Sara + Raphy | Hawaiian Paradise Wedding

Sara didn’t plan on returning to Hawaii after graduation. The friendship she had begun with Raphy looked like it was coming to an end. But when she did come back, and they picked up where they left off, the two friends realized their relationship was turning into something more.

From the Bride: My husband and I met the summer of 2016, but we didn’t start talking and hanging out until December 31, the last day of the year. Shortly after a dinner at the Salt Lake Chinese Restaurant, we coordinated a day to hike the Koko Head Arch and chill at the beach down below--just as friends. 

After the new year on January 14, 2017 I received an unexpected text message from him asking me to dinner, as friends. So we shared spaghetti and meatballs at Buca Di Beppo in the Ward Center. We got boba drinks afterwards and drank them at the Tantalus lookout. And then, on the ride back to my place, we sang Disney songs for the entire drive. 

Raphy walked me upstairs, hugged me goodbye, and then I left for Portland the following day. It was a night to remember, but I thought that would be the extent of our friendship since I didn’t plan to return to Hawaii after graduation. We kept in touch through the occasional phone call and sporadic text messages. 

I ended up coming back home after graduating in May, and on June 2 we planned a day to hang out and celebrate each other's birthdays after being an ocean apart. The day started off with Raphy surprising me with the Disney Aulani Character Breakfast in Ko'olina. In turn, I surprised him by taking him to Moanalua Gardens and dancing hula for him. We ended with worship performed by Jeremy Camp at New Hope. It was another memorable time together.

About a week later on Trinity Sunday my friends threw a surprise graduation celebration for me at a friends’ home in Kapolei. There was so much food and laughter. Raphy even showed up later on, another surprise for me! The celebration went on until there was just seven of us left. There was hula dancing, singing, and guitar playing. Towards the end of the evening, Raphy asked me if I'd like to enter into a courtship with him, and I said, "yes!" 

That October, I took a trip to Europe with my mom, and we explored Switzerland and Italy. I had the amazing opportunity to go inside the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican in Rome. I knelt down to pray at one of the altars, specifically for Raphy and our relationship. After I was done praying, I saw a small sign at the front; it was the altar dedicated to St. Joseph, Raphy’s confirmation saint. I fell to my knees in tears and knew I was ready to tell him I loved him when I returned from my trip. 

I arrived home in the morning, rested, and then reunited with Raphy for date night and adoration. As we were sitting in his car at the end of the night, he asked to be vulnerable with me for a moment. That's where he professed his love for me for the first time. I professed my love for him too, and this love that we had for each other grew into the love we share today.

The next April, Raphy took me to the adoration chapel at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Aiea to pray a holy hour together. Prayer is the priority and foundation of our relationship, so we always made time to pray together. 

During the middle of our holy hour, Raphy excused himself because of a stomach problem (nerves!) and asked me to meet him at the car after I was done praying. When I approached his car there were candles lit, the bible was open to the story of the Annunciation, Raphy's journal was lying nearby, and one of my favorite love songs played in the background: "We'll Be Okay" by Imagine Dragons. 

The journal entry I read shared how he felt about our relationship and led me to a garden dedicated to the Blessed Mother. That's when he started serenading me with his favorite love song, "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. After finishing, he professed how much he wanted to love and serve me for the rest of his life. Raphy went down on one knee and proposed. 

With tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face, I gave him my yes! We embraced each other and prayed in front of the Blessed Mother to intercede and guide us as a newly engaged couple. 

In preparation for marriage, we attended a weekend Engaged Encounter retreat in Kauai. After many long and deep conversations about our plans for marriage, we made a formal pledge of betrothal to each other. Becoming betrothed in the Catholic Church is a deliberate, free, mutual, and true promise, externally expressed, of future marriage between both parties. 

We understood that marriage was a sacrament and that we needed to prepare ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. And so we committed to growing in holiness with each other. One of the boundaries we set was no wedding planning on Sundays, the day of rest.

On our wedding day, Father Peter Dumag, our celebrant, shared with everyone that there is the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. On that day we gave our 'yes' to God to live out our vocation of marriage. 

They say the wedding day is the day when two become one, but it is the two of us becoming one in Him. They say when you get married you're settling down, but you're actually elevating! My marriage brings my soul so much joy and peace. This is my path to heaven with my husband, through our Blessed Mother who brings us to her Son, Jesus Christ. We are so blessed for the many family and friends who witnessed our union in the sacrament of holy matrimony.

Photography:  Brandon Smith's Photography | Church: St. Elizabeth’s Church - Aiea, HI | Reception: Bird of Paradise Restaurant - Ewa Beach, HI 96815 | Rings: Honolulu Jewelry Co. | Flowers: Simply Elegant - Hawaii | Invitations: Shutterfly | Dress: David's Bridal | Veil: Amazon | Shoes: Macy’s  | Bridesmaids: David's Bridal | Hair & makeup: Lynn Yee Makeup

Rhoslyn + Adrian | Traditional Ukrainian Greek Rite Wedding

Rhoslyn and Adrian were married in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Their “Divine Liturgy” was celebrated in the Eastern liturgical rite, in a ceremony rich with profound symbolism.

Weddings in the Ukrainian Catholic Church traditionally have two parts: the betrothal, or the promise and exchange of rings, and the “crowning ceremony” during the nuptial liturgy. On the day of a couple’s marriage, or crowning, the bride traditionally walks from her home to the church in a joyful procession.

As can be seen in their beautiful wedding photos, there is a cup of wine, the Holy Gospel, and two wedding wreaths (or crowns) on a table near the front of the church. These verdant wreaths will be placed upon the heads of the bride and groom during the Crowning, the most solemn part of the wedding liturgy.

This website of a Ukrainian Catholic church explains that in that moment, they “are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom: [their] home and domestic church.” Then the Gospel passage about the wedding at Cana is read, and the bride and groom drink from the cup of wine in remembrance of it.

Finally, the priest leads the newly married couple around the table which now holds the Gospel and a cross. “The husband and wife take their first steps as a married couple, and the Church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which is the Gospel and the cross of our Lord.”

In Eastern Catholic churches, the sacraments are often referred to as the “Holy Mysteries.” And so, on their wedding day, Rhoslyn and Adrian entered into the Holy Mystery of marriage, excited and hopeful for what their life together would bring.

From the Bride: Adrian and I met while praying at a 40 Days For Life vigil in Cardiff, Wales during Lent 2018. We went on our first date soon after on February 22, 2018. 

Our courtship moved quickly, but we were both very cautious. I had suffered a failed engagement before meeting Adrian, and he had two children from a previous relationship before he was a practicing Catholic. We prayed the rosary together every day and went to Mass frequently. We met up daily and spoke even more on the phone.

We waited for what felt like a long time to get engaged, but may seem very quick: the 15th of June!

Our biggest wish for our wedding was that the liturgy should be reverent, beautiful, and traditional. The Ukrainian rite naturally encompasses all of that. 

The Ukrainian Catholic community in Cardiff is small, and they were using a temporary church at the time, which was not in good condition. Because the church was not a particularly “beautiful” one, we made sure to focus on the beauty of the liturgy. 

We spent quite a bit of money on flowers for the church, and they turned out beautifully. The vestments which Fr. James wore during the liturgy were also stunning. 

My parents very generously bought my wedding dress, which was handmade for me, and it was amazing! I had based my dream dress on the gown worn by St. Gianna Molla on her wedding day. 

Almost everyone in attendance had never been to an Eastern Rite wedding, but we were so pleased with how people prayerfully partook in the liturgy. My dad was part of the crowning, which is like the exchanging of rings in the Latin rite. That was so special for us. 

And finally, one of the most important things to us was that Adrian's children should feel like they were a part of the day. They were so excited for the wedding, and they loved the whole celebration. Deo gratias!

Photography: Peter Jones  | Church: St Theodore of Tarsus Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, Pomeroy Street, Cardiff, CF10 5GS (on google maps, it comes up as St Cuthbert's) | Reception: Bay Den Scout Hall, Cardiff Bay, CF11 0XR |  Engagement ring: Aardbark Jewelry  | Weddings rings: Jonathan David | Flowers: Bank of Flowers | Wedding cake: Francesca’s Cakes | Wedding dress: Zelie’s Roses

Wedding Planning | Catholic Destination Weddings


A quick Pinterest search of “destination wedding” will offer countless images of beaches and mountaintops. For the bride and groom who desire to be married in the Catholic faith, a destination wedding will look a little different.

Simply, a destination wedding is when a wedding and reception is held in a city other than the bride or groom’s hometown or current city of residence. If the location of your wedding ceremony is still in question, benefits of and considerations for a Catholic destination wedding are listed below.

Benefits of Catholic Destination Weddings

The Universal Church

One beautiful aspect of the Catholic faith is the universality of the Church, liturgy, and sacraments. Regardless of your geographical location or language, the Order of the Mass is consistent worldwide. This is also true for couples receiving the sacrament of Matrimony. In a special way, a destination wedding celebrates the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic church by celebrating the significance of the sacrament despite location.

Meaningful Location

Several Wedding Features on Spoken Bride have highlighted international weddings which highlight both the location and the sacrament of matrimony. See this Buenos Aires wedding or this Vatican City Basilica Wedding for beautiful images and testimonies of weddings in meaningful, international locations. Other couples may choose a destination wedding to revisit a city with a significant history, such as where they first met. Bringing friends and family into the special location on a special day is a powerful way to share the intimacy of the day with your families, wedding party and guests. Finally, choosing a location for a specific church may also be an inspiration for you and your beloved.

Meaningful Date

Perhaps there is a date on the calendar which offers significant meaning for you and your fiancé to tie the knot. Whether it is a feast day, a favorite number, or a specific weekend on the calendar, options for churches and venues in your hometown may be limited for that date. If you and your fiancé are determined to join in covenant on a specific date, a destination wedding may offer an opportunity to bring that desire to fulfillment.

Collaboration with a Priest or Deacon

Some couples have a personal relationship with a priest (or priests) who touched their lives in some way. If you and your fiancé desire to join in the sacrament of matrimony with a specific priest who resides in a different location and is unable to travel to you, perhaps the best option is to bring the wedding to him. Collaborating with a priestly friend or mentor on your wedding day is a powerful and intentional way to begin the vocation to married life.

Convenience for Out-of-Town Wedding Guests

When the bride and groom are from different hometowns, went to school or currently live away from their hometown, or frequently moved throughout their childhood, hopeful wedding guests may be spread far and wide. Choosing a location central to the majority of your traveling guests may provide a means for a greater number of people to join you on your once-in-a-lifetime day. There will not likely be another day in your life when a communion of people who care deeply for you and your fiancé are all celebrating in one place together.


Special Considerations for Catholic Destination Weddings

Proactive Preparation for Pre-Cana

If you are considering a destination wedding, an extra level of planning and communication is required for acquiring appropriate Pre-Cana, or wedding preparation. Be sure to confirm the Pre-Cana requirements with your local diocese and the diocese where you will be married. The wedding coordinator at your church should be able to help you begin the appropriate process for completing and transferring paperwork.

Saying “I do” in a Church

”Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church.” Celebrating your sacrament within a church, rather than on a beachfront or mountainside, is an important visible expression of the triune unification between bride, groom, and God in the sacramental reality. Despite feedback from Pinterest, the significance of the our holy churches is a beautiful aspect of our Catholic faith. This testimony shares additional insight into why it matters for Catholics to be married in the church.

Planning for Travel, Accommodations and Food

When traveling to a destination city for a wedding weekend, It is vital to plan for accommodations and food for a crowd. AirBNB may provide creative options for families or bridal parties to stay together throughout the festivities, and hotels nationwide offer group discounts for weddings. In consideration of the wedding budget, be mindful of the costs of travel, accommodation and food for your destination wedding.

Did you and your beloved profess your vows in a destination location? What was your motive for choosing a city outside your hometown or city of residence? Share your experience with our community on Facebook or Instagram.

Fabiola + Cole | Vatican City Basilica Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth + Matthew | Ethereal Irish Castle Wedding

Note: A version of this feature was previously published on Style Me Pretty.

Elizabeth and Matthew met on a study abroad program through Christendom College. Elizabeth was a student from the University of Dallas, and Matthew went to Christendom.

Their story revolves around the beautiful country of Ireland and its many ancient landmarks. They met at the top of Bunratty Castle during their studies, were engaged at Ashford Castle, and had their wedding reception at Dromoland Castle.

Their special day was a “taste of the eternal wedding feast” that Elizabeth and Matthew aspire to journey towards together. It was a time of celebration not only for the bride and groom, but of all the loved ones who had prepared prepared them to give themselves wholly to each other in marriage.

From the Bride: My middle name is ‘Anne,’ and the summer I met Matt for the first time I said a St. Anne novena for my future husband. I met Matt in Ireland, in a castle, on the last day of that novena. I didn't tell him until we were engaged.

Our faith was very important to both of us from the outset, but as we started dating it became clear that God intended us to be together to help us grow in our faith. Matt is brilliant and knows theology well, so as we dated, I fell more and more in love with the Church herself--with her teachings, history, and tradition. Matt always says that I helped him fall more deeply in love with the person of Christ, and that I encouraged his relationship with the Father. Looking back, I am very grateful for these complimentary gifts.

Matt and I were long distance on and off during our dating relationship, so a huge part of our faith journey became praying together over the phone. Whether it was saying a rosary or nightly prayers, it was very unitive and foundational to the success of our relationship. We also became huge fans of the Nine Month Novena to Our Lady. We have said it several years in a row and try to never miss a night of prayer together. St. Joseph has also been a great advocate and intercessor for us. Before the wedding, we asked close friends and family to say a novena to St. Joseph for us.

After we were engaged (in Ireland!), Matt made sure that we went to Knock Shrine for daily Mass. He wanted the Eucharist to be the heart of our day. When he proposed, he said many beautiful things that made me well up with happy tears, but the one I can remember exactly is when he said:

"Thank you for truly helping me to be a better man. Your love of Christ has changed me and made my own relationship with God stronger. I want to spend the rest of my life loving and serving him as I love and serve you.”

Matt and I wanted to get married in Ireland to encourage people to come and truly enjoy time away and being together, almost like a spiritual retreat. This is why we hosted events for the week leading up to the wedding, like providing two days of tours for our almost 220 guests! We wanted to shower our guests with love and spoil them. They all played pivotal roles in our life and formation, so this was our way of saying thank you. A marriage is made between two people, but it takes the love and sacrifices of many people to prepare a husband and wife to fully, joyfully, and selflessly say yes to the other.

We believe that God gifted us with a special meeting and a sweet story in Ireland because he knows our hearts well; we both love the power of story and seeing the meaning in small details. We wanted to finish one chapter of our life and begin a new one in the place that held sweet memories for us. Memories like the early days of “falling into friendship,” as Matt says, and getting engaged. It only seemed fitting that we should get married in Ireland!

The wedding Mass was truly the heart of our wedding day. We strove to highlight the beauty of the liturgy and the magnificence of the music. We decided on a Latin Mass with Mozart for the wedding parts, along with a full choir and five instrumentalists--everything from oboe to organ! I spent hours and hours creating a program which would offer the translation of the Mass, the lyrics of the music, and other responses. We also included meditations in the program. A favorite was the “I Thirst For You” meditation we included after communion.

We saw our nuptial Mass as a potential moment of invitation for people who had never experienced the richness of the Catholic liturgy. For some of our dear friends, this was the only time they would ever step into a Catholic church.

A very important part of the Mass for us was the kissing of the crucifix. After we had said our vows and before we kissed each other, we had our priest bless a special crucifix that my brother brought for us from Rome.

The prayer is powerful, saying that while we are each other's joy and path to heaven, we are also each other's cross. In moments of suffering or anger, we were to look at this cross and remember that we vowed these promises before God, who would sustain us.

That same crucifix now hangs across from our bed. It is the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see at night. It has given both of us the joy and strength to get through difficult moments and is a true reminder of the the calling to “die to oneself.”

For my “something old,” my mom and grandma cut parts of their wedding dresses and had a special message embroidered on it for me. They sewed it into my gown, and it was a sweet surprise.

For “something borrowed,” I put my baby brother Gabriel’s hospital bracelet in a sewn-on pocket. He passed away a few hours after birth, and we wanted to honor him. We also played “Gabriel’s Oboe” during the processional in memory of him.

For “something blue,” I cut part of a pink and blue sock that was my little sister, Bella’s, who has Trisomy 18, and had it stitched into my gown. She loves pink, and blue is the color of Trisomy 18 awareness. At the reception, we had a special dance with Bella, the light of our life. Everyone in my family held her and danced with her for part of the song.

Our wedding favors were handmade rosaries crafted by a friend. We put them in little muslin pouches that had our custom wedding crest on them and included a card that asked our guests to pray for us as we lived out our vows. My signature drink was ‘The Golden Rose’ which was a nod to Our Lady of Knock in Ireland who is also called the Golden Rose.

From the time I was little, my dad and I have watched the 1990s Pride and Prejudice miniseries every year because he always said I was “his Lizzie” and completely alike Elizabeth Bennet. In many ways, Matt is my generous, principled, and kind Darcy. When we were picking our first dance song, we wanted something simple and poignant, so we picked “The Secret Life of Daydreams” by Jean-Yves Thibaudet from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. It was perfect.

The best way I can describe the bliss of our wedding day is to recall a moment of that night. As Matt and I were sitting at the table, married, and “incandescently happy” he whispered in my ear:

“This is the last time, on this side of heaven, that these people we love most in the world will be together in one room. This is a taste of the wedding feast.”

He was completely right. It captured the joy, the tears, and the sanctity of the moment. it was a taste of the eternal wedding feast.

The last thing our priest friend said to me before he celebrated our nuptial Mass was, “You are about to receive one of the greatest gifts of your life.” I said, “I know it, I love him!” Father smiled and said, “Yes, that is true. He is your gift. But the gift I was referring to specifically was the heavenly treasure chest of graces that is inexhaustible and which you will receive today. God will never leave you. His grace will always be there to strengthen your marriage, you just need to call upon that grace.”

Looking back a year later, I can't believe how quickly the time has flown. I am grateful for such a blissful, meaningful wedding day, and I wouldn't change a thing. When people used to tell me it was the “best day of their lives,” I don't think I ever really believed them. Now I do!

Photography: Laura Gordon Photography | Church: Holy Trinity Abbey, Adare Ireland | Reception: Dromoland Castle, Ireland | Officiant:Fr. Anthony Sortino | Wedding Planner: Lauryn Prattes | Gown by: Custom Gown Designed by the Bride  | Purchased at: White Swan Bridal | Headpiece by: Jennifer Behr | Bridesmaids dresses by: BHLDN and Nordstrom | Jewelry by: Engagement Ring – KC Designs, Wedding Bands – custom made from grandparents and parents wedding bands by Jorge Adeler | Tuxedos/Groomsmen Attire by: Canali Tux for the groom, The Black Tux for groomsmen  | Make up Artist: Astrid Fix for makeup and Hair was Gabrielle Rogers from Salon Audrey | Caterer: Dromoland Castle Hotel  | Wedding Cake: MM Cookies (Handled Cake and Dessert Table)  | Invitations by: Appleberry Press | Flowers by: Holly Chapple | Rentals/Tent: Perfect Details Ireland
Entertainment by: The Bentley Boys | Photography by: Laura Gordon | Videography by: Story of Eve | Transportation (limos/carriages, etc.): Carrig Coaches and the carriage for some of the photo shoots was provided by the hotel

Christine + Mark | Traditional Chinese Wedding

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.

Christine and Mark’s Washington, D.C. wedding was a beautiful intertwining of traditional Catholic nuptials and Chinese customs.

Their relationship began when Christine stumbled upon Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch. It had been months since Christine began praying to Blessed Karl of Austria for her future husband. Even though she had seen many interesting profiles on CatholicMatch, she felt there was something special about Mark’s.

Christine didn’t start a conversation, but instead waited to see what Mark would do, since the site allowed a him to see who had visited his profile.

She didn’t have to wait long.

From the Groom: From the first moment I saw Christine’s profile picture, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And after reading Christine’s profile, I was even more certain she was too good to be true. This was the internet version of love at first sight, and I sent a message right away.

From the Bride: Every time Mark talks about this, I can’t help but laugh. He is always so sweet. When I first saw Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch, I felt there was something special about him. And ever since then, I kept him in my daily prayers and waited for God to do the rest.

Mark: After exchanging a few messages on CatholicMatch, I invited Christine to pray together over the phone. She only had thirty minutes for our first call, but we spent most of that time praying the rosary together.

After that we started a tradition which we have continued even when in very different time zones: praying daily Compline (Night Prayer) together, usually over the phone.

Christine: Praying together always reminds me God is at the center of our relationship. I’m always excited to pray with Mark because it is such a powerful experience for us.

A few short weeks after we began speaking, May—the month of Our Lady—arrived, and it was time for me to graduate from my master’s program. My parents and sister came to D.C. to attend my graduation ceremony.

I had been telling my parents a lot about Mark, and they really liked him, or at least my descriptions of him. On May 11, a couple days before my family would return home to China, my mom suggested we set up a meeting with Mark. Although I felt a little uncertain, knowing Mark’s busy work schedule, and, more importantly, that Mark and I had never met in person, I reached out to him to see whether he would be able to meet the next day.

Mark: That was a very busy time for me at work, but I pulled a very late night and managed to meet Christine and her family for coffee the next day. Luckily, I was too tired to be nervous! I was overjoyed to meet Christine’s family and moved by how genuinely kind and joyful they were.

Christine: My family and I really enjoyed meeting Mark, too. In fact, Mark and I soon began going on dates: attending Sunday Mass together at St. Mary’s in Washington D.C., followed by lunch and activities like visiting museums and going to concerts. After Mass, we would usually pray together before the image of Blessed Karl.

As we got to know each other better, we hung out more often. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, went hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and visited the elderly at a nursing home. Through it all, we enjoyed every moment together.

Fast forward to October 2017. We had been discerning engagement and working through a book titled 101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged. This went on until one Saturday when we visited St. Mary’s. Just as we were finishing our prayer before the image of Blessed Karl, Mark proposed.

What a joy that we were engaged in the Real Presence of Our Lord!

A mutual friend played my favorite Chinese hymn on the organ (Mark had remembered I had sung the hymn while we were praying together one evening), and the proposal was filmed by Mark’s best friend and soon-to-be best man.

We learned that our archdiocese required six months of marriage preparation. During this time we would continue to grow in our relationship and discern our vocation. We also found, to our surprise and delight, that May 12, 2018—the one-year anniversary of the first time we met in person—was a Saturday, and we decided to set that as our wedding date.

The wonderful Fr. Martin Yip agreed to meet with us for monthly marriage preparation sessions focusing on the sacramental meaning of marriage. We also attended an Engaged Encounter retreat.

This provided a precious opportunity for us to spend focused time getting to know each other and diving deeply into various practical topics, all under the guidance of experienced married couples and a priest.

One month before the wedding, we visited a couple from our parish who have been married more than thirty years. They warned us of potential challenges in married life and provided advice and insights from the unique perspective of Chinese culture.

We were overjoyed when Bishop Mario Dorsonville agreed to celebrate our nuptial Mass. Another joyful surprise was that Fr. Conrad Murphy was willing to be the Master of Ceremonies when we couldn’t find another deacon available for our wedding day.

From the very beginning, we knew the nuptial Mass would be the most important part of our wedding day. So we spent a lot of time preparing the Mass program in both Chinese and English. It turned out to be very beneficial in helping us and our guests get better acquainted with the various parts of the nuptial Mass.

Our liturgy was celebrated at St. Mary’s in D.C.. Although we belong to the Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, ours was the first nuptial Mass in ten years to be celebrated at St. Mary’s for a couple in our community. Our parish family was excited for us and showered us with so much love and joy. They celebrated our engagement in the parish hall and supported us through the wedding preparation and our wedding day.

One week before the wedding, my family travelled from Shanghai to Washington. It was so exciting because I hadn’t seen my family for a year. They helped with the wedding favors and decorating the reception venue. Meanwhile, Mark’s parents prepared heart-shaped chocolates for our guests and set up the rehearsal dinner.

In the early afternoon of our wedding day, we had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, customary for weddings in China.

We knelt before our parents and offered tea to them, showing our respect and gratitude to them for all the years of love and care.

In return, we received gifts in red envelopes from them.

Our nuptial Mass was very beautiful and went quickly, but we enjoyed every moment. My brother and sister did the readings, and our parents offered the gifts. When Bishop Dorsonville introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. Ma,” we had our first-ever kiss on the lips at the altar. With the violin and organ playing Ave Maria, we prayed before a statue of Mary, offering our marriage to Our Lady.

Our reception was held at Phoenix Park Hotel, a historic hotel in Capitol Hill. The hotel ballroom and our honeymoon suite were lovely. They had been decorated with love and care by our families and friends. My brother made a video using a collection of our photos from childhood to the time we met, which was played at the beginning of the reception. It was received by the audience with lots of laughter and awws.

Right after we entered the ballroom, we played a violin-piano duet of Canon in D. Mark was on violin, and I played piano. My dad presented raffle prizes of his own excellent calligraphy and Chinese traditional painting.

Finding each other and taking our first steps in marriage has been so amazing, and we are excited to continue our journey together!

From the Photographers: Christine and Mark's wedding was such a joy-filled event that uniquely combined beautiful cultural and liturgical traditions.

We loved witnessing and documenting their day, and especially loved how they planned a wedding that really fit their personalities. For example, during their reception they replaced the usual dance party with a talent show and games, which was so fun.

More than anything, we loved seeing how tangible their love was and how joyful they were to be husband and wife. It felt so real during their portrait session at the Jefferson Memorial. We wish them all the best for their marriage!

Photography: An Endless Pursuit - SPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Washington DC | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Park Hotel | Ceremony Site: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church | Florists: Louisa Sun | Reception Site & Tea Ceremony Site: Phoenix Park Hotel | Videographer: Onyxx Communications LLC | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts | Reception: MC
David Hu | Hair & Make-up: Iris Zou

Elisabeth + Salvador | Central American Destination Wedding


Elisabeth and Salvador's first meeting was straight out of a romantic comedy. They were both using the same language-learning website: Elisabeth wanted to learn Spanish and Salvador, who is from El Salvador, wanted to learn English. After connecting online, they developed a friendship that eventually led to an in-person meeting in Elisabeth's home state of California. "The day we met, we knew we were soulmates," says Elisabeth. "He asked me out the next day, and we were engaged seven months later."  After months of long distance engagement, the couple were married in El Salvador on August 13, 2016. 

In Elisabeth's words: Our wedding was simple yet beautiful. We were married in the rural parish that my husband's grandfather helped build. It was dedicated to and named for Our Lady of Guadalupe. The readings were chosen with care, as we wanted them to reflect our relationship. The second reading, 1 Corinthians 13: 1- 8, has always one of my favorite passages of Scripture, so I was happy we could include it in our wedding Mass.

Since we were married in El Salvador, during our ceremony, we made sure to do the traditional lasso cord as a symbol of our unity for life. We also exchanged arras (coins), which is also a tradition at Salvadoran weddings.

My dress was a lace and tulle mermaid-style dress, with elegant detailing at the top. I fell in love with the dress the moment I laid eyes on it, as it was unlike any other dress I had seen.

Our reception was across the street from the church at my husband's family hacienda. Delicious Latin food was served and we danced to "At Last" by Celine Dion to celebrate that the wait and distance was finally over!  A huge downpour of rain and thunder came and went during the middle of our reception - typical weather in El Salvador! It was a most blessed and unforgettable day.

Elisabeth's spiritual takeaway: When you put Christ at the center of your relationship, it will show through on your wedding day.

Photography: Rorellana Photography  | Church: Our Lady of Guadalupe, El Salvador | Reception - Groom's Family Home |  Wedding Dress & Shoes: David's Bridal