know? At the end of that day, I knew I wanted to spend more time with Jay. The real challenge was how to tell my children.

My kids struggled through wanting me to be happy, but feeling angry because they thought moving forward meant I didn’t love their dad. We had lots of hard conversations, many of them ending in tears (theirs, mine, or both). Jay’s teens struggled with him moving away. He and I talked on the phone every day and prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy together every night. We also prayed a novena to Mary Undoer of Knots. 

Within six weeks of that first Match message, he had found a new job and moved to my town. Within three months of that first message, we were officially engaged. Four months after that we were married. 

By that time, all of the children were supportive of our marriage. That doesn’t mean everything has been “smooth sailing” ever since, but in general it has been much better.

Our nuptial Mass, which was offered for Karl’s soul, focused on faith and family. All of our children were involved: from the musicians, to gift and ring bearers, to Jay’s best man. My oldest son walked me down the aisle. In fact, one of my favorite photos was taken from the back of the church as Thomas walked me down the aisle. The band included a violin, viola, cello, and trumpet, as well as a piano and organ. Our two cantors led us beautifully in prayer.

From the Photographer: As a wedding photographer, I see many young couples preparing for their first marriage to begin, but this year I began the wedding season with an incredible pair who have ventured through life and gleaned the wisdom each year has brought them. 

Their incredible love, faith, devotion to Mary, and adoration for Jesus was so evident throughout their Mass that it brought me to tears many times. I admire Amy’s amazing trust that the Lord would bring her a man who could not only devote his time to stepping into the role of a father to her children, but the role of husband, again.

Jay is one of the most peaceful, fun men I've ever met. In his presence, you feel safe. I can’t begin to tell you how much their families will be divinely impacted by their love for each other, and most of all for Jesus.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography - Spoken Bride Vendor | Church:  St. Luke Catholic Church, Indianapolis, IN | Reception: The Garrison at Fort Harrison, Indianapolis, IN | Cake Vendor: Cheesecake Factory | Jewelry: Dress Barn | Rings: Engagement ring: Sam’s Club | Wedding rings: Jared | Bridal Gown: Ada’s Bridals, customized by erinyoungdesigns.com in Broad Ripple | Stationary / Invitations: Shutterfly | DJ: Brian Jackson | Hairstylist: Rebecca at Salon 6 in Broad Ripple

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

Jenny + Sam | Summertime Texas Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our wedding day was the best day of our lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meg + Tim | Vintage Italian-Inspired Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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