3 Tangible Ways to Include the Saints in Your Wedding Day

CLARA DAVISON

 

For as long as I can remember, saints and their stories have played a huge part in my spiritual life.

As a child, I loved learning about Saint Fransisco, Blessed Imelda, and other children who achieved holiness at a young age. In my teenage years, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Saint Dominic Savio, and Blessed Chiara Badano began inspiring me. Learning about holy men and women who related to my current stage in life strengthened and encouraged me on my spiritual journey.

Once engaged, I began considering ways to incorporate the saints into my wedding. They have been alongside me through every part of my life, and I wanted to include them as I entered this vocation. Here, three ways I have seen the saints’ intercession incorporated in Catholic weddings:

Wedding bouquet medals

During my engagement, I asked friends and family to pray for us in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I may have tentatively suggested--or not so tentatively, as my siblings tell me--that they ask the intercession of specific saints on my husband’s and my behalf. I then invited my prayer warriors to bring a medal of their specific saint to the wedding and tie it onto my bouquet before I walked down the aisle.

I can’t tell you how touching it was to receive so many medals on my wedding day and to feel the weight of my bouquet carrying the symbols of many prayers. Since the bouquet was too large to preserve, it became especially significant to have those medals long after the flowers and greenery faded.

Stories of married saints

As I planned my wedding, I began seeking out saints who were called to the vocation of marriage: Saints Gianna Molla, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Jane Frances de Chantal just scratch the surface of many amazing married women. I found it incredibly powerful to study the lives of Catholic wives who lived out their vocation with such holiness.

I also learned of many married couples who are both saints! While Joseph and Mary are the epitome of a holy marriage, there are a variety of others to learn from: Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, Joachim and Anne, and Blessed Charles of Austria and his wife, Servant of God Zita, are just a few from whom I drew inspiration. Learning about these holy relationships is a great way to reflect on your hopes for your own marriage.

Litany of the Saints

When picking Mass music, my friend chose the Litany of the Saints to be sung while grandparents, parents, and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. She and her fiancé were able to pick some of their favorite saints to include in the litany, making it particularly personal. While not a traditional piece for a wedding, I found it a beautiful testimony to watch the couple’s closest friends and family escorted down the aisle as their closest friends in Heaven were called on to intercede.

Our brothers and sisters in heaven are such a wonderful aspect of the Catholic faith. What are ways you have seen them included in weddings?


About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   

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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

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Considerations and Tips for a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Do you have plans to invite many children to your wedding?

The decision of whether to include, limit, or omit kids from your guest list is a personal choice, one unique to your relationships and directly affected by your wedding budget, venue, and time of day.

If you and your beloved are currently working out which--if any--younger friends or family members might be invited to your celebration, it’s useful to consider particular realities for the parents in your life. You might be the oldest in a large family, for instance, or have many recently married friends with babies. Parents’ ease of traveling long distances or arranging childcare can be a major factor in their ability to attend your big day and is worth bearing in mind.

Whatever your call, the temptation to fear is real: how can you avoid wounding guests or prodding sensitive relationships while maintaining healthy boundaries around your decisions? It truly can be hard to feel a sense of freedom when so many others’ expectations influence your actions.

As with many wedding-related choices, it’s helpful to discern with sensitivity, move forward with prudence and conviction, and strive for peace over attempting to please everyone. Chances are, guests who have been through the wedding planning experience themselves--especially in more recent memory--will be reasonably disposed to your choices regarding kids, understanding financial constraints and the challenges of managing a chorus of opinions and expectations.

For Catholic couples in particular, concern might arise in the heart that excluding children from your wedding--whether by necessity or choice, or even de facto circumstances--conveys a closed-off attitude to life. But don’t let yourselves believe that. Openness to life involves so much more than who is or isn’t on the guest list.

If, however, you and your fiancé do decide to have children attend, their presence is a visual testament to the fruits of married love and to your families’ history in the making, across generations. There are no guarantees they’ll behave perfectly, eat everything placed in front of them, keep their best outfits spotless. In a way, that’s the point. The family is a beautiful mess; a cenacle of growth through its very imperfection.

That said, having kids at your wedding isn’t without challenges. Here, our suggestions for cultivating a kid--and parent--friendly atmosphere.

Offer materials for the liturgy.

A month or two before your wedding, ask friends and family members to loan you any Bibles, prayer books, and religious picture books for children to page through during the Mass. Place the books in a basket near the entrance of the chapel, and designate a family member to offer them as guests arrive and regather them at the end.

If possible or necessary, consider kids when booking.

If you anticipate early on that your guests have a significant number of kids, consider keeping their needs in mind as you make your plans. A reception venue with an outdoor area, for example, facilitates play and breaks for kids and makes it easier and more feasible for young parents to attend. Serving a buffet-style meal rather than individual entrées is usually more cost-efficient.

Enlist help.

Hiring high school or college-age babysitters to assist with on-site childcare can result in a lower-stress evening for both parents and children--younger siblings of your close friends or members of your parish’s youth group are a good choice for this role. Provide activities like coloring, books, Polaroid or disposable cameras, bubbles, and board games.

Create a space for downtime.

If the layout of your reception venue allows, creating a nearby area for kids to rest or decompress is a welcome gesture. A downtime space might be as simple as blankets, snacks, and Netflix; a few chairs for nursing mothers are also thoughtful.

Encourage kids’ participation in your guest book.

Childlike faith is more than a figure of speech. For some children, your wedding might be the first they’ve attended; a glimpse of romance and joy that stirs the heart, and an experience more formal and special than their everyday . A sign inviting them to write (or dictate) a message to the bride and groom is sure to elicit humor; and most likely, wisdom.

We love the opportunity to walk beside you in the steps toward your vocation that will end--and begin--at the altar, with the help of so many like-minded sisters. Brides, we want to hear from you in the comments and on our social media: have you and your beloved struggled to come up with guidelines for inviting children to your wedding? How did you approach it, and if you had them attend, what measures helped make the day more kid and parent-friendly?

3 Tips for Choosing Your Mass Music

CLARE SIMILIE

 

Picking the readings and the music for your wedding Mass is an opportunity to show the beauty of the sacrament. And while it can be fun to choose the music, it can also be a daunting task. There is no end to options for liturgical music and if you haven’t grown up singing in a Church Choir, you may not know where to begin. Here, some helpful tips and suggestions to get you started.

Talk with your fiancé.

Do you imagine all the Mass parts sung in Latin? Do family members have strong opinions about what instruments belong inside a Church? Many of our Church music preferences have been deeply ingrained in us from our Mass-going days throughout our lives. You may assume your fiancé wants, for instance, to walk down the aisle to a guitar Matt Maher song like you do, when in reality he envisions Gregorian chant. You never know until you discuss it! If your tastes differ, be willing to compromise, like opting for a traditional Ave Maria along with a more modern Offertory hymn.

Get on the same page with your Music Director.

While it’s good to have some idea what music you and your fiancé like, having your parish’s  Music Director on board will ease much of the selection process. Many parishes have a guide with certain rules about what pieces you’re permitted to use--for example, did you know Wagner’s “Heres comes the Bride” is not used at Catholic Weddings? It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the rules beforehand to prevent any conflict. Then, have an open mind! Chances are, the director has been doing this a long time and will have great advice and suggestions.

Research, research, research.

Once you know what the both of you are drawn to and have guidelines from your Music Director, it’s time for the fun part: actually choosing the music. If you don’t even know where to start, think back to your experiences at Mass: Are there any songs that particularly move you? Ones you love grabbing the hymnal and singing along to? You might also consider asking recently married friends about their selections. Put together a Spotify list of any potential songs, and once you have lots of options, take a day to go through the list together and pick some favorites. If you are still stuck, below is a list of suggestions:

 
 

In the end, your wedding Mass, including the music, is a prayer you are offering to God. The beauty of music lifts our souls higher. If you approach your selections with that in mind, you will not fail.


About the Author: Clare Smillie works in development for her diocese's local social service. She is passionate in her work for the Church and enjoys volunteering with her parish and Young Adult Group, and is looking forward to her Summer 2018 wedding. Clare and her fiancé, both graduates of Thomas Aquinas College, bonded over their love of Aquinas, G.K Chesterton and C.S Lewis. Her current favorite saint is Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, a.k.a. Edith Stein, and is inspired by Theresa's love of the intellectual life and pursuit of truth. Clare loves her home state of Montana and is a (very) amateur wedding cake baker.

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Vendor Spotlight | Gloriam Marketing

Sometimes, within your vocation, another call can arise and bear fruit. One bride’s wedding planning experience brought a uniquely personal and practical new dimension to her business.

In her eight years of working at a parish, Emily Ricci sensed a need: when unequipped with marketing essentials like attractive bulletins and fliers, she realized, it was easy to see why some perceive the Church as out of touch and not with the times. “In my experience,” she says, “evangelization and marketing go hand in hand.” The product, in this case, is Jesus Christ. While working in marketing for her alma mater, Emily founded Gloriam Marketing, providing marketing, consulting, and event planning services to Catholic churches throughout her home state of New York and beyond

When Emily married her husband Aaron in June 2017, she worked long and hard on Mass programs, but struggled to come up with wording for the reception of Communion, concerned about being as welcoming as possible to non-Catholic guests while still speaking the truth. “This was the one opportunity I would have to evangelize to our many family and friends who would be in attendance,” she shares. “The more I considered this idea, the more I realized my wedding provided not only an opportunity to explain the Eucharist to our family and friends, but also the entirety of a Catholic wedding: Why do Catholic weddings take place in a church? Why do we exchange rings? Why do Catholics view marriage as a sacrament, and what does that mean? I began to write, and soon it turned into a double-sided insert that went inside of our program for guests to read while waiting for the Mass to start. In these explanations, I attempted to approach the ‘rules’ with humor and acceptance, striving to really show our guests how welcome they were; explaining what was going on during the Mass, especially for those who may not have been familiar with Catholic traditions.”

The inserts were a hit. Numerous guests suggested Emily create similar text and inserts for other couples, and there began Gloriam’s wedding services. The company offers design and printing for Catholic wedding programs, as well as custom inserts detailing the Mass and ceremony, for both local and remote couples, each infused with Emily’s attention to clients’ individual aesthetic and needs.

 From Emily: What's unique about Gloriam is that unlike other designers and printers, I have a background in the Catholic faith, so I can work one-on-one with a client to make sure the information being presented is both beautifully designed and true to our faith. I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in theology, so I come at the creative process with the ability to work from both a design and theological standpoint with each client. Clients don't have to worry about coming up with content on their own; I work with each and every bride or groom on wording (I also have a degree in English, with a concentration in writing), language, and ensuring everything is theologically sound.

A major advantage of this work is that it can be done completely via email or Skype. Clients do not have to be from my area or even from the United States, which results in one less thing for couples to worry about during an already hectic time packed with other vendor meetings. 

I look at each project I take on as an opportunity from God to give him glory. As a recent bride myself, I recognize the stress each bride and groom are under to make their wedding day perfect, and appreciate helping make their day memorable with attention to details. As a society, I hope to see more couples witness to what a God-given marriage looks like. I like to think through my work, I am helping them in that witness.

An interview with Emily

Hometown: Wappinger Falls, New York

Favorite saint: Saint Marie of the Incarnation. She’s my confirmation saint!

What is your favorite thing about working on weddings? Working on a wedding program gets me all nostalgic about my own wedding. And I love being a small part of the evangelization my couples will bring through their marriages! 

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Mystic, Connecticut. I used to go there for retreats with my family each year on Enders Island. Gorgeous.

On my bucket list: Trying out for The Voice. 

My favorite wedding-day memory: My father-in-law, who is extremely quiet and shy, grabbing my hand and taking me out on the dance floor at our reception. It should probably be something about my husband, but that is the first thing that pops into my mind because it was so unexpected. Romantically, my favorite moment was leaning over during the Mass and whispering to Aaron, "We're married!"

 Love means…Sacrifice. Sacrifice until it no longer feels like sacrifice.

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4 Scripts for Explaining Catholic Wedding Traditions to Friends + Family

As you plan your Catholic wedding, you might find friends and family inquiring about the reasons underlying particular marriage traditions in the Church. We’ve been there, and want to be here for you. Often, the default response might be to answer in a defensive way--we defend that which we fiercely love--as we assume anyone asking a question is asking from a place of skepticism or judgment.

While that might be true in some cases, you might find yourself surprised by how many individuals simply have a spirit of curiosity about the Catholic faith and its rituals. Modeling your love after the crucifixion, holding an hour-plus ceremony, and including formal prayer in your wedding are, in many ways, countercultural. To those whom Catholic weddings are unfamiliar, the spirit of inquiry is often genuine. Their questions provide a unique opportunity: to explain these matters with charity, candor, and with an invitation to know more and let the goodness, beauty, and natural reason of the Church speak for itself.

Below, four common questions regarding Catholic wedding liturgies, and how you might answer. We hope you find these points help you articulate why you’ve chosen to marry in the Church, what sets it apart, and most importantly, that they provide the seeds of truly fruitful conversation.

Or perhaps the spirit of curiosity is where you, yourself, are. Questions about the Catholic faith are good; an opening of a new door, not a closing off to inquiry, and an opportunity to learn and contemplate. We hope the questions and answers below offer you the start of greater understanding and critical thought.

Why do you have to get married in an actual church?

It’s not that a a beautiful garden, hotel, or oceanfront venue is an unromantic or insignificant place to profess your lifelong commitment to each other. When Catholics say marriage is a sacrament of the Church, they’re saying they believe earthly things--in this case, the vows spoken by the bride and groom--can literally be transformed by God into something different than what they once were. Once the marriage is consummated, the words spoken at the altar are transformed into a permanent bond breakable only by death.

Because of that belief in sacramental realities, which take place in God’s presence, it makes sense that the sacrament needs to actually take place in his presence. Where is the Lord really, truly present? It’s true that he is all around us in the created world and that prayer can happen anywhere. Yet for Catholics, who believe bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, he is there in a real, metaphysical way in the tabernacle of every church--there resides the Eucharist and there, we believe, resides the living Jesus. It’s amazing to consider that he is there in such a tangible way from the first moments of a bride and groom’s life together.

Speaking of vows, why can’t you write your own?

Every sacrament of the Church has a specific rite that must be followed in order for the sacrament to be valid. If a priest doesn't follow the prescribed language of consecration, for instance, the Eucharist for that Mass is invalid. Getting married is the same: in order for the sacrament to take place; that is, for the couple's bond to literally be transformed and suffused with grace, the bride and groom need to speak the language of the Rite of Marriage. It's more than just inputting certain words and getting out a certain result. It's allowing yourselves and your love to take on something entirely, sacramentally new and humbly inviting God into your life together, knowing it takes three, not two, to live out your promises.

But it’s understandable that a couple might want to express their hopes for how they’ll love and serve each other in marriage in their own words. Those who wish to do that can write down these hopes and intentions in letters to each other or can talk together about them.

What about Mary? Why is a part of the Mass dedicated to her?

When you really want something, it can be helpful to have another person helping you get it. Job referrals and references, personal trainers, and therapists fall into this category.

When Catholics pray for something, they believe the saints--men and women from throughout history who were heroically faithful, in ways large and small--can provide the gift of intercession, which means joining in our prayers and offering them to God alongside us. We hold Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the highest regard among the saints for her making her entire life an unreserved yes to God’s will. In praying to her, therefore she brings us to the Lord. We, and our prayers, grow closer to Jesus, through Mary.

That’s not to say every prayer of a person’s heart is answered in exactly the way and time they hope, simply because they prayed for Mary’s intercession, but that her prayers for us, her children, are a great gift. When husband and wife kneel before her during their wedding Mass, they bring their lives to her, asking her to pray for them like any other mother might pray for her children, and to strengthen them in love.

Who’s walking you down the aisle? If not your dad, why?

Although a priest celebrates a couple’s wedding Mass, marriage is actually the only sacrament of the Church wherein the bride and groom, not a priest, actually administer the sacrament. The minister of the sacrament typically processes into the church last, so for couples who choose to acknowledge this, they walk into the church together. For those who do a first look, or who choose to meet for the first time before the procession, it can beautifully signify the bride and groom’s shared role in the sacrament and promises they’re about to enter into.

Couples are also free to choose the tradition of walking in with both parents, or for the bride to process in with her father, which in no way diminishes the couple’s role in the sacrament or their equality as people.

If these outlines for your conversations are helpful, we’d love to know! Share with us, in the comments and on our social media, any other areas of Catholic weddings and marriage for which you’d welcome talking points.

Read more apologetics-related matters:

Explaining the Eucharist to your guests | Talking with friends about cohabitation, Part I | Part II Navigating the revised Rite of Marriage

Our Best of 2017

Thanks to the beautiful vulnerability and generosity of spirit given by each of you in the Spoken Bride community, it’s been our honor to share such precious parts of your hearts, and ours, in 2017. Here, as we close this year, a look back at our featured love stories and a collection of our favorite posts.

haute-stock-photography-blush-black-celebration-final-25.jpg

As you plan your nuptial liturgy

Practical and spiritual wedding planning tips

Prayer

If you’re in need of encouragement

As you plan your honeymoon

You are a bride, a beloved. Cherish this sacred time.

 
 

From us to you, thank you for taking part in Spoken Bride's ministry, whether through your social media interaction, your submissions, your patronage of our Catholic wedding vendors, or simply through having clicked over to the site. All glory and thanks to the one whose hand has guided this mission and brought you here. We sincerely hope the words and images you've found here have been a source of authenticity and beauty in your heart, your spiritual life, and your relationship. Be assured of our prayers as we, like you, strive for heaven in this vocation of marriage. We’re grateful and eager to continue serving you and sharing in sisterhood in 2018!