Editors Share | First Dance Songs

The first dance as husband and wife is often the most awaited part of a wedding reception. It is a special and romantic moment between the newlyweds and it highlights the unique personality of the couple.

In this month’s Editors Share, our team remembers their first dance and explains why they chose their song.

PHOTOGRAPHY :  MEL WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY
 

Stephanie Calis, Co-founder & Editor in Chief

My husband and I danced to the song “You are the One” by Matt Hires, which had come on my iPod as we drove to a holy hour one night during our engagement. It’s a sweet, simple song that still brings back precious memories, but the truth is, we were too shy to set our first dance to the one we truly felt defined us! The ideal selection, for us, was “In My Arms” by Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot. Despite our love for it we ultimately felt too shy to use such a quiet song, with such intimate lyrics, in front of all our guests. For any couples like us hesitating to choose particular reception music because of self-consciousness, I’d encourage you to communicate and discern what you’re comfortable with and to pray for a sense of freedom with the necessary attention your wedding day brings!

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

We chose Matt Maher’s version of “Set Me As A Seal” because we simply liked the song. I wish I had a deeper explanation, but we both just felt like it was the right song. We ended up having a dance choreographed. If you know my husband, you know that we’re complete opposites. I love to dance, he likes to not dance. But for me he was willing to take ballroom dancing lessons and perform in front of our families..

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder and Creative Director

My husband and I chose “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows. Mark and I had a stressful engagement since he was serving overseas with his military command, all up until a few days before the wedding, so we wanted something fun and upbeat. Mark was also an avid swing dancer during his college years at the United States Naval Academy, which we got to enjoy together a few times during our courtship, so we wanted to share that part of our relationship with our friends and family on our wedding day as well.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

For our first dance, we moved in sync with Michale Buble’s “Hold On.” My husband suggested many ideas for our first dance song, but many focused on the beauty of the bride or the groom’s love for his bride; I was uncomfortable choosing a wedding song about the bride. This song was a great fit because it captures the essence of the mutual and reciprocal love of a married couple. The lyrics also serve as a reminder to grow in affirming physical touch in the midst of stress, frustration, sadness, and joy. Although physical touch is not my number one love language, a good hug often breaks through heavy emotional tension. As this song builds up to its finale, it reinforces the power of holding onto love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part.

Though we both enjoy jumping around during spontaneous dance parties, neither of us are organized dancers. With that in mind, we invested in dance classes at a local studio—and loved every second. Beyond the benefits of feeling confident in our plan for our first dance, lessons were also a special opportunity to learn something new, be challenged, move our bodies and laugh together in preparation for our wedding day.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

Our first dance song was “God Gave Me You,” the version performed by Blake Shelton. My husband and I first met when we were 14 and high school sweethearts, and we were a country couple. On our first date he drove me to dinner in his white Chevy pickup truck in blue jeans, boots, and all. Many, many years and a wedding later, we still own that truck!

When we decided to pick “our song” for our relationship (which was definitely inspired by Taylor Swift’s 2009 single by the same name — released only the year before!), we decided on two requirements: the melody needed to mention God and needed to be a country song. I suggested “God Gave Me You,” and it became the song we grew up with together, from the age of 14 to (now) 23.

A couple years before we got married, I taught my husband how to country dance, and it is now one of our favorite things to do together. So when our wedding day finally arrived, seven years after we met, we country danced to the song we fell in love to as high school freshmen.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

My husband and I chose the song “God Moves Through You” by Jason Mraz for our first dance. My husband has been a Mraz fan for a long time, which is how he first heard this song; Jason Mraz actually wrote it for his sister’s wedding so it’s not on any of his albums. It’s a really beautiful song, and was adapted from a collection of poems by Kahlil Gibran.

One of my favorite lines from the song is: “Let the wind of heaven dance between you too/Allow the space and time to bring you closer to everlasting love.” The song speaks of the love between a husband and a wife being a movement of God, a grace working in your life. We also loved that it also speaks of children as a gift.

Since it isn’t on an album, our friend Steve the Missionary offered to play it on his ukulele and sing it live during our reception. It was such a memorable moment from that day.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

In the last couple weeks before our wedding, Patrick and I decided we really needed to sit down and make a decision on our first dance song. We never really had a song in the five years of our friendship/dating relationship, so we didn’t have too many ideas. One afternoon, while hanging out in my parents’ kitchen, we ended up Googling “First Dance Song Ideas” and decided to just go through the list until something resonated with us. We stumbled across “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding and both really liked it.

I love that it’s soulful and with a beat, but still a slow song that makes it easy to dance and sing along to. We actually ended up taking a couple of dance classes at Fred Astaire with a Groupon I had purchased. In the end, I think we just decided to sway to the music, not worrying about counting steps, but it was still fun!

I have no regrets about our choice, but funnily enough, we were just talking a couple weeks ago about our first dance. We said we probably would have picked the 1998 classic “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo if we had thought of it at the time!

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

Our first dance was inspired by the waltz in Disney’s live-action Cinderella, where Ella greets the Prince on the dance floor in her beautiful blue ballgown for the first time. Since we wanted to dance a traditional waltz we looked through a variety of instrumental songs that had the right ¾ time signature we needed for the dance. As I was searching for songs I came across, "The Princess Diaries Waltz," by John Debney from the score of The Princess Diaries. After listening to it I knew, in my heart, it was the right song for us.

The Princess Diaries is a favorite childhood movie I watched growing up with my maternal grandmother, who passed away in 2012. One of her biggest dreams was to see me get married. While I wish she had lived longer to see me take my marriage vows, this song made me feel close to her on our special day.

Dancing a waltz at our wedding was an incredible experience and it was everything I had hoped for. Jeff and I had practiced dancing for many hours during our engagement and it certainly paid off! During the dance, I felt like I was flying and it was truly magical.

Now that we are married, I am still practicing the art of dance through life as a married couple. It may not always be as graceful as it was on our wedding day. Occasionally we may stumble. But it’s good to know that as long as we have each other we can make it through anything together.

 

Tasha Johnson, Administrative Assistant

A couple of years ago, I got to fly across the country to attend the wedding of two former missionary teammates of mine. I served with the husband my first year and the wife my second, so I had really gotten to know them separately, and it was such a joy to finally see them together.

Their choice of Matt Maher’s “Hold Us Together” was a perfect fit for their small, intimate wedding, because it was so evident that their love for each other was already something fruitful; it really spoke to the care they had taken to welcome all of us to share life with them throughout their courtship, and even especially in the days leading up to the wedding! It was definitely a fun song to watch them twirl and dip to, but it was even more so a reminder of the ways their relationship had already served as a shelter, both for them and for those of us who had the honor of walking through life’s storms with them. It was an absolutely beautiful theme for the first day of the rest of their lives!

Editors Share | When Expectations Meet Reality

The beauty of a wedding and joy of fulfilling a call to vocation is daydream worthy. From a young age, girls and women can often identify their ideals for the kind of man they imagine marrying, visions of their wedding day, or expectations of day-to-day married and family life.

In this month’s Editors Share, our team reflects on the dreams we had about marriage as single women, and how those expectations either changed or came to fruition after saying I do.

 

Stephanie Calis, Co-founder & Editor in Chief

During our engagement, I frequently prayed in thanksgiving that no one knew, saw, or understood me in the way my husband-to-be did, and I felt the same about him. At the time, I think we did know each other more fully than anyone else.

After our wedding, however, I started to realize how little a fullness of him I had actually known: I’d never known, for instance, how he liked to load a dishwasher, how he preferred to unwind after a stressful day, what grocery staples he liked to keep on hand. Normal adjustments to married life and significant time spent together--particularly after a long-distance engagement--sometimes made me question how well we knew one another at all.

In hindsight, I see the Holy Spirit drawing us out of self-focused habits and toward a shared life. I now consider it a great gift that even with all the trust, confidence, and admiration I had for my husband (and how well I knew him at the time) on our wedding day, the years have continually revealed new parts of him to me and we are constantly presented with opportunities to know and love each other more deeply through various quirks and discoveries.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I really thought that my future husband would do large showy displays affection (think Toby on This is Us. The guy gets me). I REALLY wanted to be proposed to in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland, but the man I married is a very private person. He and I were the only ones present when he proposed and we had no engagement party. We didn’t even get a photo until a couple of hours after! A part of me was definitely crushed, but the longer I’ve known my husband, I’ve learned how hard it was for him to be vulnerable and propose at all (even when he knew it was a sure thing!) and I’ve learned to embrace the private way he chose.

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder and Creative Director

I am a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, and I too married a perfectionist and overachiever. I was (and still am at times) the sort that if you said “Jump!”, I would ask “How high?”. I always wanted things done efficiently and with the least amount of mistakes as possible on the first try. Because perfectionists and overachievers can often set the bar too high, it can take a great deal to break them out of their unforgiving and sometimes unrealistic expectations.

As an engaged couple, we lived long-distance while being fully immersed in our careers and education at the time; therefore, I did not yet fully realize my expectation for perfection from others. Like many, you sometimes enter into marriage thinking you’re invincible. It was not until my husband and I were expecting our first born immediately after our wedding that my pride got “a swift kick to the pants” and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance during pregnancy. In addition, we were also experiencing our first deployment and his numerous underways out to sea. When you pair separation and illness on top of the “typical” learning to grow and live together as a newlywed couple and later as parents to a colic-y, difficult newborn, it is severely humbling.

Over 10 years of marriage, there has been many good times. However, it is through the times of great suffering that has strengthen us in our vocation — 8 moves around the country, multiple deployments, the loss of two babies, the special needs of our earthly children, and the continued battle with gestational diabetes and hyperemesis gravidarum with each pregnancy, endometrosis, and as well as post-partum depression that sometimes follows. Each individual within the family unit has their own unique way of processing grief, loss, and trials, and it requires great patience and dying to self when walking in those valleys together. It requires leaning into a support system of people you trust, as well as spiritual direction and professional therapy when necessary. Suffering is sanctifying. It breaks us and molds us. It purifies the heart of its selfish ambitions, and when done in union with Christ, it draws us closer to Him and to each other. While you can never fully anticipate the suffering to which you both will be called to before your wedding day, the reality of God’s abundant Love and Mercy will always greatly surpass your expectations.

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

Long before I even knew my husband-to-be, I confidently committed myself to saving a KitchenAid Mixer for marriage. Despite the friends who tried to talk me into Black Friday sales and family who offered to buy one as a college graduation gift, I desired to withhold this life-changing kitchen appliance until the day I became a wife.

At the time, I made this decision simply because I wanted my life to look and feel remarkably different before and after marriage. It is the same line of thinking that held me accountable to not live with a boyfriend or fiancé before we were married. It is the same delayed gratification that saved other highly valued and anticipated experiences with my husband for marriage alone.

My husband and I are well-into our first year of marriage and my life is undeniably different from the life I lived as a single person. Marriage brought me across an ocean, into the military, away from my professional career and apart from friends and family. As it turns out, I didn’t need to save a KitchenAid Mixer for my life to look and feel radically different.

But God used my playful expectation and desire in other ways. My withholding of a kitchen appliance wasn’t about the mixer itself, but was about instilling in me an anticipation for married life to be a remarkably different life. I recognize how “saving a KitchenAid for marriage” was a means for God to prepare and strengthen me for the immense changes that followed our wedding day.

Nonetheless, our mixer has been a means to build community and serve others in our home. It is a means of love in the form of chocolate chip cookies. It is a stress reliever and a source of joy. Although I don't make financial contributions in our family right now, I make meals for our single friends, new parents and neighborhood kids. God is using my desires—both the playful and the serious—to teach me about myself, open my heart to love in creative ways, and be affirmed in my vocation as a wife.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

My story is different than most. To be honest, I never had a rosy idea of marriage at all. Since I was little, God gave me the grace to understand the profound beauty in marriage, but I also never thought about it without remembering how hard and painful it probably would be. I didn’t spend most of my tween and teenage years fantasizing about my future husband, writing letters to him, or praying novenas that I would finally meet him. I’m sure part of that is because I didn’t hear about these typical “Catholic girl” trends until college, and also because I met my future husband at 14...on the first day of high school.

By 15, I knew I was going to marry him, but not in a squealy, teenage, naive way. I told my mom one day that I didn’t know how I knew, but I was going to marry this cute football player. Call it a crazy Holy Spirit moment! I said it calmly, nodded, and fell silent again, just knowing, and my mother didn’t challenge me at all. She has told me since then that she knew, somehow, too. She said I looked at my now-husband at 15 the way she looked at my dad at 15, when they met.

Seven years after meeting, after a lot of high school and college growing pains, we joyfully (and exhaustedly) walked down the aisle and were finally married. It’s difficult for me to say what surprised me about marriage, because my temperament is the kind to anticipate and expect all the possible suffering and little crosses that I could possibly encounter in the sacrament. This has its good and bad consequences. So when, for those first three months especially, hard times came, conflict flared up, or I found myself in tearful frustration at midnight on the couch, I saw it as the inevitable. I wasn’t surprised, just dealing with the suffering in marriage I knew would come.

Perhaps what began to surprise me, little by little, was my husband’s consistent, loving, patient response to all the selfish things I said and did that first year. He truly got the worst of me, because marriage felt like looking into a mirror that showed all your worst weaknesses. But he loved me tenderly in spite of them. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that when I would say something incredibly hurtful, he would often pull me into his arms, apologize for upsetting me, and tell me he loved me so much. He showed me what it was to be quick to forgive, to sacrifice your own desires for the sake of your spouse, without any complaints, and to say sorry even when I was the one who had started a quarrel! He loved (and still loves me) like God loves me: so good that it hurts, because I know I don’t deserve it. By the grace of God, I know the sacrament of marriage is forming us into saints, together.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

Whenever someone asks me what I’ve learned so far in my marriage, I always half-jokingly respond: “I’ve learned how selfish I am.” While I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t a particularly selfish person during my single or engaged years. However, marriage demands so much more of me than anything else I have experienced.

I thought (albeit, naively) that I would always be the best version of myself once I got married. And while marriage has certainly shaped me more into the woman God made me to be, I still frequently have days where I’m grumpy or frustrated or downright annoying. My life is not my own anymore, it’s shared with my husband. Everything I say and do has an intimate effect on him and over the past three years I’ve been learning how to forget myself and actively choose love.

At the same time, however, I’ve found more joy in this process than single me ever could have imagined. I really feel like I have found myself through my vocation and I’ve been able to watch my husband grow more as a man. And through that, I’ve been able to encounter God more fully. It’s through self-denial that God has rooted up the weeds in my life (as painful as it can sometimes be) and has replaced it with fertile soil.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

I was just thinking the other day about how when we were dating and engaged, date nights and alone time spent together were so frequent. It really made me miss those early days! It was so easy to plan a spontaneous night out together at a new restaurant or bar in town. However, almost six years into marriage and add in two small children, our state of life has changed. Budget constraints and parenthood commitments obviously make this impossible, if not difficult. However, I am so grateful for the joy and struggles that come with raising these two little people. As much as I sometimes wish it were the opposite, weekly date nights out just aren’t a priority right now. I do not want to brush over the fact that date nights and quality time spent together are important for marriage and should be made a priority. I realize now though that date nights don’t have to be out to fancy restaurants each week, like I thought in my dating and single days. It’s easy to compare our realities to others’, especially in the age of Instagram stories when you can literally see what others are doing in the moment.

As my expectations change, I have learned to really appreciate the little moments that my husband and I are able to spend together at the end of the long day, praying our rosary, getting to mass together, reading our books of choice next to each other, and even listening to our favorite podcast together or having a special at home date night.

When we are able to secure a sitter and try out a new (or old favorite) restaurant, our nights are especially valued and savored. In fact, this past fall, we were even able to save up for and take a dream anniversary trip to Italy. With a little sacrifice and a lot of help from our families, we were able to spend this amazing, priceless time together and I am truly grateful to the Lord for that!

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

During my single years I fantasized quite a bit about what my future husband would be like. I made a list of the qualities I was looking for in a husband after reading the book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert. I knew I wanted to find a practicing Catholic man who would go to church and pray the rosary with me ­— someone who was handsome, chivalrous, kind, gentle, and had similar interests to me. While the message of the Everts’ book is just as beautiful as the enchanting artwork pictured on the front cover; my own expectations were just about as real as finding a Disney Prince for a husband.

I believe having high expectations is a good thing, and at the same time, there comes a point when it’s important to recognize when those expectations have become unrealistic. Perhaps I sought to find someone so similar to me that I was basically looking for a male version of myself. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that the person I would end up with was not going to be a carbon copy.

The truth is, the man I fell in love with does hold many of the qualities I was searching for in a husband and he is also as different from myself as one can get. We have completely opposite temperaments and personalities. Throughout our courtship I knew that we were very different from each other, but it wasn’t until we were married that those differences became very challenging for us to navigate. Both of us have needed to adjust our expectations.

The extrovert in me is always seeking interaction and attention while the introvert in him is constantly looking for some solitude. My love language revolves around extravagant grand gestures and my husband is more content with the ordinary pleasures of life. Some days it seems like we have come to an impasse; yet somehow the grace of the sacrament has held us together. The reality of marriage means constantly dying to ourselves just a little bit more every day; compromise is an art form that we are still learning as newlyweds.

While the dreamer in me will never stop dreaming, I’ve learned that it’s important to live in our own reality and not to have unrealistic expectations in our marriage. I will always be grateful for the magical moment that was our wedding day, but everyday life in marriage can’t be a perpetual fairytale. It would be unsustainable. And even if it were possible, the magical moments would be less magical. It’s really the storms in life that we experience which help us to appreciate the joyful moments—because without rain there would be no rainbows.

Editors Share | Participating in the Mass

At the start of a new year and a new season of the liturgical calendar, we consider ways to refresh our habits and live each day with intention. Today, the Spoken Bride team shares some of the practices that shape their preparation for and engagement during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Stephanie Calis, Editor in Chief & Co-Founder

In this season of raising young children, my husband and I have had to adjust our expectations of what we hope to “get” from the Mass, and I think after several years we’ve reached something of a sweet spot. In doing so, my view has shifted to the reality that Mass is, in fact, not about getting, but about gift: Christ’s free, faithful, total, and fruitful sacrifice poured out and re-presented to us at every liturgy. I have to remind myself that even on days when I miss every other word of the homily or when my baby tries to escape under the kneelers over and over, Jesus is truly present and desires to enter into my life and vocation in such a specific, intimate way.

That said, I do make efforts to devote myself to worship and prayer. As I approach the altar for communion, the song “Sanctuary” frequently echoes in my head, underscoring for me the beautiful nuptial significance of the sacraments and helping dispose me to receive the Eucharist. The thought of humbly approaching the altar, walking toward the Bridegroom, is so moving to me.

My husband and I try to take turns handling and praying with our kids after communion, so that we can each have personal prayer and reflection time. We sometimes alternate taking them outside immediately after Mass, as well, to give each other additional time to pray in the chapel. Since college, I have always prayed after Mass the St. Michael prayer (which my parish now says collectively, before the final blessing), a prayer to St. Raphael for friends and family members and their future spouses, and have renewed my consecration to Mary.

 

Jiza Zito, Creative Director & Co-Founder

My family arrives early, brings missals, and says a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. I try to go to confession at least twice a month with my husband or as a family, and to daily Mass at least once a week.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I meet with my Gospel Group weekly and we read the Sunday Readings and discuss the readings, upcoming feast days, and liturgical living. I am an Every Sacred Sunday drop out—at this season in my life with five kids, including a newborn, I just can’t remember to bring books and take time to write notes. But I do use the Laudate app to keep up with the readings whenever I’m in the cry area and a book isn’t available. Our goal is to make it to confession once a month. Our two oldest can now receive reconciliation and it’s so important to us to model us admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness by going regularly.

Honestly, during this season of my life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because what I plan to do is interrupted by my actual life. I’ve learned to think of these interruptions as opportunities to offer up for our family’s salvation and any other intentions I can think of. At Christmas Eve Mass I was really wrestling with all my emotions of the process of bringing the whole crew to Mass (baths, getting dressed, leaving too late, parking far away, walking through the crazy parking lot, not finding seats, dealing with usherettes on power trips) but when the Eucharist was held up and the priest said “Behold, this is Lamb oh God…” a very clear voice in my head saying “This is why.” So even if you’re in a season where you can’t do all the things you desire in your prayer life, know that you can find Jesus exactly where you are.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

There are many little habits I have started to acquire that allow me to prepare better and go deeper into the great gift that is the Catholic Mass. I am not perfectly consistent yet, but I find that my spiritual life is much stronger when I am more intentional about them.

Something new I am doing this year is using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal to pre-read the readings at home on Sunday or Saturday, take notes, reflect, and prepare spiritually for my upcoming week. I also use the journal to take notes during the homily! I haven’t received any weird stares yet.

In preparation for receiving the Eucharist again the next time I am at Mass, I strive to make daily (if not multiple times a day) spiritual communions. There are many different prayers you can chose from to “make” a spiritual communion. I pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

When my husband and I are driving to Mass together, we pray St. Ambrose’s before Mass prayer in the car. I keep the paper with the prayer on the visor above the driver’s side, so I never have to think about remembering it; it is always there. I also try to listen to Christian or sacred music or ride in silence.

Additionally, I find it much easier to focus my Mass time when I arrive at least 10 minutes early to say hello to Jesus and tell him what my intentions for the Mass are.

For several months now, I have been accountable for attending daily Mass on Thursdays. A dear friend agreed to go to morning Mass with me on Thursday, and then we get coffee together! This makes sure I show up instead of making an excuse or sleeping in, and it cultivates a beautiful friendship founded on faith and virtue (and coffee).

During Mass, whenever I am about to enter the communion line, I pray in my head, “Mama Mary, prepare me to receive your Son in a way that does not desecrate His most holy body.” It can be so easy for me to get distracted right before I get up receive the Eucharist or while walking in line. I forget that I am walking the wedding aisle to my Bridegroom. So I call upon Mama Mary to clear my head and keep me focused on the sacrament.

When the priest raises the Body and Blood after consecration, I pray “my Lord and my God, thank you Jesus.”

I try not to go more than two weeks to a month between confessions. Getting over the “public shame” of staying in your seat during communion if you are not properly disposed to receive has also been transformative for my conscience and my soul. It also increases humility and my desire to get to confession so I can receive in a state of grace at the next Mass.

And finally, I veil at every Mass, in adoration chapels, and in the church when I go to confession, because those are all places I am in the presence of the Eucharist. Veiling has been immensely transformative for me. It changed my interior dispositions during Mass and even transformed the outward way I dress inside and outside of church. I am in love with this tradition the Church offers us as women.

 

Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large

I love to volunteer as a lector at Mass as a way for me to serve in our community and to engage more intimately with the readings. I am re-building a habit of bringing a small notebook with me to Mass so I can note specific readings or excerpts from the homily that I want to reflect on again at home. I strive to consistently pray a prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass, “for the beauty of this day and the sacrifice of your son.”

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

My family and I have recently started attending a Latin Mass parish. I know this is not the case for everyone, but we are blessed that we are relatively close to two parishes that offer the TLM (one of them is the parish we were married in!). My husband and I both have experienced great fruits since attending consistently.

We like to prepare by making sure we have the readings handy during Mass. We currently use the missal and leaflets that are offered at our Church since we don’t have our own Missals yet. It is one of my goals for 2019 to acquire our own though! In a pinch, the Laudate app on my phone has been helpful as it has all the daily readings and prayers of the Mass.

After communion, I like to pray the Anima Christi prayer, and I also try to kneel and pray in silence. It can be tough with two small children though. We each get up with one of the kids at least once during the Mass due to someone needing to go to the bathroom or getting too fidgety. When I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that this is just the season of my life right now. Quietly explaining the parts of the Mass or pointing our candles, the Crucifix, or statues seem to help draw their attention to the Mass. My kids also seem to prefer to sit closer to the altar so they can see. Getting to Mass a little early makes this possible and gives us some extra prayer time. We sometimes also bring in a couple books or quiet toys. We try to go to daily Mass a couple times a week at a few different parishes nearby, too.

Outside of Mass, we pray a family rosary together every night. It has become part of our routine before the kids go to bed and it’s so nice to have those 15 minutes of quiet and peace together. The kids definitely fidget and sometimes fall asleep before we finish, but it definitely feels like it brings peace and order to our day, no matter how the rest of the day has been. In addition, I try to go to the confession at least once a month. My goal for this year is to add in at least 20-30 minutes of spiritual reading in during the day, as well.

The Unplugged Nuptial Mass: What It Is and Why It’s Valuable

JIZA ZITO

 

In our digital age, it’s common to see wedding guests with smartphones or devices in hand. Everyone is excited to witness the joyous event, and with technology (and creative wedding hashtags), we are able to immediately share the day’s highlights with friends, family, and followers.

Photography: c/o    Studio Senn

Photography: c/o Studio Senn

While it is a great gift to instantly capture and share images instantly, the constant presence of devices can also be a source of distraction and can prevent us from fully experiencing the moment. Hence, the coined phrase: the unplugged wedding.

What is an unplugged wedding?

An unplugged wedding is when the bride and groom request that guests refrain from taking photos and videos with their devices during the wedding ceremony--and sometimes the reception, as well. This includes--but is not limited to--smartphones, iPads, and digital cameras.

While it may initially seem off-putting and forward to make such a request, here are some reasons to consider an unplugged wedding Mass, and tips for making that request charitably.

Less distraction, better images

As a wedding photographer, there have been numerous times in my career when guests have obstructed an important image. Most guests like to snap a photo when the bride walks down the aisle, for instance, and during the exchange of vows, the kiss, and procession out of the church. I’ll never forget the wedding I shot where right as the bride’s father shook hands with the groom after walking his daughter down the aisle, a wedding guest got up from her seat and stepped directly across me in order to grab a shot with her cellphone.

The exchange itself between the groom and the father, as the bride looked on with a smile, was beautiful. The image, however, now has a very obvious fourth person--and her cellphone--in the frame. For me as a photographer, it was disheartening. At the end of the day, your photographer only wants to give you and your spouse the very best photos, ones you can cherish for the rest of your days.

So, although Uncle iPhone or Aunt Samsung Galaxy mean well with their desire to take a few photos, requesting an unplugged wedding is a good option if you don’t want them and their devices to make it into the sidelines of your album images.  

Getting the most from your investment

Part of hiring a wedding photographer is trusting he or she will do the job well. Your photographer is working as a professional, and you are putting forth a good investment to ensure they will capture all of the important moments of your day. Depending on your photographer’s contract, there may also be a section stating there must be no other photographers at the wedding.

If you happen to be doing a live stream of your wedding Mass for a family member or loved one who cannot be physically present, be  sure to let your pastor, photographer, and videographer know.

Mass is a time for worship

Our Catholic faith considers the Mass to be the highest form of prayer. If non-Catholic guests are attending, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to experience the beauty of the Mass and to learn more about the faith. By being present at Mass, we directly encounter Jesus Christ in his Real Presence, in the Most Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life (CCC 1324).

So, with all the angels and Saints, we are worshipping God in a very tangible way at Mass alongside the bride and groom. With an unplugged wedding, we not only give the couple our attention. More importantly, we’re better able to give God our full attention through our worship.

"When you’re a guest, your job and privilege is to witness and pray." - Claire Watson, Claire Watson Photography, Spoken Bride Vendor

How to request an unplugged wedding?

If you and your fiancé opt for an unplugged wedding, it’s helpful to give your guests a heads up .

Spoken Bride vendor and calligrapher Sarah Erikson of Sarah Ann Design shared this simple note in her wedding program:

"To preserve the spirit of worship, please refrain from all cell phone use (including photography) while inside the church.”

Other ways to communicate your expectations are asking the priest or a loved one to make an announcement before Mass, displaying an attractive hand-lettered sign before the church entrance, or sharing the information on your wedding website and in your Mass programs.

What are your thoughts on having a unplugged wedding?


About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Saint Monica: A Sister for Brides Who Are Suffering

JIZA ZITO

 

Social media makes it too easy to fall into the trap of believing how a marriage--and life in general--should appear. We scroll through our feeds seeing perfectly curated images of smiling faces and sweet captions. Everyone’s lives appear blissful.

Photo by  Gades Photography

Photo by Gades Photography

What if you came across the account of a woman whom you learned had an unfaithful husband, an abusive mother-in-law, a promiscuous son, and a grandchild born out of wedlock? What if you knew she was a former alcoholic, or that she cried daily over her husband and son? Would you consider her overly dramatic if you heard she followed that same son to a different country when he ran away?

This is all part of Saint Monica’s story.

Monica is popularly known as the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, wayward children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, and the conversion of relatives. Born in 332 AD in Thaghaste, now present day Souk Ahraus, Algeria, she was raised by Christian parents. But as a young adult, she was married off to Patricius, a Roman pagan and city official.

She suffered greatly throughout her marriage. However, she remained steadfast in prayer and was considered a pious woman. Despite his mistreatment of her and his disdain for her prayer life, it is said Patricius still admired his wife. Many women in the city sought out Monica’s advice and friendship if they also experienced mistreatment by their husbands.

God provided Monica great consolation. He answered her many years of prayer when she witnessed her husband convert to Christianity a year before his death, followed by Augustine’s conversion years later, with the help of Saint Ambrose. Augustine went on to be a priest and bishop. His numerous writings have significantly influenced both the Catholic Church and Western Civilization; today we know him as a Doctor of the Church.

While all of us may not be in Monica’s exact circumstances, that doesn’t void our lives from seasons of great suffering.

When we first say our wedding vows, it is by God’s mercy that he does not fully reveal what trials we will endure throughout our vocation. If we knew how many tears we might shed--much like Saint Monica--over the course of our marriages, we might despair or walk away in fear.

If we are afflicted by a loved one or find ourselves in a time of desolation, it can feel incredibly lonely and unfair. We can only imagine there were many times the cross felt extremely heavy and burdensome for Saint Monica, as well. If there is something the life of this woman can teach us, it is this: we are not alone, and God hears our prayers.

With great dedication to the salvation of her loved ones, she persevered in the hope of knowing that he would bring about the graces of healing and conversion. At any point, Monica could have just quit her prayers and given them no more thought. But she did not.

Because of her perseverance, her husband and son not only found Christ, but Monica’s intercession bore the  gift of Saint Augustine and the work he did for God’s Church. Saint Monica teaches us that if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our cries will not be vain. Our prayers will ultimately bear fruit.


Litany of Saint Monica

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. / God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. / God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. / God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. / Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us. / Holy Mary, conceived without stain of original sin, pray for us and for our children. / Holy Mary, glorious Mother of Jesus Christ, pray for us and for our children.

Saint Monica, pray for us and for our children. / Model of wives, pray for us and for our children. / You who converted your unbelieving husband, Mother of Saint Augustine, pray for us and for our children. / Strict and prudent teacher, guardian of your son in all his ways, pray for us and for our children. / You who carefully watched over his conduct, pray for us and for our children. / You who were sorely distressed at his erring from the right, pray for us and for our children. / You who were untiring in your petitions for his soul’s safety, pray for us and for our children. / You who still hoped on amid the bitterness of your heart and your floods of tears, pray for us and for our children. / You who were filled with consolation upon his return to God, pray for us and for our children. / You who died calmly after faithfully fulfilling your duties, pray for us and for our children. / You who are the prayerful intercessor of all mothers who pray and weep as you did, pray for us and for our children.

Preserve the innocence of our children, we beseech you, Saint Monica. / Protect them against the deceits of evil men, we beseech you, Saint Monica. / Protect them from the dangers of bad example, we beseech you, Saint Monica.

Watch over the movements of grace in their hearts. Let the Christian virtues strike deep root in their hearts and bear much fruit. Redouble your intercession for youth approaching manhood. Obtain for all in mortal sin true contrition and perfect conversion. Obtain for all mothers to fulfill their duties steadily and perseveringly.

Commend all mothers to the protection of the ever-blessed Virgin Mother of Our Lord. Favorably incline the heart of your beloved son Augustine to the salvation of our children.

Saint Augustine, holy son of a saintly mother, pray for us and for our children. / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord! / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord! / Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord!

Pray for us, O holy Saint Monica, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


CIRCLE HEADSHOT Jiza Zito 2014.png

About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Newlywed Life | 5 Tips for Long Periods of Time Apart

JIZA ZITO

 

When we become engaged to be married, we all dream of the day we can finally be with our spouse everyday. We look forward to less frequent long goodbyes and to more time spent together. However, due to careers or other circumstances, we may find ourselves in the challenging position spending long periods of time apart.

Perhaps you and/or your spouse are completing a degree at a graduate or medical school, or working strenuous hours in a “badge” career such as firefighting, law enforcement, EMS or first responder. Or perhaps one or both of you are serving our country’s military, working shift work at a plant, or traveling out of town for days or weeks at a time. Whatever your situation, we hope you will find the following tips helpful.

Find a support group.

Many careers that provide unique challenges for married couples and families often have a support network available. You can find more information through a liaison or by searching online for a local group. Having a support network with others in the same job field can provide a sense of camaraderie and friendship while giving you a place to ask questions and access to specific resources. As you gain knowledge and experience, you can, in turn, help and mentor other new spouses in the future.

Become involved in a Church community.

Finding accountability and prayerful support with others who share the same faith can be a great source of encouragement. Try checking your parish bulletin or website for a Bible study or prayer group. If your schedule permits and you feel a particular call to volunteer your time and talent, look for a ministry or outreach group in which you could serve.

Enjoy a newfound hobby.

Still looking for a way to occupy your time? Make a list of projects or hobbies you would like to enjoy and accomplish during your time apart. Maybe you have a project within your home you’d like to finish, or a gift you’d like to create. Perhaps you want to take a class and learn a new skill like dance or cooking, or join a social group like hiking or a book club. Search your city newspaper or recreation catalog for local classes or events. You can also try websites like meetup.com in order to find a nearby group for your particular interest. When you reunite with your spouse, you can share your newfound interest and try it out together.

Prioritize self-care.

Long periods apart can be stressful on a marriage. It often requires emotional and mental adjustment both during and immediately after the time of separation. It’s important and helpful to maintain good hygiene, sleep, and eating habits, and to set time aside for personal leisure and exercise. Yet these days and months can be lonely and trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. If you find yourself feeling particularly low, speak with a doctor, therapist, or pastor or inquire with your support network on healthy ways to manage.

Remain close to the sacraments.

Most importantly, stay close to Christ and frequent the sacraments. Remain focused on him, and he who is always faithful will grant you and your spouse the grace to not only get through times of separation, but to thrive and grow together as well. Despite whatever hardships you both might face, he will always "equip you with everything good for doing His will.”


About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

Three Reasons to Have a "First Look"

JIZA ZITO

We have all heard that it is “bad luck” for the groom to see the bride before the wedding,  and many couples take this tradition quite seriously; however, many do not know about the less-than-romantic origins of this tradition.

During the time when arranged marriages were customary, the betrothed couple was not allowed to see each other before the wedding. Marriage, for many families, was essentially a “business deal.”. The father, who was the head of the household, would ideally marry off his daughter to a rich, land-owning male. Once the engagement was contracted, the parents of the bride and groom would keep the couple apart, fearing that if the groom saw the bride before the wedding and found her unattractive, he wouldn’t go through with the marriage.  While today we think of the wedding veil as a lovely must-have accessory,  its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out what the bride looked like until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out of the transaction. Romantic, huh?

More and more couples today are choosing to buck tradition in favor of the “first look” before the wedding ceremony. While the Church has no definitive stance on first looks, every couple has different reasons as to why they would or would not do a first look. Below are three reasons to consider having a first look, and three alternative ideas to consider if you want to have a moment with your groom before the wedding, while saving the “big reveal” for your walk down the aisle.

Maximize your time for photos without sacrificing time at the reception.

While you may have your photographer for 8-10 hours, it’s amazing how fast time flies on the day of your wedding and how easily the timeline can get sidetracked. Most often, portraits with family and the bridal party take longer than expected, and then the next you know, you only have less than 15 minutes to take romantic images of just you and your groom. When you make the first look a priority, it gives you time for those special portraits without being rushed to your cocktail hour or reception. Especially when you also place a large investment into your wedding photography, getting the time to get more photographs of just you and your groom together and in such a candid and special moment can definitely be worth it!

Diminish pre-wedding nerves.

Some couples have a hard time showing emotion in front of a crowd, and understandably so. There is a lot of emotion mounting up to that moment of seeing each other for the first time. When you do a first look with just you and your groom (and your photographer(s) in the background), it gives you both the chance to be yourselves freely while seeing each other for the first time without a crowd of loved ones snapping iPhone photos.

Get some much-needed alone time with your husband.

The first look allows you and your groom to have some alone time before your day gets busy. Unless you set time aside for it later in the day, it’s the only time you both will be alone on your wedding day until you leave the reception. It can also help set the tone for the perfect mood for romantic portraits. Images of just the two of you are also what you’ll decorate your home with and possibly pass down to family, so it makes sense to spend some quality time taking them


Alternatives to the First Look

While a first look has its many perks, it’s not for every couple. Here are some alternative or additional photography ideas for your big day:

A First Look with Dad or Father Figure

If you’re a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl, or have a close relationship with another male relative, this is a lovely option to consider. Another idea is also for the father to escort the bride to the first look with the groom.

A First Look with the Bridal Party

You have been through the engagement party, the bridal shower, and the bachelorette party. Now your bridesmaids are excited to see your completed look on your wedding day. Have your photographer catch their reactions as they finally see you dressed as a bride!

The “Reach and Pray”

This one is my personal favorite. It’s a beautiful and meaningful way for a bride and groom to come together before the ceremony while still avoiding the pre-wedding first look. You can hold hands around a corner or a door, or keep your eyes closed in a prayerful exchange in your favorite grotto or side chapel.

Elissa Voss Photography

Elissa Voss Photography

No matter what you decide for photographs on your wedding day, communicate with your photographer and make sure you get enough allotted time to capture images of just you and your spouse. These will be the images that you will always cherish.


About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK