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.

Picture (29).JPG

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


Fabiola + Cole | Vatican City Basilica Wedding

Gratitude, love, and faith can exist in the midst of profound suffering, through God’s miraculous grace. This is what Fabiola experienced when she faced her mother’s unexpected diagnosis, two years after meeting her future husband, Cole.

A couple years later, to her great joy, her mother sat, beautiful and glowing, at her daughter’s wedding. Fabiola and Cole’s unspeakably beautiful nuptial Mass took place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

From the Bride: Meeting Cole was a gift from God. I met him at a time of my life when I was worry-free, in college, always smiling, and thanking the Lord for so many blessings.

Four years later, I am still striving to live that way, but life has gotten harder. Two years after we started dating, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I prayed for strength to help my mom fight, and, of course, for healing.

I have always been a girl of strong faith, but this was incredibly difficult. And in the midst of it, Cole was there to remind me, "Fab, hold on to your faith. God's got this." He was right. God answered my prayers and sent me strength, and that strength was through Cole. He was, and is, my rock.

Cole proposed in front of my whole family, and we got married in the most beautiful place in the world: St. Peter's Basilica. The doctors were unsure if my mother would attend our wedding, but I knew in my heart she would be there, and she was.

Our ceremony was so incredibly beautiful. During the Mass, a light shined on my mom the whole time, and the amount of love in the church was breathtaking. The Holy Spirit was alive in all of our hearts.

The celebration was in English, Spanish, and Italian, our three languages. The priest who celebrated our marriage was Father Claudio Barbut, who we met at a healing Mass for my mom. His homily was all about Christ living within us.

We had almost 200 guests attend from all over the world. There were many different beliefs and religions in one room, but every guest held the crucifix that Fr. Claudio handed around before I arrived. When I saw the cross with a beautiful prayer in the hands of my family and friends, my heart was filled with joy.

Fr. Claudio gifted us a wooden cross which we held during the ceremony. Cole and I kissed the cross and promised to keep Christ the center of our marriage forever. When I close my eyes and relive that day, I smile and thank God for every second of it.

I felt so much gratitude. For my mom and how beautiful she was. To know she was right there with me. It was the perfect start to my marriage, and it made Cole and I thankful for every blessing that comes our way.

He knew Christ was the center of my world when he met me, and now Christ is the center of our marriage. At the end of the day, instead of asking for something, I have learned to start every prayer with “thank you.”

We make plans, but God has a perfect plan, and we're ready for what he has planned for us. Marriage is not perfect, and life is not perfect, but when Cole and I look at each other and love each other as Jesus would, we can overcome anything.

Photography: Aberrazioni Cromatiche Studio | Church: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City | Reception: Casina di Macchia Madama | Flowers: Dordas Flowers

Mychael + Adam | Rustic Midwest Basilica Wedding

Mychael and Adam met through mutual friends while attending weekly pop culture trivia nights. From there, a mutual collective knowledge of useless information and a similar sense of humor led to a friendship.

On their first date they attended Saturday Mass together at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Two years later they celebrated their relationship with a romantic dinner at 4Bells seafood house nearby. A little later, years after that “accidental” first date, Adam proposed on Christmas Eve.

From the Bride: I have a daughter from a previous relationship with profound disabilities. She is incredibly sweet and innocent--but not for the faint of heart.

I knew it was going to take an incredible man, a “St. Joseph” in my life, to open my heart to marriage and to embrace her as his own. Adam rose to the occasion, and I fell madly in love with him.

From the Groom: I met Mychael, as a friend, when I was going through a hard time finding "the one." I knew she was a smart and funny woman, but it was those weeks following our "first date" when I really had to decide whether to take a risk or remain just friends.

But once we chose to date each other, I knew I was all in. Mychael was an incredible woman, would be a loving partner and teammate, and I already knew her as an amazing mother. We have said from early on that we are on each others team and are in everything together.

As Robin Williams wisely said in Good Will Hunting, "You’re not perfect, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other." Mychael and I are not perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

During wedding planning, our priority was the nuptial Mass, making it as beautiful and sacred as the sacrament itself. We spent hours going through music on YouTube and reading Scripture to hand-pick every detail.  This made for some wonderful nights together.

Mychael and I were mindful of all the details, carefully choosing every aspect to reflect how we wanted to enter into marriage, and, most importantly, how we wanted to live out our marriage. We immediately began to book vendors, searching for Minnesota-created and sourced options for our big day. Every detail reflected aspects of our relationship, from the Notre Dame ticket-inspired save the date and “Marry Like a Champion” sign to clover leaves subtly placed in the greenery of our invitations, embracing the Mychael’s Irish heritage and my alma mater. In addition, the Minnesota outline appeared throughout the paper goods and reception details.

From the Bride: My vision for the dress was a blend of Kate and Pippa Middleton's wedding dresses, but I certainly didn't have a princess complex. Rather, I wanted to be an elegant bride for my bridegroom. I didn’t find any style that I really fell in love with or felt reflected my sensibility, so I opted for some alterations. The dress I chose was originally strapless with some tulle across the chest. By my wedding day, it had been altered with delicate lace, short sleeves, and an illusion neckline with a high lace collar.

My gorgeous, flowy long veil was purchased prior to the royal wedding but was nicknamed “the Meghan veil” by my bridesmaids.

My godmother, June, gave me her wedding rings to wear during the ceremony for luck. I wore Adam's maternal grandmother's pearls given to her by her father on her wedding day as a bracelet. She had previously passed in April. A navy blue rosary in my bouquet was my maternal grandmother’s, who passed away a week prior to our wedding.

The ceremony was held at the breathtakingly beautiful and historic Basilica of St. Mary’s and celebrated by the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Most Rev. Bernard Hebda. It featured the basilica choir and Catholic musicians Tim and Julie Smith, whom I sang with growing up.

We chose a blend of contemporary and traditional music; the Irish Catholic prelude "Be Thou My Vision" and "How Can I keep from Singing.” Our entrance song was "Lord of All Hopefulness" and our final blessing and recessional hymns were "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You" and "Love Divine, All Love Excelling."

It was important to us that prayer in musical form be central to the Mass because sacred music is a large part of our lives. The archbishop was even kind enough to compliment us on how beautiful the music was, and that he expected nothing less!

For the reception, we chose 4 Bells’ rooftop for its unique and stylish characteristics in the space, but also for their craft cocktails and exquisite cuisine. It was an exceptionally intimate planned day for us and our family and friends.

Through it all, Adam and I were both involved in the planning, which made the process far less stressful, incredibly more personal, and the big day all the more celebratory.

The Thursday leading up to our wedding was the Feast of All Saints. We attended Mass together, just the two of us, and were able to celebrate a feast day we both love.

On our wedding day, witnessed by our family and friends, we chose to enter into the sacrament of marriage together. There was no father “giving the bride away.” Rather, we chose to have the two of us enter into the church at the same time, as recommended by the revised Rite of Marriage. It was a sacrament between the two of us and God, and we received so many compliments on this choice!

As we stood behind the grand basilica doors, Adam said he was so grateful that we had come to this moment. We both recognize how wonderful it is that we are able to walk this marriage journey together, because there is no one else I want to be doing this with.

Adam is a wonderful man of faith. He is kind and thoughtful in practical and romantic ways. He is a loving partner and embodies St. Joseph. He challenges me and supports me unconditionally.

We are both mindful that we have not come to this place alone. We have held onto our Catholic faith and our faith in each other to choose marriage. Perhaps it is our Midwest sensibility or Catholics in general, but discussing our faith outwardly does not come naturally to us. And so, our nuptial Mass and wedding was a wonderful and beautiful way for us to show our love for God and our faith to friends and family.

Over the years together we have celebrated and mourned. We have attended friends’ weddings and many funerals. We have laughed and cried. But through it all we remember the lyrics of the song we chose for our first dance, "God Gave Me You:" “God gave me you for the ups and downs, God gave me you for the days of doubt.”

The wedding was one wonderful day. Our marriage will be a lifetime, and we are excited for the journey.

Photography: Rachel Kathleen Photography | Church: Basilica of St. Mary - Minneapolis Minnesota | Reception: 4Bells - Minneapolis Minnesota | Dress: Rebecca Ingram design, heavily altered by Custom Sewing by Heather (the dress was strapless with tulle when purchased from Bella Bridal in Woodbury, MN | Grooms’ Attire: Calvin Klein, Macy’s  | Rings: Bride Continental diamond, Groom Blue Nile
Bridesmaids: Adrianna Papell & Badgley mischka  | Hair: Be Lovely by Amber Ann | Makeup: Beauty by Cort Anne
Flowers: KMB floral  | Invitations & Save the Dates & Guest sign wooden board: A Milestone Paper Co. | Details including Notre Dame inspired “Marry Like A Champion” sign created by the Bride

Julie + Tim | Beach-Inspired Wedding

Tim and Julie’s love story is one built on patience, truth, love, and a little Mario Kart.

When they first met, Tim was a fallen-away Catholic who loved to ask questions. Julie was a practicing Catholic who quickly came to love Tim’s fun personality and deep conversation, but was hesitant to take the next step.

They knew the difference in their beliefs would keep them from being “equally yoked” in a possible marriage, but God, in his infinite knowledge, still had a plan.

From the Bride: Tim and I met through Nick, a mutual friend, on February 5, 2016. I was tired that day and almost didn’t go out. But we all met at a local restaurant and spent a good portion of that night talking. Tim asked for my number and if he could call me the next day to hear my testimony. I did not think much about him other than as a nice new friend—after all, he was a fallen-away Catholic, now Protestant, and I was devoutly Catholic.

However, he called me the next day, and we talked for about two hours. A week later, he invited me out to Dunkin Donuts. We met that evening and enjoyed a great conversation about God, our faith, and our interests. Conversation flowed naturally, and he admitted that he would love to date me but did not believe in being unequally yoked, so we left things as friends.

Tim and I became best friends in no time. Sometimes we got together with Nick, and sometimes it was just the two of us playing Mario Kart or coloring and just enjoying each other’s company. I began to feel a tug at my heart that despite Tim’s Protestant faith, I loved his heart for God and his personality. He was very devout in his faith, and I knew he’d make a great Catholic!

In June 2016, I discovered Our Lady of Siluva was a great saint for the reversion of sinners, so I began praying to her and including his reversion in my rosary intentions. Months went by, and I continued praying daily for Tim as we continued our friendship. Over time, he began showing more of a genuine interest in Catholicism and asked me questions about misconceptions that initially had pulled him away. I shared some apologetics books and articles with him, and on January 13, 2017, we started dating.

It was at this time he told me he would like to go to Mass. I continued to pray my rosary and reached out to my priest to pray for Tim at Mass as well. The first few Masses he attended were difficult for him, but he kept feeling pulled back. Months went by and misconception after misconception soon became answered. Tim began to fall more and more in love with the Mass, and around May of that year, he made the decision to attend RCIA.

In June 2017, Tim declared that he felt called to start praying the rosary with me, a year after I began asking for Our Lady of Siluva’s intercession. He continued to dive into learning more about the Church, and he began to fall more in love with the truth of Catholicism every day. By the time he began RCIA, the catechists said that Tim knew so much, he should be on the other side, teaching it!

On September 23, 2017, a few days after my birthday, Tim and I decided to go down to one of our favorite places: Wildwood, New Jersey. Later that evening, Tim had me get in his car and made me close my eyes until we arrived at what I later discovered was Sunset Beach in Cape May. He took my hand and led me to an open patch where two chairs were facing each other.

The sun was setting over the ocean behind us. I sat down and discovered he had brought his guitar, and what followed was a beautiful heartfelt speech of his love for me, combined with all our favorite Christian songs and love songs that reminded us of each other. I was a puddle of tears by the end of the speech, and he got down on one knee, saying jokingly, “Wait, I forgot something!”

He ran off, and came back with my little shih tzu, Ginger, wearing a sign around her neck that said, “Julie, will you marry me?” He got down on one knee again and asked me the question that made me the most joyful girl in the world! We finished the night with an engagement shoot from our talented photographer and (later) DJ of our wedding, Daniel Jeffrey (of Daniel Jeffrey Studios), who had also had taken pictures of the entire proposal in hiding.

Tim and I wanted our faith to be the centerpiece of our wedding day, so the night before our nuptials, we went to adoration together. There were going to be many cultural Catholics and Protestants at our wedding, but we could not imagine our ceremony without a beautiful nuptial Mass focusing on Christ.

Ever since we began praying the rosary together in June 2017, we hadn’t missed a day, so it was very important for us to begin the morning of our wedding day by praying the rosary on the phone together.

Fittingly enough, it was difficult to find a wedding date that worked for our priest, church, and reception, and the one date that was available ended up being June 9, 2018, the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady had heard my intentions back in June 2016, continued to hear our intentions when we began praying together in June 2017, and now she was going to be a part of our wedding day in a way we never could have expected.

Early that morning, we called each other on the phone and prayed our rosary. We also read letters that we had written to each other. Tim’s letter was absolutely one of the sweetest things I  have ever read, and I was grateful I read it before having my makeup done. We hung up and prepared for the next time we would see each other--to become husband and wife.

I could hardly wait to get into my dress and veil, because they were everything I dreamed of. I had always wanted a ballgown, something with a slight poof that would remind me of my days as a little girl, twirling around in princess dresses. Modesty was also incredibly important to me, but I never imagined I would find long sleeves and a modest neckline like I did.

The dress was on clearance from David’s Bridal, and it was simply meant to be. They only had two sizes left, one of them being my size. There was so much gorgeous detail: beading and lace from top to bottom. My mom graciously sewed some additional lace to the back of my dress, as there was a small section that seemed abnormally “bare” compared to the rest of the dress’s modest covering and lace detail.

I slipped into my lace flats, which were the perfect combination of simplicity and daintiness to match my style. Finally, I put on my veil. I loved how traditional it looked; it reminded me of the veil my mom wore on her wedding day. There was just enough detail on the edges, and it was the perfect length for me. Altogether, I truly felt like a princess.  

I chose mixtures of roses and lilies for our flowers. Roses in honor of Mother Mary, and the lilies in honor of my mommom who had passed away thirteen years ago. I was very close to her, and the lilies (in addition to me wearing her watch) were little reminders that she was with me on my special day. I also chose mixtures of creamy whites because white symbolizes purity.

My bridesmaids’ bouquets were just as beautiful: baby’s breath surrounded soft purple and pink roses. They went perfectly with their royal blue dresses. It had been so difficult for me to choose the dresses for my girls. I knew I wanted them all to be the same, but I kept going back and forth on the color. Finally, I came across a royal blue color swatch, and it was so richly blue, it reminded me once again of Mother Mary’s hand in our day. I settled on beautiful, modest dresses from JJ’s House with short sleeves and lace on the top half with a flowy bottom.

We lovingly planned our Mass so it was nothing short of a foretaste of Heaven.

Tim processed down the aisle, followed by our priest and deacon who had been a part of his reversion to the Church. The air was filled with all our favorite hymns including the “Servant Song”, “How Beautiful”, and “I Am the Bread of Life.” I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D”, the melody I had dreamed of walking down the aisle to since I was a little girl.

We had been nervous for our nuptial Mass because of how few guests were practicing Catholics, but the love of God was tangible the entire time. Our priest kindly reminded those who were not Catholic or not practicing to refrain from the Body and Blood of Christ, which helped save us a lot of stress.

It was wonderful having our priest who had been with us from the very beginning of our relationship preside over our wedding Mass, and it was equally as wonderful to have our deacon who was a part of Tim’s RCIA process assist. Our ceremony was not at our parish, but at the church where Tim had been baptized and received Communion before he had fallen away. We did this to bring our spiritual lives together—Tim’s former church and our current priest and deacon—and it was beautiful seeing how this parish had come full circle for Tim.

Nick, who helped Tim and I meet, was our lector, and our two dear friends from RCIA presented the gifts. We chose the “Wedding at Cana” for our Gospel reading because, of course, we had to continue to tie our Blessed Mother into our day! And our priest gave such a wonderful homily on unity and following Christ that I think it was refreshing for all our Protestant friends, many of whom had never been to a Catholic Mass, to hear such a gospel-centered message. We concluded the liturgy by giving flowers to Our Blessed Mother while praying and singing “Ave Maria”. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful Mass.

Our reception was filled with food and dancing. Tim and I created little “Madlibs” from Vistaprint for our guests to give us some “wedding advice,” and we added some of our favorite saint quotes on love and marriage. Our cake was beach-themed, since we both love the beach and that was where Tim proposed. We had graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar for sand, two little beach chairs that read “Mr. and Mrs.,” and a topper that said “God Gave Me You”. Our first dance was “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, another song that reminded us of our relationship.

Our wedding day flew by, like they all do, but I carry the joy with me every single day when I reflect on it.

Like many girls, I had dreamed of this day my entire life. But there were so many things that occupied my mind that felt overwhelming. Our priest once told us that nothing is perfect this side of Heaven. Things can go wrong, people get sick and can't show up, inclement weather happens, or construction can occur on the outside of your church (like in our case!).

However, after stressing over all the details for months on end, I realized how small all these worries really were. The only thing that really matters is the marriage sacrament between you, your husband, and God. The prayers you pray each morning, the sacrifices both of you will make, and the trials both of you will face are so much more important than the flowers, the cake, or any of the other little things that occupy the wedding day.

Reflecting back on our day, we realized that everything we worried about went to the wayside, and the peace of God was with us from start to finish. Everything simply fell into place, and God's hand was in every single aspect.

For us, taking the time to go to adoration the night before and praying novenas, a daily rosary, and other devotionals in preparation for our marriage were astronomically important to developing a sound relationship grounded in Christ. So many people stress about the wedding day but neglect the ever-growing commitment it takes to have a strong, healthy, and holy marriage.

And so, Tim and I can't stress enough the importance of constantly relying on God's graces and keeping Jesus the center of your wedding day, your engagement, and the rest of your marriage. If we could do it all again, we would definitely stress way less about the minor wedding details and fully surrender our trust to God. We would trust that He would make our day grace-filled and beautiful, no matter what happened. And yet, we could not feel more blessed about our day and how grateful we are to live out our sacrament of marriage together.

Photography: Emma Dallman Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor | Church: Saint Matthew Roman Catholic Church | Reception: Presidential Caterers |  Rings: Jared's | Invitations: Vistaprint | Flowers: Kremp's Florist | Dress, Veil & Shoes: David's Bridal | Bridesmaid's Attire: JJ's House | Grooms & Groomsmen Tux: Mens Wearhouse | DJ/Photobooth/Photography: 925 Entertainment; Daniel Jeffrey Studios | Videography: Joyful Films