Emily + Jose | Romantic Candlelit Rose Wedding

There is something so beautiful about the nuptial Mass and the heavenly celebration of two lives becoming one. There are graces in engagement and the marriage sacrament that transform broken hearts. 

Emily didn’t know what would happen next. Recovering from a previous relationship and loss of a job, she fell back on prayer. Then, through the intercession of St. Joseph and the courage to jump into community, Emily met Jose. The rest is history.

From the Bride: I made one of the hardest decisions of my life when I called off my engagement to an emotionally abusive fiancé and moved back home with my parents at 27 years old. And despite having amazing colleagues at work, I was not feeling fulfilled at my job either, which made the transition harder. 

During the following fall, I prayed constant novenas to St. Joseph asking for a purposeful, meaningful job. A few months later in December, I found out I was being laid off, and my last day would be in January. Even though I wasn’t in love with my job, I knew I needed to work, but nothing piqued my interest. 

So I kept praying. My mom knew I was developing a special devotion to St. Joseph and gave me a special bracelet with his icon on it as a little gift to cheer me up.

Around the same time, I found a new parish and began attending their young adult group. I’m a natural introvert, but I knew I needed to be around other people my age for support. I decided to sign up as a volunteer for a new event held at a local, historic theatre that recurred monthly,  because I knew the accountability meant I wouldn’t bail last-minute (a bad habit of mine). After the event I left on “Jesus high.” I loved feeling like I was a part of a community, of something greater than myself.

I was surprised to get a phone call the next day from a guy I had talked to the night before, asking me out to dinner, and I accepted! I had enjoyed talking to him and figured it wouldn't hurt to get to know him a little better--and yet I did not want a boyfriend. It sounds cheesy, but I didn't think I could find anyone who would make me happy and feel loved without any hidden agenda.

Jose brought the smile back to my face and the sparkle back into my eyes. We were very open and honest with each other from the start, since I learned just how important communication was from my last relationship. Most importantly, I looked forward to going to Mass with him on Sundays, something that I never thought would be so meaningful to me. 

A few weeks after I started dating Jose, I realized that Jose means Joseph in Spanish. Coincidence?

Several months later, I was hired by the organization that put on the young adult ministry event and ironically became one of the main people in charge of running it. Since Jose and I met at the theatre and spent a lot of time there, he decided it would be the perfect place to propose.

He contacted one of my colleagues who put him in contact with the event manager at the theater. The event manager then contacted me to come in and go over event details on a Sunday afternoon. I arrived for the “meeting” at the adjoining restaurant, and my manager asked if I wanted to go inside to listen to a band while they were doing their sound check. I thought, “sure, but won’t it be a little loud to talk?” After a few minutes inside the theatre, we headed back out where Jose was anxiously waiting.

He nervously turned me around and showed me the marquee where “Emily, will you marry me?” was written and got down on one knee. His whole family and my parents (along with restaurant diners across the street) were there to witness the joyous occasion. A champagne toast at the restaurant’s rooftop followed, and then we all went to the restaurant where we had our first date to celebrate our engagement! 

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As a former secular wedding coordinator, I hate to admit it, but I was hesitant to have a full Mass. Only about a third of our guests were Catholic and wouldn’t know what was going on. I also worried they would complain about the length of the ceremony. I spent twelve months of our fifteen-month engagement wrapped up in other details like most brides do: flowers, color palettes, catering, and on and on.

I felt like once I had my dress, the aesthetic details would fall into place. One of my old colleagues, Brittany, worked at a bridal boutique and told me about a trunk show they were having. I sent her pictures of dresses I liked and told her what I did not want. I wanted something not as “traditional” that reflected my personality, so when my guests saw me in my dress they would say, “that’s so Emily!” 

I have heard of people (or while watching too much “Say Yes to the Dress”) trying on twenty or more dresses, so I was expecting to visit several shops before I found “the one.” I must have been an exception, because it didn’t take me long to find my dress. In fact, it was the first one I tried on! The dress was not normally for sale, but it was brought in specifically for the trunk show that weekend. It had a crocheted lace top and a loose, chiffon bottom that had vertical panels of the same lace all around. It was meant to be. 

I never imagined wearing a long veil--I thought they were for royalty getting married in castles--but the church we were getting married in had the most beautiful, long aisle. I felt it would be a disservice not to have a long veil. The one I tried on when I bought my dress wasn’t long enough, so I chose to have it custom made to the cathedral length I wanted. It was an unexpected expense, but even my frugal mother felt it was worth it for my special day. 

One of my favorite details was the broach I pinned on my bouquet. It was given to my maternal grandmother from my grandfather on their wedding day and also worn by my mother when she married my father.

Then, a few months before the wedding, something unexpected happened. All of the superficial details and feelings of self-consciousness about the ceremony went on the back burner as Jose and I began planning our liturgy. We both became enamored with choosing the readings and music. We didn’t want it to feel “predictable,” and we wanted to make it our own, which I worried would be difficult with the pre-selected readings and music limitations to choose from. So we took our time, carefully studying each of the readings and psalms to decide which ones reflected our relationship with God as a couple.

Two weeks before the wedding I was at my parent’s house, and my mom, feeling nostalgic, pulled out a few things from her own wedding. As I scanned over the program, I thought the Gospel reading looked familiar. It turned out the Gospel reading we chose (John 15: 12-16) picked up from the verse where my parents had left off (John 15: 9-12). It was such a special surprise from the Holy Spirit.

I sprained my left wrist a week before the wedding. Other than the bruising, I worried how I was going to get everything done before the big day. No matter how prepared you are, there are some things you just can’t do in advance (like buying fresh popcorn for hotel welcome bags). 

I feel like God was telling me to slow down and ask for help, two things I am not good at. So instead of dwelling in pity, I made the situation as comical as I could. My dad and I joked about buying a brace to match my dress, and my mom told me I got all the “day-of mishaps” out of the way early. 

It was such a lesson in humility. Having your almost-husband tie your shoes and people open bottles for you really puts little things into perspective. As much as my naturally independent spirit wants to believe it, I can’t do everything alone. A beautiful representation of this was stated in our first reading, Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.”

It also reminds me that marriage is not something I can do on my own. You need the love and support of others. You need God. You need to sit back and listen to him when the world is loud, and you want to give in to what is popular, which is often not from him.

When the big day finally arrived, we were married at the church where we met almost two years before. Jose and I opted out of a first look, but exchanged hand-written cards and prayed together before the ceremony. 

Though “Canon in D” is a very common bridal processional, I got chills when the organist first played it during our engagement. I was reminded of how I had always pictured myself walking down the aisle to that song, and I didn’t care how many other brides made it their grand entrance. Other pieces that added meaningful touches to our ceremony were “I am the Bread of Life,” “Oh God Beyond All Praising,” and “Ave Maria” when we offered roses and prayers to Mary.

Meanwhile, Jose was persistent that we would have the full sacrament, and for that I am forever grateful. I designed our programs to note when to sit, stand, and kneel, and our deacon helped explain different parts of the liturgy to our guests. 

Throughout the whole ceremony, I felt like it was just the two of us on the altar, and my last thought was what others were thinking.

One of the biggest blessings of the day was that Jose’s uncle, a bishop from Mexico, was able to celebrate our nuptial Mass. He spoke of his brother, Jose’s father, who passed away several years ago from cancer. His mother carried a rose in remembrance of him and placed it where he would have sat during the ceremony. Even though nothing could replace him being there physically, we felt his presence during the Mass and throughout the day.

Everyone says that weddings go by fast, and it did. It felt like an out-of-body experience. We were surrounded by family, friends, and most importantly, Jesus. The day was a true celebration of joining two vastly different lives and cultures into one. It wasn’t just the end of my countdown app, but the beginning of a beautiful, God-centered life together.

Photography: Megan Eidson | Church: St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church | Dallas, TX | Reception: Howell & Dragon | Dallas, TX | Videographer: Chevy Chey Photography  | Flowers: Lizzie Bee’s Flower Shoppe  | Caterer: CN Catering | Invitations: Vista | Bride’s Dress (Pronovias)/Veil (Bel Aire): Lulu’s Bridal Boutique  | Bride’s Earrings: PeonyandPearlWedding | Bridesmaid’s Attire (bill Levkoff): Molly’s Bridal  | Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Banks | Rings – engagement: Shapiro Diamonds  | Rings – wedding bands: Zales  | Cake Baker: Arielle Pastry Works | Hair: Brittainy Boggs | Music – Ceremony: Michael Conrady | Music – Reception: Vida Weddings and Events  | Coordination: Stacey Williams

Anna + Greg | Southern Vintage Hometown Wedding

From the Photographer: Anna Paige is a sweet, caring Southern lady from Arkansas, and Greg is a kind man who hails from way up north in Wisconsin! The two met while serving with  Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

From the Bride: Greg and I met during a year of service with Amate House through the Archdiocese of Chicago. Greg lived in a community of volunteers on the north side of Chicago, and I lived on the south side, but we would see each other during weekly volunteer meetings and other social gatherings. 

From the Groom: Anna Paige and I were volunteers in the same AmeriCorps program. We first met at a block party where I tried really hard to be cool and interesting while I “chatted her up.”

Bride:One of my first memories with Greg happened over Labor Day weekend. Our community of volunteers from Amate House met up for the jazz festival in Millennium Park and afterwards planned to watch the fireworks on Navy Pier. On the way to the pier we “accidentally” got separated from the rest of the group and ended up watching the fireworks alone together from the shoreline. That whole year was full of special moments of excitement and growth together.  We both knew from early on that we had found the person we wanted to spend our lives with.

Greg and I would go to Mass together almost every weekend in Chicago. There are so many beautiful churches to choose from, and it was always the highlight of my week. From Old St. Pat’s to St. Clement to St. Sabina, there were many great communities to worship with. Those Sunday mornings together really solidified our relationship, and Mass has remained an important part of our week. 

After our year of service ended, Greg and I went back to our home states. I got a job back in Arkansas, and he planned to move back to Wisconsin. 

However, that summer Greg sacrificed his plans of moving to Milwaukee to move to Arkansas to be closer to me. His selflessness has always been so amazing to me. He is accepting, encouraging, and loving. Greg always says, “You get to be the face of Christ to others.” I am thankful for his wisdom.

After a year of trying out new jobs and figuring out our career paths, Greg proposed to me. He asked me to go to a state park one Saturday morning, which was a totally normal thing for us to do. We walked around a lake in the park, and I noticed that Greg’s hands were ice cold despite the summer heat. I didn’t know that his hands were cold from nerves. At a certain point on the path, Greg bent down to look at a “cool rock,” and when he turned around he had the ring in his hands. It was simple and sweet, and I said yes!

We decided to get married in the small church where I grew up in the Arkansas delta. It is the same church where my sister, brother, and grandparents married, so it made the day even more special. 

We felt so loved on our wedding day. So many of our family and friends from all over the country joined us for the ceremony. Greg’s family from Wisconsin, our friends from our year in Chicago, and my friends and family journeyed to my little hometown to celebrate with us. 

The most important part of our wedding was that God would be honored through our vows and through the intimate gathering of our family and friends in his church. We sang “Lord of all Hopefulness” during the ceremony, and when the sound of the congregation filled the church I felt a profound peace. 

Groom: Our life together is pure wonderment. She’s my best friend and partner-in-crime through thick and thin.

From the Photographer: The wedding was on a perfect fall day. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is the bride's home parish where her family members have been united in marriage for years, so it was only fitting that her and Greg chose to be married there as well. 

The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has old, squeaky floors that have been worn by decades of priests’ and parishioners’ prayers. The stained glass windows let in lovely light in the afternoon. The altar is center-stage once 5 PM hits, surrounded by a stunning sanctuary for Christ with beautiful representations of the Holy Family. 

Greg and Anna Paige both wanted to honor their Catholic faith, choosing a full Mass, with organ and violin accompaniment. Guests were close family and friends, while more friends awaited them at their reception due to the occupancy limits of the church. 

The bride's gown was purchased just around the corner from the church at Low's. It had beautiful ivory lace with beading throughout. The groom chose a simple black suit, allowing full attention to be on his precious bride.

What struck me throughout the entire wedding process with Greg and Anna Paige was how kind and sincere they both are. When anyone spoke to them, they listened with their full attention. While this may be part of their personality, some of this must come from their Catholic faith. 

We also saw how valued they are by their friends and family. People were thrilled to see them wed and to celebrate this union with them! The entire process was very God-honoring, beautiful,  and joyfully celebratory.

Photography: McDuff Photography | Church: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Brinkley, Arkansas | Reception: Brinkley Convention Center| Dress: Low's Bridal

Bridget + KC | Traditional Christmas Octave Wedding

During a carpool to a retreat at a dinnertime pit stop, Bridget and KC met in a Wendy's checkout line as sophomores in college.

During the retreat, they bonded over The Food Network, dishwashing, and prayer. These conversations sparked a wonderful friendship. They looked forward to running into each other at their St. Paul University Catholic Center, and KC walked Bridget to her car each evening to make sure she was safe.

One afternoon after daily Mass, KC asked her on a date. Bridget thought about how much she appreciated him asking in person, and specifically "on a date" before enthusiastically saying yes. They went to a pumpkin patch and corn maze and were amazed to spend six hours together without a single lull in conversation.

After some prayer and discernment, they officially started dating a few weeks later.

From the Bride: For the next two years our “ongoing date” was trying to visit as many churches as we could. At each location we prayed in, we picked up a rock from outside the church and numbered it. Looking back on these rocks, we like to think about the churches and the prayers they represent. They are the rocks we have built our relationship with, like the reflection in Matthew 7.

During this time, I was able to spend two weeks visiting KC while he studied abroad. We went to Italy for Holy Week and spent Good Friday in Assisi. We even attended the Easter Vigil in St Peter's. Being in Rome for Easter was such an amazing opportunity for prayer, joy, and discernment for our relationship’s future.

While we were long-distance, we also scheduled holy hours together, taking into account the time difference, so that we could still pray together. Being united in prayer made the distance more bearable.

KC proposed in September 2016 at St Mary’s of Pine Bluff church. The proposal was at the end of a scavenger hunt for letters that each included a puzzle piece. When I found him in front of the altar he said, "I think you have some puzzle pieces. We work best together as a team, will you help me put it together?"

The puzzle read "Will you marry me?" and KC asked me, "Bridget, would you do me the honor of allowing me to love you into heaven?" I obviously said "yes!

Our engagement seemed like a long one, but the whole time it was apparent that Christ was still working on our hearts and helping us to become better versions of ourselves so we could be the best spouses for each other. Every aspect of our marriage prep highlighted areas we still needed to grow personally and spiritually. We named Sts. Francis and Claire patrons of our engagement.

Planning a wedding together was so much fun, and I was very excited to have KC's enthusiastic help in the process, especially with the nuptial Mass.

Our main goal and theme of our Mass was "verso l'alto" (an Italian phrase made famous by Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that means “to the top” or “towards the heights”). We wanted everything to point to Christ and to give glory to God.

When meeting with our main celebrant, Fr. Eric Sternberg, he asked us, "What is our goal here? Have a beautiful Mass and a fun party, or knock everyone’s socks off by being a tool of evangelization and praise the Most High God?" We laughed a little, not really seeing the difference, and said "both?" He chuckled a little and responded, "right answer, I am so excited."

We knew we were lucky to be married at St. Paul’s, the university chapel where our relationship began and grew. Additionally, we told Fr. Eric the more smells, bells, and gold we could incorporate, the better. Our wedding was planned to take place within the octave of Christmas, so why not? Not only were we receiving a sacrament, we were also celebrating Christ's birth!

My family has been blessed to have many priest friends, several of whom are godfathers to my siblings, so naturally they had to be included in the Mass. The total number of celebrants came to seven, plus a deacon. We had hoped to have Bishop Morlino there too, a good friend of my family, but we were not able to extend an invitation before his passing in November. Our Mass was served by several seminarian friends and two of my brothers.  

KC and I wanted to make sure there was a lot of symbolism and tradition in the Mass, even if only the two of us noticed or knew about it.

For example, both of our rings are custom-made. KC’s ring was crafted with a band of gold from his mom's old wedding ring and set between two bands of silver from her purity ring. His growth and spiritual life was kindled by his mother. Now it is my responsibility to support and care for him in this vocation.

My engagement ring has his mom's diamond from her same old wedding band, and my wedding band has fifteen tiny diamonds that I associate with a number of spiritual references: the fifteen prayers of St Bridget, my patron saint, the fifteen original mysteries of the rosary, and the fourteen stations of the cross, plus the resurrection.

My bridal colors we also chosen for religious symbolism: burgundy for the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen's ties with gold as an accent. Not only was our wedding within the octave of Christmas (and those are both great Christmas colors), it was on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and we decided on red for those precious martyrs. Shades of red also symbolized devotion to the Sacred Heart, which runs through our family and social circle.

KC and I had a candle lit in the sanctuary with Bishop Morlino's photo in memory of him, and our recessional hymn, “O God Beyond All Praising,” was partially chosen with him in mind, since it was one of his favorites.

We also memorized our vows, rather than repeating after the priest. KC and I wanted to make sure our vows were ones that we knew forward and backward and fully understood what they meant. It was a little weird to practice our vows with each other in the months before our wedding, so we replaced "husband" and "wife" in the first line with "friend" while we practiced.

At our wedding, we both almost said “friend,” and it was funny for the two of us, even though no one else knew! But it was very worth it, and we still hold hands once in a while and repeat our vows to each other.

The Mass was celebrated ad orientem, and we incorporated many Latin responses. Readings were chosen with Theology of the Body in mind and as much foreshadowing of the heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb as possible. The gospel reading (Jn 2:1-11) is one of our favorites because it contains the last recorded words of Mary: "Do whatever He tells you." They are a good command for us to remember as we begin our life together following God's plan.

We each had a holy hour the morning of the wedding and went to confession the night before. My father walked with me to the bride and groom’s "first look." KC and I wanted to process into the church together, so in order to still give my dad the opportunity to "give the bride away," we had him escort me then.

After our first look, my parents gathered with us to share a prayer they had written for us. KC and I read our letters to each other and prayed together for a brief, special moment. Then, just before starting the processional, my bridesmaids prayed over me.  

The Mass was a dream. Everything went smoothly; our musicians (all music majors and two opera/musical theater majors) were phenomenal.  KC says that our friend Ben put Andrea Bocelli to shame with his Ave Maria for our Marian consecration, which was the final day of our 33 Days to Morning Glory renewal. There was so much joy, peace, and excitement for both of us as we knelt and prayed after communion.

One of the priests told us afterwards that seeing the joy and radiance on our faces as we prayed gave him so much hope for the future and deepened his flame of love for his own bride, the Church.

We didn't share our first kiss at the altar. Rather, we snuck off for a few moments alone in one of the spiritual direction rooms in the basement of the Newman Center. Those moments were so important for us to share our joy, prayers, and thoughts from Mass and to take a deep breath before family photos and being passed around from guest to guest the rest of the evening.

Our honeymoon was in Italy, where we made another pilgrimage to Assisi to thank Sts. Francis and Claire for their intercession in our engagement and to Rome for the Sposi Novelli blessing.

Wedding planning can be a lot of fun if you are striving to have a celebration that reflects goodness, truth, and beauty. KC and I encountered our own share of spiritual warfare, but because God always comes through on his promises, we received many, many comments from our priests and our guests about how peaceful everything and everyone was.

We could feel that peace too. When we trust the Lord, really trust him to take care of things and to have a better plan than we have, everything works out, and it brings joy and light to other people's personal and spiritual lives.

Photography: Wild Elegance LLC | Church: St. Paul's University Catholic Center | Reception: St. Paul's University Catholic Center | Rings: Diny's Diamonds (Madison, WI) | Dress: Brides N Belles (Reedsburg, WI) | Veil: JJ's House | Shoes: Amazon, Overstock | Brides Jewelry: Handmade | Groom's Suit: JC Penney | Cake: To Di For (Stoughton, WI) | Hair and MU: The Posh Beauty Bar, done by Katrina (Stoughton, WI) | Caterer: Blue Plate Catering | DJ: Midwest Sound DJs | Flowers: DIY, purchased through Costco floral | Girls dresses and mens suits were purchased on their own. Men's ties were from Amazon. | Invitation Suite: By the bride

Resi + Jason | Fairytale-Inspired Filipino Wedding

For Resi and Jason, what began as an unlikely online match turned into something so much more.

By the time they reached the altar, their courtship had transformed both their spiritual lives and taught them a more Christ-like meaning of love and marriage. Their wedding reflected the beauty of the sacrament, a deep appreciation for their families’ culture, and the beginning of their vocational path to heaven.

From the Bride: My husband, Jason, and I met in one of the most unexpected, probably “least-Christian” ways: through Tinder, the dating app! Fortunately, he was the first and only person I ever met online.

I am a “cradle Catholic,” but if it wasn’t for my husband and his family, I might not be Catholic today. After going through another breakup, I prayed to God for someone to love, but only if he thought I was ready. I felt that I was. Not long after that prayer, I met the man who would become my husband.

They say not to talk about religion on the first date, but we did. I was exploring non-denominational Christianity, and Jason was a lukewarm Catholic. In spite of this, he invited me to go to Mass with him one Sunday a few weeks into our courtship.

I had not been to Mass in a long time, but I agreed. It was the first time I had been invited to church by a man I was dating. It would be the first of many Masses together at the church where we would be married, but I didn’t know that at the time.

His older sister was also a big influence in my return to the Catholic faith. She introduced me to the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly that sparked a fire in my search for truth. Since then we have all been growing together in understanding and love of the faith we were raised in.

Jason proposed on Christmas Eve 2016 while we were opening gifts with his family, two and a half years into our relationship. My family was unable to make it to dinner, but I was on the phone with them immediately after it happened. About a year and a half later, we were married on May 12, 2018 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Poway, California.

The theme for our wedding was “simple, elegant, and fun.” We are both huge Disney fans, so we wanted it to have a fairytale touch without overspending on insignificant details. We both come from large Filipino families as well, so we had a grand celebration with around 220 guests!

I chose two matrons of honor, and my husband had two best men. All four were equally special to us and played a significant role in our relationship. My six bridesmaids wore floor length burgundy dresses, and the flower girls wore ivory and gold. Jason’s six groomsmen picked burgundy-patterned neckties, and our fathers wore black bow ties. My handsome groom decided on a blend with a burgundy-patterned bow tie.

I found my wedding dress on an unexpected shopping trip with my sister-in-law. It was love at first sight!

Women my size, petite (4’11”), are commonly advised not to wear ball gowns because they tend to overwhelm us. But this is not always so. I almost didn’t try on a ball gown, but my stylish future-sister-in-law insisted I try one on for fun--and how fun it was to wear! I was debating between that and a figure flattering dress when the stylist came out with a big ruffled ball gown skirt to wear over a sequined mermaid style dress. It was the best of both worlds!

I wore the overskirt for the ceremony until the start of the reception. I truly felt like a bride and a princess. It was so big that after taking pre-ceremony pictures with it, I had to remove it, take it with me, and put it on again at church.

The shoes I chose to wear were also special. They were the same ones I wore for my 26th birthday, the day Jason and I officially became a couple.

Jason is the last of his siblings to get married. We were so blessed that our celebrant, Father Mel Monreal, is a close friend of his family; he celebrated all my husband’s siblings’ nuptial Masses as well.

Choosing how to walk down the aisle was another decision that took some thought. I wanted my entrance to represent coming to the altar of my own free will, but I also wanted to have both my parents walk beside me. We decided to, literally, meet in the middle. I went solo for the first half down the aisle and was then accompanied by my parents the rest of the way.

Jason and I did not do a pre-ceremony “first look.” While neither of us shed a tear during the procession, the moment we said our vows was a different story.

Our priest allowed us to step into the sanctuary so the entire congregation could more easily witness our vows. As I looked across to the man who was about to become my husband, my throat began to tighten. Realizing that this was the moment we would become one flesh, I was barely able to talk. I could see the emotion in my husband’s eyes as they began to water, just like mine. It was truly a beautiful moment.

At the beginning of our engagement, I learned about Theology of the Body. This completely changed my understanding of marriage and sexuality. My husband was reluctant to accept the theology at first, but after our Engaged Encounter retreat his heart opened, and we vowed to follow the life Christ wanted for us in marriage.

And so, we came to the altar on our wedding day with a deeper understanding of the vows were making to each other and to God. We still remind each other often of these vows and what they mean as we continue to grow deeper in our faith and in our marriage.

Jason and I had a traditional, Filipino Catholic wedding, which means we included coins, a cord, and veil ceremonies. I don’t think many people knew this, but the cord and veil we used were the same ones my parents used in their wedding 31 years ago! The thirteen coins, which are shiny, gold Philippine currency, were given to us by one of my matrons of honor; she had an extra set from her wedding. All of these are symbolic of the everlasting bond, unity, fidelity, and wealth and prosperity (in all forms) that we promise to each other.

After the nuptial Mass, when our coordinators showed us the ballroom before the reception began, I surprised my husband with my form-fitting dress. It was like having another “first look!”

I surprised everyone else during our grand entrance as we shimmied down the hall to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” After our entrance, Jason’s aunt led us in a thoughtful, extemporaneous prayer before dinner. We wanted food to be served during everyone’s toasts so our guests wouldn’t be hungry.

The most memorable thing about the speeches was that they all recognized how God has been at the center of our relationship. My dad even recognized my sister-in-law for playing such a significant role in my spiritual growth. By the end, there was no dry eye left in the reception hall.

Unlike most weddings, our first dance didn’t immediately follow our grand entrance. We decided to wait until after all the toasts and father-daughter/mother-son dances so we could open the dance floor to everyone. It was a nice transition to go from formal dining to dancing.

Before the wedding, Jason and I took dance lessons and modified the choreography to match the music cut by our DJ. We had two different songs: a slow song, “Beautiful As You” by Jim Brickman ft. Wayne Brandy, followed by the upbeat song, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. My husband is known for his dance moves, and he surprised me with a solo dance in between the transition of the two songs. After all the stressful planning, it was fun to have a little surprise!

Our wedding day was such a meaningful, joyful occasion, and it was only the beginning. It went far beyond the aesthetics and making a promise to love one person for the rest of our lives; our wedding wasn’t just about choosing another person to “get through life with.” It was the first day we vowed to lead each other to heaven.

Additionally, our wedding wasn’t just about us. It was about our community and our faith. Our families are now joined together, and we have a whole army of people to lift each other up! In choosing a sacramental marriage, we promised to be an effective sign of God’s love, and we are constantly learning how to love each other as Jesus loves us. In doing so, we hope that when people see us, they are directed towards Jesus and his love for each of us. It is my hope that our faith in God will continue to be deeply reflected in our marriage.

Videographer - Blue Tiger Films

Photography: True Photography | Church: St. Michael's Catholic Church - Poway, California | Reception: Maderas Golf Club | Wedding Dress (& Veil) - Enzoani & Ysa Makino via Here Comes The Bride | Wedding Planner - Lavish Weddings | Rings - San Diego Jewelry Brokers | Hair - Mish Mucho | Lashes - Kailani Blue | Makeup - Kristine Davis | Florist - Tessfresh Flowers | Videographer - Blue Tiger Films | DJ - DreMotion Entertainment | Cake - Jessie's Bake Shop | Bridesmaid Dresses - Mori Lee via 2000 Dreams Bridal

Brooke + Austin | Timeless Autumnal Nebraska Wedding

“If there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From the beginning of their romantic relationship into their new marriage, Brooke and Austin have strove to live in the wisdom of Scripture and the beauty of the sacraments. They know that saying “yes” to a strong relationship with the Lord is a “yes” to greater intimacy as husband and wife.

Their elegant, timeless wedding, centered around the sacrifice of the Mass, shows the joy of a community celebrating the union of this abundantly blessed couple.

From the Bride: Austin and I travelled in the same college friend group for three years. During our junior year, he showed up at my front door and asked to take me out on a date. He wanted to get to know me better.

I knew in that moment that Austin was something special, because you don't see men pursue a woman like that too often.

It was important to incorporate our faith from the very beginning. Throughout our relationship, we went to Mass together on Sundays and at least once during the week. Austin even shared his testimony with me one night and explained that I inspired him in his faith, and that I made him want to be a better man of God. I told him he inspired the exact same aspiration in me.

And so, we got engaged.

Austin and I wanted the Mass to be the center and most important part of our wedding day. I had not been living in Omaha long before we got engaged, so I had not yet found my home parish. I was looking for a place that felt like home and radiated God's presence. I knew after the first Mass I attended at St. Robert's that it was the church community I had been seeking. It would also be the parish where Austin and I would be married. They welcomed us with open arms.

Before the wedding began, the bridal party and parents gathered for a prayer led by our celebrant, Fr. Matya. The readings we chose were not common readings for a nuptial Mass, but were readings that spoke to our values as a couple that we wanted to build our married life on.

The gospel was Philippians 4:4-9, which includes a verse we both love: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

The most special part of the Mass was our time after communion praying and asking for Mary’s intercession. We truly felt the presence of God in that moment and prayed that Mary would guide us along our new path as husband and wife.

Our wedding style was elegant and classic. Chic while remaining traditional. I am not all about glitz and glam, but I love a simple, timeless look. Because the wedding was in the fall, I chose a color theme with darker tones and greenery touches. I focused on the "burnt mauve" color and gold accents.

Looking back, our wedding day was another huge reminder of how much God has blessed Austin and I. One memorable thing we did happened during the reception. We stood in the back of the room and looked out at everyone celebrating our marriage. It was a day spent with all our loved ones supporting us during this special time.

Austin is the man I have prayed for my entire life. Actually, he's even better than the man I prayed for. I asked God for a faithful, loving husband, and God sent me that in Austin--and more. We are constantly striving to be better stewards of God’s grace and learning how to carry out his plan for us every day. We have learned the challenges it brings, but Austin and I have fought through them together.

The biggest challenge we have encountered is figuring out how to pray together, not settling for less in our faith lives, or becoming distracted away from time with God. We pushed past this challenge by reading a spiritual resource every day together and reflecting on it. Our favorite readings include the Bible (of course!), Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen, My Daily Bread, and Fr. Mike Schmitz’s podcast.

Austin and I know if we choose to say "yes" to having a strong relationship with God, we will also feel closer to one another and become better versions of ourselves.

Photography: Kelli Dornbos | Church: St. Robert Bellarmine, Omaha NE | Wedding Reception Venue : Embassy Suites in the Old Market, Omaha NE | Bride's Wedding Gown: Ready or Knot | Bride's Veil: Ready or Knot | Alterations: Livia Designs | Graphic designer for all wedding stationery (invites, programs, placecards, etc): Brooke Sankey | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ready or Knot (Jenny Yoo collection in Cinnamon Rose) | Groom's Suit: Jerry Ryan | Groom's Tie: Tie Bar | Groomsmen suits: Jerry Ryan | Groomsmen/Ring Bearer Ties: Tie Bar
Makeup artist: Kate Johnson | Hair Stylist: Emily Jackson | Florist: iBloom (Lincoln, NE) | Reception Wedding Planner: Adrianne Lescanic
Flower petals for throwing: Sam's Club | Videographer: Tom Hoxmeier | Party Bus: Emerald Limosine | DJ: Complete Wedding and Events | Cake: Whisk + Measure | Biscotti: Enjoy Biscotti Company (based in Colorado) | Jeweler: Wrights Jewelry (Lincoln, NE)

Christine + Mark | Traditional Chinese Wedding

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Christine and Mark’s Washington, D.C. wedding was a beautiful intertwining of traditional Catholic nuptials and Chinese customs.

Their relationship began when Christine stumbled upon Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch. It had been months since Christine began praying to Blessed Karl of Austria for her future husband. Even though she had seen many interesting profiles on CatholicMatch, she felt there was something special about Mark’s.

Christine didn’t start a conversation, but instead waited to see what Mark would do, since the site allowed a him to see who had visited his profile.

She didn’t have to wait long.

From the Groom: From the first moment I saw Christine’s profile picture, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And after reading Christine’s profile, I was even more certain she was too good to be true. This was the internet version of love at first sight, and I sent a message right away.

From the Bride: Every time Mark talks about this, I can’t help but laugh. He is always so sweet. When I first saw Mark’s profile on CatholicMatch, I felt there was something special about him. And ever since then, I kept him in my daily prayers and waited for God to do the rest.

Mark: After exchanging a few messages on CatholicMatch, I invited Christine to pray together over the phone. She only had thirty minutes for our first call, but we spent most of that time praying the rosary together.

After that we started a tradition which we have continued even when in very different time zones: praying daily Compline (Night Prayer) together, usually over the phone.

Christine: Praying together always reminds me God is at the center of our relationship. I’m always excited to pray with Mark because it is such a powerful experience for us.

A few short weeks after we began speaking, May—the month of Our Lady—arrived, and it was time for me to graduate from my master’s program. My parents and sister came to D.C. to attend my graduation ceremony.

I had been telling my parents a lot about Mark, and they really liked him, or at least my descriptions of him. On May 11, a couple days before my family would return home to China, my mom suggested we set up a meeting with Mark. Although I felt a little uncertain, knowing Mark’s busy work schedule, and, more importantly, that Mark and I had never met in person, I reached out to him to see whether he would be able to meet the next day.

Mark: That was a very busy time for me at work, but I pulled a very late night and managed to meet Christine and her family for coffee the next day. Luckily, I was too tired to be nervous! I was overjoyed to meet Christine’s family and moved by how genuinely kind and joyful they were.

Christine: My family and I really enjoyed meeting Mark, too. In fact, Mark and I soon began going on dates: attending Sunday Mass together at St. Mary’s in Washington D.C., followed by lunch and activities like visiting museums and going to concerts. After Mass, we would usually pray together before the image of Blessed Karl.

As we got to know each other better, we hung out more often. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall, went hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and visited the elderly at a nursing home. Through it all, we enjoyed every moment together.

Fast forward to October 2017. We had been discerning engagement and working through a book titled 101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged. This went on until one Saturday when we visited St. Mary’s. Just as we were finishing our prayer before the image of Blessed Karl, Mark proposed.

What a joy that we were engaged in the Real Presence of Our Lord!

A mutual friend played my favorite Chinese hymn on the organ (Mark had remembered I had sung the hymn while we were praying together one evening), and the proposal was filmed by Mark’s best friend and soon-to-be best man.

We learned that our archdiocese required six months of marriage preparation. During this time we would continue to grow in our relationship and discern our vocation. We also found, to our surprise and delight, that May 12, 2018—the one-year anniversary of the first time we met in person—was a Saturday, and we decided to set that as our wedding date.

The wonderful Fr. Martin Yip agreed to meet with us for monthly marriage preparation sessions focusing on the sacramental meaning of marriage. We also attended an Engaged Encounter retreat.

This provided a precious opportunity for us to spend focused time getting to know each other and diving deeply into various practical topics, all under the guidance of experienced married couples and a priest.

One month before the wedding, we visited a couple from our parish who have been married more than thirty years. They warned us of potential challenges in married life and provided advice and insights from the unique perspective of Chinese culture.

We were overjoyed when Bishop Mario Dorsonville agreed to celebrate our nuptial Mass. Another joyful surprise was that Fr. Conrad Murphy was willing to be the Master of Ceremonies when we couldn’t find another deacon available for our wedding day.

From the very beginning, we knew the nuptial Mass would be the most important part of our wedding day. So we spent a lot of time preparing the Mass program in both Chinese and English. It turned out to be very beneficial in helping us and our guests get better acquainted with the various parts of the nuptial Mass.

Our liturgy was celebrated at St. Mary’s in D.C.. Although we belong to the Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, ours was the first nuptial Mass in ten years to be celebrated at St. Mary’s for a couple in our community. Our parish family was excited for us and showered us with so much love and joy. They celebrated our engagement in the parish hall and supported us through the wedding preparation and our wedding day.

One week before the wedding, my family travelled from Shanghai to Washington. It was so exciting because I hadn’t seen my family for a year. They helped with the wedding favors and decorating the reception venue. Meanwhile, Mark’s parents prepared heart-shaped chocolates for our guests and set up the rehearsal dinner.

In the early afternoon of our wedding day, we had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, customary for weddings in China.

We knelt before our parents and offered tea to them, showing our respect and gratitude to them for all the years of love and care.

In return, we received gifts in red envelopes from them.

Our nuptial Mass was very beautiful and went quickly, but we enjoyed every moment. My brother and sister did the readings, and our parents offered the gifts. When Bishop Dorsonville introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. Ma,” we had our first-ever kiss on the lips at the altar. With the violin and organ playing Ave Maria, we prayed before a statue of Mary, offering our marriage to Our Lady.

Our reception was held at Phoenix Park Hotel, a historic hotel in Capitol Hill. The hotel ballroom and our honeymoon suite were lovely. They had been decorated with love and care by our families and friends. My brother made a video using a collection of our photos from childhood to the time we met, which was played at the beginning of the reception. It was received by the audience with lots of laughter and awws.

Right after we entered the ballroom, we played a violin-piano duet of Canon in D. Mark was on violin, and I played piano. My dad presented raffle prizes of his own excellent calligraphy and Chinese traditional painting.

Finding each other and taking our first steps in marriage has been so amazing, and we are excited to continue our journey together!

From the Photographers: Christine and Mark's wedding was such a joy-filled event that uniquely combined beautiful cultural and liturgical traditions.

We loved witnessing and documenting their day, and especially loved how they planned a wedding that really fit their personalities. For example, during their reception they replaced the usual dance party with a talent show and games, which was so fun.

More than anything, we loved seeing how tangible their love was and how joyful they were to be husband and wife. It felt so real during their portrait session at the Jefferson Memorial. We wish them all the best for their marriage!

Photography: An Endless Pursuit - SPOKEN BRIDE VENDOR | Church: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Washington DC | Wedding Reception: Phoenix Park Hotel | Ceremony Site: St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church | Florists: Louisa Sun | Reception Site & Tea Ceremony Site: Phoenix Park Hotel | Videographer: Onyxx Communications LLC | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts | Reception: MC
David Hu | Hair & Make-up: Iris Zou

Renae + Steven | Winter Clubhouse Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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