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.

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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

Renae + Steven | Winter Clubhouse Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kimber + Stephen | Vintage American Baseball Wedding

Kimber and Stephen met through the invitation of a mutual friend. When they spent their first summer together in 2013, before Kimber went off to college, they began dating. Kimber had previously insisted on beginning school without a boyfriend, but something kept them together.

Looking back, Kimber and Stephen think this was the first “Jesus thing” in their history together.

Theirs is a beautiful story of heartbreak, conversion, and love. When they met, Kimber was not a religious person, and Stephen mourned this difference in their relationship. But distance, trust, prayer, and a semester in Ireland would change that.

Kimber and Stephen were married on a beautiful spring day in May 2018, grateful for the journey that had brought them to the altar.

From the Groom: On May 26, 2013, Kimber and I met for the first time; we were both invited to a mutual friend’s house for a bonfire. After that night, we got to know each other as the days of summer progressed and Kimber prepared to leave for college. In our short time together that summer, we started dating--even though she was adamant about starting school without a boyfriend.

But when the time came for Kimber to leave, we didn’t break up. We both believe this is what our best friend would call a “Jesus thing”.

Kimber was not a religious person when we first met. Early in our relationship, I asked her every week to come to church with me on Sunday, and she refused. As I began to imagine my future with someone not as faithful as I was, I was heartbroken, and I wasn’t sure how I could have a Catholic wedding.

I quietly held back on the topic of church around Kimber and prayed she would one day find her faith on her own. Nearly one year after we started dating, Kimber left for a semester abroad in Ireland. While she was there, she discovered the beauty of religion and changed her perspective on God.

She started going to Mass in Ireland, and when she came home she officially started her journey to become Catholic.

God has a plan for everyone. We just have to be patient.

Throughout our relationship—like any other—we had our ups and downs but never faltered. There was never a time when either of us considered breaking up because we knew we could work through anything with God’s help.

It was with this faith and love for each other that I decided to propose almost four years after our first summer together. With blessings from Kimber’s family, I secretly planned to propose on her capstone presentation day.

Knowing Kimber would be completely focused on preparing for an A+ presentation, I asked Kimber’s roommates to secretly get her “proposal-ready”. I wanted to pop the question on the “island” at Saint Mary’s College. Local legend says if you cross the bridge with the one you love, that is the person you will marry. I had walked Kimber across the bridge a few years before when I knew she was the one. Now I took her across to ask her to marry me.

On an April day, I asked Kimber to be my wife, and she was overcome with emotion. She had no idea how momenotus that day would be.

From the Bride: I became Catholic during my senior year of college, only a couple months before Stephen proposed. During the time leading up to my First Communion and Confirmation, we practiced our faith separately. We would go to church together on the weekends, but Stephen was much more comfortable in his relationship with God, while I was just in the beginning of mine.

I am so grateful Stephen didn’t push me during this time. He let me find the path to God on my own. When he proposed, we agreed it was important to both of us that we get married in the Catholic Church.

So on our wedding day, despite our different relationships with God, Stephen and I truly felt God’s presence together as we became one in flesh and in our faith.  

Our wedding Mass was held at the church where Stephen and his family have been parishioners for years. In fact, the priest who gave Stephen his First Communion celebrated it. We were beyond excited when he agreed to officiate our wedding, and the planning truly began.

I went wedding dress shopping with my bridesmaids, mom, and college roommate, Maureen—I really hoped to find my dress that day, because Maureen would be in Ireland on our wedding day. Everyone knew trying to find the dress during the first outing was a large feat, but nearly seven try-ons later, by the grace of God I found the one.

We wanted a reception venue that was industrial and rustic, and the Armory fit our description perfectly. When we booked the place, it was still under construction, but we had faith the owner would finish in time and create a great atmosphere for the reception.

When selecting our vendors, we knew we wanted to provide a fun environment for everyone attending. We agreed that neither of us really wanted cake. So instead of having traditional wedding cake, we served a frozen yogurt bar that allowed guests to create their own desserts.

After all, the first reason we ever ended up together was because Stephen asked me to be his girlfriend on a frozen yogurt cup.  

Our DJ stole the show with an awesome set list, and no one wanted to leave at the end of the night. He is a relative of mine, which made the evening even more special.

In the end, our vendors created a wonderful atmosphere, and our guests loved the frozen yogurt bar and photo booth. The pictures from the booth are priceless, and our guests were able to leave with precious memories from the evening.

The following morning as we first awakened as a married couple, we attended Mass at Our Lady of Loretto on Saint Mary’s College campus. The Mass felt strange because although it was normal for us to go there together, were were husband and wife, instead of boyfriend and girlfriend or engaged! It was the perfect way to start our married life.

I am overall grateful that, in the midst of all the planning, Stephen and I participated in a Pre-Cana program with our priest, Father Bob. We were nervous and excited to attend these meetings because we felt so ready to express and live our love for each other.

After that first meeting, all our nerves turned to excitement and a desire to keep moving forward. We wanted to keep learning about ourselves and what marriage meant in the eyes of God.

We talked about the sacredness of the sacrament and how it truly embodies the love between God and his people and the power of prayer as a couple.

Even though these meetings were difficult to attend because we both lived over an hour away with competing schedules, every minute was worth it. We believe Pre-Cana made us a stronger couple, ready for a lifetime together.

As we sit back and think about all the people that were part of our journey and all the chaotic moving pieces of a wedding, we can’t help but think about all the little “Jesus things” that led to us meeting each other, staying together, my conversion, and our perfect wedding day.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. Mary of the Annunciation, Bristol, IN | Reception Venue: The Armory, South Bend, IN | DJ: relative of the bride | Caterer: Navarre Hospitality | Rings: Zales | Bridal Gown: Blushing Bride on 17 | Shoes: DSW | Photobooth: TapSnap | Groom’s Tux: Men’s Wearhouse | Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal | Cake: Martin’s Bakery | Stationary Invite: Shutterfly & eInvite

Abigail + Joe | Notre Dame Basilica Wedding

Abby and Joe had been Spanish classmates, co-retreat planners, and even sat with friends at the same table for meals, never speaking, for their first three years at Notre Dame University. It was on a bench in the football stadium that they first officially met and, in Abby’s words, “that we truly saw each other for the first time.” By the end of the game, they both wondered why they’d never talked before.

Early on in their dating relationship, they both knew the Lord was calling them to marriage. They spent a semester apart as Abby studied abroad in London and Joe in Chile, then were reunited for their senior year.

The fall after graduation, they returned to Notre Dame for Abby's birthday, where they headed straight for the campus grotto. It led to their favorite tree, a site of many late-night conversations. There stood a group of their friends, candles in hand. Along the path from the tree to a nearby lake where they first began dating, friends and family were gathered;  at each stop, they read a line from a poem Joe had written for Abby.

Finally, at the final stop at the lake, Joe asked Abby to marry him. Even without any lights, and though Joe forgot which hand the ring goes on, “it was perfect.”

From the Bride: The two years between graduating college and getting married were joyful, but tough. Joe was in a Master’s program that required him to live in community and delayed marriage, so we spent those years long-distance. Since we had a long engagement, we were able to dive into marriage preparation--reading books, praying together, having so much fun dreaming about our future, and continuing to learn about each other and ourselves. We also, however, really struggled to be grateful for this time of preparation in our desire to just be married. Looking back, the distance was incredibly difficult, but through God’s grace it brought us closer to him and to each other.

When envisioning our wedding, the word we kept returning to was joy. We were so excited to be entering into the sacrament of marriage, and we wanted that joy to permeate the day. There were tons of stressful moments (I could never be a wedding planner!), but joyful ones, too: picking out my dress with my mom, designing my ring from my great-grandmother’s wedding band, practicing our vows and first dance, and spending time with our family and best friends at all the pre-wedding festivities.

Joe and I decided to do a first look for a couple of reasons. I thought I would be super nervous, since I don’t like being in front of crowds, I hoped seeing him first would help with that. While, miraculously, I wasn’t a bit nervous, it was incredible to start our wedding day by walking to the church hand in hand.

We wanted to do a Marian devotion, but didn't have time during our ceremony. So we did our first look at the Notre Dame grotto, a place where we have prayed with Mary many, many times--both together and as single people before we met. We left flowers in the hands of Saint Bernadette’s statue: a rose for Saint Therese of Lisieux and a lily for Saint Joseph, two of our favorite saints.

The Mass was our favorite part to plan, and the absolute best part of our wedding day. We were married at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Notre Dame’s campus, a church where both of us had come to know Christ’s love during our time at as students. The Mass was full of music, joy, and celebration. During the ceremony, I kept thinking this is what heaven would be like.

We are blessed by friends with musical gifts, and our music was unreal. We had an organ, violin, cello, and a whole choir lifting their voices in prayer. For our preludes we chose “Song of Ruth,” “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring,” and a Litany of the Saints. Our wedding party walked down the aisle to “Gabriel's Oboe,” and then my dad and I walked to “Arise, My Love.” Our readings were Jeremiah 31:31-34, and 1 John 4:7-12, and our Gospel was John 15:9-12.

We had talked with our friend and celebrant, Fr. Pat, during marriage preparation about how many of our friends and family are not Catholic. He made sure to explain parts of the Mass so everyone was involved. He gave an incredible homily (you can hear a little of it in our wedding video), and laughter filled the Basilica when a giant fly flew on Joe’s face in the middle of our vows.

One of my favorite moments was during the preparation of the gifts. The choir sang “The Servant Song” while we sat and soaked up the reality that we were finally married. We administered communion as our first act as husband and wife, and then exited the church to “O God Beyond All Praising,” our favorite hymn. It was more joyful than we could have ever imagined.

Since we were married in the summer and love the outdoors, we chose the Blue Heron at Blackthorn for our reception venue because it has an outdoor tent attached to the ballroom. I adore flowers, so I gave our florist, Poppies by Polly, and our wedding planner, Belle Behind the Ball, the reins to cover the space in an abundance of flowers. The best moments were the toasts, the dances, and witnessing our friends and family mingle and get to know each other. It was such a gift being surrounded by so much love.

From The Groom: Our wedding Mass was amazing. We just had so much fun. From standing at the altar seeing our favorite church fill with our favorite people, to crying as I alternated between looking at Abby and being overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s love for us, my heart was filled with joy.

Something that stands out to both of us is how often other people have said they felt the same way. Months after our wedding day, friends and family members still bring up moments from the liturgy: everyone crying during the Litany of Saints; three of my groomsmen standing up and belting the psalm, “I Will Praise Your Name”; how close Abby and I continuously tried to sit next to each other during the readings and homily. One of the most common statements we heard upon leaving the church was, “I didn’t know how much fun it could be to be Catholic.”

God visibly worked inside the hearts of others on our wedding day. People felt comfortable picking the brain of our priest at the cocktail hour. A friend who is dating a Catholic woman, but is not Catholic himself, found me during the reception to tell me he was considering having a Catholic wedding ceremony after attending ours.

I share these stories to point to the work that God did on our wedding day. We became a sacrament of God’s love for the world the moment we exchanged our vows. Our Mass, our marriage, is not just for us. It is for everyone who was in the church that day, and everyone we will meet going forward.

To close, our advice would be to worry over the little details. We stressed over a lot of the wedding planning, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what food you eat or what colors you choose. What matters is the sacrament you are entering into. And trust us: when you give him the space to work in you, God will show up and amaze you with his love.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: The Basilica of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana | Wedding Reception Venue : Blue Heron at Black Thorn, South Bend, IN | Rings: Diamond Gallery - Hers, Fred Meyers Jewelry - His | Florals: Poppies by Polly | Rentals: Burns Special Event Rentals & Pro Show | Transportation: Royal Excursion | Caterer: Blue Heron at Blackthorn | Bridal Gown: Bridal Gallery in Grand Rapids | Shoes: Nordstrom | Bridesmaids' Attire: Vow to be Chic (https://www.vowtobechic.com/)
Bridesmaids' Gifts: Hatch Prints | Groom's Suit: Louie’s Tux Shop | Groomsmen Gifts: Louie’s Tux Shop | Groomsmen Attire: Louie’s Tux Shop | Cake: C’est La Vie Cakes | Hairstylist: Bethza Professional Makeup Artist Studio | Makeup Artist: Bethza Professional Makeup Artist Studio | Choral Ensemble: Folk Choir of Notre Dame | Cocktail Music: Samantha Kasmer | DJ: 27 Entertainment (https://www.27e.co/) | Coordination: Belle Behind The Ball Wedding & Event Planning, bellebehindtheball.com | Photobooth: EA Pro Music (https://www.eapromusic.com/) | Ice Cream Sundae Bar: American Espresso Catering Co.

Angela + Lucas | Farmhouse-Inspired DIY Wedding

It started on the roof of a convent in Mexico. 

Angela and Lucas met on a medical mission trip with FOCUS as both prepared for their forthcoming missionary years with the organization. Text by text after returning home, spanning the miles between Indiana and Colorado, each realized a uniquely attractive depth and character in the other. They began a long-distance relationship punctuated by letters, phone calls, and occasional visits.

 The following summer, Lucas went on pilgrimage in Poland. Angela participated in another mission, this time to the Philippines. Upon their return stateside, Lucas invited Angela to a Wisconsin shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom they share a devotion that began during their time in Mexico. There on a hillside, at Our Lady’s feet, Lucas proposed.

From The Bride: The Nuptial Mass was the center of our wedding day, and I am glad we put so much of our focus there. Our relationship is founded on a love for Jesus Christ and his Church, so the Mass was the most important and special part of our day. We also chose Soul Creations as our photographer because the owner, Sinikka, is Catholic and familiar with the Mass. She was able to beautifully capture it.  

We chose Mass parts we loved while hoping to share the beauty of the Mass with those attending. Not all of our friends and family are Catholic, so we hoped to be instruments of an encounter with our Lord for them. Everything from the Worship Aid to the petitions was considered from the perspective of a new-to-Mass attendee. Praise God for the truth, beauty and goodness of the Church.

 Our Lady is of particular importance to us, and we wanted to offer great thanksgiving for her motherly hand. I walked in to an organ rendition of the Salve Regina. Our Gospel reading was the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Mary gently guides us all to do whatever Jesus tells us. We presented flowers to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Holy Family while my good friend and talented vocalist Kelly sang the Ave Maria-it was the one part of the Mass that made me weep!

 We chose a white and neutral aesthetic, inspired by the image of heaven. With white and gold as our main colors, we found bridesmaid and groomsman attire that looked great on everyone, simple yet beautiful flowers, and many DIY projects. We did not want the look of anything to appear overbearing, but natural and simple, highlighting the beauty of those in our wedding party and the natural elegance of the church where we held the Mass.

 I loved the way my dress fit with our intentions for the theme. The cathedral-length veil and the long train fit very nicely in the church; simple yet elegant.

I’d originally hoped for our reception to be held in a simple barn, but little did I know they were such a hot commodity and not as budget-friendly as I’d hoped. We also wanted to serve our own food--homemade by Lucas' incredibly talented family--and most venues didn’t permit outside catering. So, we ultimately chose a hall. At first look, it was a bare and resembled a gymnasium, but our decorations upped the elegance. Much of the inspiration was my own. Some items, like the flower hoops over our head table, were Pinterest re-creations. Other elements, like the pallet décor, were made of found items. You never know what you’ll find for projects.

I must totally credit the generosity of Lucas’s family for providing the best food ever! They let Lucas and I help make tamales with them one day before the wedding, and my family learned so much during an afternoon of laughs, instructions from Lucas' grandmother, and bonding with family members.

We had a mariachi band that started the night with dancing and singing before the bridal party even arrived. The father-daughter dance was special to us and so much fun! My dad is certainly not the sappy, emotional type. My family has a great love for Chicago Cubs baseball, so we decided to dance to their signature anthem, “Go Cubs Go,” which was perfect.

The best way for me to describe our wedding day is in the words of our opening hymn, "O God Beyond All Praising." We are beyond blessed by our heavenly, Father through the intercession of our Mother Mary. Together they brought us to the altar, after introducing us in such a surprising and unforeseen way before our FOCUS missionary service. Our wedding day was a great celebration of thanksgiving for the goodness they have given us in loving one another.

It was also a time of thanks for the conversion of our own hearts. We both know deeply that we have done nothing to deserve this goodness, yet it has been freely given to us as a gift from our loving Father, a fact that still causes me great wonder. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, our wedding day was one of great witness to our family and friends of the love we have for the Church and the joy that comes from living the Gospel! We were so blessed to have a Catholic and non-Catholic bridal party, bringing people from every sector of our lives to celebrate together. It was awe-inspiring to see the young Church alive in the pews and in celebration at the reception.

Most of all, in reflecting on our wedding day, I thank God for a husband who loves God more than me, who desires to pursue holiness with every ounce of his being, and who loves me without reserve, especially now that we've started our little family.

I frequently echo the words of Our Lady: He has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. Praise Him!

View Angela and Lucas's DIY projects up close, and hear Angela's how-tos, here.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Indianapolis, IN | Wedding Reception Venue : McGowan Hall, Knights of Columbus, Indianapolis, IN | Rings: Reis Nichols, reisnichols.com | Flowers: Ayers Wholesale Flowers | Dress: Blushing Bride on 17 | Shoes: Toms | Bridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal | Groom / Groomsmen Attire: Jos A Banks | Cake: Classic Cakes | Hairstylist: Fringe Salon | Makeup Artist: Fringe Salon  | Music / DJ: Complete Weddings and Events | Planning / Coordination: Courtney Roach