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

Sabrina + Nick | Handcrafted Jersey Shore Wedding

Sabrina and Nick have always been “adventure buddies.”

During one of their many adventures, volunteering to rebuild historic cottages in the Grand Tetons, Nick asked the love of his life to accompany him on their greatest adventure yet: marriage and family.

Their love story encompasses conversion, Padre Pio, the Jersey Shore, and beehives--all part of their extraordinary, summertime wedding bathed in sunflowers and God’s grace. And it all began in a college architecture class.

From the Bride: Our Catholic relationship was not a typical one. I am a cradle Catholic who started to grow deeper in my faith only after college. Nick's mother is Lutheran, and his dad is Catholic. He was raised primarily in his father’s faith, but he did not receive any of his sacraments beyond baptism before dating me.

Nick and I met during our first year of college at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2010. He had transferred from Hartford, and I had just graduated from high school. Looking back, I almost attended a different college.

God’s plan is perfect, though, and we both chose to attend NJIT in 2010. We were placed in the same studio room for our architecture class and quickly became good friends, especially since we were both commuters. Nick would wait for my dad to pick me up on his way home from work. He would even miss his train ride home to wait with me.

We supported each other through late nights in studio, and he always kept me laughing. We became good friends but didn’t start dating until our fourth year of college because I had been in a previous relationship until then. Nick was quick to seize the opportunity.

Three and a half years later in August 2017, Nick and I found ourselves in the Grand Tetons National Park. For the past three years, we had volunteered a week of our time annually with the National Park Service in the Grand Tetons to stabilize historic log cabins in the park. Nick proposed in the barn we were working on for the week in front of all the volunteers. It was like a dream.

We decided to get married a year later on the anniversary of our engagement. As we prepped for the wedding, Nick went through RCIA with me as his sponsor. He would come to my bible study group, and our faith grew deeper. We attended holy hours together, and I knew I was growing in my faith along with him.

We planned to get married at the church by his family’s shore house that we attended all the years we dated: St. Pio’s. After our engagement, my friend Gabriella found a St. Pio rosary and gave it to me. I prayed on it every week at adoration leading up to the wedding. I even wrapped it around the stem on my bouquet with a miraculous medal.

Nick and I developed a strong devotion to Padre Pio. We prayed his novena and asked him to adopt us as his spiritual children and be the patron saint of our marriage. We also prayed St. Josemaria Escriva’s novena in the days leading up to the wedding, which we loved.

Throughout it all, I petitioned God for Nick’s full and deep conversion to the Catholic Church. And although we both have more room to grow, I’m so proud of how far we have come, especially Nick.

The night before the wedding we went to confession with the priest who would be celebrating our nuptial Mass. We wanted to receive the marital sacrament with pure hearts, and I’m so happy Nick and I made sure we did that. Before going to sleep we called each other and said the last day of the St. Josemaria novena. It was such a beautiful way to countdown to the wedding.

The weather on the big day was hot but not too humid, and I felt like God was smiling on us the whole time. My friend Gabriella said a quick prayer as we walked into the church, but I told her it had to be a quick one because I would be too emotional. I’m such a happy crier!

I kept asking God and Padre Pio to be with me because I was so nervous to walk down the aisle. When they opened the doors, I tripped a little on my dress. This helped me focus on not falling, but I also think it was God’s way of giving me something to think about instead of becoming a crying mess. When I looked up at the end of the aisle, Nick was crying hard. He was so happy, and I felt such peace knowing I was marrying him.

As the ceremony went on, I strongly felt Padre Pio was with us as well as our guardian angels. Nick and I had picked all of the music and readings for the Mass, so it was very meaningful to both of us. When we presented flowers to the Blessed Mother, we prayed a couple of Hail Mary’s and then a prayer we had written together. It was such an intimate and special moment.

Our wedding programs included all the parts in the Mass and a beautiful quote by St. Thomas Aquinas: “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love; it signifies love, it produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”

With that in mind, we received the Body and Blood of Christ together for the first time as a married couple. All I could do was look at Nick and thank God for giving me the man of my dreams and allowing me to lead him closer to Christ.

We had worked so hard on planning the wedding, but the work we put into our faith life was worth more than anything else that day.

After the ceremony we left on a trolley to Smithville to party! The theme of the wedding was “adventure” because Nick and I always say that we are adventure buddies. And we handmade everything for the wedding. We are both architects, so we knew we could do it.

Our invitations, made by hand, included a map of the Jersey Shore with all the significant places to the wedding and to us. Our favors were honey jars made from our own honey that we harvested the weekend before the wedding from our beehive. The table that displayed the honey also displayed birdhouses that Nick had made for me when we were dating.

I wrote all the table assignments on panes of glass from old windows, and the tables were named after different national parks. Nick and his dad built wooden crates for the centerpieces,  and we filled them with flowers and fresh peaches. We told everyone to take home a peach with their honey.

Our sweetheart table had handcrafted signs that I painted as well as more crates. Nick’s mom and I made a quilt together that had Disney’s Up house on it. That became our “guest quilt,” where everyone signed in on a balloon. And finally, we painted a mailbox like the one from Up where guests placed their cards.

My favorite flowers are sunflowers and succulents, so there were plenty throughout the whole wedding. We took photos all over Smithville, a cute, historic town with many photo opportunities. And our wedding band kept everyone dancing all night.

In short, our wedding day was amazing, and I thank God everyday for it. I couldn’t wait to live life with Nick and build on the foundation we built on Christ.

For our honeymoon a month later, we travelled to Rome and Switzerland after my friend Gabriella’s wedding with her and her new husband. In Rome, we attended the Sposi Novelli blessing at the Pope’s general audience. Again, I was praying to Padre Pio that we would get to meet the Pope, but there were so many couples there that it seemed unlikely.

They started gathering all of the couples, and we found ourselves in the wrong spot. It seemed like we wouldn’t get to meet him. I told Gabriella and our husbands that we should stand on a shorter rail that I spotted. I thought even if we wouldn’t meet him, we could at least get a better view.

That short rail ended up being the gate to let all the couples into the main area for everyone to gather. So we were the first ones through! When we got our spot, I realized I had lost my Padre Pio rosary. Gabriella told me not to worry, that Padre Pio was with us anyway. But when we looked down, I saw the rosary had somehow landed in the spot we were going to stand in!

When we met the Pope, we told him we were praying for him and that he needed to rebuild the church. Gabriella and I got pretty emotional about this, so he spent a long time with us saying that he would, and that we needed to keep praying too.

It was one of the most special experiences of our lives to receive the Pope’s blessing. Nick and I have had the most incredible year, and it is all because of God and his perfect plan.

Without a Christ-centered relationship, our entire wedding day and our marriage would've been completely different. It would never have been as fulfilling. You could feel our love for each other and for God that day. Everyone said that is what made the wedding so special.

Photography: Maryanne Photography, Kevin and Aly Photography, Meyer Photo and Video Group | Mass: St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Lavellette, NJ | Reception: The Smithville Inn, Absecon, NJ | Engagement Ring: designed by the groom, via Salt and Stone

Beth + Nick | Ethical Fair Trade Wedding

The date is set, church arrangements have been made, and you are about begin deciding the particulars of your wedding with your fiancé. While taking steps to make it a truly Catholic ceremony, consider using the occasion not only to serve your guests, but a larger community of people in need.

Beth and Nick’s inspirational nuptials proves that a Catholic wedding can be beautiful, ethical, and respect the dignity of the human person through every step of the planning process.

Discover how they combined both the sacramental beauty of their wedding day with their passion for Catholic social teaching.

From the Photographer (An Endless Pursuit): “We knew when we got engaged that we wanted to live out our faith in a really special way. Not only did we want a Catholic ceremony, but we wanted to choose vendors and services that were ethical and/or local, when possible,” said the bride.

It is no surprise that Beth and Nick would plan their wedding to reflect their passion for Catholic social teaching. Serving the community and supporting those in need has always been a priority for this couple. Committed to living the faith through helping the poor and disadvantaged, both bride and groom held roles in homeless and prison ministries even before they met and were engaged.

Beth is co-founder and current co-director of the The StarFish Foundation, which provides education and support services for at-risk youth in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

“We realized that we would feel a little better about spending so much money on various wedding costs if we could feel confident that the people who made our items and delivered our services were paid and treated fairly,” she explained.

After quite a bit of research, the couple was able to find companies and vendors that fed their zeal for social justice with missions that stressed the dignity of the human person. The bridesmaids’ dresses and the mother of the bride’s dress were all made by Mata Traders, a company that partners with fair trade organizations in India and Nepal.

“The Mata Traders team worked with everyone’s sizes and my color preferences to recommend different options for dresses, helping me to determine quantities, availability and more,” Beth said. As for her own dress, the bride chose to work with bridal dress shop Celia Grace and was able to know exactly who made her dress: a father of four living in India. The Celia Grace team also helped Nick to find ties for himself, his groomsmen, and the father of the bride through their network of ethical fair trade vendors.

Beth and her bridesmaids were covered in fair trade goodness from head to toe. The bride, mother of the bride, and bridesmaids all sported Rothy’s: comfortable, classy shoes made from recycled water bottles. “If you’re not familiar with Rothy’s, you should be! I literally wear mine everyday—to work, on hikes, out with friends—everywhere” Beth gushed.

The couple chose their rings from Brilliant Earth and Aide-mémoire Jewelry. “When it comes to jewelry, taking an ethical path was so important. Many diamonds are made in conflict zones in Africa,” said Beth. “Having worked on many social justice issues over the years as a way to live my Catholic faith, I knew that [a traditional diamond] wasn’t an option.”

Beth also gifted her bridesmaids with jewelry steeped in meaning from The Starfish Project. The jewelry designer is changing lives of exploited women by educating and training them in sustainable, positive careers. Likewise, before the ceremony, Nick gifted Beth with a beautiful bracelet from Purpose Jewelry, an organization that gives hope to women who have been subjected to human trafficking.

Beth and Nick also made sure to shop local for many of their vendors as a way to support the Baltimore community they love. Their cupcakes were made by Flavor Cupcakery, which Beth encountered in one her many service roles.

“Years ago, when I worked at a homeless shelter in Baltimore, the owner reached out and offered to bring enough cupcakes for all 500 residents the day before Christmas Eve. It was such a special experience. We knew we wanted to support this local business on our wedding day.”

Local Color Flowers is a florist in Baltimore that sources local and seasonal flowers and gives their clients a unique experience. They guarantee the color and style of your flowers, but the exact type will be a surprise on your wedding day. “The team guided us in the process, learning all about our wedding so they could select flowers that really fit our personality and the vision of the wedding,” Beth said. “They did a fantastic job, and the surprise element was really fun for us.” As a bonus, the centerpieces provided were herbs that guests could take home and cultivate.

Beth and Nick’s wedding is a witness of how the love between two people can expand to love of their fellow man. Using your wedding budget to support ethical treatment of workers and honest business practices is something to consider. It elevates the worth of those who are working to ensure your wedding day is nothing less than incredible.

“Overall, we wanted to ensure our guests had a great time, but we hope they also shared in the joy of supporting ethical, local, and fair trade organizations,” said the bride.

Beth and Nick’s passion for upholding the dignity of the human person has made me wonder if ethical and fair trade weddings should be more of a trend in the world of Catholic nuptials.

They hope to inspire brides to consider where they source their decorations and vendors, because even a wedding budget can affect change in the lives of so many people.

Photography: An Endless Pursuit | Videography: Laurentina Photo & Video | Church: Catholic Community of South Baltimore | Wedding Reception Venue : Rusty Scupper | Day of Coordination: Kaitlyn Harrison, coordinationco.com | | DJ: Kevin Remaley, Rockin' Remaley, rockinremaley.com | Hair & Makeup: Down the Aisle in Style, baltimoreweddinghair.com | Flowers: Local Color Flowers, locoflo.com | Cupcakes: Flavor Cupcakery, flavorcupcakery.com | Bride's Dress: Celia Grace, celia-grace.com
Bridesmaid's Dresses: Mata Traders, 
matatraders.com | Bridemaid's Jewelry: The Starfish Project, thestarfishproject.com
Bride's Gift from Groom: Purpose Jewelry, 
purposejewelry.org | Bridal Party Shoes: Rothy's, rothys.com | Rings: Brilliant Earth, brilliantearth.com, Aide-memoire Jewelry, aidememoirejewelry.com