Wedding Planning | Expressing Gratitude to Your Celebrant

Who are the clergy who will be involved in your wedding, and how can you welcome and thank them in your celebration?

Your wedding celebrant(s) might be an acquaintance, a family friend, or a peer. Regardless of whether you’ve been friends with your celebrant for years or whether he’s a relatively new acquaintance, etiquette and good will can strengthen your relationship and, God willing, make him a significant person in your wedding-day memories and future family life.

See Susanna + Brad’s Italian Vineyard-Inspired Wedding, with many priests and religious in attendance, and read their reflections on how married couples can honor the priesthood.

Here, four ways to express your thanks to your celebrant.

Make a donation.

Parishes, cathedrals, and other sites of worship typically request a donation fee in exchange for getting married there, which is used for maintenance and ministry purposes. It’s also appropriate to gift a personal donation to your celebrant in thanks, particularly if you’ve had a deeply enriching marriage prep journey with him, if he’s been in one or both of your lives for a long time, and if he is assisting with additional pre-wedding events such as a holy hour or confessions.

Invite him to the rehearsal dinner.

As your celebrant will be leading and directing your wedding rehearsal, it’s customary to have him attend the rehearsal dinner, as well. Invite him to say a blessing over your meal and to announce any pre-wedding events your rehearsal guests are invited to. Consider who in your families and wedding party he’d hit it off with, and introduce them.

Read 6 Ideas for Having a Spiritually Rich Wedding Rehearsal.

Write a note and consider a gift.

If your celebrant has made your engagement and marriage prep a memorable experience, don’t hesitate to say so! Consider how, for a particularly meaningful relationship, your thank-you note can go beyond basic gratitude by sharing your experience of your marriage preparation and/or friendship with him. If your celebrant is a close friend, you might also consider a gift related to a favorite hobby, saint, writer, or food or drink.

Invite him to the reception and ask him to bless the meal.

After celebrating your wedding ceremony, your celebrant will surely be sharing in you, your spouse, and your families’ deep joy. Be sure to create a reception table assignment for him and to communicate with your celebrant and DJ about the appropriate time for a blessing.

Pray for him.

It is a great gift to witness holy priests, brothers, and deacons living out their vocations as they witness you and your beloved entering into yours, particularly if you’ve shared in each other’s formation and friendship along the way.

We’d love to hear: what unique ways have you shown thanks to your wedding celebrants? Share in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

Prayer Intentions for Women Called to Marriage

Whether you’re currently single, dating, engaged, or married, every woman prays to live out her vocation faithfully and well. What does that look like in the everyday?

Photography: Aberrazioni Cromatiche Studio, seen in    Fabiola + Cole | Vatican City Basilica Wedding

Photography: Aberrazioni Cromatiche Studio, seen in Fabiola + Cole | Vatican City Basilica Wedding

For those called to marriage, the desire to be a strong, holy wife might feel so...abstract. And that’s understandable! Depending on your relationship situation and whether you’ve met your spouse, your ability to will the good of a specific man and ask the Father for grace with specific matters can be limited. 

Are you in a season of discerning the Father’s will for your life? Read tips for determining the vocation he might be calling you to. 

There are, however, particular intentions you might consider bringing to prayer as you anticipate, prepare for, or live out your married life. Here, prayer suggestions for brides.

Strengthen me in sacrifice.

Ask the Lord for a greater sense of perception and attention to opportunities for sacrifice and service, as well as a willing disposition to do so with a joyful heart. Is he prompting you to fast from or give up particular habits? Are there daily activities in which you can ease the load of someone in your life (chores, quality time, or otherwise)? No matter your current state in life, you can actively strengthen your marriage--starting now--by developing a heart of sacrifice.

Grant me the gift of understanding.

Seek growth in active listening, healthy conflict resolution, and empathy. Embrace others’ honesty and vulnerability as a gift to be treated with mercy and care. Cultivating communication skills amplifies and enriches all of your relationships.

Read 5 Tips for Active Listening.

Help me to know your peace, Lord.

Do you find yourself doubting you’ll ever meet the man you’re intended to marry? Are you anxious to determine if the man you’re currently dating is The One? Are you and your spouse facing a major life decision like children, career changes, or a move?

The Lord desires our hearts to be at peace. In times of restlessness for answers, approach discernment with a spirit of openness, trusting that he responds to our prayers--sometimes with a whisper, and sometimes with a shout--in the most loving, fruitful ways, even when his call is wildly different from our expectations.

May I revere my sexuality and fertility.

Our identity as human persons, male and female and invited to join God in bringing forth life, speaks the truth of who we are. Pray for the graces of reverence, joy, freedom, and self-discipline as they relate to your sexuality, and if you feel the pull, seek out theological resources that further illuminate.

Pray, also, for trust: the knowledge and appropriate resources to learn about your fertility and your body’s particular rhythms, the faith and confidence to embrace children and grow your family as you feel called. And perhaps most painfully, the trust that should infertility and complications arise, you are not abandoned and the Lord will reveal, in time, his plans for your particular marriage to be fruitful.

May I make of myself a gift to my husband, and may he make of himself a gift to me.

Authentic love is free, faithful, total, and fruitful; a complete gift of self. This love takes on a particularly intimate, personal dimension in marriage, yet there are ways to embody self-gift even before marriage.

Pray about ways to communicate love through every part of your life, not just your romantic relationship: live with a spirit of encounter. Make efforts to make others feel seen, heard, and known. Be a witness to joy and to confidence in your identity as a daughter, sister, and bride. 

For that, ultimately, is who you are: a woman, equipped with unique gifts only you can confer on the world--not only on your wedding day or as a new wife, but before and after you enter into your vocation. May your prayers inspire your gifts and your worth.

Have you experienced this desire to be a “good” wife? What other intentions have you prayed for in this pursuit? Share your thoughts in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

Newlywed Life | Ora et Labora, Prayer and Work

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

As I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, I was relatively aware how “everything” was going to change. In one day, I acquired a new roommate, an abundance of new household appliances and a new last name. Simultaneously, my husband and I were preparing for an international move—transitioning out of our jobs and community and into a new world of people, places, and norms. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:   MEL WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY

I did not have the same awareness of the resulting changes to my spiritual life and prayer routine. 

Following our wedding day, early mornings at an adoration chapel were replaced with making breakfast and enjoying coffee with my new husband. The spontaneous decision to attend daily Mass disappeared due to a lack of access to daily Mass in our new community. The experiences that once nourished my soul and my heart gave way to the new gifts and specific circumstances of married life. 

I’ve gained encouragement in my new role as a wife through the Benedictine saying, “Ora et labora,” or “pray and work.” This philosophy intertwines the responsibilities of vocation with our hearts’ longing for God. 

In this season of life, my “work,” my vocation as a wife, looks like cleaning the house and preparing meals, washing the dishes and doing laundry, planning a vacation and keeping in touch with extended family. 

In accordance with the Benedictine philosophy, the household chores, fulfilled as acts of service and love, can become a form of prayer. The active doing with my hands is a tangible form of prayer, of becoming a longing for God.

As we purify the intentions of our hearts and bring God to the front of our minds, every action—both at home and in our communities—becomes prayer. Waking up early enough to make a cup of coffee for your spouse is a prayer for his goodwill. Keeping in touch with extended family is a prayer of thanksgiving for your origins and support system. Upholding an orderly house as a practice of discipline is prayerful preparation to model a virtue of self-control to future children.  

If you, like me, are wrestling with the tension of incorporating old habits into new circumstances, take peace in knowing God is right where you are. Molding our prayer life according to our new vocational life does not mean surrendering spiritual practices altogether. Our hearts yearn for intimacy with both our spouse and God in a personal, trinitarian relationship. Lean into the ache to see how loving your spouse and God are united in the same action.


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Reflections in a Chalice

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

There are several moments from our wedding day frozen in my mind as a still life memory. These memories become as clear as a picture when I tell a story from that day. Sometimes, an external trigger causes one of those freeze frame moments to captivate my full attention like a daydream.

Recently, as I participated in the Liturgy of the Mass on a routine Sunday morning, I was transported to a vivid memory, but relieved the moment with entirely new perspective.

During the Eucharistic prayers, the literal surroundings faded out of my periphery and I was transported to the Eucharistic prayers during our wedding Mass. On our wedding day, I noticed a reflection in the chalice; the image fused itself to my mind as a picture I will never forget. It wasn’t until the most recent trigger of that moment when a rush of the Holy Spirit brought meaning to my grace-filled memory.

I felt my husband kneeling by my side at the foot of the altar. Our beloved priest lifted the chalice high above our heads, as he stood with power and grace in persona Christi. As I looked up in wonder and awe and complete surrender to the beauty of that moment, I was captivated by mirror image of myself and my husband, dressed in white, on our knees in prayer and thanksgiving. Our picture was the image in the shimmering gold of the chalice.

The chalice is the cup which holds the red wine: the juice of the fruit of the vine. Through the Eucharistic prayers and the Liturgy of the Mass, the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.

The contents of that chalice become a mingling of water and wine, humanity and divinity, mercy and love, death and new life.

As we knelt far below the greatness of that chalice, my husband and I were the visible reflection in its surface. This image is a metaphor of a powerful truth: on our wedding day, we became the visible reflection of Christ’s sacrifice, physical bodies to share sacrifice as love.

This is the call of the vocation to marriage.

In marriage, a bridegroom and his bride become the image of Christ and the Church. The two become one reflection of Christ’s love. Like the blood turned wine, acts of sacrifice are transformed into acts of love. Like the intoxicating effects of wine, the fruits of love are intoxicating in the most holy, joyful, and abundant ways through marriage and family life.

In the sacrament of marriage, God offers brides and grooms a gift. He offers men and women the glory of the Passion, so husbands and wives may both receive God’s love and become co-creaters of new love—new life—to share Love within in their homes and communities.

Where did the wine, the blood, in that chalice come from? Jesus carried a wooden cross on his back then he died upon that cross. The pain and agony of that experience is real. In the same way, there will be pain and agony in our marriages. But this is not the end. As we see a foreshadow of our vocation in Christ’s story, we too can have constant hope in the joy of the resurrection: the infinite pouring and sharing of love for ages to come.

The next time you attend Mass, pray for the eyes to see your own vocation on the altar, being broken and shared as a visible sign of love. God desires to share these graces with us. This is the joy we are called to live on this side of heaven.


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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“The Artist of Love” | A Young Bride’s Reflection on Writings by Alice Von Hildebrand

KATE THIBODEAU

 

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A young bride faces a number of choices when it comes to defining her role within marriage. The conflicting worries and joyful surprises of marriage may become overwhelming when trying to establish a new role as someone’s wife and partner towards salvation.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   HER WITNESS

PHOTOGRAPHY: HER WITNESS

I remember the first few months of marriage—working a new job and attempting to prove myself as a career woman, while also attempting to set up house, learn to cook and patiently maneuver through the transition. I found myself pulled in different directions while trying to solidify a mission statement or role for my new responsibilities as James’ wife. I pressured myself to strive for perfection in every field, while feeling limited by my inexperience.

The joy of my union to my wonderful husband was challenged by my personal expectations for perfection. In the tension, I lost sight of the sacred nature of being a wife.  

A gift from a friend offered a new lens for me to comprehend my stress and pressure. By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride, a novel by Catholic authoress Alice Von Hildebrand, spoke to the many fears, questions, and experiences of my newlywed life.

This little book is filled with letters by a long married widow to her newlywed goddaughter, Julie, who faces trials and questions in her vocation. The daily struggles and triumphs of Julie and her husband mirrored many of my own. I read through pages thinking to myself, “My James does that!,” or “We have had this conversation!,” and “I, too, am guilty of this mistake.”

Von Hildebrand offers powerful spiritual advice in each letter, encouraging marital relationships for self-giving love and mutual respect. She paints a vision of marriage as it should be: learning how to love and lead one’s spouse to heaven through sacrifice.

Julie’s experiences reflected many of my own struggles, from trying to balance work with being a homemaker, to accepting the habits of a permanent roommate, my spouse. I marveled how through her godmother’s writing, she discovers her true role as a wife—despite both internal and external pressures—as “an artist of love.”

Von Hildebrand explains the meaning of this title by describing her love for oriental rugs, and how their complex beauty is made through tiny snippets of fabric. This image is a symbol of the many small acts and deeds of a wife, the artist, as she weaves together her sacrifices, efforts, and decisions to benefit her husband and family.

I take this message to heart as my mission statement as both James’ wife and a child of God. My vocation calls me to regard every challenge and duty in life with deference to my marriage. How will this decision impact our relationship? Does this word or action detract from my mission as the artist in our home? Does this contribute to the art of our marital love?

Regardless of the field in which I may be struggling, I need only simplify my motivations and focus them towards my vocation. My beginner’s errors and the fear of unknowns matter so little when I realize each sacrifice and trial, suffered with love, is an addition to the “quilt” I weave for the good of our family. In this truth is an ever present joy.

Being “an artist of love” is applicable to every role I may take on as a wife, as a working professional or a stay-at-home mom. As we age and mature in our marriage, so will our metaphorical “quilt”.

As a young bride-to-be searching for a peace in the daunting new territories of marriage, I am grateful to know of Hildebrand’s novel. Her simple words help me find purpose and meaning in each new trial and experience.

In the transitions of marriage and family life, I encourage every woman to not be overwhelmed by the stress of a new role. Do not pressure yourself to be excellent in every new undertaking, but have patience in every little action and sacrifice. Accept each challenge and make every decision in the confidence of your new mission: to be an “artist of love.” May your marriage be joyful in this pursuit!


About the Author: Recently married to her best friend and partner towards salvation, Kate Thibodeau is learning how to best serve her vocation as a wife while using her God-given talents. Mama to angel baby, Charlotte Rose, and soon-to-arrive Baby Thibs, Kate has an English degree from Benedictine College, and strives to live in the Benedictine motto: that in all things, God may be glorified. Kate loves literature, romance, beautiful music, pretty things, wedding planning, and building a community of strong Catholic women.

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Into the Desert: A Conversation About the Exodus 90 Men's Program

Freedom resides in a particular realization about sacrifice: it’s the recognition that when dying to self is painful, it doesn’t mean our sacrifice isn’t working. It means that it is.

Inspired by God’s people being led to freedom in Scripture, Exodus 90 is a 90-day program created to call Catholic men out of slavery and into freedom; out of themselves and into the heart of God. Founded on principles of fraternity, prayer, and asceticism, the program intends to cultivate habits that sanctify men, equipping them to better serve the Lord as they live out their vocations.

We recently chatted with James Baxter, Executive Director of Exodus 90 and Those Catholic Men. The program is particularly recommended for men preparing to enter into their vocations, and we hope you’ll share it with your fiancé; additionally, many men find it meaningful to begin or end the program on a liturgically significant day. Those who embark on Exodus 90 beginning next week, on February 19, will conclude the program on Pentecost and, God willing, witness the fruits of the Holy Spirit in abundance. Read on for James’ thoughts on spiritual exercises, chastity, and freedom, along with his advice for the brides supporting their men in the pursuit of heroic virtue.

The Exodus 90 program includes, among other resources, daily Scripture verses from the Book of Exodus. Can you tell us more about the significance of this book to the intentions of the program?

The singular goal of Exodus 90 is freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, but we drift away from it over time, often quite unknowingly. I know that freedom is a cultural buzzword, and thrown around to justify everything from sexual exploits to abortion.

But the hard fact is that we need to reclaim our definition of freedom. That's because the Church places a heavy emphasis upon it, especially in our sacramental rites--including marriage. Freedom is the condition, the foundation, the soil out of which love grows. When we're not free, we cannot bear the fruit of love. And in a particular way, when men are not free, it's wives and children that suffer the most. That's why we're entirely committed to freeing Catholic men with Exodus 90.

The Church tells us the gift of our sexuality is meant to be lived in freedom. In turn, Exodus 90 emphasizes the virtue of chastity. What practical tips can you offer engaged and married couples for developing and living out this virtue?

I'm engaged to an exceptionally good woman, whom I also find the most beautiful woman in the cosmos. Her name is Colleen, and we'll be married on June 16, 2018. Chastity in marriage preparation is a reality that's close to my experience right now. Here are my recommendations regarding chastity:

First, start today. All virtues are dispositions, or habits, toward the good. It takes time and experience, and failing and trying again to possess them. Your behavior yesterday affects who you are today. So, start again now. Identify your triggers, take control of your glances, use your screens only for work or school. This will make the chastity of your future, married selves much easier.

Second, express physical affection within the scope of proper discernment. Being appropriately physical tempers the passions--at least that's been my honest experience over the past few years.

Lastly, tell the truth. Ever since the fall, we have the tendency to avoid God, deceive ourselves, and blame others when it comes to sin. The Catechism teaches us that the relationship of man and woman gets to the heart of the human condition, and in that process, the experience of our fallen nature is painfully acute. You're going to mess up. But when you do, just speak the truth. Make your confessions to your loved one and the Church, and move forward. Don't let the darkness become something that divides you. God has a marvelous way of turning our brokenness into the very source of our attractiveness; he’s been in that business for a very long time. And no one is above or below that mercy.

Purification of the body, mind, and soul can be painful. What advice can you offer those struggling with the pain of purification?

My advice here is somewhat direct, but I hope that the sincerity is clear. What if we just accepted that purification is painful, and it is so because we are fallen and life is complicated? If we do not first accept that profound purification and self-denial are needed in each of us, it’s difficult to understand in the proper context that God wants to fulfill the desires of our hearts. Otherwise, it's hard to differentiate our faith from that of the prosperity Gospel, or the idea that God just gives us whatever we want, when we want it, and how we want it. The purification of the self is painful but it is also deeply meaningful when it bears the fruit of freedom, as we've seen so many times through Exodus 90. Because then we can love. And that’s what life is about.

This journey of purification and growth in holiness can be as hard on loved ones as on the individual undergoing it. Can you share some concrete ways women can support their fiancés or husbands in programs like Exodus, and can hold themselves accountable to growth and self-denial, as well?

The program’s tenets of fraternity, asceticism, and prayer can benefit both individuals in a relationship during this journey. For fraternity, I’d tell women it's essential that your man is accountable to other men. Though that means at times he is away from you and the home, it will be worth it in the long run. So, encourage your man to find a fraternity or to be proactive and form one. I’d encourage you to do likewise with a group of women that raise you up.

For asceticism, a big part of what makes Exodus 90 so hard is the constant self-denial. And we ask that men don’t modify the regimen to them, but bend themselves to it. Self-denial will be easier if a man’s fiancé or wife is also denying herself in her own ways. There is a beautiful camaraderie that can happen when both are engaged in actively saying no to things they would otherwise have. And here’s the secret: this has frequently meant that husbands and wives are communicating way more! What woman doesn’t want that? By the end, wives and kids like the man at the end way better. But a lot of no’s have to happen before this yes emerges.

For prayer, Colleen and I have experienced that praying as a couple is hard, especially amidst the hustle and obligations of young lay life. At our latest marriage prep session, our priest, Fr. Andrew, told us the story of the holiest couple he had ever met. After years of admiring them from a distance, the priest finally asked: "How do you do it? How are you two so holy?" The husband responded, "We pray together every day." Fr. Andrew was delighted by this answer and asked him further, "What's the secret prayer? I'll tell all my couples!" The husband smiled and said, "Right before bed, we grab each other's hands, and say the Our Father. That's it." That's it. Colleen and I are trying to do this more before we go our separate ways each evening.

The program began as a way to help men combat addictions and distractions in a particular way, though any man can participate. In your opinion, how can a couple discern when an addiction is debilitating enough to require more than spiritual help alone, and what resources can they turn to?

If the question is at all there, you would do yourself some good by accepting that it’s there. There’s a reason you’re wondering, and acceptance is the way to freedom in the future. For resources related to pornography addiction, check out Integrity Restored and watch some videos with Matt Fradd and Dr. Peter Kleponis, who are experts in this field. Matt Fradd just released a great book called The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality behind the Fantasy of Pornography. And Dr. Kleponis frequently writes on the topic at Those Catholic Men.

Exodus 90 is a step toward recovery for those in the throes of an addiction, and if you need help of a psychological nature, it can be a great resource and supplement to therapy. We actually get calls from therapists about using Exodus 90 clinically. I will say, we have had men break decades of addiction through the experience, but again, we are not therapists and this isn't a porn-recovery program as such. All we have done is re-present the spirituality of the Desert Fathers for contemporary men, and that's why this is working and spreading so rapidly. Prayer, asceticism and brotherhood leads to freedom.

In three sentences, what are the top three pieces of advice you'd share with engaged and married Catholic men?

Put your phone in a box under your bed, and spend undistracted time with your fiancé or wife. Read more books this year than you did last year. I’m reading Dr. Jordan Peterson's new book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and it’s been captivating. Whatever work you do, strive to be the best at it without losing your soul; excellence glorifies the Father, inspires evangelization in the workplace, and bestows meaning.

Men interested in pursuing Exodus 90 can learn more and sign up for the program here.

Images by Sarah Ascanio Photography.

 

3 Thoughts on Being an "Older" Bride

CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY

 

Most “older” Catholic engaged couples--and their well-meaning family and friends--could easily articulate the downsides to getting married later in life: you’re more set in your ways, you're likely to have more relationship baggage, you have fewer years in which to have children, it’s more difficult to merge your lives together when you’ve been single for so long...

As a 32-year-old, recently engaged Catholic, I’ve meditated on--and sometimes been a bit freaked out by--all of these factors. At the end of the day I always come back to Pope St. John Paul II’s famous dictum: “In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.”

As much as I lamented being single, to varying degrees, over the past decade, I’m deeply grateful for the fact that I’m getting married at this point in my life. Not because I think it’s crazy to get married young; I have many dear friends and family members who married fresh out of college and in their early twenties. It's because I wasn’t in a position, emotionally or spiritually, to get married right out of college at 22. And so, in an effort to encourage my fellow Catholic brides in their 30s, and my friends who are still waiting for their future husbands, I present to you:

The Three Best Things About Being an Older Catholic Bride:

I’ve been to a LOT of weddings.

I don’t know if I could accurately count how many weddings I’ve been to since my college graduation, but it’s definitely in the double digits. I do know that I’ve been a bridesmaid in six of those weddings and have spent thousands of dollars on flights, dresses, and gifts for the couples whose nuptials I’ve helped celebrate. Some of the weddings were over-the-top platinum style and others were potlucks. I’ve seen everything from horse-drawn carriages transporting the bridal party to the reception site, to professional dancers performing at the reception, to the bride and groom taking the stage to perform with their own band. I’ve been to breathtakingly beautiful nuptial Masses, complete with full-on choirs, and to ten minute-long non-Catholic weddings that began with a slideshow of the couple (no joke).

At this point, it feels like I’ve seen it all. And that is a huge blessing--not only because I’ve been able to celebrate with so many people I love, but because I have a much better idea of what I want and don’t want to do at my own wedding. For example, I’ve been part of quite a few bridal parties that were so large it was impossible to remember everyone’s name, let alone have a peaceful pre-wedding time with the bride. So I opted for a family-only cohort of bridesmaids: just my two sisters, my sister-in-law, and my cousin-who-might-as-well-be-my-sister. I love that they already know each other, I can trust them all to pick out their own dresses because they all have great taste, and that I won’t have to fight them on any bachelorette party details.

I have lots of married friends.

It sounds trite, but I have learned so much from my married friends and siblings. Attending their weddings, spending time with their families, and babysitting their children has been an educational experience par excellence. My sister (married 7 years; three girls) and my dear friend (married almost ten years; two boys, two girls, and one on the way) get the biggest shout-outs here, because they have shared more with me about their struggles and joys as married women raising little ones than anyone else.

I love that I can ask these women anything and get an authentic answer without the sugarcoating. They love being moms and wives, but they are real about the hard stuff--and there’s a lot of hard stuff! Thanks to them, and all of my married friends, I’m much less naive and unrealistic about marriage and motherhood than I used to be (let’s just say that hyper-idealized romantic comedies were not my friend as a teenager and young twenty-something). I think these encounters with reality, the joy and the struggles, will be really helpful once I do get married and (God-willing) have children of my own.

I’ve had more time to work on my stuff.

From my point of view, this is by far the best thing about being 32 and about to get married. Back when I was 22, even though I desired marriage more than anything else in the world--which was symptom of my emotional immaturity--I was in no way, shape, or form even remotely healthy enough to unite my life to another’s. I think I knew this on some deep level, but when you watch so many of your dear friends enter joyfully into marriage right out of college, it’s hard not to think your ship has sailed and you’re doomed to roam the planet alone forever.

The thing is, though, I was wrong. I wasn’t doomed. And I wasn’t ready. Not even close. The Lord had a journey for me to go on, and lots of therapy for me to do, and he wanted me to do it without a husband and children in the mix.

All of this being said: I know lots of women who got married young and who have had beautiful, happy marriages. They grew up and went through the craziness of their 20s with their husbands, and often children, in tow. That was part of God’s plan for them, and I’m so thankful for my friends who began the adventure of marriage in their twenties, because they’ve paved the way for my fiance and me, and for countless other “older” Catholic couples.

I didn't meet my fiance Kristian until a month after my 31st birthday, and a couple of months after his 40th. We had a whirlwind courtship and got engaged a few weeks shy of our six month anniversary. As counterintuitive as it may sound, it doesn't feel like we're rushing into anything; the pace of our relationship has always felt natural. But as most "older" couples will tell you, the cliche "when you know, you know" rings truer when you've had longer to get to know yourself apart. Only July 28th, 2016, I was able to say Yes to Kristian with a depth of conviction 22-year-old Christina wasn't capable of, and for that, I have the Lord and his mercy to thank.

After a decade of prayers, tears, and hoping against hope, and the past seven months of living the answer to those prayers, I am confident that if you approach your vocation with prayer and openness to God's will, He will give you what you need at the proper time. Whether you're 32, or 22, or 42, and regardless of how much (or how little) you and your fiance have been through before you meet, the Lord can make something beautiful out of your union. I hope and pray that Kristian’s and my marriage will be a sign of hope to many, and that we can help build up and encourage our single and married friends through our Yes to the Lord on December 29th.


Christina Grace Dehan is a catechist, high school theology teacher, freelance writer, and lover of beauty. She lives in Austin, TX and can't wait to marry her wonderful fiance Kristian in December. She blogs at The Evangelista, where more of her love story is published. BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM