Leah + Seth | Southern Indiana Chapel Wedding

Simplicity, intentionality, and authenticity. These are the virtues Leah and Seth pursued in their relationship after their lives crossed paths again. And after a mountaintop proposal, they carried these values into their wedding planning. 

Faith and family became their focus, and it shone through in the beauty of their wedding day.

From the Bride: It is amazing the way God works in our lives. Seth and I were friends all through high school, but lost touch after we left for college in different states. Years later, after I moved back to Indianapolis, I began seriously thinking and praying about God's plans for my future. 

My sister suggested we start a 54 day novena to St. Anne for the intention of our future spouses. Halfway through this novena, Seth and I ran into each other at Sunday Mass. As we caught up, we realized how much we had in common beyond our high school years, and we were eager to spend more time together. 

At one point, when we were going on dates but “not yet dating,” my sister said to me, "don't you think it's crazy that Seth came along right as we prayed this novena?" I waved her off as "reading too much into it," because I secretly thought the same thing and was afraid to hope too much. 

Seth had also been praying about his vocation the spring before we reconnected. He was determined that any relationship he entered into would be grounded in prayerful discernment of marriage and authenticity. It is easy in any new relationship to become caught up in a desire to impress the other person and hide aspects of yourself you dislike. We were both very committed to being as genuine as possible about the good and the bad. In this way, we slowly built a solid relationship based on friendship and honesty. 

Eighteen months later, Seth was attending graduate school in Virginia while I worked in a nearby city. One beautiful but cold December day, we hiked to a well-known mountainous overlook, praying the rosary and discussing our philosophies of marriage at Seth's suggestion. This discussion did not clue me in to Seth's plan to propose at the top of the overlook! 

His proposal was as simple and genuine as he is, and it was one of the happiest days of our lives. We knew that our prayers before and during our relationship as well as our commitment to being intentional and authentic brought us to that joyous day.

Seth and I were married in St. Agnes Catholic Church, a beautiful wooden chapel hidden away in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. We chose the music and readings to reflect the simple beauty and solemness of this little church. We made no plans to decorate the inside, as our concentration was on the liturgy itself. However, a thoughtful member of the parish gathered wild flowers to adorn the altar space for us. 

Our whole wedding day was characterized by small, thoughtful acts like these made by many of our loved ones. The day before our wedding, we invited family and friends to spend an hour in prayer with us. It was a powerful moment, seeing so many people praying for us in preparation for our marriage. 

These same family and friends showed us their support throughout our engagement by taking over many of the wedding duties. From liturgical music to flower arrangements to desserts at the reception, they pitched in to offer their talents to make our day special. 

A particularly special gift was made by my eldest sister, who was unable to travel to our wedding because she was nine months pregnant. She gave me the beautiful mantilla veil she had worn at her own wedding. When I put on the veil the morning of my wedding, I felt as if a small part of her was with me. 

One of the best pieces of advice we received was to talk on the phone before the wedding began. Since the end of the aisle would be the first time we saw each other that day, a normal conversation the morning of our wedding helped calm our nerves and made us that much more excited to get married. 

The nuptial Mass itself was incredibly special, not only because we chose the readings and the music, but because everyone partaking was someone dear to us. The best part of the Mass was kneeling so close to the altar during the consecration. 

Our reception after Mass was a joyous occasion. Rather than the usual sweetheart table, Seth and I chose to create a "king table" where both our immediate families could sit with us. This was yet another way we ensured family was the center of our celebration.

Seth and I have talked many times about our wedding day in the months since. We are happy that it reflected our priorities of God and family. The truth is, after your wedding, you realize how many of the small details you obsessed about simply do not matter in the grand scheme of your marriage. Your wedding should be a time to honor the serious commitment you are making and to celebrate it with the people you love.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Agnes Catholic Church, Columbus, IN | Reception: Factory 12 Event Loft, Columbus, IN | Officiant: Fr. Eric Augenstein | DJ: Cade Grubbs (family member) | Caterer/Bartender: Factory 12 | Rings: Touch of Silver, Gold, and Old | Bridal Gown: David's Bridal | Dresses: David's Bridall

Amy + Jay | Fort Harrison Wedding

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

Erica | Wedding Day Tribute to Her Beloved

Erica and Christopher’s love story is powerful. It is a real-life tale of love, hope, loss, grief, and supernatural joy in the midst of unimaginable suffering. 

When they first met over ten years ago, Erica did not know the ending of their story, or that God would use their love to show, in the most radical way, that even “through death there is joy in the resurrection.”

This was the reflection their wedding photographer had Erica and Christopher answer in their couple questionnaire. Erica remembers asking him to go on a date night to work through the questions together. Their response is below, and it is followed by, in Erica’s words, how Christ continued to be the center in Christopher’s remaining moments: 

Photo courtesy: Erica Damler

Photo courtesy: Erica Damler

“After Christopher and I met in 2007, we kept in touch long-distance between Indiana and North Carolina. We spent many long hours on the phone and visited each other a couple times. At this point, Christ was not yet a central part of our relationship. 

After ending our relationship in 2008, we each dated other people, but we kept in touch and saw each other a few times in those in-between years. In 2016 we reconnected over the internet and became friends, but I was adamant we would remain only friends. I was not interested in entering a relationship while I was trying to “find myself” and improve my spiritual and emotional life. 

But alas, when we saw each other at Christopher’s birthday in 2016, I knew I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. I prayed about moving, and everything for my move seemed to fall into place. So I left Indiana to be in Raleigh with him in February 2017. Best decision we ever made--besides our later decision to make going to church and prayer part of our lives. 

We have definitely grown in our relationship with God as a couple and as individuals. St. John Paul II is the patron saint of our relationship. When things began to get serious last year, Christopher started the annulment process. So we lit a candle in our parish asking for St. John Paul II’s intercession to help us with patience, chastity, guidance, and healing as we moved through this time. And we asked people to continue praying for JPII’s intercession in our marriage by including prayer cards in our wedding invitations.”

From the Bride: After Christopher was diagnosed in the emergency room with cancer, the only thing I could think to do was pray. I prayed with him and for him continuously over the less than 48 hours between his diagnosis and his eventual passing. I prayed myself to sleep the second night and awoke in prayer the next morning. 

The foundation we had built, as well as my devotion to Mary, gave me the strength to get through those unfathomable times. I knew Christopher was going to be okay, and I continuously repeated that to everyone. I knew whether he lived on this earth or continued his life in Heaven, he would be okay. 

Mary showed me that in her sorrow the greatest joy she received was in her son’s resurrection. I held on to that then and still do today.

The day of our wedding came after Christopher passed, and it was one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I have ever had. My hope for the day was to honor the love that Christopher and I shared, that we could be a witness of deep, genuine love for all who were in attendance, and how special we were to one another. 

Getting ready with my mom, sisters, and bridesmaids, taking photos in the sanctuary, praying a decade of the rosary with our photographer in the Marian chapel, and the time before Mass really set the tone for the day. It truly honored the love shared between Christopher and I--the love that had been given to us by the Lord. 

Every moment of picking out our wedding details was a whirlwind, but we were very intentional. Christopher and I wanted our day to be about the sacrament and joining our lives together as husband and wife, with God as our witness. For us, it wasn’t about a big party or “glitz and glam.” It was about being together “until death do us part”. 

We chose every vendor because they were the best reviewed and the first to respond, except our florist and photographer. I knew hiring people who understood the beauty of the Mass and the sacrament was imperative. In the end, we could not have chosen better, because each of these vendors showed up for me in more ways than I ever could have asked for. Not only did they provide great products, but they prayed with me, talked with me, and shared in my sorrow too.

I remember when I picked out my dress (the day after I got engaged!), and I knew it was going to be perfect. The gown was full but fitted with an off-the-shoulder detail that Christopher would have loved. When I chose it as my dress at the store, I closed my eyes, imagining his face when he would see me walking down the aisle for the first time, and it brought tears to my eyes. 

It took me months to put the dress back on. My sister was sweet enough to call the store and tell them what had happened, asking if they would contact her when the dress came in. After I picked it up, it took a good three months to put it on. I knew I would have to have special strength on that day, but I would know when the time was right, just as I always have when hard trials come along. 

Wearing it on our wedding day was bittersweet, but I felt beautiful. 

All day long on our wedding day, I felt closer to Christopher than I have in a long time. He was there, arms wrapped tight around me, keeping me strong as I prayed for him and celebrated our love. 

I had asked our photographer if it would be okay for us to take photos of me in his suit jacket. I wanted to have a part of him physically there, and I couldn’t think of a better way. His hands had touched that fabric, and he always looked so handsome when he wore it! 

My mom helped me put his jacket on, and I felt an instant, overwhelming happiness which our photographer captured perfectly. Because he was so tall (6’5”), the jacket was huge on me, but that made the moment even better. We could laugh and remember him. The longer I had it on, the more I did not want to take it off. 

To be honest, I remember feeling like I wanted to collapse on the ground and wrap the jacket around me tighter. I didn’t, but I know it would have been totally acceptable, and everyone there would have loved me through the moment, just like they did the whole day. 

I wish I had the exact transcript of father’s homily, because it was perfect. I requested that Fr. Danda make the day about happiness and love instead of focusing on sadness and loss. He chose to do a Mass to St. Joseph and spoke about the love of the Holy Family and how we should live that love in our lives.

Our wedding could have become a day of sadness, but with the love and support of my family, it turned into a day of joy and celebration. I will remember it forever and hold it close to my heart. The validation of love and the close moments that have come from the event mean so much to me. 

I looked out that day from the pulpit while proclaiming the second reading and felt an overwhelming sense of love. I could not have asked for more. But none of it would have been possible except through faith. My faith has kept me strong and has reminded me that through death there is joy in the resurrection which we celebrate each weekend at Mass--or daily if we choose. Keeping Christ the center of my life and building community has been the rock I never knew I was going to need so desperately.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor | Church: St. Malachy Catholic Church, Brownsburg, IN | Wedding Reception: The Alexander Hotel, Indianapolis, IN | Rings: Bailey Box | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridal Gown: Marie Gabriel Couture | Bridesmaid Dresses: Amazon | Stationary / Invitations: Zola | Florist: Graceful Hands Floral Design | Hairstylist, Makeup Artist: B.Buttler Styles

Lea + Walter | Autumn Schoolhouse Wedding

Lea and Walter met at school--as teachers! Their friendship slowly blossomed over lunch duty, and their eventual engagement took place in the candlelit classroom where they first met.

Through the intercession of St. Jude and the graces of adoration, Lea entrusted her future spouse to the Lord, and her prayers were heard. 

From the Bride: I wasn’t looking for anyone when I first met Walter. We both worked at the same school; he was a substitute teacher covering a maternity leave, and I was a program assistant and taught an elective class. For the most part, we only saw each other as coworkers, and that was fine with me.

Even though I wasn’t looking, I prayed a novena to St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible cases, for my future spouse. The school days continued, and we continued to “just be coworkers” until Walter and I found ourselves on lunch duty together. 

Wanting to be courteous, I asked how his year was going and other niceties. I knew he grew up in the area, so I asked, “Where was it you went to grade school?” Quite plainly, he replied, “St. Jude’s.” I smiled, realizing I was about to finish my novena the following day. I wasn’t sure if God was trying to give me a sign, but I could tell he was working. 

For one of the elective classes I taught at the middle school, I took my students to adoration once a month. Because I taught multiple classes, other teachers came into the church to keep watch while I took one class out and brought in the next. During this time, I started to pray for my future spouse again. 

When I looked to see which teacher had come to help with the transition, it was Walter. “Interesting,” I thought. I decided to pray for him, saying, “Lord, bless Walter and whoever you would have for him to marry one day.” I felt peaceful about my unexpected prayer and headed out to get my next class of adorers. As the Holy Spirit would have it, I thought about Walter a lot during those next hours of adoration. The Lord was at work again. 

Although conversations were still casual and rather “lunch-timey”, we started to build more of a relationship. I learned that he liked (no, loved) sports. I liked...dance. He liked the Blackhawks and I liked...hummingbirds! I knew I had a lot to learn about this clam of a guy, but we were becoming friends, and our coworkers were taking note. 

It wasn’t long before his position was almost finished, and I started to feel sad. The lunch time conversations and hallway “hellos” were potentially coming to an end, and there was still so much I didn’t know about sports! Looking back, there were a lot of get-togethers his last month of subbing. It wasn’t long after that before we were officially dating. Our anniversary is the Epiphany of the Lord, and I think it’s quite clever. 

Later on, about one year ago, our journey to the altar started where it all began: at school. 

It was my birthday weekend, and Walter, my boyfriend, had made big plans for us. Progressive dinner dates are my favorite type of date, so that’s what filled our agenda for the night. At our first stop, we snacked on appetizers and enjoyed pub-type beverages. I couldn’t help but wonder where we would go next. 

I love surprises, but Walter does not. He told me he had a present waiting for me in the car, so I was eager to keep the night rolling. How had he kept it a secret since he had picked me up for dinner? When we got back into the car, I couldn’t spot a gift anywhere.

“So, where’s the gift?” I asked. 

“It’s actually something at the school. I’m going to take you there now.” 

At that point I was so excited, I couldn’t stop asking questions.

When we got to the school, we went into the classroom where we first met. It was dark. Why is it so dark, I wondered. Why is there a tablecloth on the side table and a vase with a dozen red roses? How is there a candle already lit? Why is he getting down on his knee? What is he saying right now? What is in that small box!? 

Needless to say, Walter and I were engaged that night, and so began our journey to becoming a wedded couple.

The process of our wedding and marriage preparation was truly a community effort. I lived with two of my bridesmaids at the time who helped me to organize plans, pick out bridesmaid dresses, colors, and flower and table arrangements. They served as my overall “wedding helpers.” 

My mom and Walter’s mom helped to gather addresses, and my sisters, Jenna and “Sis,” helped plan a super rad bachelorette party. Jenna even lent me her wedding dress to wear for the big day--unbeknownst to Walter, of course! I had a very talented friend use her artistic skills to hand write table cards, create wedding blackboards, and style hair for my bridesmaids. A bridesmaid even did my hair for the wedding. 

We were married in the same church where I had prayed for my future spouse that Friday afternoon in adoration.

I love my husband, but we could not be more different. He loves baseball, and I love dance. He loves hockey, and I love friendships. He loves golf, and I just don’t like sports. Even with our differing passions, we understand that our interests help make our relationship more balanced. He’s good at analyzing data, and I’m good at expressing my feelings. He’s strategic about problem solving, and I like executing plans. He’s good at finishing tasks, and I’m good at refining the details. 

Even just three months into marriage, we strive to understand the beauty of our wedding vows and try to uphold them as best we can. What we ultimately want in our marriage is God’s will for us. 

From the Groom: God’s intention for marriage to be between a man and a woman just makes sense. He made us perfectly ourselves, and yet we are so completely and amazingly different. My wife and I compliment each other and help one another to grow in holiness. She offers strengths that I do not have myself, and I offer strengths that she does not have. Together, we are seeking the ultimate end of marriage: heaven!

Photography:  Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Monica Catholic Church, Mishawaka, Indiana | Wedding Reception Venue : St. Hedwig Parish Hall | Florist: Martins Supermarket | DJ / Band / Live Music: Bov Knows Music  | Cake Vendor: Bit Of Swiss  | Caterer: St. Hedwig | Rings: JR Fox, | Groom’s Suit/Tux: JC Penny | Menswear: JC Penney| Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie |Stationary / Invitations: Minted

Emily + Nathan | Beauty-Inspired Rainy Day Wedding

“In the end, beauty triumphed.”

Emily’s words echo back from her wedding day throughout her courtship, dating relationship, and friendship with Nathan.

From the very beginning, Emily and Nathan kept Beauty himself at the center of their relationship. Their trust in God and peaceful, intentional discernment eventually led to a garden proposal--which included a beautiful rosary as an engagement gift and a ring pop.

But perhaps the most inspiring part of Emily and Nathan’s story is their confident, consistent awareness of the Lord’s presence in even the smallest details of their wedding day. And not just his presence, but also the joyful presence of his loving mother, the Blessed Virgin.  

From the Groom: Emily and I met through church in college and became part of the same group of friends, but we didn’t get to know each other very well at first. Not until we landed full-time jobs in the same city after graduating in 2016. Both of us were coming out of some broken relationships and were looking to “find ourselves” out in the real world.

From the Bride: Shortly after graduation, I started attending a young adult small group through my parish and invited Nathan to join as well. Seeing each other at these weekly meetings helped us learn more about each other and become closer friends.

Nathan: That fall, we went with a group of friends to a Catholic dating seminar. The speaker, John Antonio, was a former seminarian who presented a more intentional approach to relationships. It was similar to the progressive stages of increasing commitment he made while in seminary. Dating Emily wasn’t on my radar at the time, but we received the same mental framework for dating that would help guide us later on.

Emily: My relationship tumult continued, and I was confused by my strong interest in several guys, including Nathan. I wanted my next relationship to be different. It needed to be different. So I prayed more fervently and made a stronger, more conscious effort to entrust my relationship decisions to God.

Soon afterwards, I prayed the 30 day novena to St. Joseph with the intention that I would meet my future husband sometime during the year. We didn’t have to get married that year, but I wanted to know who. The whole idea was a longshot, but this was a good opportunity to practice trusting in God more fully. And St. Joseph is not known for letting people down!

Nathan: I had my first inkling that I might end up with Emily in September 2016, but life circumstances at the time prevented our relationship from blossoming. In January 2017, I signed up for a Catholic young adult volleyball league and sent a message out to recruit teammates. It sounded fun, but in the back of my head I knew that my parents met in a young adult volleyball league, and I was hoping I’d find somebody there too.

Emily was the only one to accept my invitation. Over the next couple months, I became more certain that I should take a chance with her.

Emily: About a week after I completed my novena, Nathan approached me and said he’d like to talk to me about “some stuff” soon and then walked away. I freaked out a little. So after our small group meeting the next day, I pulled him aside to ask what “stuff” was.

Turns out we had been thinking about each other quite a lot. Wanting to set a more intentional course, we agreed on a “mutual discernment period” that ran through the end of the volleyball season to see if our friendship would blossom into something more.

Nathan: Things progressed nicely over those two and a half months, so while on a date in June 2017—after a strange sequence of events that led to hiking along a mosquito-infested pond behind a grocery store—we decided to make it official. As boyfriend and girlfriend, we wanted to “step it up” and set a more lasting spiritual foundation for our relationship.

Emily and I started some spiritual traditions together: Mass, weekly adoration, and nightly prayer. We grew to love God and each other more in the process, and it didn’t take us long to realize we wanted this relationship to continue for the rest of our lives.

Emily: On October 7, 2017, I met Nathan early in the morning in our church’s rosary garden. I had a feeling that day would be “the day,” but I tried to quiet my heart and focus on praying with him. After finishing our rosary, we stopped in front of the statue of Our Lady, and Nathan proposed.

But he didn’t ask me with a ring. He didn’t ask with anything but himself, and I said yes! Afterwards, he gave me a beautiful rosary as an engagement gift…and a ring pop.

We wanted the wedding to reflect our vision for marriage: Christ-centered, and therefore, full of beauty. However, we knew this beauty wasn’t just for us, but for everyone witnessing it as well, so we would all be drawn closer to Beauty himself. We also knew we couldn’t do it alone, so we asked the Holy Spirit to guide us every step of the way.

To honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, we chose to have our wedding on September 8, the feast of her nativity. I half-joked with a friend that our wedding cake was actually Mary’s birthday cake. It wasn’t until after the wedding that we noticed how much she made herself quietly, humbly present in every detail of the day.

So many little things pointed to her. Even the decorations behind the head table at the reception seemed to form the Auspice Maria symbol, which we recently discovered is Latin for “under the protection of Mary.” Really, we didn’t plan this! And yet, she made it so clear she wanted to be part of our celebration.

I am also a believer that God works through Pinterest. We found some gorgeous color palettes that included light blues, greens, and a dash of red. After reflecting on our choice, I realized that light blue could point to Mary, the red to the Precious Blood and sacrifice, and the greens to new life.

Our flowers--lilies, roses, and light blue hydrangeas amidst eucalyptus and baby’s breath--also held a special significance for us. Lilies are my favorite flower, mainly due to their association with Mary and St. Joseph, and roses are significant for both Nathan and me. My patron saint is St. Therese the Little Flower, and roses became special for Nathan after he gave a talk on a retreat that used a rose to symbolize the sacrificial nature of love.

Much of our wedding also reflected our desire to be creative and share that creativity. From our homemade save-the-dates and invitations to the crayons we placed at every reception table (so everyone could doodle, of course), we shared our love of creativity with our guests. After all, it is one of the most profound ways we reflect God, the Creator himself.

My ring was also born of this God-given creativity.

One reason Nathan didn’t propose with a ring was because he wanted me to choose one, and I elected to do a custom design. After many ideas and unsatisfying sketches, I decided to simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide my hand.

The end result was astounding. My design incorporated all the elements I wanted: lilies, thorns, and sapphires, but the significance and symbolism of their arrangement didn’t sink in until I looked closer at the sketch.

Around the central diamond is a “crown” of thorns, which radiates outward and touches the blue sapphires. Beyond the sapphires lie the lilies, from which leafy vines emanate. This is what I interpreted these elements to mean: Christ, the light of the world, suffered and died for our sins. Through Mary’s fiat, allowing Christ to come through her and humbly suffering alongside him, the resurrection was possible. And from Christ’s resurrection, we have new life.

Surrendering to the Holy Spirit can be difficult, but the end result is always more beautiful.

Planning the liturgy involved the most prayer and discernment. We have many friends and family members who are not Catholic, so we wanted to make the liturgy as beautiful and elevating as possible to draw everyone deeper into the mystery of the Mass and marriage.

Nathan and I opted to walk down the aisle together at the beginning of Mass in lieu of my dad escorting me. While this is an uncommon choice at contemporary Catholic weddings, it is a richly symbolic approach that visibly communicates the covenant we are making with each other and with God (see Genesis 15 for how God seals His covenant with Abraham).

It also makes it clear that no one was “giving me away” to Nathan. We were freely choosing this and hopeful of God’s blessing. To spend a few special moments with my dad, I had a first look with him in the bride’s room.

We chose Tobit 8:4b-8, Psalm 34, Romans 12:1-2, 9-18, and John 2:1-11 for our readings. St. Raphael is a key figure in the book of Tobit, and we credit him for helping us find each other through his prayer for the wise choice of a marriage partner.

We invited everyone to glorify and praise God for his goodness during the psalm. In the passage from Romans, St. Paul describes the life of a Christian in bold, resounding phrases, reminding us to serve others through our marriage in the most beautiful way possible: the Way itself. In the Gospel, Mary, our greatest intercessor, tells Jesus, “They have no wine.” Wine is a symbol of joy. She wants us to have joy and asks her son--whom she knows can provide everlasting joy--to give it to us. In her humility and wisdom, she charges us with the command, “Do whatever he tells you.

Continuing to honor and thank Mary, we offered her flowers as some of our dear college friends sang the ancient Carmelite hymn “Salve Mater Misericordiae.” It has been a tradition in our friend group to sing Marian hymns at each other’s weddings, so this was very special for us. It was our hope that this and the other music chosen would draw people closer to the beauty of God.

In keeping with our desire to show our guests the beauty of the Catholic faith, we invited everyone to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with us as the last “event” of the reception. The Dominicans at our college taught us these prayers and a beautiful version of the Salve Regina. This became part of our daily prayer while we were dating, so this was another way to share our spiritual life with our guests.

In the end, beauty triumphed.

The word we heard most as we spoke with family and friends about the wedding was “beautiful,” and that's exactly what we wanted. We wanted the whole day to be beautiful. We hoped to draw people into the beauty of the Mass and the sacrament of marriage, into the beauty of fellowship, and ultimately into the beauty of God.

But our wedding day was not just beautiful; it was authentic. By allowing God to work through our perspectives, talents, and desires, we were able to carry out his will in a way that was very distinctively us. Each one of us has a unique way of pointing towards God. Our way just so happened to include crayons, Night Prayer, SpongeBob references, classic rock, and Latin hymns.

A strong theme in our relationship, wedding planning, and now our marriage, has been surrender: handing everything over to God, because he writes the best love stories. He knows the most beautiful way to do things. Ask him, and he will guide you to the beauty you seek in the present moment.

It blows our minds that the astounding beauty we experienced that day isn’t even a fraction of what is waiting for us in Heaven, where we will finally, intimately, and fully encounter Beauty himself.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church | Reception:St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church Parish Hall | DJ / Band / Live Music: DJ Connection, Billy Kinsey | Cake Vendor: Becky’s Bake Shop and Floral (main cake) | Caterer: The Putnam Inn | Rentals: A Classic Party Rental | Bartender: The Putnam Inn | Dessert / Appetizer Bars: The Putnam Inn | Rings: Master Jewelers | Shoes: DSW | Bridal Gown: Blue House Bridal | Reception Venue: St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church Parish Hall | Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church | Groom’s Suit/Tux: Haggar | Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie | Stationary / Invitations: Pretty Little Papers

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

Abby + Blair | Classic Indiana Wintertide Wedding

Sometimes cherished friends from the past unexpectedly reappear, and love can flourish even stronger.

This was the story with Abby and Blair, who met and became friends in junior high. At the time, their “young love” didn’t last very long, to the disappointment of their mothers.

But God had other plans. After going in separate ways after high school, Abby and Blair were suddenly reunited. This time, their companionship blossomed into a deeper romantic love, and they began discussing engagement and their desire for marriage.

After a year-long engagement, their lifelong friendship finally transformed at the altar into a lifelong covenant of married love.

From The Bride: Blair and I met in the 8th grade. We didn’t go to the same school, but I was on a club swim team with him and his twin sister, Alison.

Alison and I became fast friends and began spending a lot of time together. As my friendship with her grew, Blair and I began talking more and eventually starting “dating.” Unfortunately, our young love didn’t last longer than a month. We ran around with the same friend group in high school but never considered dating again.

Our mothers always teased us about getting back together. I knew they both would have loved it.

After senior year, Blair went on to Wabash College, and I went to Indiana Wesleyan. Later, during the summer before our sophomore year of college, we both ended up back in Kokomo, Indiana looking for a summer job. As I was beginning my search, my grandma told me about an open camp counselor position at the local YMCA summer camp. I thought this sounded fun, especially since I began my job hunt late and had no other pending opportunities up my sleeve.

I sent in my application, hoping they still had a spot. My mother, a friend of one of the camp directors, made a call on my behalf. The YMCA told her that they didn’t have any spots left, but they would make an exception for me.

I was excited to begin but also a little nervous because I didn’t know anyone else who was working there that summer. Imagine my surprise when I walked in on the first day and saw Blair sitting in a chair, ready for our first team meeting. We exchanged casual hellos and went on our way. But as the summer went on, we began talking more, even outside of camp.

I was beginning to really like him and looked forward to the days we would work together. I could tell he liked me too because he starting flirting with me--I mean teasing me. By the end of the summer, we were officially an “item,” and I couldn’t have been happier.

We were both a little nervous about going back to school and not seeing each other everyday, but we decided to make it work. I would visit him at Wabash, and he would visit me at IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis) . We spent every weekend together and sometimes would even meet half-way during the week.

Our mothers were thrilled that we were in love. We began talking about marriage the first year we dated. Somehow, we both knew we wanted to be together forever.

So on November 11, at the biggest football game of the year at Wabash, Blair got down on one knee and proposed in front of everybody in the stands. All our family and friends were there. It was the most amazing day and something we will never forget.

I always knew I wanted our wedding to be simple and classic. We chose the month of December because we both love winter and the snow that comes with it. Besides, I had dreamed of a winter wedding since middle school.

We had a little over a year to plan the big event, which gave us plenty of time. Unfortunately, Blair graduated in May, and I graduated in December, our wedding month. This made planning a little stressful and overwhelming at times, but my mother and close friends helped tremendously. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Our venues were easy to choose. St. Patrick Catholic Church, Blair’s home parish, is not only very special to us, but also the most beautiful church in town. Our reception took place at The Bel-Air, a gorgeous banquet hall close to the church. I was so excited and relieved when we secured both venues.

After that, we focused on finding the dress, which was such a fun day. My mother’s best friend came into town from Florida, and we had a great time trying on dresses. I ended up choosing the first dress I put on. It was perfect. After that, everything else seemed to fall into place.

Finally, it was the wedding week, and my family from Florida was in town. The night before the wedding, I thought the morning would never come, I was so ready and excited for my wedding day to arrive.

I was up bright and early with my wedding party as we left for the salon. My mother and aunt made breakfast, and we all had fun enjoying the whole salon to ourselves while we got ready. After that, the day seemed to fly by.

Before I knew it, I was a bride walking towards Blair, and everything else faded away. The nuptial Mass was beautiful and emotional. We were finally a married couple!

Then it was picture time. We hid it pretty well, but December 30 was definitely one of the coldest days of the year. We braved the icy wind for some amazing pictures taken outside the church and then moved on to a local mansion. Here we endured the cold again to try and capture sweet memories.

Once the pictures were taken, our wedding party jumped into the limo and headed to the reception. My mother had graciously put together a basket for all of us filled with champagne, chocolate, and mints. I’ll never forget spending that special time with our closest friends.

When we arrived at the Bel-Air, I was speechless. The hall was absolutely stunning. A few of my mother’s close friends helped decorate before the ceremony, and it was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

We spent some time freshening up before we made our big introduction, and right after we were announced as “Mr. and Mrs.” we went into our first dance. Dancing with my new husband was a feeling I will never forget. Dinner and dancing followed, along with Blair and I greeting each and every one of our guests. It was so special to be able to personally speak to everyone who attended our wedding.

After we got a few dances in, it was time to head out for the night. Before hopping into the limo, we found our both families and gave them enormous hugs. It was such an exceptional day, and we couldn’t have done it without them. Overall, our wedding day was filled to the brim with memories, emotions, smiles, and faith. It was absolutely perfect and everything I had ever dreamed of and more.

I know that without God, our marriage would mean nothing. We strove to make our special day all about Jesus, and I feel that is exactly what we did.

From the Groom: In the months leading up to our wedding, we were constantly reminded that our wedding day would be life-changing, and nothing would ever be the same after we both said "I do". Whether we heard it from friends and family, discussing the sacrament during our Pre-Cana classes, or in everyday preparation for the wedding, we were always aware of how sacred and serious our marriage would be.

But it didn't really settle in until I saw Abby walk down the aisle.

As she walked to me, remembering all the times I failed her during our courtship and engagement, I knew our union would be a holy imitation of Christ's love for the Church. From that moment on, we would begin to base our lives on the life of Christ, sacrificing ourselves for the good of each other.

From the Photographer, Sinikka Roher of Soul Creations Photography: As a photographer, I have learned that when you enter into a wedding day, there are a multitude of points where things can go wrong. However, on Abby and Blair’s wedding day, I doubted those points would come to pass.

I noticed the powerful presence of the Lord’s peace when Blair genuflected before entering the church, said a prayer to our Blessed Mother, and was prayed over by the priest prior to the ceremony. And as I spent time with the bride, she reminded me of both Martha and Mary. 

There was a hustle and bustle to get ready around her, but Abby stood patient and peaceful, waiting for her time just as Mary had. Then, moments before the Mass began, her preparation mindset took over, and I saw Martha in her too. 

Brides tend to be either a Martha or a Mary, but Abby beautifully embodied both before, during, and after her ceremony. She blissfully walked down the aisle, laughed carelessly at the cold air that chilled her wedding party in the winter weather, and delicately checked in now and then on the timeline of the day.

Abby and Blair's big day was one of perfect harmony between the celebratory environment of a wedding and the sacramental beauty of their marriage covenant. It was incredible to capture it in it's entirety.

052.Abby.Blair.Details.jpg
0238.Abby.Blair.Ceremony.jpg
0307.Abby.Blair.Ceremony.jpg
0022.Abby.Blair.Favorites-Copy 1.jpg

Photography: Soul Creations Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor | St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kokomo, IN | Reception: Bel Air Events, Kokomo, IN | Ceremony Venue: St. Patrick Catholic Church | Reception Venue: Bel Air Events | Cake: Create-A-Cake | Makeup Artist & Hairstylist: Revive Salon | Dress: Marie Gabriel Couture | Florist: Diane Richey | DJ: DJ Sound Solution | Bridesmaids Dresses: Nancy’s Bridal Boutique | Menswear: Men’s Warehouse | Videography: Josiah Duncan Videography