Claire + Andrew | Silver-Gilded Winter Cottage Wedding

Claire and Andrew’s wedding was planned with profound excitement, the generosity of their family and friends, and a deep desire through it all to bring praise and glory to God.

This rooted purpose, to become a “praise of glory” for God, (a beloved quote from their favorite saint) helped guide them from their earlier days as FOCUS missionaries through an intentional relationship that would blossom into marriage.

From the Bride: Andrew and I met in college through mutual friends and cultivated a deeper friendship while serving on the same campus as missionaries with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Though attraction between us was obvious, dating between teammates is usually not a prudent decision in FOCUS, so waited until the end of the year before we pursued anything serious. To say this was difficult would be an understatement, but when we were finally able to go on a date, neither of us doubted this was much more than a simple attraction.

We dated long-distance during our second year with FOCUS. Andrew was in Gainesville, Florida, and I was in Nashville, Tennessee. Countless Face-times, phone calls, and airplane tickets got us through this time--not to mention a lot of intentionality. 

In fact, Andrew was consistently clear, thoughtful, and intentional in his pursuit of me. He led our relationship by making regular conversations a priority while balancing our call as missionaries; we needed to make sure we were still being present to those around us. Prayer was also an important part of our relationship. Praying rosaries, intercessory prayer over the phone, and always making time to pray when we were together were priorities. 

Though long-distance was difficult, it was such a gift to be able to pursue our relationship without becoming overly consumed in each other’s lives or codependent. 

My father passed away on Easter Sunday my senior year, and Andrew knew this was very important to me. For months he planned an Easter weekend I would never forget. After going on retreat near Nashville, we spent Easter Vigil with my students and drove to Knoxville for Easter Sunday with my mom and sister. After Mass that morning, we went out to eat, and Andrew asked if I wanted to go to the cemetery and pray for the repose of my dad’s soul. After we prayed, we went on a walk.

At the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Andrew got down on one knee and proposed with my mother’s engagement diamond in a rose gold ring. Engraved in the ring were the words “Praise of Glory” after our favorite saint: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. 

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity played a curious part in our relationship since the beginning. I had been falling in love with her understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in our souls and was beginning to talk more and more about her. Andrew and I read a book about her while we were friends and missionaries to try and find out more--even though I never finished the book. 

In an attempt to move slowly and intentionally in our dating process, I asked Andrew if we could date for six months before we talked about marriage and the far-off future. I didn’t know that exactly six months after we started dating was the feast day of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. St. Elizabeth called herself “Laudem Gloriae” which means “Praise of Glory” because she believed her mission was to do just that: be a praise of God’s glory. And so, Andrew had “Praise of Glory” inscribed in my engagement ring.

He shared with me that he had been praying a 54-day rosary novena for our engagement. The graces of this were so present. We went to the cathedral to pray and thank God for this wonderful gift, and when we got back to my house our family and friends were waiting to surprise and congratulate us! 

Our engagement included two new jobs, a new city and state, and a month serving with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Through all of this, the Lord was softening and preparing our hearts to make the radical “yes” to our vocation seven months later on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

When we chose that date, we didn’t know the second reading for the feast was from Ephesians 1, the same verses where St. Elizabeth got the idea for her name “Laudem Gloriae.” This brought such consolation and was a clear sign of God’s blessing and sovereignty over our marriage.

From the beginning of our planning, Andrew and I wanted to throw a party that would serve the many people who meant so much to us. Every detail had one aim: to be a praise of God’s glory. We wanted people to have an encounter with the living God through the revelation of his beauty, love, and grace.

I chose the Marian color of blue in a winter combination with silvers and grays to run throughout the attire and decor. Each of the bridesmaids had a unique dress that, when seen with all the other dresses, showcased a uniquely beautiful winter look. The flowers were a combination of whites, grays, and greens with fun sparkly pine cones and faux fur-tailed stems of white fluff. Attached to my bouquet was my “something blue:” my dad’s wedding ring tied to a blue ribbon and a black-beaded rosary; a rosary made by the man who creates them for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.

Our ceremony was held in the newly constructed Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This absolutely gorgeous cathedral, finished in March 2018, featured countless symbols, rich colors, and the faces of some of the most beloved saints in our modern day. From the marble floors, to the rich blue ceiling tiles, to the towering dome, everything about this place of worship draws your eyes and heart to the God who loves us.

Our musicians, all friends of ours, played songs that resonated deep in our hearts. “O God Beyond All Praising” was the song we chose as our entrance hymn because the purpose of the day was to give glory to God. As the violin welcomed Andrew and I into the church, he couldn’t help but break down in tears as I stood beaming beside him. Because my dad had passed away years ago, we chose to have Andrew walk me up the aisle as we prepared to enter into this sacramental covenant together.

Incense filled the altar and the entrance antiphon directed our hearts and minds to the Blessed Virgin Mary on her special feast day. Our good friend, Fr. Victor Ingalls, reminded us in the homily of my bridesmaids that Andrew had previously dated, which brought a rather comic tone to an already joyful day. He also reminded us of our most important mission: to get one another to Heaven.

My favorite part of the ceremony, besides singing with Andrew to some of our most beloved hymns, was looking into the congregation and seeing all the people who had helped us become who we are today. This included our parents, siblings, family, our friends who saw us in our most awkward times, those who served with us in FOCUS, our mission partners who had supported us as FOCUS missionaries, and our students we had labored for on various campuses. 

We were surrounded by such an incredible group of people who had given of themselves to help us try and become the saints God was calling us to be. As they witnessed to our promise of marriage, I couldn’t help but praise God for the gifts he had given us in each and every one of them.

Many people told us that the Mass was a spiritual experience, and I believe it was because God was being revealed so vividly through the beauty and liturgy of the Mass. It emanated from the building itself, through the music and community, and through the great “cloud of witnesses” who were there praying for us and united to us as we participated in the sacrifice of Christ on the altar. It was clear that the Lord greatly desired to come into the hearts of each person gathered there to celebrate.

Our reception was a blur, but from what I remember, my mom gave a long-winded speech that had people crying from laughing and crying from just plain crying. Because my dad couldn't be there, each of my ten uncles danced with me instead. We partied the rest of the night away with an amazing band that covered the classics and brought in some more modern music as well. 

Greenery hung from chandeliers, glittering Christmas trees welcomed the guests, and blue, silver, and white candles caused the whole room to glow. Our cakes were almost too pretty to eat, except for the donut covered groom’s cake. And most importantly, the smiles and laughter and joy of our guests made my heart want to burst.

It’s okay to be excited about details when planning your wedding, but it’s also important to realize that the day is about so much more than that. You want everything to be beautiful, to be special, and to be unique to you and your husband. But in each detail you choose, remember what your purpose is for that day and who you're really celebrating.

We wanted good food, a band, a large guest list, and beautiful flowers. We wanted to serve our friends and family and give them an experience of beauty. But we also didn't want to get carried away with unnecessary excess. 

At the end of the day, the whole point was that God had invited us into this beautiful sacrament to honor and glorify him. This was something that Andrew had to be constantly drawing me back to and reminding me of. This day wasn't for everyone else's approval or for our own vanity, it was for bringing glory to God.

As we started to plan and realized our budget didn't allow for certain things I wanted, it became clear that God wanted to provide in bigger ways than I could ever hope. Our venue provided incredible resources, we found lesser known, more affordable, high quality vendors, and we met people who “randomly” had connections with a band or wedding programs. Others offered to donate their time or resources to helping us make the event beautiful. Over and over again, God wanted to show his providence in every little detail of the day.

I have always struggled with trusting in God's goodness. Will he really provide? Is his plan good? Can I trust in his timing? These fears followed me throughout being single and even once Andrew and I started dating. I grasped for control every step of the way to make sure I wasn't going to be disappointed or hurt. But as wedding planning began and I had to let go of things I was grasping onto, God showed me that his plan for providing was so good. It would exceed so many of my expectations.

As Andrew and I walked down the aisle, I stood in awe of the beautiful day that God had created. It felt like so many things that day came together completely out of my control, and it's only because of God's grace to let go and let him do the work. The truth is that no matter what you think you might need on that day, God wants to be the one who makes it beautiful.

Photography: Ashleigh Jameson Photography | Videography: David Barretto | Church: Sacred Heart Cathedral, Knoxville, TN | Reception: The Reserve at Bluebird Hill, Lenoir City, TN | Planning, Design, & Florals: Windsor & Willow | Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals | Band: Trapped on Earth  | Food: @brownbagnow  | Bar: @thepourguys | Hair: Color, Cuts, & Curls | Make-Up: @makeupbychesni | Chauffeur/Car: @regal_carriages | Cake: @sarahsstapleton | Gown: Signature Bridal

Natasha + Tim | New Year's Winter Watercolor Wedding

We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.

Read more here for the story of Natasha and Tim’s engagement story, previously featured on the blog. 

Community is an essential part of the celebration of marriage. Although it is a sacrament conferred between two people, marriage is always meant to point outward, to be open to life and service in a myriad of ways, and to become the foundational unit of the larger community.

Natasha and Tim celebrated this communal aspect of marriage by intentionally inviting their friends and family into the preparation. Whether it was wearing her aunt’s fifty year old wedding dress or teaching her family the art of watercolor for the invitations, Natasha and Tim’s love ignited the joy of their community.

May all engaged and married people embrace this beautiful sacrament that calls the bride and groom to always serve the other as well as their community of love around them.

From the Bride: Tim and I met junior year at the University of Minnesota, through the Catholic community of Saint Paul’s Outreach. Our time spent as friends during undergrad was filled with a lot of discernment and growth in our personal relationships with Christ.

Looking back, it is exciting to see how God was preparing our hearts as singles in ways that were going to allow us to be more "free" in a romantic relationship.

A strong theme throughout our relationship has always been community. We have been blessed with a community of faithful friends and family that Christ used to guide us through this initial period of discernment.

We officially started dating two and a half years after we met, right before I left for grad school, so the majority of our romantic relationship was long distance. Even though the distance was difficult, it forced us to be intentional with our relationship, and the time spent as friends gave us the confidence to pursue marriage. We had to become quite creative with ways to invite Christ into our relationship such as praying together over the phone nightly.

A little over a year into dating, Tim asked me to marry him over-looking the central square of our alma mater on New Year’s Eve.

We must have a thing for romantic events in the freezing cold, because almost exactly a year later on December 30, 2017, we said our vows.

The high temperature on our wedding day was an aggressive 14 degrees below zero. Such is the gamble with a New Year’s wedding in Minnesota! But despite the cold, we had an amazing, Christ-centered day with those we love--and everyone’s cars started the next day.

We were fortunate enough to do a majority of our marriage preparation with Father Mike Schmitz, and one of the ideas he brought up early on was how marriage and holy orders are the two sacraments that are intended to be sacraments for “others."

He challenged us to take this to prayer, and it sparked a larger conversation between us about what it meant for our marriage to be something that was to be shared with others, to help reveal something about Christ to the world.

We felt Christ was placing on our hearts the importance of community and marriage as a unique mission field for evangelization. As a result of this conviction, we spent a lot of time discerning unique ways in which we could invite our guests into the celebration in an intentional way.

To start, we saw the personal touches the Church allows couples to incorporate into the wedding liturgy as an opportunity for our guests who were either not Catholic or fallen-away from the Church to be welcomed and invited to witness the beauty of our faith. As Saint Pope John Paul II says, the liturgy would be our “profession of faith.” Father Mike was able to provide us with a really great template for our wedding programs to help explain the Mass to our guests and encourage participation.

Tim’s parents are both music teachers, so it was an easy choice to have his family create a choir that did a phenomenal job setting the tone for the liturgy and leading the congregation in participation with hymns. As it was the octave of Christmas, the bridal party and myself processed in to “O Come All Ye Faithful” and we recessed to “Joy to the World.” It was such a joy to see guests with their hymnals open, belting out a favorite Christmas hymn. I felt like they were singing my dad and I down the aisle!

Continuing in the theme of community, we wanted our guests to feel welcome and enjoy the reception. For us, this meant hiring a great DJ who shared our faith and vision of the day, but who could also MC well, inviting our guests into the celebration.

We chose a round head table for us and our wedding party that sat in the center of the room among our guests. It was one of my favorite elements because we felt surrounded by those we loved rather than set apart from them. One of our favorite memories of the reception was dancing the night away with our guests, many of whom stayed until the final song!

I was able to design our invitations, programs, table numbers, and place settings. I even got to teach the ladies of my family about watercolors as they helped me finish all the invites. My mom and mother-in-law are crafty too, so I set them to work on the flowers, and together we created all the bouquets and the gorgeous fern chandelier that hung above our round head table.

My mom baked the wedding cake, and a family friend made over three hundred cupcakes in our favorite flavors for the guests. Meanwhile, my aunt sewed all the bridesmaids’ custom robes for a comfy gift the morning of the wedding, and my sister did my hair and make-up. It was such a joy to stay in my pajamas for as long as possible on such a cold morning!

My wedding dress was my aunt's, who celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with my uncle this year. She was so honored to have me wear it, and it was truly my dream dress. My mom, who is a handy seamstress, helped to make it my own with a modern take on the back.

Some advice I would give to other Catholic brides is to use your resources well. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t believe the lie that you have to spend a ton of money to have a beautiful wedding. Find centerpiece items at thrift shops or trade expensive favors for a creative, late-evening snack bar (we brought out popcorn halfway through the evening as an inexpensive dancing snack that the guests loved).

Use the gifts and talents of your friends and family--they are itching to help, and you will make some beautiful memories. It is also a great way to foster community and share your faith by showing others the beauty and depth of the marriage sacrament.

Above all, have confidence that if you and your fiancé are focused on the right stuff (Jesus Christ), your friends and family who understand the true purpose of your day will create an environment where you feel loved and everyone is having a good time.

St. John Paul II discusses the importance of community and the mission of marriage in his exhortation to the family when he says,

“The celebration of the sacrament of marriage is the basic moment of the faith of the couple. This sacrament, in essence, is the proclamation in the Church of the Good News concerning married love. It is the word of God that "reveals" and "fulfills" the wise and loving plan of God for the married couple, giving them a mysterious and real share in the very love with which God himself loves humanity. Since the sacramental celebration of marriage is itself a proclamation of the word of God, it must also be a "profession of faith" within and with the Church, as a community of believers, on the part of all those who in different ways participate in its celebration.”

One of my favorite memories of the wedding ceremony was singing "Tantum Ergo" shortly after communion as Tim and I knelt in front of the cross. The entire church, filled with people of all faiths and from all elements of our lives, was oriented toward the cross with us as we prayed together, and Tim and I's love for one another had brought them there! It felt like a precursor of what Heaven may be like, standing at the foot of Jesus, praising him.

I glanced over sideways at Tim and had to fight back tears at the realization that this man wasn't just willing to bring me to the cross, but kneel with me humbly before Jesus. It was in that moment that no amount of stress or seating charts or color swatches could have ever mattered.

Tim and I were saying “yes” to a lifelong mission of walking toward the cross together and reminding each other of our true identity as a son and daughter of God when we forget. We are building a foundation in which we can bring Christ to any person we encounter along our journey.

I cannot wait to see what God does with our “yes.”

Photography: Sarah Ascanio Photography | Mass: The Church of Saint Mark, Saint Paul, Minnesota | Reception: The Pavillion at Lake Elmo, Lake Elmo, Minnesota | Bride's Engagement Ring: Shane Co. | Wedding Rings: Etsy | Bride and Bridesmaids bouquets: Bloominous | Table Flowers, Boutonnieres: Bought in bulk from Hy-vee Floral | Invitations/Stationary/Programs: Handmade by the Bride | Bride's Dress and veil: Family Heirlooms, Aunt's dress/Sister's veil | Bride's Earrings: Edina Jewelry Store | Groom and Groomsmen attire: The Black Tux, The Steinbeck Outfit | Bridesmaids' Attire: Revelry Dresses in Better Together Blue and Lavender Colors | Bridesmaids' Jewelry: Target | Cake: Homemade by Mother of the Bride | Cupcakes: Homemade by Family Friend | DJ Services: DJ Bill Lage | Rehearsal Dinner Food: DarBar Indian Restaurant | Rehearsal Dinner Location and Beverage: Bad Weather Brewery

Elizabeth + Matthew | Ethereal Irish Castle Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kelly + Peter | California Museum Wedding

Kelly met Peter at fifteen and seventeen, respectively, as youth group and Confirmation leaders at their parish. They spent their time going to football games, instant messaging, attending Mass, and secretly liking one another. Peter revealed his feelings on Kelly’s sixteenth birthday, when she was permitted to start dating. Kelly remembers the Mass she attended that day: “I prayed especially for my new dating life, my future spouse, and also prayed that perhaps my first boyfriend would become my husband.” The Father heard and answered these desires of her heart.

Eight and a half years later, Peter wrote and performed a song on guitar entitled, “This Love was Made by God.” After singing it to Kelly, he proposed. 

From the Bride: We went to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland for our honeymoon and got to see Pope Francis. We are living our happily ever after.

My wedding gown was the second one I tried on, and I knew it was meant for me. It was from 2006, designed by Oleg Cassini. I had it altered by removing the original ribbon and adding a transparent ribbon with rustic flower details to replace it. I purchased a second dress in hopes we’d receive a blessing from Pope Francis, but I forgot to bring it with me to Krakow. Instead, I bought a $8.00 white dress from a thrift shop in Poland!

I knew I wanted a traditional-looking veil that would cover my head. I was thrilled to find my traditional mantilla veil, with modern flair featuring polka dots and rose gold details.

Our central goal for our wedding Mass was that it be filled with the God’s presence and that each guest to feel his power and love. Our guest list was very diverse and included people from all walks of faith, including fallen-away Catholics. We hoped they’d experience God throughout our Mass. It was so special being married at the church where we first met.

For music, we chose contemporary worship and a band at the ceremony. We were blessed to have our friends' band, Lang Station, play at the Mass, and the music was one of the highlights. I walked down the aisle to "Messiah/You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham. Every time I listen, it gives me butterflies and takes me back to our wedding. Peter cried when I walked down the aisle! The bridesmaids walked to Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons," and the other songs included "Oceans" and "How He Loves."  

While we professed traditional Catholic vows, we were also invited to include personal messages to read out loud during the ceremony. The night before our wedding, I accidentally took Peter's note card with his message to me, so he had to try to remember what he wrote. The rest he made up on the spot! Our priests were Father John, the priest from my college parish, and Father Matt, who was our youth minister and who watched Peter and I grow together. Our wedding was the first he presided at, as a newly ordained priest! We had our friends and cousins present the gifts. It was very special having our loved ones included in the Mass.

 After the Mass, Peter and I went to Jamba Juice in our wedding attire. It’s  where Peter first told me he liked me and asked me out on our first date. We sat at our table to enjoy a few moments alone before the reception.

Our reception was held at Rancho Camulos Museum, a National Historic Landmark that holds an old (not currently used) Catholic chapel. We had an outdoor reception that included market lights above the dance floor and big tree with a chandelier above our table. The meal was catered from the same restaurant where Peter and I went on our first date, and guests enjoyed listening to Lang Station during the cocktail hour and dinner.  

My favorite part of the night came at the end, when most of guests had departed. Those remaining included our very close friends, some family, and neighbors whom I’m very close to. Two friends recalled that as a child, I’d wanted to dance to Train’s "Drops of Jupiter" at my wedding, and they requested it as the last song of the evening. Peter and I danced with unkempt hair, his jacket over me, through a scene of bubbles provided by a couple of people. We then slowly walked away to our cars, talking with our friends like it was just another ordinary night. But it was perfect.

Although it’s very easy to get caught up in all the wedding details--decorations, music, the timeline--the most important thing is to be present and enjoy the moment. Let go of all the things that don't matter, breathe deeply, and take notice of all the blessings around you. During your wedding day, reflect on how God got you to where you are and be thankful. Remember the insanely amazing spiritual things that are happening to give you a new sacrament!

Lastly, know that sometimes it’s easy to become disappointed in certain aspects of your wedding. Remember those feelings are fleeting, and you get to look forward to an adventure of a lifetime with the man God provided for you.

Video produced by Forestry Films

Photographer: Worden Photography | Reception Location: Rancho Camulos Museum; Piru, CA | Church: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church; Santa Clarita, CA | Bride's Wedding and Engagement Rings: Jewelry Couture in Ventura, CA Groom's Wedding Ring: Na Hoku | Flowers: Yamaguchi Nursery in Santa Paula, CA | Invitations: Download and Print | Save the Dates: Shutterfly | Rentals:  AV Party Rentals in Santa Clarita, CA | Caterer:  Stone Fire Grill | Bride's Dresses: The White Dress for Less in Newhall, CA, Dress designed by Oleg Cassini | Veil: SmithaMenonBridal on Etsy | Bride's Shoes: Step! Shoes in Santa Monica, CA, Shoes: Sabrinas Juliet 34910 in Bone Nappa Leather | Bridesmaid Attire: Various dresses chosen by bridesmaids | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men's Warehouse | Cake: Jills Cake Creations in Santa Clarita, CA | Hairstylist: Amy Wolf | Ceremony Music/ Cocktail Hour/ Dinner Music: Lang Station | Reception Music: Crowd Theory Entertainment | Reception Planning/Coordination:  Lalonde Events; Christine Lalonde | Videography: Forestry Films

Christina + Ben | Candlelight Ballroom Wedding

Christina and Ben met during their freshman orientation at Creighton University and later became study pals for their Theology 101 course. They were good friends, and just friends. Or so Christina thought.

Immediately after Christmas break, Ben asked her out. She said yes. Their first date was to dinner in downtown Omaha...at 11 P.M., due to a delayed drumline practice. On Valentine’s Day they kissed, and became an official couple soon after.

From the Bride: Faith had always been important to us individually, but it became part of who we are as a couple during our sophomore year. We began praying and reflecting on the daily Mass readings each morning over breakfast in the cafeteria. These studies eventually led us to the Theology of the Body, which became a huge milestone in the deepening of our relationship.

As we grew closer, I began to question my decision to seriously date Ben, who was not Catholic. I finally concluded I would rather have someone with a strong, truly convicted faith than someone with a faith so flimsy he would convert to Catholicism to make me happy. Ben did, however, enter the Church later after his own spiritual journey.

Senior year was filled with hard work and more than a little trepidation. Ben was applying to medical school, and I was applying for international fellowship programs. So many nights were spent editing essays and applications. We didn’t talk much about our concrete plans after school, as so much was dependent on location: would we stay together if I was overseas and Ben was in the states? How would our respective careers shape our relationship?

Luckily, I didn’t make the cut for the international fellowships I’d applied for; proof that disappointments are all part of God’s plan.

Ben proposed five days before graduation, the outdoors gli stening from a fresh rain, with a ring he designed with a local jeweler.

We hired a former newspaper photographer and couldn’t be happier with our decision. Our wedding photos look different from most, and we like that. He did an excellent job capturing the energy and emotion of the day, without taking us away from the moments at hand.

My gown was handmade by my great-grandma, for my grandmother and her sister. My mom and her sister wore it, and I had the honor of doing the same. I decided to cut my cathedral-length veil (not an antique) after the ceremony was over--it was a smart choice for me. You only get to wear a veil once in your life, so I figured I might as well wear it as long as I could!

I bought my jewelry on Etsy the week before the wedding. Both pieces were vintage, from the 1930s and 40s. Our wedding bands were a gift from my grandparents, both of whom passed away when I was young. My mom, aunt, and bridesmaids made bouquets and corsages using flowers from Sam’s Club.

When we arrived at the church, there was scaffolding everywhere--no one had told us about the summer-long construction project! Music is so important to us, especially to Ben, and the songs for the liturgy included “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Love Divine All Loves Excelling,” accompanied by a beautiful organist and trumpeter.

We spent significant time choosing the Mass readings--Isaiah 43:1-3a, Psalm 128, Ephesians 5:2, 21-33, and Matthew 10:5a, 8-16--and writing our own petitions. It was incredibly special to share with our loved ones the words that spoke to us.

Our priest, Fr. Appel, gave the most beautiful homily. He spoke of the roots of the word "marriage," coming from the idea of “throwing your lot in” with another; in other words, taking a gamble. He explained that marriage is not intended for those who plan their entire future or have set expectations. Marriage is saying yes to the risk of committing your entire life to another.

Nearly every bride says her wedding day goes too fast; that she blinks and it’s over. We didn’t feel that way, and I credit it a single decision: to eat dinner by ourselves. Ben and I escaped to a side room during the cocktail hour to a side room and spent twenty minutes as just the two of us. Instead of running around, this time slowed us down and re-centered our focus: we had just gotten married! In the quiet, we were able to reflect on and celebrate what had just taken place.

Our reception venue was a beautiful club established in the 1800s, with wood paneling, antique lighting, a ballroom, and even an old-style bowling alley. We enjoyed having multiple spaces for hosting. The cocktail hour was held on the main floor of the building, where a wraparound porch overlooks an expansive front lawn prepared with tables, drinks, and yard games. Dinner and dancing were held upstairs in the ballroom, featuring chandeliers, wood floors, and a balcony. The movement was a key factor in the atmosphere--we wanted to transition our guests between relaxed socializing for cocktails, intimate dinner party vibes for dinner, and lively dancing for the rest of the night.

For reception décor, we sent our families on a mission to buy as many candles as possible. The room was aglow with over 800 candles in crystal holders Ben’s dad has collected over the years. My mom sewed all 88 yards of the table runners we used.

There were so many happy tears on our wedding day, particularly when my dad asked to cut our first dance short because he just couldn’t take it anymore! We danced to the lullaby he sung my sister and I every night before bed.

All of the speeches were beautiful, but my dad’s especially. He brought out the 2x4 board my family had used to measure our heights as children. He got out the measuring book and pencil, and measured Ben on our childhood memory, making him officially a part of the family. He also prepared the back of the board for the next generation of grandkids.

Ben and I both use one word when describing our wedding day: humbled. Humbled by the help our family and friends gave so readily in the months beforehand. Humbled by all our loved ones who came to celebrate with and show their love for us. And humbled by the blessing that is a lifelong union with each other and with Christ.

Photography: Mike Burley Photography | Church: St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Davenport, IA | Wedding Reception Venue : The Outing Club, Davenport, IA | Rings: Doland JewelersBorsheims | Flowers: Sam’s Club | Invitations/Stationary: Designed by bride, Printing | Brides dress and veil: Handmade | Jewelry: Terry O’sFemByDesign | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire: Men’s Warehouse | The Tie Bar https://www.thetiebar.com/ | Hairstylist: Annette Johnson | Rentals: Century Car and Van RentalTriple A Rentals

Susanna + Brad | Italian Vineyard-Inspired Wedding

We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.

Revisit Susanna and Brad’s testimony and proposal here, then read on for the details of their Green Bay wedding day, rich with the significance of vocation and the Church’s universal call to holiness for husbands and wives, priests, and religious.

Susanna and Brad had dated once before and broken up, but remained friends. Two years later--not long after a trip to Rome as friends, to attend a diaconate ordination--Susanna began a novena to Saint Joseph for her future husband. On the last day, as she turned from a statue of Joseph, she saw Brad in the chapel and sense he’d ask her out again. The following year, at the end of a stone breakwater in the rain, Brad gave Susanna a letter and got down on one knee.

From the Bride: Rome has played an important role in our relationship: Brad and I had been in Rome for a friend’s diaconate ordination two year prior, shortly before we began dating, and our friend, now a priest, celebrated our Nuptial Mass. And just two weeks before our wedding, we’d returned to the eternal city for Brad’s brother’s Diaconate Ordination

On the first of those two trips, we visited Madonna del Latte, a vineyard in Orvieto. This vineyard would provide us with the image we would reflect on throughout our engagement, our wedding day, and in our marriage.

Madonna del Latte got its name from a beautiful picture of Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus; its intricate logo includes the Latin monogram of the Virgin Mary, letters “A” and “M” meaning Auspice Maria (“under the protection of Mary”). On Valentines Day, during our engagement, I received a necklace Brad had designed, inspired by the vineyard’s logo. Brad said he hoped I could wear it on our wedding day. Not only did I wear the necklace, but we used used the monogram on our Save-the-Dates, wedding stationary, and Mass programs.

It was important to us that we focus on helping everyone enter into the beauty of the liturgy. We took notes from the article “Creating a Meaningful Wedding Mass Program” to help those we invited better understand what was happening and be able to participate more fully in the liturgy.

Just minutes before walking down the aisle, my immediate family joined hands as we came together in prayer, led by my dad. This moment was one of immense comfort, equipping me to walk down the aisle with confidence.

We were so excited to have my five nieces and two of Brad’s cousins as flower girls. Each of them carried a white rose down the aisle. These roses made up the bouquet Brad and I brought to the Blessed Mother during the Mass, asking her intercession right after becoming husband and wife. Our ring bearer, my nephew, brought up our wedding rings tied to a framed image of Our Lady of Czestochowa; a gift from our friend Father Michael, who was unable to attend.

In addition to the general intercessions, written by our good friend Sister Magnificat Rose with the Sisters of Life, who couldn’t be there, it was also important for us to ask the intercession of those in heaven by singing the Litany of the Saints. It served as a reminder that the Church is a family, and those in heaven eagerly wait to join with us in prayer; we are all one in the body of Christ. Among the saints we included were Saint Susanna, my namesake, and Saint Timothy, to honor Brad’s older brother who passed away at the age of three.

Of course our wedding day a celebration of Brad’s and my union in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, but we also wanted the day to celebrate the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In Brad’s words, we can honor our priests by having a great marriage:

From the Groom: On the surface, marriage and the priesthood may seem like opposites. After all, one embraces the union of a man and woman, while the other embraces celibacy. It might seem that letting a priest see the joy in your marriage could be a sort of ‘taunting’ or ‘showing off’ of the good which he cannot have. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Marriage is intended to be an earthly symbol of Christ’s love for us and of the hope we have of one day being united with our Creator in heaven. Our priests remain celibate in order to witness to this very same reality. By foregoing something that is so good, their lives point to something that is even better. In this way, the priesthood is inextricably tied to marriage.

The better witness our marriages are to the world of Christ’s love for us and for his Church, the more they proclaim the greatness of the priesthood.

St. John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio that “when marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning.”

Our priests have renounced marriage for us and for the Church. Now it is our responsibility as the laity to live out marriages that witness to the goodness of the sacrament. This extols the dignity and greatness of the priesthood, and ultimately witnesses to the reality to which both marriage and the priesthood point: the incomprehensible love of Christ for the world.

Susanna: It was a joy to celebrate not only the vocation to married life, but also to priesthood and religious life. We were even blessed to work with vendors with honorable and holy mission statements. Our talented photographers, Katzie & Ben Nelson, are a husband and wife team whose life is fueled by their Catholic faith. Our delectable desserts were baked by From Above Youth Center & Bakery, a non-profit organization funded by donations and grants, which aids teens and people with special needs in developing vocational skills. A friend from our parish designed our stationary, and even our D.J., Josh McClure, asked how he could pray for us when we met with him to talk about reception music.

Now, as we endeavor on this first year of marriage, we pray that as husband and wife we actively live out well the words from the second reading we chose: “...Live in love, as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2).

Photography: Katzie & Ben Photography http://www.katzieandben.com | Church: Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church: 710 N Baird St, Green Bay, WI 54302 | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Rooms at University Union on the Campus of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay | Rings: Gold'n Treasures: http://www.goldn-treasures.com/ | Flowers: Schroeder Flowers http://www.schroederflowers.com/ 
Invitations/Stationery: Designed by our friend Shannon Nowak | Caterer: Chartwell Schools | Bride’s Dress: BHLDN (by Eddy K) | Bride’s Veil: BHLDN (From Paris by Debra Moreland) | Brides’ Shoes: DSW (badgley mischka) | Jewelry (Bride’s Necklace designed by Bradley Parent): Gold’n Treasures | Bridesmaids Attire: Adrianna Papell  | Groom’s Tux: Groomsmen’s Attire | Groom's Shoes: Allen Edmund's | Desserts: Oreo Truffles, Chocolate dipped peanut butter balls, mini champagne, chocolate, gluten free cupcakes: Carrie Zehms: From Above Youth Center & Catering http://www.fromaboveyouthcenterandbakery.com/ | Hairstylist: Kris Mollen at http://www.samsarahsalon.com | Makeup Artist: Janice McCarty at http://www.samsarahsalon.com/ | Reception Music: Josh McClure with Harmony DJ Entertainment: http://www.harmonydjentertainment.com/ | Wedding Coordinator: Bryant Ortega

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