4 Marian Flower Ideas for Your Bridal Bouquet

Are your currently choosing florals for your wedding décor and bouquet?

Both secular and religious culture have long traditions of ascribing particular symbolism and significance to flowers. The first use of flowers and plants as an invitation to contemplate God’s creation is believed to have originated in medieval monasteries. Saint Basil the Great wrote in a homily, “I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to yon the clear remembrance of the Creator.”

The thought that living things speak a language, drawing our attention to the Father’s creativity, precision, and beauty, is a profound one. If the language of flowers appeals to you, consider incorporating blossoms that signify Our Lady--the purest, most radiant bride--into your selections. Here, four flowers with Marian significance.

Lilies

Many images of the Annunciation depict the angel Gabriel presenting Mary with a lily as he invites her to shelter and bear from her womb the Word made flesh. Saint Joseph, Mary’s beloved spouse, is also frequently shown with the lily. Both of these connections emphasize Our Lady’s purity and chastity--her perfect integration of body and soul. 

The lily of the valley flower, in particular, is also known as “Our Lady’s tears,” said to have blossomed from the tears Mary shed at the foot of the cross. Even on the joyful day of a wedding feast, these flowers are a delicate, fragrant reminder that marriage calls us to embrace both agony and ecstasy.

Consider, as well, that the lily is mentioned several times in the Song of Songs, a source of beauty among thorns and an element within “a garden closed:” an meditation on what it is to be a bride.  

Bold, sculptural star and Easter lilies are well-suited to spring weddings or minimalist brides, while tiger lilies and lily of the valley are a great fit for summer celebrations and bohemian or rustic tastes.

Roses

The ancient prayer of the Litany of Loreto calls upon the intercession of the Holy Trinity and of Our Lady under various titles, including Mary as the “Mystical Rose.”

Why the rose? Popularly considered the crowning, most beautiful of all flowers, Our Lady has been described by Saint Brigid as “beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness...The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow.” As with the lily, the symbolism of roses invites spouses to consider the good times and bad, the easy and the crosses, which they entrust to one another in their marriage vows.

Roses convey a classic sensibility and, in addition to the Mystical Rose devotion, call to mind Our Lady’s gift of roses to Saint Juan Diego at Guadalupe.

Marigolds or Calendula

As prayer gardens grew more prevalent in medieval monastic settings, the faithful frequently reclaimed pagan epithets for plants and flowers by giving them religious names. Marigolds or calendula flowers (variations on a similar species) are now traditionally known as “Mary’s gold,” intended to invoke Our Lady’s heavenly queenship and radiance, the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation who triumphs over the grasp of evil and destruction.

Available in warm tones of red, gold, and orange, marigolds are beautifully suited to fall weddings, and can also be found in year-round friendly white.

Something Blue

Choosing blue, the color most frequently associated with Our Lady, for your wedding florals offers an array of choices and shades to complement your wedding colors, season, and style. Consider hydrangea, hyacinth, iris, bluebells, or wildflowers.

Do you plan to choose your wedding flowers based on their symbolism or connections to Scripture and the saints? Share your stories in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

Wedding Planning | Ceremony Seating for the Bride and Groom

 

When planning a Catholic wedding, the bride and groom consider many details for the liturgy. One important decision is where they will sit, stand, and kneel through the duration of the ceremony.

Seated next to the Sanctuary, Facing the Congregation 

Imagine the way a priest sits, in a sacramental way, at the head of the sanctuary during the Mass, facing the congregation. In the same way, a bride and groom may choose to sit at the periphery of the sanctuary with their bodies facing the wedding guests.  

In their essence, the bride and groom embody beauty and love. They naturally attract the attention of their beloved family and friends. As they sit on the altar throughout the Liturgy, many wedding guests may gaze in admiration at the subtle movements and interactions between these living icons of love. 

One reason brides and grooms may choose to sit facing the congregation is to serve God as a visible witness of holy love and participation in the Mass. While wedding guests hear the word of God and see the bride and groom, their senses are filled with an image of unconditional, divine love. 

Seated in front of the Sanctuary, Facing the Altar 

A bride and groom may opt to sit facing the Altar, with their backs to the congregation throughout the Mass.

The Sacrament of Matrimony is an exchange between bride, groom, and God. The three become one through the mutual consent and exchange of marriage vows. The congregation of wedding guests attends as a crowd of witnesses, lifting the couple in joy, prayer and celebration for their new vocation. 

When a bride and groom choose to sit facing the altar throughout the duration of the wedding ceremony, their bodies, eyes and hearts are completely directed towards God--on the crucifix and in Scripture. Through their exemplary position in the front of the church, they lead the eyes and hearts of wedding guests to God. 

A Combination Option 

The Liturgy of the Word, the celebration of Matrimony, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (if included) are three different movements of the wedding ceremony. By speaking with your priest and wedding coordinator at your church, there can be a way to include different seating arrangements for the bride and groom during different times of the Mass. 

Perhaps you and your soon-to-be spouse yearn to be a visible sign to your wedding guests, yet desire to point your eyes and hearts to God as well. Think creatively about how and when your bodies can communicate these desires throughout your wedding ceremony.

It may be possible, for example, to sit facing the congregation during the Liturgy of the Word, move to the front of the church for the Celebration of Matrimony, then remain in new seats and kneelers—facing the sanctuary—for the duration of the Mass. 

The only way to know the right option is by praying through these decisions and discussing them with your fiance and priest. The physical structure of your church may impact your decision, or your priest may have personal preferences based on his own past experience. 

When planned with intention, the little details of your wedding ceremony help create a meaningful and powerful experience for everyone present on the day you enter the Sacrament. 

Are you married? Where did you and your spouse sit during the wedding ceremony—and why? Please share your experiences with our community on Facebook or Instagram.

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.

Choosing a Color Palette

CARISSA PLUTA

 

“What are your colors?"

PHOTOGRAPHY:    CHELSEA SLIWA

PHOTOGRAPHY: CHELSEA SLIWA

Early in the wedding planning process, you’ll probably hear this question asked a lot by friends and family. 

You may have had your colors picked out since middle school, but if you haven’t, you may feel a bit of pressure to pick the “right" hues. 

While your palette will inform a lot of your wedding decisions, like your flowers and your bridal party attire, it doesn’t have to cause more stress on the wedding plans. 

Know what you like

Think about colors and shades that currently found in your home and your wardrobe. These colors serve as an excellent starting point for a bride who feels overwhelmed. 

Using your favorite colors can help keep your own personality and style in the midst of your wedding day. 

Plus, choosing colors you have liked for the long-term will ensure that you won’t tire of them during the wedding planning process. 

Consider the location

Will your colors work well with the church and venue where the wedding and reception will be  held?

You should avoid a color palette that will clash with space, rather pick a color scheme that will help enhance the overall look and feel of a venue.

Keep your colors in mind (or bring color swatches) when visiting potential reception sites to see if the colors will work well in the space. 

Set the mood

Think about the feel you’d like to have at your wedding. Colors evoke mood and emotions that can impact the atmosphere of a wedding. 

Dark colors and jewel tones create more drama; they are bolder and more evocative than pastels which are softer and more calming.

Understanding the atmosphere you’d like to create will help you decide what colors you should choose, and whether you should use them as your primary and accent colors. 

Think seasonally

The season in which you get married might affect your color palette. For example, you can make your Fall wedding more vibrant by choosing colors that naturally occur in that season, like deep reds or oranges, while lighter colors fit best in a spring wedding. 

Certain colors hold a particular significance for Catholics so you might want to consider the liturgical season in which you’ll get married. 

Are you getting married in Advent or Lent? Include purple in your big day. Or if your wedding takes place during the Christmas or Easter season, gold might be a good choice. 

Consult the color wheel

You don’t need a degree in art or design to pick the perfect colors for your big day, but keeping in mind some of the basic principles will help guide your choice. 

Consult the color wheel to choose colors that look good together. Typically, colors that go well together are ones that are opposites because they pair a cool and warm (like turquoise and coral) or ones that share a primary color (like yellow and orange). 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Stressed By All the Tasks and Projects of Wedding Planning and Newlywed Life? Words of Wisdom from St. Teresa of Calcutta.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

When asked where she drew the energy to serve the poorest, sickest, and most unseen individuals of her city day after day, St. Teresa of Calcutta expressed that time and attention are gifts to be given from one human heart to another. It wasn’t about quantity, she emphasized, because “love is inefficient.”

Love is inefficient. A privileged world away from the streets of India, these words rang out nonetheless as I prepared to enter into my vocation. 

Throughout my engagement, and on into marriage and young family life, I have experienced love’s inefficiency and am better for it.

I experienced it the afternoon my husband and I met halfway between Pennsylvania and West Virginia and attempted to create a wedding registry in a single afternoon. Arguments ensued as we felt the temptation to materialism and pressure of limited time together. 

I experienced it in my desire to spend significant time with each of our wedding guests as we circled the tables at our reception, wishing I could sit down for an extensive catchup while knowing there were dozens of other friends and family members to greet. Feeling the tension of being gracious for photos and hugs alongside the need to continue moving through the room.

I experienced it in our new apartment after our honeymoon, frequently prioritizing cleaning, unpacking, decorating, and thank you notes over quality time with my husband. And I continue experiencing it now, fighting digital distractions and my desire for an orderly home while striving to be present and attentive to my children. 

Have you been through something similar? A goal with a need for convenience and speed--a need for efficiency--that can come at the cost of your relationships and your spiritual life.

Wedding planning and the transition to married life bring with them countless tasks to resolve and check off, yet I’m reminded that love is my ultimate vocation and ultimate priority: reverence and thanks to the Father who has given these gifts and opportunities; sacrifice for and sincere attention to my family.

Though I remain far from perfect in this dimension of love, I’ve often recognized that perceived inefficiencies and inconveniences that I view as slowing me down until I can enjoy the “real” goal of time, conversation, and leisure with those I love, aren’t actually steps along the path to an end point at all. Instead, the Lord repeatedly shows me that in detours and on the path itself, I am prompted to embrace inefficiency and be present for the moment in which he has placed me. 

If that means our wedding registry could have been broken down into separate tasks as my husband and I enjoyed our weekend together instead of running to accomplish as much as possible; if the dishes aren’t done but I’ve gotten to read on the couch with my kids, what might seem like inefficiency is, in reality, an opportunity for connection, encounter, intimacy. An opportunity for a greater love.

What might seem like a distraction or inconvenience from a task at hand can, with a changed perspective, become invitations to realize our own poverty: without the Father, we’re capable of nothing.

When we reject the idols of efficiency and productivity in wedding planning and in daily married life, we allow ourselves to step forward in trust, to embrace his mercy, and to let our eyes be opened to a true seeing and deeper understanding of those we are called to love.

We love hearing your experiences and growing together in sisterhood. What areas of engagement or newlywed life have brought you struggles with efficiency, and how have you overcome them? Share in the comments and on our social media.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Wedding Planning | Father Jacques Phillipe and Detachment from Wedding Planning Desires

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The wedding planning process can be a stressful one. A bride-to-be not only yearns for the fulfillment of her visions of beauty, but often faces the expectations from her fiance, bridesmaids, mother, sisters, mothers-in-law, and friends. Even more, the wide world of Pinterest and Google introduce infinite vendors, budgets, designs, and decisions.

In the face of overwhelming options, it can be easy for a couple to forget God’s providential role in their wedding planning process.

Father Jacques Phillippe offers encouragement to acquire a steadfast peace of heart in his book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace. Though his wisdom is not written in relation to wedding planning, his words speak truth into the decisions—and holy detachment—involved in planning a wedding with God. 

“Very frequently… the Lord asks only an attitude of detachment at the level of the heart, a disposition to give Him everything. But He doesn’t necessarily “take” everything… This detachment, even though it is painful at the moment, will be followed by a profound peace. The proper attitude then is simply to be disposed to give everything to God, without panic, and to allow Him to do things His way, in total confidence.”

Is the Lord asking you for a spirit of detachment in the midst of your wedding planning desires? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of decisions and pressures in this process, take your worries and your desires to him in prayer. With a desire to give it all to him, release your desires into his providence and trust that he will fill your heart—and your wedding day—with joy and peace. 

“Abandonment is not natural; it is a grace to be asked of God. He will give it to us, if we pray with perseverance.”

This abandonment of desire is not easy to our human nature. But your efforts to collaborate with God in this process and to glorify him through your sacrament are acts of trust and love. He is with you throughout this journey. 

“Obviously we do not want to say that it is a bad thing to be able to anticipate things, to develop a budget or prepare one’s homilies. Our natural abilities are also instruments in the hands of Providence! But everything depends on the spirit in which we do things.”

You can leave the homily preparations to your priest. In the meantime, detachment does not mean you stop doing the necessary work. Fulfilling a call means you receive an opportunity from God’s providence and you work in collaboration with him. Continue utilizing your strengths, trusting your intuition, and remaining in a posture of receptivity for the next grace. 

“Once could even say that the surest way to lose one’s peace is precisely to try to assure one’s own life solely with the aid of human industry, with personal projects and decisions or by relying on someone else… To preserve peace in the midst of the hazards of human existence, we have only one solution: We must rely on God alone, with total trust in Him, as your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:32).”

Offering your wedding planning desires to God is counter-cultural and, quite frankly, it’s not popular. Friends and family may not understand your peace which follows detachment. But, as Father Jacques Phillippe warns us, relying more heavily on human will rather than on God alone is the surest way to lose peace. Keep you heart on your heavenly Father and trust, with confidence, that your wedding day desires will be fulfilled. 

“The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the heart of Jesus.” 

“To grow or to enrich one’s spiritual life is to learn to love.”

What’s the point of detaching ourselves from our desires and abandoning them to God? Love. As we grow in virtue, we grow in holiness and love. This season of preparation for your wedding day is about planning a beautiful day. More importantly, however, this is a season to prepare your heart to love and be loved by your groom and to grow in holiness through your sacrament of marriage. 


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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Your Wedding is an Icon.

KIKI HAYDEN

 

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

The wedding at Cana became an icon when, through Christ’s signs, it revealed Christ’s glory to his disciples. In her book Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols, Madeleine L’Engle writes, “…an icon…is an open window to God.”

Orthodox and Eastern Catholic priests speak of traditional painted icons in the same way: Icons are windows. An icon provides catechesis that transcends the boundaries of literacy and education. Like the marriage at Cana, your own wedding is an icon—a window to see God’s love.

At your wedding, you and your beloved are witnesses to the greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

When you and your beloved join God in a sacramental covenant, you become a visible truth of love, just like a traditional painted icon. Your guests not only see an exchange of human love, but also gaze through the window of your wedding to see a beautiful image of God’s love.

Even within the strict traditions of painted icons in Eastern Christianity, iconographers bring personal interpretations to their creative work. I have seen several different icons depicting the wedding at Cana. In many, Jesus and Mary are conversing privately in the corner. In some, they are instructing the servants. In one, they are larger than life, embracing the newly married couple like children. In its own way, each icon is a reminder to “Do whatever he tells you.”

Just like painted icons, Catholic weddings follow a structure. Every Catholic rite—Roman, Byzantine, Chaldean, etc.—fulfills the sacrament in a different way. Within each tradition, every couple infuses their wedding day with a unique flavor.

You probably didn’t choose the basic order for your wedding ceremony, but you chose the hymns to set the mood. And while your reception may include a traditional set of events, such as the first dance and cutting of the cake, you and your family have selected the décor, food, and music. Even the way you interact with each other, your guests, and with Jesus throughout the day can have deep positive effects that only you can offer.

There is no other couple exactly like you, and you are an icon of God’s love in all your quirks, your challenges, and your strengths.

Unplanned moments on your wedding day can become small icons when they are windows for others to see God’s love. For me and my husband, one surprising iconic moment was during the dance of Isaiah. During this event in the Byzantine Catholic wedding ceremony, the priest leads the bride and groom in three circles around the Gospel book: a tradition full of symbolism.  

As we began a slow, reverent march, Father smiled slyly and reminded us this was a dance—he instructed us to “Give it a wiggle!” He encouraged us to literally dance our way around the Gospel. I assure you, “Give it a wiggle” is not written in the liturgical books. That dance became a surprising icon for us, and for our guests, to see God’s joy and delight.

Iconography is crucial to Eastern Christian  spiritual formation because icons have many layers of meaning. Regardless of a person’s background or education, they can look at a spiritual image, understand some part of the story, and relate to the depiction of a human experience. God can infuse truth and hope in the hearts of everyone who views the icon.

With greater knowledge of symbolism, theology, and iconography, a viewer can glean more nuanced truths from the image.  The colors of robes and the placement of hands, for example, impart specific spiritual messages.

Your wedding also has many layers of spiritual teachings. Guests with no religious convictions, people of different faiths, and seasoned Catholics and Christians can all encounter Jesus’ love at your wedding. Whether they are moved by the beauty of the day or the beauty of two lives becoming one, your wedding guests can reflect on the human experience and spiritual truths of union, covenant, and love.  

Prayers, readings, hymns, and traditions can be a window to see God for those more familiar with Church teachings. Jesus knows the hearts of everyone present, and he will use the day to draw each individual into his loving embrace.

The story of the marriage at Cana shows us how Jesus abundantly blesses weddings and reveals his great love through weddings and receptions. He will love your wedding. After all, your wedding is an icon, a beautiful and unique window to his divine love.


kiki hayden.png

About the Author: Kiki Hayden is a writer and Bilingual Speech Therapist living in Texas. Her dog is named Goldberry and her husband is named Michael. She is a Byzantine Catholic. To find out more about how God is changing her life through speech therapy, visit her website.