Amy and Jay met later in life, after experiencing the joys and losses of their first marriages. At their wedding, their lives, hearts, and children came together to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter and the healing power of God’s grace.
From the Bride: I am a widow. My late husband, Karl, and I had eight children together. One died an hour and 27 minutes after birth. Sometimes, we talked about how we wanted the other to feel free to marry again if one of us passed away. I would always say, only half joking, “Who’s going to marry a woman with seven kids?”
Then Karl died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 54, after 21 years of marriage. When he passed, the remaining seven children were between the ages of 6 and 20.
Life as a single mom with five kids at home and two away at college was hard. Harder than anything I had ever done. One evening, after a particularly rough and emotional day, I found myself becoming increasingly tearful after dropping off one of the kids at an after-school event. I eventually pulled over in a parking lot and, sobbing, cried out, “I can’t do this by myself! Send me some help! Dear God, send me some help.” I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe a coupon for free maid service?
That night, to distract myself, I logged onto Catholic Match and finished a previously started profile. All the while I thought, “Who wants to marry a 47-year-old woman with seven kids?” The next day at work was slow, so I started flipping through profiles. Few caught my eye. Even fewer lived close enough to consider, as I knew I wouldn’t be pulling my children out of school.
But three days after my breakdown, Jay popped up as a possible match. It was clear from his profile that he loved the Lord and his Blessed Mother (you’d be surprised how many on Catholic Match don’t agree with all the teachings of the Church), so I sent him a message on the app. And he answered! I thought surely he hadn’t read my profile, as I had explained my whole story to avoid getting involved with someone who couldn’t handle my history. But we quickly hit it off. Soon we were sharing stories of broken hearts, broken marriages, and the children caught up in all of it--Jay is a divorced father of two.
He says he knew almost immediately that he would marry me, but I was trying to keep some distance. Karl’s first birthday without him here was quickly approaching. I told Jay we couldn’t meet until after my family had gotten through that first, and he was immediately supportive. But as the day loomed ahead, I realized I didn’t have anyone to help me through it.
I reached out to Jay and asked if there was any way he could spend the day before with me. I had already arranged to be off work to deal with my own emotions, and then Karl’s birthday, a Saturday, I could devote to my children. Jay arranged to be off work and drove 200 miles to be with me.
My heart was so confused the first time I was within ten feet of him. I was missing my late husband terribly, and yet there were butterflies at meeting Jay. We embraced like old friends and went to the cemetery, where he sat with me in my sorrow for an hour.
He let me sob and never once felt threatened by my tears. Never once tried to hurry me along. Never once tried to tell me to stop crying. He just sat with me, his arms around me, trying to bring whatever comfort he could through his presence and prayers. Who does that for someone they hardly know? At the end of that day, I knew I wanted to spend more time with Jay. The real challenge was how to tell my children.
My kids struggled through wanting me to be happy, but feeling angry because they thought moving forward meant I didn’t love their dad. We had lots of hard conversations, many of them ending in tears (theirs, mine, or both). Jay’s teens struggled with him moving away. He and I talked on the phone every day and prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy together every night. We also prayed a novena to Mary Undoer of Knots.
Within six weeks of that first Match message, he had found a new job and moved to my town. Within three months of that first message, we were officially engaged. Four months after that we were married.
By that time, all of the children were supportive of our marriage. That doesn’t mean everything has been “smooth sailing” ever since, but in general it has been much better.
Our nuptial Mass, which was offered for Karl’s soul, focused on faith and family. All of our children were involved: from the musicians, to gift and ring bearers, to Jay’s best man. My oldest son walked me down the aisle. In fact, one of my favorite photos was taken from the back of the church as Thomas walked me down the aisle. The band included a violin, viola, cello, and trumpet, as well as a piano and organ. Our two cantors led us beautifully in prayer.
From the Photographer: As a wedding photographer, I see many young couples preparing for their first marriage to begin, but this year I began the wedding season with an incredible pair who have ventured through life and gleaned the wisdom each year has brought them.
Their incredible love, faith, devotion to Mary, and adoration for Jesus was so evident throughout their Mass that it brought me to tears many times. I admire Amy’s amazing trust that the Lord would bring her a man who could not only devote his time to stepping into the role of a father to her children, but the role of husband, again.
Jay is one of the most peaceful, fun men I've ever met. In his presence, you feel safe. I can’t begin to tell you how much their families will be divinely impacted by their love for each other, and most of all for Jesus.
Photography: Soul Creations Photography - Spoken Bride Vendor | Church: St. Luke Catholic Church, Indianapolis, IN | Reception: The Garrison at Fort Harrison, Indianapolis, IN | Cake Vendor: Cheesecake Factory | Jewelry: Dress Barn | Rings: Engagement ring: Sam’s Club | Wedding rings: Jared | Bridal Gown: Ada’s Bridals, customized by erinyoungdesigns.com in Broad Ripple | Stationary / Invitations: Shutterfly | DJ: Brian Jackson | Hairstylist: Rebecca at Salon 6 in Broad Ripple