Sandra + Shaheen | Glamorous Orange County Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resi + Jason | Fairytale-Inspired Filipino Wedding

For Resi and Jason, what began as an unlikely online match turned into something so much more.

By the time they reached the altar, their courtship had transformed both their spiritual lives and taught them a more Christ-like meaning of love and marriage. Their wedding reflected the beauty of the sacrament, a deep appreciation for their families’ culture, and the beginning of their vocational path to heaven.

From the Bride: My husband, Jason, and I met in one of the most unexpected, probably “least-Christian” ways: through Tinder, the dating app! Fortunately, he was the first and only person I ever met online.

I am a “cradle Catholic,” but if it wasn’t for my husband and his family, I might not be Catholic today. After going through another breakup, I prayed to God for someone to love, but only if he thought I was ready. I felt that I was. Not long after that prayer, I met the man who would become my husband.

They say not to talk about religion on the first date, but we did. I was exploring non-denominational Christianity, and Jason was a lukewarm Catholic. In spite of this, he invited me to go to Mass with him one Sunday a few weeks into our courtship.

I had not been to Mass in a long time, but I agreed. It was the first time I had been invited to church by a man I was dating. It would be the first of many Masses together at the church where we would be married, but I didn’t know that at the time.

His older sister was also a big influence in my return to the Catholic faith. She introduced me to the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly that sparked a fire in my search for truth. Since then we have all been growing together in understanding and love of the faith we were raised in.

Jason proposed on Christmas Eve 2016 while we were opening gifts with his family, two and a half years into our relationship. My family was unable to make it to dinner, but I was on the phone with them immediately after it happened. About a year and a half later, we were married on May 12, 2018 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Poway, California.

The theme for our wedding was “simple, elegant, and fun.” We are both huge Disney fans, so we wanted it to have a fairytale touch without overspending on insignificant details. We both come from large Filipino families as well, so we had a grand celebration with around 220 guests!

I chose two matrons of honor, and my husband had two best men. All four were equally special to us and played a significant role in our relationship. My six bridesmaids wore floor length burgundy dresses, and the flower girls wore ivory and gold. Jason’s six groomsmen picked burgundy-patterned neckties, and our fathers wore black bow ties. My handsome groom decided on a blend with a burgundy-patterned bow tie.

I found my wedding dress on an unexpected shopping trip with my sister-in-law. It was love at first sight!

Women my size, petite (4’11”), are commonly advised not to wear ball gowns because they tend to overwhelm us. But this is not always so. I almost didn’t try on a ball gown, but my stylish future-sister-in-law insisted I try one on for fun--and how fun it was to wear! I was debating between that and a figure flattering dress when the stylist came out with a big ruffled ball gown skirt to wear over a sequined mermaid style dress. It was the best of both worlds!

I wore the overskirt for the ceremony until the start of the reception. I truly felt like a bride and a princess. It was so big that after taking pre-ceremony pictures with it, I had to remove it, take it with me, and put it on again at church.

The shoes I chose to wear were also special. They were the same ones I wore for my 26th birthday, the day Jason and I officially became a couple.

Jason is the last of his siblings to get married. We were so blessed that our celebrant, Father Mel Monreal, is a close friend of his family; he celebrated all my husband’s siblings’ nuptial Masses as well.

Choosing how to walk down the aisle was another decision that took some thought. I wanted my entrance to represent coming to the altar of my own free will, but I also wanted to have both my parents walk beside me. We decided to, literally, meet in the middle. I went solo for the first half down the aisle and was then accompanied by my parents the rest of the way.

Jason and I did not do a pre-ceremony “first look.” While neither of us shed a tear during the procession, the moment we said our vows was a different story.

Our priest allowed us to step into the sanctuary so the entire congregation could more easily witness our vows. As I looked across to the man who was about to become my husband, my throat began to tighten. Realizing that this was the moment we would become one flesh, I was barely able to talk. I could see the emotion in my husband’s eyes as they began to water, just like mine. It was truly a beautiful moment.

At the beginning of our engagement, I learned about Theology of the Body. This completely changed my understanding of marriage and sexuality. My husband was reluctant to accept the theology at first, but after our Engaged Encounter retreat his heart opened, and we vowed to follow the life Christ wanted for us in marriage.

And so, we came to the altar on our wedding day with a deeper understanding of the vows were making to each other and to God. We still remind each other often of these vows and what they mean as we continue to grow deeper in our faith and in our marriage.

Jason and I had a traditional, Filipino Catholic wedding, which means we included coins, a cord, and veil ceremonies. I don’t think many people knew this, but the cord and veil we used were the same ones my parents used in their wedding 31 years ago! The thirteen coins, which are shiny, gold Philippine currency, were given to us by one of my matrons of honor; she had an extra set from her wedding. All of these are symbolic of the everlasting bond, unity, fidelity, and wealth and prosperity (in all forms) that we promise to each other.

After the nuptial Mass, when our coordinators showed us the ballroom before the reception began, I surprised my husband with my form-fitting dress. It was like having another “first look!”

I surprised everyone else during our grand entrance as we shimmied down the hall to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” After our entrance, Jason’s aunt led us in a thoughtful, extemporaneous prayer before dinner. We wanted food to be served during everyone’s toasts so our guests wouldn’t be hungry.

The most memorable thing about the speeches was that they all recognized how God has been at the center of our relationship. My dad even recognized my sister-in-law for playing such a significant role in my spiritual growth. By the end, there was no dry eye left in the reception hall.

Unlike most weddings, our first dance didn’t immediately follow our grand entrance. We decided to wait until after all the toasts and father-daughter/mother-son dances so we could open the dance floor to everyone. It was a nice transition to go from formal dining to dancing.

Before the wedding, Jason and I took dance lessons and modified the choreography to match the music cut by our DJ. We had two different songs: a slow song, “Beautiful As You” by Jim Brickman ft. Wayne Brandy, followed by the upbeat song, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. My husband is known for his dance moves, and he surprised me with a solo dance in between the transition of the two songs. After all the stressful planning, it was fun to have a little surprise!

Our wedding day was such a meaningful, joyful occasion, and it was only the beginning. It went far beyond the aesthetics and making a promise to love one person for the rest of our lives; our wedding wasn’t just about choosing another person to “get through life with.” It was the first day we vowed to lead each other to heaven.

Additionally, our wedding wasn’t just about us. It was about our community and our faith. Our families are now joined together, and we have a whole army of people to lift each other up! In choosing a sacramental marriage, we promised to be an effective sign of God’s love, and we are constantly learning how to love each other as Jesus loves us. In doing so, we hope that when people see us, they are directed towards Jesus and his love for each of us. It is my hope that our faith in God will continue to be deeply reflected in our marriage.

Videographer - Blue Tiger Films

Photography: True Photography | Church: St. Michael's Catholic Church - Poway, California | Reception: Maderas Golf Club | Wedding Dress (& Veil) - Enzoani & Ysa Makino via Here Comes The Bride | Wedding Planner - Lavish Weddings | Rings - San Diego Jewelry Brokers | Hair - Mish Mucho | Lashes - Kailani Blue | Makeup - Kristine Davis | Florist - Tessfresh Flowers | Videographer - Blue Tiger Films | DJ - DreMotion Entertainment | Cake - Jessie's Bake Shop | Bridesmaid Dresses - Mori Lee via 2000 Dreams Bridal

Liz + Grant | Classic Northern California Wedding

Liz and Grant were good friends in high school but went their separate ways. It wasn’ until their sophomore year of college, at different universities, that they reconnected, and with the potential for more.

After a year of renewing their friendship, it became clear to both of them that they desired more.

“Once we started dating,” says Liz, “I could see how Grant and I complemented each other in the light of faith. We were both raised Catholic, but our differences allowed us to point out the beauty of the faith in new ways to one another. “

“His appreciation for tradition is the perfect complement to my evangelical spirit and thus we are able to remind one another of the beauty of our faith in different ways.”

They began attending a weekly Bible study together with Father Sam, the priest who’d eventually celebrate their marriage, solidifying their individual faith lives and pursuit of each other. College meant several years of long-distance dating--including a full school year abroad--followed by Liz and Grant both returning to their hometown and beginning their respective careers. At the San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey, California, Grant proposed.

From the Bride: The day Grant asked me to be his bride, the Bishop happened to be at the cathedral for the evening Mass, which we attended right after the proposal. We were honored that he blessed our engagement after Mass, right in front of the beautiful cathedral.

We spent our engagement prepping for not only our wedding--which was so fun!--but our marriage, which was and continues to be refining in the best ways. After a 13-month engagement, we were married on July 1, 2017. What a blessing it is to have fostered a solid friendship before growing in our faith together as a couple, and eventually getting married.

You never know God's plan, and this rings true for us, as he was writing our story long before we even knew it! At the risk of sounding cliché, our wedding day could not have been more beautiful.

We had two primary goals for the day: first, to have a beautiful, sacred, holy Mass. And second, to host a joyful reception with our favorite people in the world, including a packed dance floor.

We always talked about getting married out of town--somewhere along the California coast or a quaint town in the wine country. When it came down to it, however, the most important thing to us was not to be in a beautiful city requiring our guests to travel. Being from the same place, we decided that our hometown was the best location for our wedding day. It was convenient for everyone and so special to get ready in my childhood home, while Grant spent the morning of the wedding in the home where we now live.

Summer days in California’s Central Valley can be well over 100 degrees, but our wedding day came after a big heat wave and was a perfect low-90s day with blue skies and a light breeze.

I wanted my sweet bridesmaids to all wear the same dress, but also wanted to somehow match my Maid of Honor and sister--we constantly match unintentionally! So, we wore the same pair of earrings, which I loved. I also gave matching bracelets to my bridesmaids, my sister, and my. It’s fun to see my favorite women wearing that jewelry now, after the wedding.

After going to different bridal salons to try on the same dress three times (I’m a little indecisive…thanks for your patience, mom!) I finally decided to go for it. My dress was totally different than what I originally envisioned myself wearing, but I loved its classic silhouette and open back detail. It felt simple, yet distinctive. Also, it had pockets--not only super fun, but convenient! Above all, my gown felt timeless.

Past brides had advised me to choose a new perfume for my wedding day, because the scent would always remind me of the day. I highly recommend doing this; now, a year after our wedding, I love wearing my perfume and it always takes me back to July 1.

I worked on the invitations with a co-worker who designed a beautiful suite for us, which we printed at a local shop. One of my bridesmaids and college roommates, Erika, calligraphed all of our envelopes and signage for the seating chart, ceremony welcome, aisle markers, and a Saint John Chrysostom quote.

Lauren Santos, the artist behind When Beauty Met Truth—whom I met while studying abroad together in London—drew a beautiful crest we used on our stationery and details. The crest inspired the aesthetic for the entire day. My favorite element is the dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

We wanted our Mass to exude the beauty of the Catholic Church and of sacramental marriage, yet be engaging for non-Catholic friends and family members. Father Sam did a wonderful job upholding the sacredness of the Mass, while explaining things along the way for those not familiar.

For the Mass readings, we chose Tobit 8:4-8,Romans 12: 1-2, 9-18, and Matthew 5:13-16. We chose these readings in order to share their messages with our family and friends, and also because they serve as reminders for ways we strive to live our own lives. Particularly the salt of the earth and light of the world message in the Gospel reading—we believe living a holy marriage allows us to be a light to others in this world.

Family and friends did the readings and Prayers of the Faithful, and our parents brought up the gifts.

One of my favorite parts of the Mass was signing "How He Loves" during communion with my brand new husband, knowing all of our supportive and loving family and friends were receiving the Eucharist alongside us. It was a really special moment I'll remember forever.

We were elated that our family and friends--Catholic and non-Catholic alike--commented on the joy and beauty of the Mass. All too often we hear of people saying that Mass is boring or confusing, and we truly wanted our nuptial Mass to be a beautiful expression of our faith and marriage.

At the reception, we set a table with family member's wedding photos and a framed quote from Saint John Chrysostom: "The love of a husband and wife is the force the welds society together.” It was a fun way to honor our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well as the beauty of marriage and the impact it can have on so many.

We enjoyed a delicious meal incorporating some of our favorite foods: local peaches—my favorite fruit—in the green salad, and gnocchi—Grant’s favorite pasta—as a second course. After the most heartfelt toasts from my Maid of Honor, Grant’s Best Man, and my dad, and following a surprise disco style father-daughter dance and a Mambo-Italiano mother-son dance, we spent the rest of the night on the dance floor with our favorite people! We opted for a traditional tiered wedding cake—funfetti with raspberry filling—and my mom sewed the tablecloth for our cake table.

We decided to do a sparkler exit; what better way to close out the most joyful day ever? After Grant and I buckled up in the car and started to pull away, I unexpectedly burst into joyful tears. We both felt overwhelmed with love and gratitude for our day. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

A faith-filled and joyful marriage can have a positive impact on so many people in our broken world, especially those whom we might not ever know we touched.

Photography: Cori Delgado Photography | Church: Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church - Turlock, CA | Reception: Del Rio Country Club - Modesto, CA | Videographer - Devad Weddings ( | Flowers - Farmington Flowers ( | Brides Dress - | Maggie Sottero via Miosa Bride ( | Brides Shoes - Kate Spade ( | Brides Earrings - J. Crew ( | Bridesmaids Attire - Alfred Sung via Brideside ( | Grooms Suit - Suit Supply ( | Groomsmen Attire - Black Tux ( | Make Up Artist - Aneesa Smith ( | Wedding Crest - When Beauty Met Truth ( | Calligraphy - The Love Letterer (

Kelly + Peter | California Museum Wedding

Kelly met Peter at fifteen and seventeen, respectively, as youth group and Confirmation leaders at their parish. They spent their time going to football games, instant messaging, attending Mass, and secretly liking one another. Peter revealed his feelings on Kelly’s sixteenth birthday, when she was permitted to start dating. Kelly remembers the Mass she attended that day: “I prayed especially for my new dating life, my future spouse, and also prayed that perhaps my first boyfriend would become my husband.” The Father heard and answered these desires of her heart.

Eight and a half years later, Peter wrote and performed a song on guitar entitled, “This Love was Made by God.” After singing it to Kelly, he proposed. 

From the Bride: We went to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland for our honeymoon and got to see Pope Francis. We are living our happily ever after.

My wedding gown was the second one I tried on, and I knew it was meant for me. It was from 2006, designed by Oleg Cassini. I had it altered by removing the original ribbon and adding a transparent ribbon with rustic flower details to replace it. I purchased a second dress in hopes we’d receive a blessing from Pope Francis, but I forgot to bring it with me to Krakow. Instead, I bought a $8.00 white dress from a thrift shop in Poland!

I knew I wanted a traditional-looking veil that would cover my head. I was thrilled to find my traditional mantilla veil, with modern flair featuring polka dots and rose gold details.

Our central goal for our wedding Mass was that it be filled with the God’s presence and that each guest to feel his power and love. Our guest list was very diverse and included people from all walks of faith, including fallen-away Catholics. We hoped they’d experience God throughout our Mass. It was so special being married at the church where we first met.

For music, we chose contemporary worship and a band at the ceremony. We were blessed to have our friends' band, Lang Station, play at the Mass, and the music was one of the highlights. I walked down the aisle to "Messiah/You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham. Every time I listen, it gives me butterflies and takes me back to our wedding. Peter cried when I walked down the aisle! The bridesmaids walked to Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons," and the other songs included "Oceans" and "How He Loves."  

While we professed traditional Catholic vows, we were also invited to include personal messages to read out loud during the ceremony. The night before our wedding, I accidentally took Peter's note card with his message to me, so he had to try to remember what he wrote. The rest he made up on the spot! Our priests were Father John, the priest from my college parish, and Father Matt, who was our youth minister and who watched Peter and I grow together. Our wedding was the first he presided at, as a newly ordained priest! We had our friends and cousins present the gifts. It was very special having our loved ones included in the Mass.

 After the Mass, Peter and I went to Jamba Juice in our wedding attire. It’s  where Peter first told me he liked me and asked me out on our first date. We sat at our table to enjoy a few moments alone before the reception.

Our reception was held at Rancho Camulos Museum, a National Historic Landmark that holds an old (not currently used) Catholic chapel. We had an outdoor reception that included market lights above the dance floor and big tree with a chandelier above our table. The meal was catered from the same restaurant where Peter and I went on our first date, and guests enjoyed listening to Lang Station during the cocktail hour and dinner.  

My favorite part of the night came at the end, when most of guests had departed. Those remaining included our very close friends, some family, and neighbors whom I’m very close to. Two friends recalled that as a child, I’d wanted to dance to Train’s "Drops of Jupiter" at my wedding, and they requested it as the last song of the evening. Peter and I danced with unkempt hair, his jacket over me, through a scene of bubbles provided by a couple of people. We then slowly walked away to our cars, talking with our friends like it was just another ordinary night. But it was perfect.

Although it’s very easy to get caught up in all the wedding details--decorations, music, the timeline--the most important thing is to be present and enjoy the moment. Let go of all the things that don't matter, breathe deeply, and take notice of all the blessings around you. During your wedding day, reflect on how God got you to where you are and be thankful. Remember the insanely amazing spiritual things that are happening to give you a new sacrament!

Lastly, know that sometimes it’s easy to become disappointed in certain aspects of your wedding. Remember those feelings are fleeting, and you get to look forward to an adventure of a lifetime with the man God provided for you.

Video produced by Forestry Films

Photographer: Worden Photography | Reception Location: Rancho Camulos Museum; Piru, CA | Church: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church; Santa Clarita, CA | Bride's Wedding and Engagement Rings: Jewelry Couture in Ventura, CA Groom's Wedding Ring: Na Hoku | Flowers: Yamaguchi Nursery in Santa Paula, CA | Invitations: Download and Print | Save the Dates: Shutterfly | Rentals:  AV Party Rentals in Santa Clarita, CA | Caterer:  Stone Fire Grill | Bride's Dresses: The White Dress for Less in Newhall, CA, Dress designed by Oleg Cassini | Veil: SmithaMenonBridal on Etsy | Bride's Shoes: Step! Shoes in Santa Monica, CA, Shoes: Sabrinas Juliet 34910 in Bone Nappa Leather | Bridesmaid Attire: Various dresses chosen by bridesmaids | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men's Warehouse | Cake: Jills Cake Creations in Santa Clarita, CA | Hairstylist: Amy Wolf | Ceremony Music/ Cocktail Hour/ Dinner Music: Lang Station | Reception Music: Crowd Theory Entertainment | Reception Planning/Coordination:  Lalonde Events; Christine Lalonde | Videography: Forestry Films

Alana + Stephen | California Air Force Wedding

Alana and Stephen met through a mutual friend during their college years in San Diego. They quickly fell in love, though with a major difference between them: Alana was a Non-Denominational Protestant, and Stephen was Catholic. The Lord was about to draw them into his heart.

From the Bride: Throughout our relationship, I prayed asking God what to do and--if Stephen was the one--how would our interfaith marriage work. I ended up finding a book written by a Catholic Priest, Robert J. Hater: When A Catholic Marries A Non-Catholic. It answered so many of my questions and I was even able to contact Fr. Hater! He became my spiritual counselor, and later that year I converted to Catholicism.

My faith has grown immensely since converting and having Stephen by my side to answer any questions and support me has only made our love for each other grow. We became engaged on December 23, 2016 and later found out Stephen's report date for pilot training moved up for the Air Force. We had a short engagement, yet God was looking out for us and provided us with a church and reception venue.

When we found an available church, we fell in love. Not only was it beautiful and in a great location, but we had a priest, Fr. Mark, who was a family friend of Stephen's. My mother-in-law is involved in Opus Dei and told us amazing things about Fr. Mark. We met with him once before the wedding and told him of my conversion story and more about our relationship. During our wedding liturgy, he gave an amazing homily that nodded to Stephen’s Air Force career, comparing flying to marriage.

For the readings, we wanted to include our family. Since I don't have grandparents, I asked Stephen's father's mother, and Stephen asked his mother's mother. It was such a lovely moment seeing both grandmothers holding hands up as they walked up to the altar. My only uncle and his family offered the gifts, and I loved including them even though they are not Catholic. Stephen's uncle, who had sung at each of Stephen’s sibling’s weddings, did the music.

We had decided early on that we would have a moment to thank the Virgin Mary during the Mass. I realized right before that I didn't have the flowers to offer her! Stephen, being the nice man he is, didn't want to go over there empty-handed. He squatted down and grabbed the large pot of flowers that were by the altar! Everyone got a little laugh out of that! He thankfully put them back down and we saw that the flowers were already there by Our Lady. I don't think anyone will ever forget that moment.

We wanted to start a tradition at our wedding. Stephen received a sword from his commissioning for being the top of his class, and we cut our cake with that sword. We hope to pass it down to our children.

It is also a family tradition that "Rain King" by the Counting Crows is played at weddings. I think you have to know all the words before becoming a part of Stephen’s family!

God always has a plan. When we started planning our wedding and Stephen’s report date changed, it really took us for a spin. But God provided for us with a church, venue, and priest. The day that I had to move out of my studio apartment was the day before our wedding--that's providence right there!

Early on, we struggled so much with being different faiths and spent so much time concentrating on the negatives. Little did I know that God brought us together to make us better Christians. Without Stephen, I would've never been exposed to Catholicism. I think for him, growing up Catholic was seen as a routine. Through my conversion, he was really brought to the basics and fell deeply in love with his faith all over again.

Photography: Kelli Seeley | Nuptial Mass or Engagement Location: Church of Santa Maria, Orinda, California | Reception: Orinda Country Club | Rings: Exclusive Diamonds by Carter  | Flowers: Clayton Sonset Flowers | Dress: BHLDN | Tux: The Black Tux | Cake: Susie Cakes | Catering: Orinda Country Club | Invitations and table signs: Minted |  Guest Sign In Book: Artifact Uprising

Emily + Daniël | Christmas Season Wedding

From us to you, happy Feast of the Epiphany! At the close of this Christmas season, our prayer for you is grace and fortitude as you journey closer each day to your own Bethlehem: to the deep joy, the silent, indescribable riches of the heart, and the pure wonder that flow forth from married life. To celebrate the last day of this sacred time, we're thrilled to share an additional post this week, featuring Emily and Daniël's amazing love story, Praise and Worship-filled wedding Mass, and holiday-inspired details!

Emily is a full-time speaker. On her first-ever European trip--to the Netherlands for a youth and music ministry conference--one of the conference presenters, named Daniël, picked up Emily and her colleagues from the airport. What followed was the start of an international romance that would almost seem improbable, were it not for the Father's infinite wisdom, mercy, and providence.

From the Bride: There’s one truth that stands from the beginning of my love story: if God designed it to happen, he will make a way. God always makes a way.

On the first day of my trip, where I'd be singing and speaking at the conference, the others in the group had meetings to attend. I had the time free, and Daniël was given the job of taking me to sightsee around Holland. The first place he wanted to show me was his favorite basilica in a nearby city. If you have not been to Europe, you must know…the churches will take your breath away every single time. We walked into Mary, Star of the Sea Basilica and I was totally floored by its beauty. We walked in and Daniël asked me if I wanted to pray in their chapel. We prayed together for the first time that day. Unbeknownst to me in that moment, we would end up praying together every single day after that.

Daniël and I spent time getting to know one another throughout the weekend of the conference, and I was incredibly moved by what a strong, generous, faithful, giving, and kind man he was. When I returned home to America, I knew God was doing something big. But I was clueless as to the extent of the adventure that was beginning.

Daniël sent me a letter expressing the same things I was feeling – that somehow, He knew that God was calling him to pursue me rightly, even from 6,000 miles away. A man in the Netherlands pursuing a woman in California…a scenario only possible for God. He always makes a way.

We began calling one another on Skype, getting to know each other, and praying about what God was calling us to. We later discerned that it was best for me to make a return trip to Europe to explore what God was doing. I returned two months after we first met, and after Daniël took me on a few dates--even though the prospect of dating across an ocean was overwhelming--we decided to begin formally dating.

Daniël pursued me from half a world away, on a 9-hour time difference, for 2 years. Our relationship was beautifully blessed, but a very challenging road. We had to learn to show the other love with only words and prayer. Date “nights” on weekends meant spending time on Skype on my Saturday morning and his Saturday night, always finding new things to talk about. God’s hand made way for every visit (about every 2 months), and our dedication to keeping Christ at the center of everything was what carried us on with hope and deep purpose in our relationship. We committed to walking the road together daily.

God continued to make a way.

Daniël secured a graduate school internship in Laguna Beach, California, so that we could discern marriage in the same city together. We continued to fall in love, and Daniël continued to show me his heart of deep goodness and his firm foundation of faith and virtue. He never ceased to impress me by the core of who he was and the way he honored me. Daniël proposed in February 2015, and were married on December 30th of that year.

I now look at my sweet husband across the dinner table from me, and reflect on how we are a living, breathing sacrament together. We are living in the center of God’s promise that nothing is impossible for him. We are living the fulfillment that comes with dedicating our life and love to God--living the fulfillment that comes with our waiting for one another--the fulfillment that comes from professing a vow and trusting Christ to give you the strength to abide by it.

God made a way for us, and he makes everything beautiful in his perfect timing and perfect power. True love is possible, and it is alive and well in this world. May we celebrate, believing in the goodness of true love and the power that it has to change this world."

From the Photographer: It has been a gift working with so many faith-filled couples, documenting the beauty of the sacrament of marriage. This is a day I will always remember. As Emily and Daniël's wedding day unfolded, I was in awe of their total, self-giving love. A love that is playful, childlike. A love that gently whispers truth. A love that patiently waits on God’s timing. A love that we are all called to.

These two have spent their lives running toward Christ and leading so many young souls to his Heart. Their courage to enter into marriage as a shining light in the darkness is truly inspiring. After journeying through the daily sacrifice of a relationship continents apart, the whole day was spent in joyful disbelief that this day had finally arrived. As Emily and Daniël were each covered in prayer by their closest loved ones, the Father’s grace was just overwhelming.

One of my favorite aspects of their wedding Mass took place after Communion. The whole church was worshipping the God of the Universe at the top of their lungs with thankful hearts, to the song "How He Loves." There was no rush, just basking in that moment, praising him together. This is a marriage that is focused on the treasures of heaven.

Photography: Elissa Voss Photography | Videography: NOK Productions | Church: Our Lady of Grace, Encino, CA | Reception Venue: Verandas Beach House, Manhattan Beach, CA | Ceremony Music: Ike Ndolo | DJ: VOX DJs | Catering: Stonefire Grill, Los Angeles, CA | Bride's Lace Bolero: Polina Ivanova