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.


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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.

Wedding Planning | Catholic Destination Weddings

 

A quick Pinterest search of “destination wedding” will offer countless images of beaches and mountaintops. For the bride and groom who desire to be married in the Catholic faith, a destination wedding will look a little different.

Simply, a destination wedding is when a wedding and reception is held in a city other than the bride or groom’s hometown or current city of residence. If the location of your wedding ceremony is still in question, benefits of and considerations for a Catholic destination wedding are listed below.

Benefits of Catholic Destination Weddings

The Universal Church

One beautiful aspect of the Catholic faith is the universality of the Church, liturgy, and sacraments. Regardless of your geographical location or language, the Order of the Mass is consistent worldwide. This is also true for couples receiving the sacrament of Matrimony. In a special way, a destination wedding celebrates the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic church by celebrating the significance of the sacrament despite location.

Meaningful Location

Several Wedding Features on Spoken Bride have highlighted international weddings which highlight both the location and the sacrament of matrimony. See this Buenos Aires wedding or this Vatican City Basilica Wedding for beautiful images and testimonies of weddings in meaningful, international locations. Other couples may choose a destination wedding to revisit a city with a significant history, such as where they first met. Bringing friends and family into the special location on a special day is a powerful way to share the intimacy of the day with your families, wedding party and guests. Finally, choosing a location for a specific church may also be an inspiration for you and your beloved.

Meaningful Date

Perhaps there is a date on the calendar which offers significant meaning for you and your fiancé to tie the knot. Whether it is a feast day, a favorite number, or a specific weekend on the calendar, options for churches and venues in your hometown may be limited for that date. If you and your fiancé are determined to join in covenant on a specific date, a destination wedding may offer an opportunity to bring that desire to fulfillment.

Collaboration with a Priest or Deacon

Some couples have a personal relationship with a priest (or priests) who touched their lives in some way. If you and your fiancé desire to join in the sacrament of matrimony with a specific priest who resides in a different location and is unable to travel to you, perhaps the best option is to bring the wedding to him. Collaborating with a priestly friend or mentor on your wedding day is a powerful and intentional way to begin the vocation to married life.

Convenience for Out-of-Town Wedding Guests

When the bride and groom are from different hometowns, went to school or currently live away from their hometown, or frequently moved throughout their childhood, hopeful wedding guests may be spread far and wide. Choosing a location central to the majority of your traveling guests may provide a means for a greater number of people to join you on your once-in-a-lifetime day. There will not likely be another day in your life when a communion of people who care deeply for you and your fiancé are all celebrating in one place together.

 

Special Considerations for Catholic Destination Weddings

Proactive Preparation for Pre-Cana

If you are considering a destination wedding, an extra level of planning and communication is required for acquiring appropriate Pre-Cana, or wedding preparation. Be sure to confirm the Pre-Cana requirements with your local diocese and the diocese where you will be married. The wedding coordinator at your church should be able to help you begin the appropriate process for completing and transferring paperwork.

Saying “I do” in a Church

”Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church.” Celebrating your sacrament within a church, rather than on a beachfront or mountainside, is an important visible expression of the triune unification between bride, groom, and God in the sacramental reality. Despite feedback from Pinterest, the significance of the our holy churches is a beautiful aspect of our Catholic faith. This testimony shares additional insight into why it matters for Catholics to be married in the church.

Planning for Travel, Accommodations and Food

When traveling to a destination city for a wedding weekend, It is vital to plan for accommodations and food for a crowd. AirBNB may provide creative options for families or bridal parties to stay together throughout the festivities, and hotels nationwide offer group discounts for weddings. In consideration of the wedding budget, be mindful of the costs of travel, accommodation and food for your destination wedding.

Did you and your beloved profess your vows in a destination location? What was your motive for choosing a city outside your hometown or city of residence? Share your experience with our community on Facebook or Instagram.

It's Wedding Season! Distinctively Catholic Tips for Guests and Bridesmaids

Will you be attending one or more weddings this summer and fall?

Beyond basic etiquette and perception, attending or participating in a wedding—Catholic or otherwise—offers a unique opportunity to live out principles of our faith. Here, inspired by the saints’ famous encouragement to “preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” our tips for incorporating the Catholic faith into your actions as a wedding guest or bridesmaid.

For Wedding Guests:

Pray for the bride and groom.

The gift of your intercession can only bear fruit in couples’ new lives together, even non-religious couples. Take time to contemplate a particular saint or prayer whose life or spirituality seems well-suited to the bride and groom, and consider beginning a novena in the nine days preceding the wedding. For the weddings of Catholic couples, you might share the prayer with them, invite friends to join you, or note in your card that you have invoked the prayers of our brothers and sisters in heaven.

Find suggested prayers and patrons for Catholic couples here.

Consider giving a religious gift.

The Church is alive and rich with craftsmen, artists, and distinctively Catholic items. Consider giving an off-registry wedding gift as a surprise for the couple, such as religious art, statues, or a family Bible in which they can inscribe their wedding date and--God willing--their future children’s sacramental milestones like Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation.

Looking for gift ideas? More here: How to Request a Papal Marriage Blessing | Gifts and Décor by Spoken Bride Vendors | Our team’s favorite Catholic gifts for the home | 5 Gift Ideas for Catholic Newlyweds

Find time for a meaningful moment with the couple.

The gift of encounter involves sincere face-to-face time with another, however brief. Reception table visits or receiving lines are a whirlwind for the bride and groom. Though it’s impossible for them to spend extended time with any one guest, strive to make your time with them meaningful: be genuine and honest in the conversation you share; ask them questions; be mindful of their need to make the rounds to as many guests as possible.

It’s also a considerate gesture to thank the parents of the couple at some point during the day, recognizing their financial, spiritual, and emotional contributions to the celebration.

Exemplify reverent dress and prayer.

Without speaking a word, appropriate dress and reverent participation in the Mass can be a powerful witness to non-Catholic or non-practicing guests.

Embody charity.

Much as we might prefer to avoid them, thorny political or religious issues might come up in conversation at your reception table or during the cocktail hour. If you find yourself engaged in a debate, strive for respect and empathy above all. Someone who feels heard and understood is far less defensive than someone who feels attacked by argument: “[conversations like these are] rich with potential opportunities: occasions to truly listen to and see another and to defy stereotypes of what evangelization is all about.”

For Bridesmaids:

Cultivate a heart of service.

Standing by a bride at the altar involves so many tasks, major and minor, that lead to the moment of witnessing her say her vows. As you help her prepare for the big day, pray for a spirit of humility and service: anticipate her needs; willingly take on less fun and glamorous tasks like cleaning up after her bridal shower; pick up last-minute items and run errands for her.  

Will you be the Maid of Honor? More on serving the bride with love.

Give a spiritual bouquet.

With the rest of the wedding party--and, if you like, any other friends and family you’d like to involve (perhaps by asking at her shower)--assemble a spiritual bouquet to present to the bride at the wedding rehearsal. A spiritual bouquet is a collection of prayers and intentions promised by cherished friends, and can be figurative or literal. Read more here about how to plan one.

Consider bringing a spiritual element to pre-wedding events.

If the bridal party is comprised of several Catholic women, consider incorporating elements of prayer, reflection, or worship into the bride’s bachelorette party, bridal shower, and rehearsal. If some bridesmaids are non-Catholic, be sure to extend the invitation to them, as well, and to identify ways they can still feel their presence is valued in these events if they choose to attend.

More here:  Classy and Unconventional Bridal Shower Themes | A Catholic Perspective on Giving Lingerie | Tips for a Spiritually Rich Wedding Rehearsal

We love the uniqueness of every wedding, which reflects the personality and reality of every couple, and love hearing your stories. What are your own tips for Catholic wedding guests and wedding party members? Share in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

Advice from a DJ | Setting the Tone for the Dance Floor

DEREK HALL

 

At balls and galas in the past, there was a dance of the time, such as the macarena or cha cha slide. In my opinion, the minuet, quadrille, or polonaise are the best part of any historical fiction show or movie. Historically, the party’s dance would be initiated by the guests of honor, often royalty--then the dance floor would be opened for guests to join. Social dancing is not quite the norm these days, but there is an opportunity to have some fun, relay beauty to your guests, and lead them into your celebration as you twirl about the dance floor.

I loathe being the center of attention; formal dances can be uncomfortable bubble of alone time in the spotlight. As a DJ, I have worked with many couples who want to be on and off of the dance floor as fast as possible. The truth is, you and your new spouse are the guests of honor on the wedding day. As you host your family and friends for the celebration, I encourage you to take on the responsibility of opening the dance floor with your first dances.

PHOTOGRAPHY:  Du CASTEL PHOTOGRAPHY

If you’re not having dancing, roll the first die of the board games, butter the first bagel of your brunch, bounce the first bounce in the bouncy house. (Yes, you can now have bouncy castles at your wedding.) The pressures we may feel as the center of attention are most often rooted in our own insecurities; rest assured, the other guests will not hold up scores of your dance at the end of the song.  

The truth is that not everyone is paying extremely  close attention to your movements. Some guests watch with admiration, some eat their cake and drink their coffee, some chat among themselves.

Regardless of the attention span of the crowd, these first dances are  one of the few times during the wedding day to have alone time with your parents or with each other. It is really just about the two of you on the floor. Sharing an intimate experience is not the same thing as being stranded on the dance floor. Dive into the opportunity to be vulnerable together, to create a memory, and to savor a moment. When the song ends, the DJ can easily fade out the song, turn the attention to the guests, and keep things rolling.

Though I don’t always enjoy being the center of attention, I love a good dance party. If we replace our fears with a smile and some joy, we can stir up the best start of a dance party you’ve ever seen. Below I share additional insight and advice from my experiences as a husband and a professional DJ.

Learn a new kind of dance

My wife grew up as an Irish dancer and I did ballroom for several years around college. We decided to do a waltz for our first dance--and later did an Irish dance. We worked on them for several months, but for us it was largely a fun project that was sincere to who we are. It was athletic, challenging, and something to do together outside of grad school and wedding planning.

In practicing the steps, my wife and I learned how to dance the movements of a waltz rather than memorizing specific choreography. If things come off the rails in a choreographed dance, it may be hard to adjust on the spot. Give yourself at least a couple of months to learn some specific steps. Get comfortable making mistakes and moving back into the music. Most people won’t know if you mess up, so follow the leader, laugh at yourselves, and enjoy the process of trying something new. .

Pick the perfect song

The perfect song is unique to each couple.  Often, nostalgia has more value than perfect lyrics. Most often, guests are either distracted during the first dance or are enamored by the loving embrace of the couple to pay attention to the words of the lyrics.

If you and your fiance don’t have a song that is extremely meaningful or appropriate for a first dance, choosing a new song gives you something special that will forever be anchored to your first dance. If you plan to learn a kind of dance--as suggested above--ask a professional for recommendations for types of songs to match with a specific type of dance.  

Do the first dance last

I have emphasized the importance of sharing an intimate moment on the dance floor. But consider that your first dance doesn’t have to last the entire duration of a song. I’ve worked with many couples whose  families don’t have a strong dance party tradition.Here’s my pitch: make a plan for your MC explain that the couple doesn’t want to just share a first dance on their own, but with all of the guests--the friends and family who helped them get here. The first dance immediately becomes communal, inclusive, and fun for everyone.

Your bridal party and immediate families can be a part of the plan, and join you on the dance floor after the first verse and chorus. At the end of the song, the next song should come right on and everyone can come in around you. I have had a couple of these types of starts blend right into an upbeat remix or some great sing-alongs (think “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”).  

Get great pictures

So, we have done something to create community and inclusion of everyone in the room. We are making dancing “the cat’s pajamas,” the thing to do. Grab grandparents for a dance. Sing along to your favorite Spice Girls song you drove around singing with your mom when you were young. Burn it down for 30 minutes. Your photo and video are generally scheduled for a short chunk of dancing, and they can capitalize on this initial time with the guests and guests of honor together on the dance floor.

If we have a slow build or if you disappear from the dance party at the beginning of the celebration , you are missing out on a great chance to create and capture special memories of the night.  Eventually, some people might leave, go back to their dessert, enjoy a drink, or get some fresh air. A good DJ or band will figure out how to keep the party going. When you look back at your photos, your favorites may be from those first 30 minutes of fun. The mood for the night has been set. Anything else is gravy.


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About the Author: Derek is one half of The Block Party, a DJ company specializing in playing vinyl, mixing records, and trying to pour as much warmth and friendship into the vendor process as possible. They have done weddings and events all over the country; when they aren't traveling to throw monster dance parties, Derek and his wife Clare are traveling to visit their nieces and nephews or adventuring as a couple.

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Introducing the Spoken Bride Shop.

Since Spoken Bride’s start in 2016, we have hoped and prayed to share our mission not only through images and the written word, but through the tangible: beautiful, distinctively Catholic products that could serve brides during all stages of engagement, wedding and Mass planning, and newlywed life.

Today, we’re thrilled to share the fruits of those dreams with the launch of the Spoken Bride Shop.

Intentionally designed to offer you simplicity, truth, and expertise in Theology and the wedding industry, our first collections in the shop are visual expressions—and meaningful gifts—that highlight the beauty of marriage. We celebrate celebrate men and women who found fulfillment through their married vocation; we express the truth of our vows; we acknowledge our identity as children of God; we provoke reflection on the holy wisdom of the saints. 

Whether you are a single woman in discernment, an engaged woman preparing for marriage, a newlywed or a bride of many years, we share our hearts with you through the Spoken Bride Shop and pray you are encouraged and inspired to pursue the truth of every woman’s call to be a beloved spouse. 

As our ministry is brought to life in a new way, we share our deepest gratitude and praise for the Holy Spirit’s grace in bringing these dreams to fruition. And we thank you—this community of brides, mothers, vendors, contributors, and readers—for empowering this mission to be a place where God dwells among us.

Click here to view additional listings in the Spoken Bride Shop!