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

Brooke + Austin | Timeless Autumnal Nebraska Wedding

“If there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From the beginning of their romantic relationship into their new marriage, Brooke and Austin have strove to live in the wisdom of Scripture and the beauty of the sacraments. They know that saying “yes” to a strong relationship with the Lord is a “yes” to greater intimacy as husband and wife.

Their elegant, timeless wedding, centered around the sacrifice of the Mass, shows the joy of a community celebrating the union of this abundantly blessed couple.

From the Bride: Austin and I travelled in the same college friend group for three years. During our junior year, he showed up at my front door and asked to take me out on a date. He wanted to get to know me better.

I knew in that moment that Austin was something special, because you don't see men pursue a woman like that too often.

It was important to incorporate our faith from the very beginning. Throughout our relationship, we went to Mass together on Sundays and at least once during the week. Austin even shared his testimony with me one night and explained that I inspired him in his faith, and that I made him want to be a better man of God. I told him he inspired the exact same aspiration in me.

And so, we got engaged.

Austin and I wanted the Mass to be the center and most important part of our wedding day. I had not been living in Omaha long before we got engaged, so I had not yet found my home parish. I was looking for a place that felt like home and radiated God's presence. I knew after the first Mass I attended at St. Robert's that it was the church community I had been seeking. It would also be the parish where Austin and I would be married. They welcomed us with open arms.

Before the wedding began, the bridal party and parents gathered for a prayer led by our celebrant, Fr. Matya. The readings we chose were not common readings for a nuptial Mass, but were readings that spoke to our values as a couple that we wanted to build our married life on.

The gospel was Philippians 4:4-9, which includes a verse we both love: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

The most special part of the Mass was our time after communion praying and asking for Mary’s intercession. We truly felt the presence of God in that moment and prayed that Mary would guide us along our new path as husband and wife.

Our wedding style was elegant and classic. Chic while remaining traditional. I am not all about glitz and glam, but I love a simple, timeless look. Because the wedding was in the fall, I chose a color theme with darker tones and greenery touches. I focused on the "burnt mauve" color and gold accents.

Looking back, our wedding day was another huge reminder of how much God has blessed Austin and I. One memorable thing we did happened during the reception. We stood in the back of the room and looked out at everyone celebrating our marriage. It was a day spent with all our loved ones supporting us during this special time.

Austin is the man I have prayed for my entire life. Actually, he's even better than the man I prayed for. I asked God for a faithful, loving husband, and God sent me that in Austin--and more. We are constantly striving to be better stewards of God’s grace and learning how to carry out his plan for us every day. We have learned the challenges it brings, but Austin and I have fought through them together.

The biggest challenge we have encountered is figuring out how to pray together, not settling for less in our faith lives, or becoming distracted away from time with God. We pushed past this challenge by reading a spiritual resource every day together and reflecting on it. Our favorite readings include the Bible (of course!), Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen, My Daily Bread, and Fr. Mike Schmitz’s podcast.

Austin and I know if we choose to say "yes" to having a strong relationship with God, we will also feel closer to one another and become better versions of ourselves.

Photography: Kelli Dornbos | Church: St. Robert Bellarmine, Omaha NE | Wedding Reception Venue : Embassy Suites in the Old Market, Omaha NE | Bride's Wedding Gown: Ready or Knot | Bride's Veil: Ready or Knot | Alterations: Livia Designs | Graphic designer for all wedding stationery (invites, programs, placecards, etc): Brooke Sankey | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ready or Knot (Jenny Yoo collection in Cinnamon Rose) | Groom's Suit: Jerry Ryan | Groom's Tie: Tie Bar | Groomsmen suits: Jerry Ryan | Groomsmen/Ring Bearer Ties: Tie Bar
Makeup artist: Kate Johnson | Hair Stylist: Emily Jackson | Florist: iBloom (Lincoln, NE) | Reception Wedding Planner: Adrianne Lescanic
Flower petals for throwing: Sam's Club | Videographer: Tom Hoxmeier | Party Bus: Emerald Limosine | DJ: Complete Wedding and Events | Cake: Whisk + Measure | Biscotti: Enjoy Biscotti Company (based in Colorado) | Jeweler: Wrights Jewelry (Lincoln, NE)

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

Rebecca + Brian | Verdant Church House Wedding

Despite friends’ enthusiastic intentions, neither Brian nor Becca was overly thrilled to try out swing dancing at the Catholic student center. But when Brian first saw Becca during the dance lesson, he initiated a strategic plan. “If I stand next to her, we’ll have to be partners,” he thought.

He was right--and rather successful! Brian only had to dip her once, and Becca was smitten. But there was one major obstacle to Brian’s pursuit: she was already dating someone else.

And so, Brian and Becca’s friendship grew gently and quietly. It was nourished by a boisterous group of mutual friends, regular communal night prayer, spontaneous theology debates, swing dancing, and $2 Sunday night dinners in the church basement.

Over a year later, Becca had been single for several months, and God told Brian the time was right, as the Lord would over and over with each milestone in their relationship. Also present at each milestone would be the Author of Love, fully present in the Blessed Sacrament:

Whispering in the silence of the adoration chapel, Brian first professed his affection to Becca, thinking it wouldn’t be returned.

Exclaiming prayers of thanksgiving in the same chapel some weeks later, they delighted in just having made things “official”.

On one knee in front of the altar and tabernacle several years later, Brian proposed in the very spot he hoped to soon marry Becca.

Two weeks before their wedding, kneeling in front of the tabernacle, they consecrated themselves to Mary.

Their hope for their consecration day, the Feast of the Annunciation, was that their yes to Mary would echo Mary’s yes to God, which would foreshadow their upcoming yes to each other on their wedding day.

To remind themselves of their consecration to God, Mary, and each other, Brian and Becca had their wedding bands engraved with the Latin phrase “totus tuus”, which means “totally yours.”

From the Bride: For years, I had been unsure of how it was possible to wholly dedicate myself to God and a husband at the same time. This question bothered me a lot, and I spent a lot of time praying about it.

I knew the answer, but I didn’t always feel it in my heart, especially early in my discernment with Brian. And yet, by the time I saw him standing at the end of the aisle, I deeply felt and knew the response to my years of “unsure-ness”—to say yes to God was to say yes to Brian.

Because our sacrament of marital love finds its origin in the Author of Love, we wanted to make sure the wedding pointed back to God in every way. We spent a lot of time selecting readings that we thought would be fruitful and eye-opening for both our non-Catholic and Catholic guests. We also spent a lot of time choosing music.

Music is so powerful. Just like in the movies, when you know what you should think and feel in a scene because of the music, the same goes for weddings.

Hymns and melodies reserved for the sacred sphere give the listener a profound sense of God’s presence in the church. It sets the events occurring inside the church apart from any other thing that happens outside.

We were blessed to have a spectacular organist and cantor, as well as a talented group of friends who sang some tear-jerking polyphony acapella. After the wedding, we were very happy to hear from several guests that they appreciated how the the Mass and ceremony were incredibly reverent.

I’ll let G.K. Chesterton sum up our attitude toward the reception: “for economy is far more romantic than extravagance.” Who said you need a ton of money to have a great party?

Brian and I enjoyed the romance of creativity with less funds, making the reception more entertaining with items that didn’t cost much. For example, the guestbook consisted of guests’ suggestions for bucket list ideas for Brian and I written on paper circles. The circles were then clipped to ribbons for a pretty and fun display. We got everything from “take your parents and in-laws on a cruise” to “conquer Lithuania using only a spoon and an Ethernet cable”.

Instead of clinking glasses for a kiss, guests clinked their glasses to get everyone’s attention.  Then the glass-clinkers could sing a song, do a dance, or recite a poem about love and the bride and groom. It was hilarious!

The best performance was from one of our seminarian friends who clinked his glass, solemnly stood, and began “a reading from Sacred Scripture…” reciting super love-y lines from Song of Songs with perfect comedic timing and facial expressions.

After dinner, two friends taught a group dance called the ring dance, and many of our guests joined in for this crazy and fun mix of partner switching! My dad and I also surprised everyone (Brian included) with a father-daughter dance of Bollywood, ballroom, and dorky retro dance moves that my sister and I had mixed and choreographed some months before. Hearkening to our first encounter with each other, there was also lots of swing dancing throughout the night.

Brian and I couldn’t believe how not nerve-wracking, peaceful, and perfect the day was. We kept repeating to each other, “that was so beautiful and perfect! God is so good!”

From the Groom: It is awesome and inspiring when I consider the events of our wedding day in the context of God’s divine plan.

From the very moment that our souls were conceived in the mind of God, he had this day already awaiting us, and we set forth on a new path amidst his blessings and joys.

I had no qualms or second thoughts as I approached the altar and waited impatiently for Becca to do the same. I thought over and over to myself, “I was made for this.” You—as finite as a moment in eternity, and yet an eternal soul—were created for the mission entrusted to you by the all-powerful God of the universe. So be excited! Do not be afraid! God will never abandon his faithful servants.

From the Bride: We have the same favorite moment of our wedding day: kneeling together in front of Mary after Communion, saturated in the angelic singing of the Arcadelt Ave Maria by a choir of friends. We had doubly given our lives away to God and to each other, leaving us at once totally empty and totally full. Nothing had ever felt more right. Neither of us are criers, but we both had tears in our eyes.

To close, I want to pass along an incredibly useful piece of advice I received from my best friend. If you’re nervous about the crowds on your wedding day, think of all the faces turned toward you as you walk down the aisle. Yes, think of them. It might be a lot of faces, but all those people love you and your fiancé, and you and your fiancé love them.

Thus, there is nothing to worry about, because you are surrounded by love.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography - Spoken Bride Vendor | Church: St. Alphonsus Liguori Roman Catholic Church - Zionsville, IN | Reception: St. Alphonsus Liguori Roman Catholic Church - Zionsville, IN 46077 | Catering: The Juniper Spoon | Clutches: Tina Frantz Designs | Bridesmaids Dresses: AZAZIE | Bridal Gown: David's Bridal | Bridal Shoes: Ve-Ve's Dance Company | DJ: AMS Entertainment & Audio/Visual | Rings: Diamonds Direct, Monique Fine Jewelry | Jewelry: Tiffany & Co. | Cake: Confectioneiress Cupcakes & Sweets

Renae + Steven | Winter Clubhouse Wedding

Renae and Steven met shortly before Renae entered into a dating fast. During this time, she grew to know and love Steven as a brother in Christ, sparking a desire in both of them to get to know each other on a deeper level.

And so their courtship began. Through the intercession and guidance of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, Steven and Renae were engaged and then married in God’s peaceful and perfect timing.

From the Bride: Steven and I met in a young adult church group. We got to know each other better over the next year--during which I began a dating fast. I knew at the time that I needed to start treating the men in my life as brothers in Christ instead of potential suitors. This profoundly changed the way I interacted with the guys around me.

Just days after my dating fast ended, I returned to the young adult group. I was still treating the men in the group as brothers in Christ, confident my new perspective was both healing and consistent. Steven later told me this was the time he started desiring to know me better.

It truly is by God’s grace that we grew interested in each other when we did. Once we started dating, we quickly discovered our confirmation saints, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, worked together. This led to great discussions about our individual spiritualities, which greatly aided our relationship discernment.

On April 10th, I began my preparation for consecration to Jesus through Mary using 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley.

I didn't know that in just twelve days, my future fiancé would be driving to my parents' house to ask their permission for my hand in marriage.

After thirty three days of prayer, I made my consecration to Jesus through Mary. That same day, May 13th, Steven and I finished our novena to Our Lady of Fatima. It was the 100th anniversary of the famous Marian apparitions in Portugal.

Steven chose that day to propose, in an antique mall from our first date.

Our engagement showed how in tune Steven was with my spirituality.

His loving awareness and connectedness allowed us to intentionally pray through the discernment process. And while I waited for a proposal, God taught me to trust in his timing.

I received the engagement ring Steven intended to propose with weeks after he’d initially asked. He had created a design of three infinity symbols merged into a cross. This was etched into the inside ridge of the ring. The main diamond came from my mother’s engagement ring, which originally came from my grandmother’s engagement ring. It has become a family heirloom.

We knew weddings traditionally took place in the bride’s hometown church, but Steven agreed to a wedding in the church that has spiritually impacted me the most: St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Anderson, Indiana, connected to the school where I worked for four years. During my career, I have spent many days of prayer there at school Masses and in Adoration.

Even the building itself reflected who we are as a couple: the old church had been well worn over time, just like the times Steven and I had fallen and turned to God’s grace. Likewise, St. Mary’s has long relied on the intervention of caring parishioners to keep it a living and growing parish.

My classroom was where the bridal party got ready the morning of the wedding. I was ecstatic to see that my students had written “Congrats, Mrs. Cox” on the the chalkboard! The groom and groomsmen got ready in the library. Spending this precious time with our bridal parties before the ceremony calmed our nerves and allowed us to be in community with those who truly cared about our future. Steven played a board game with his groomsmen, and my sister brought tea and scones for the ladies.

Taking time for prayer with my bridesmaids before the ceremony allowed me to deeply understand the support they desired to give me, on our wedding day and throughout all the years to come.

They are still my rock when grief strikes because they are so firmly rooted in Christ.

The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph played a huge part in our courtship. Our Lady of Fatima was present and represented in my handkerchief, and my sister brought a small statue of her for the time before the ceremony.

I had a family friend design a choker necklace with the Miraculous Medal attached to the clasp. For me, this represented how Mary has always “had my back.” The idea came from a friend who always wore a Miraculous Medal on the clasp of her cross necklace.

I wore my sister’s veil. She was the first of the girls in my family to get married. My twin sister also wore the veil on her wedding day; it has quickly became a family tradition.

We met in the annex of the church before the ceremony, with Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pieta both in the room with us. These moments felt powerful and prayerful, even as I also felt the jittery nervousness of the morning.

At the reception, we had our father/daughter and mother/son dances. My father and I danced to a Dean Martin song--one I always remembered my dad dancing to when he felt happy. Steven had tissues prepared for his mother, and they still joke about the joyful tears she shed as they danced together.

Throughout the entire process, Steven and I strove to understand that our marriage wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses.

So we gathered an amazing support system filled with the Christ-centered people in our lives.

We truly felt the love of Jesus in those around us during our engagement and on our wedding day. Now that we are united in Christ through the sacrament of matrimony, we feel we can endure whatever life throws at us.

We both feel peace knowing the other will keep each of us focused on God. And I often remind Steven our marriage is a means to help each other to heaven. We strive for this through the hardships we experience together, forgiving the sins of the other, enduring the selfishness we both exhibit, and being thankful for the beauty we witness in our marriage.

Photography: Soul Creations PhotographySPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary's Catholic Church, Anderson, IN | Reception: Indianapolis Yacht Club, Indianapolis, IN | Cake: A Slice of Heaven | Bridal Gown: A Moment in Time Bridal | Engagement Ring: Reis Nichols | Wedding Bands: Shane Co. | Bridal Necklace: Brenda Jarrett | Shoes: Modcloth | Florist: Joann Ryan | DJ: Midwest Sound | Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie | Menswear: Jos A. Banks | Videography: Fiat Films

Jessica + Brian | Classic Winter Manor Wedding

Jessica and Brian met at college in 2010. At that moment, they had no idea that seven years later they would walk down the aisle and enter together into the sacrament of matrimony.

It only took a couple months of dating to realize their mutual desire for marriage, but different career paths and an uncertain military schedule kept Jessica and Brian apart. This only grew their desire to be united in marriage, and Brian finally proposed to Jessica in March 2017.

On a magical, snowy day in a beautiful chapel, the happy couple celebrated a winter wedding.

From the Bride: Brian and I both attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and were both business majors. We were in some of the same classes during our freshman year, but we didn’t meet until sophomore year in September 2010.

Brian introduced himself after my presentation during one of our business classes, and we spent some time together that weekend. We became quick friends, but he wasn’t looking for anything more than friendship at that time. As for me, I was open to the possibility of a relationship! So we continued to spend time together as Brian prayed and reflected about our future.

Three months after we met, he gave me a letter conveying all he had reflected on and asked me to be in a relationship with him. After only two months of dating, we knew one day we’d be husband and wife.

Over the next six and a half years, our love steadily grew through attending weekly Mass, praying together, and sharing countless memories.

We also identified our lay vocations and began our careers. As Brian started his time in the Marine Corps and I pursued a career in finance, we were separated for months at a time. This transition was extremely challenging, and I leaned heavily on prayer as I learned to trust in God’s plan.

Being separated by geography and Brian’s irregular schedule taught us not to take our relationship for granted. In March 2017, he proposed to me on the front steps of Mount de Sales Academy, my alma mater.

As we began planning, Brian and I wanted our wedding day to be centered on our love for God and each other. And we wanted each of our guests to feel this love coming through every detail.

Our celebrant, Father Thomas Haan, had been Brian’s college lacrosse team chaplain, a close friend and spiritual guide throughout our relationship. He celebrated our nuptial Mass on a beautiful, snowy December day at Mount St. Mary’s in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

This was our favorite part of the day: the nuptial Mass and exchange of vows. As Catholics, making a commitment to God and each other in front of our families and friends was very important to us.

We also felt blessed to have our families involved in our wedding day in big ways. Brian’s aunt made the invitations, and my loving godparents provided my entire wedding ensemble. My godfather bought my veil, headband, and dress, and my godmother made my faux fur shawl.

Everything put together made me feel truly beautiful as I married Brian.

From Elizabeth, the Photographer: Shooting a lot of Catholic weddings, I hear a lot of homilies. But every now and then one of them forces me to stop and listen instead of moving around the church wondering what shot I should capture next.

Father Haan nailed it for Brian and Jessica! There was something so personal about his sermon. It was evident that he knew the couple well, and that he and Brian had a great relationship.

He highlighted how the Lord favors their union, specifically through the Blessed Mother's constant intercession for them.

Brian was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and Jessica developed a strong devotion to Our Lady in high school at Mount de Sales Academy. Both Jessica and Brian chose to attend Mount Saint Mary's University. Then on December 9, one day after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, they were married in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's.

Father explained that it wasn't a coincidence their faithfulness to the Lord and his Blessed Mother was made visible in their union as husband and wife.

It was beautiful.

Photography: Elizabeth M Photography | Church: Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's University (Emmitsburg, MD) | Reception: Springfield Manor (Thurmont, MD) | Make-up: Autumn Estelle | Hair: Erica Noccolino Thorowgood | Bride’s Veil: Mon Cheri, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Headband: Morilee, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Dress: Stella York, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Rings: King’s Jewelry, Alexandria, VA | Bride’s Shoes: Tieks by Gavrieli | Bridesmaids Dresses: Dessy, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Caterer: The Carriage House | Cake/cupcake baker: Kupcakes &; Co. | DJ: Jack Seghetti | Planning: Ida Rose | Flowers: Shelly Black Custom Floral | Videographer: Jon Sham