Friday, July 27, 2012

Inspired: A Midsummer Night's Wedding

{wedding candy}

Two disclaimers before this post gets underway: First, although I borrowed the title from the Shakespeare play I love, I have personally never been into weddings with woodland fairy type things.  You know, hairpieces made of tree branches and leaves, puffy-sleeved men in tights, and the whole nine.  Not that it's uncool if you do; it's just not really my thing.  Second, I am aware that midsummer was technically back in June, on the longest day of the year or whatever, but I'm just going with it, idea-wise.

This begs the question of what a midsummer night's wedding might actually look like.  I'm picturing an  evening celebration with a sophisticated palette of deep blues and warm, rosy metallic accents.

1. ModCloth  2. Target  3. Martha Stewart Weddings  4. Save-on-Crafts  5. J. Renee

There's nothing like candlelight to turn an already beautiful chapel into something extra special.  Add in a little glow!

How incredibly gorgeous is this monastery wedding?!
Set the tone with your stationary, too!

Printable Press
What do you think?  How are you bringing some starriness to your evening wedding?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Spirit Rejoices: Panis Angelicum and I Have And I Always Will

{sweet sounds for your Mass and reception}

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, wise man that he was, said, "with all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this Bread of Angels where you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles.”  I love hearing the Eucharist called the Bread of Angels.  It's a reminder of the divine life we're invited to take part in, but even more than that, it reminds me what a singular blessing it is to be human.  Think about it!  As human beings, we're the only living creature on earth who can consume the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Love Himself, come down out of love for us.  The first lines are translated as, "the bread of angels becomes the bread of men."  Total gift!

I think this gorgeous hymn can awaken your soul and lift you right up to Heaven, and it'd be perfect before or after communion during your Mass.  Listen to it here, and look here for the English translation!

Little known fact: I missed the Hanson train back in the 90s, but luckily, my best friend introduced me to them in college, to my immense gratitude.  Hear me out before you start laughing and just write me off.  With puberty and haircuts, these three brothers are still writing awesome, melodic pop songs, playing all of their own instruments, and even doing charity work on the side.  I'm obsessed.

Believe it or not, this is not a Hanson commercial.  The song I want to share with you is today by someone else, whom I first heard open at a Hanson show!  Dave Barnes makes groovy, jazz and gospel-inflected music with incredibly romantic, tender lyrics.  You know Blake Shelton's song "God Gave Me You?"  He wrote it, and sang it first!  Anyway, his quiet ballad "I Have and I Always Will" would be a beautiful choice for your first dance.  Some love songs seem specifically intended to be wedding songs, which usually seems a little contrived to me, but this one stops way short of any of that.  Consider the chorus:

Underneath all your white,
my lady, my love, my bride,
in your darkest hours
will I love you still.
I have and I always will.  

I love the image of purity that can withstand any fire, and all of it's just amplified so amazingly when you consider the bride and bridegroom imagery of Christ and the Church.  Listen here, and let all that beauty sink in:

Do you have your first dance picked out yet?  I'd love to hear your choices and the stories behind them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

...All The Days Of My Life

I, Stephanie, take you, Andrew,

to be my husband.

I promise to be true to you

in good times and in bad,

in sickness and in health.

I will love you and honor you

all the days of my life.

One year ago today, we said yes.  Yes to self-giving, yes to suffering, yes to incredible joy, yes to the Cross and yes to its fulfillment--new life in Christ.  I've learned how my husband sorts the laundry, what it's like to search and search for a job, and what ways of loving are easy (a welcome-home kiss) and which are hard (humbling myself to apologize and swallowing my pride in my best effort at surrendering everything).  I've learned that it's not a cliche, but a true possibility, to fall in love every day, and that there's such sweetness in the depth of the ache you can feel for another human person.

Albert Camus said, "live to the point of tears."  I think I've cried more tears this past year than I ever have in my life.  There have been tears of frustration at circumstances beyond me, along with tears of purest happiness as I've marveled at the boy who steals my breath.  I don't deserve this happiness; it's by grace that it belongs to me for now, and I am thankful.  Love Himself really has let me receive Him through my husband in such a real way.

Thank you, Father, for the man you've given to me, and for the gift of someone so perfectly suited to my heart and my weaknesses.  Thank you for trusting me with the  gift of him; for placing his soul in my hands.  Empty me of everything that's not of you, that I might love him better and better.  Pour your grace, your mercy, over us and let the fire you've planted in us rise up to you.  How you love us.

Happy Anniversary to us.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Love Notes: Bucketful of Ideas

{small ways to show great love}

At the risk of sounding like an old lady, dating can be tough after you've been together for a while.  During my engagement, the combination of wedding planning crazies and a long-distance relationship with Andrew made it hard, sometimes, to carve out time to regularly do something special.  Even now, being married and seeing each other every day, it's easy sometimes to just be comfortable at home and, in the interest of saving money, forego dates.

The thing is, continuing to date each other is so important to me, and it's not too hard to think of ways to have fun without spending much.  Bike rides, rosary walks, Netflix, and sharing dessert together at home are super simple ways we spend time together, but with a little ceremony, they become special.  Do you have a bucket list?  You know, a kind of to-do list for your life, full of adventures, events, and new places to take on.  I so recommend it--it's fun to imagine everything you've ever wanted to try, and can be a great source of date ideas!  Sometimes it's encouraged me, too, to do things I might not do otherwise.  I feel like I need to be accountable to my list, because what if I never get another chance?  So many activities are better together, so why not come up with a list you can share for a lifetime?

If you need some inspiration to get started, here, from my very own bucket list, are sixteen of my favorite ideas:

4. Swing on a playground under the stars
8. Finish a triathlon
9. Go to the beach in the winter
19. Make s'mores over the grill on a cold night
33. Pick apples in the fall
42. Watch a meteor shower
49. Go on a silent retreat
51. Own a hammock and read in it often
65. Spectacularly April fool someone
67. Take a long road trip, eating only at local places along the way
76. Randomly stop to pray in a beautiful church I've never been to before
81. Kayak
82. Dance in a gazebo
106. Go to Catholic Underground
110. Walk everywhere for an entire day
120. Make homemade pasta

Do any of you have a list like this?  Whether you do or you don't (yet!), what would top it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lectio: Three to Get Married

{recommended reading}

You might not think a book that took me a whole year to read would be a book I was so excited about.  That, however, is so, so not true.  Hands down, Three to Get Married is the best book on marriage I have ever read.  The newly minted Venerable Fulton Sheen manages to be eloquent, accessible, funny, and wise all at once, covering practically anything you can think of related to the nature of love and marriage.  If any of that sounds boring or stuffy, I promise you it isn't.  It took me a year because, aside from having limited time, I also really wanted to just let his words sink deep into my soul.  Hopefully you'll have a similar reading experience.  Archbishop Sheen is a total boss, breaking down philosophical and theological aspects of love in a way that's crystal clear and makes you wonder why you never thought of them yourself.  Consider, for instance, the difference he describes between sex and love:

There are two extremes to be avoided in discussing married love: one is the refusal to recognize sexual love, the other is the giving of primacy to sexual attraction. The first error was Victorian; the second is Freudian. To the Christian, sex is inseparable from the person, and to reduce the person to sex is as silly as to reduce personality to lungs or a thorax. Certain Victorians in their education practically denied sex as a function of personality; certain sexophiles of modern times deny personality and make a god of sex. The male animal is attracted to the female animal, but a human personality is attracted to another human personality. The attraction of beast to beast is physiological; the attraction of human to human is physiological, psychological, and spiritual. The human spirit has a thirst for the infinite which the quadruped has not. This infinite is really God. 

So good.  What amazes me, too, about this book, is how candidly and reverently it speaks about sex, especially given that it was published in 1951, well before the Theology of the Body clarified many people's misconceptions about the Church's standpoint.  It talks about Adam and Eve being naked without shame, the dignity of the body, and other truths that JPII would discuss a while later.  Sheen speaks so beautifully about purity as "reverence for mystery."  He says,

Purity is a consciousness that each possesses a gift which can be given only once, and can be received only once. In the unity of flesh he makes her a woman; she makes him a man. They may enjoy the gift many times, but once given it can never be taken back, either in man or in woman. It is not just a physiological
experience, but the unraveling of a mystery.

I could go on and on.  Our Lady, the Trinity, raising your future children, amazing true love stories (get your tissues out)'s all here.  Flipping through my copy as I wrote this, I saw the huge amounts of underlines and stars on almost every page.  I'm usually not too big an underliner, thinking that it kind of defeats the purpose of highlighting certain things when everything's highlighted, but it all really is incredible.  Thank you, Archbishop Sheen, for making me view and anticipate my marriage in such a joyful, practical, way.  Venerable indeed.

Given my crazy amount of underlining, I highly recommend running out right now to get yourself a copy of Three to Get Married, but what's great is that you can also read the whole thing online!

Have any of you read this?  Do you have it on your to-read list?  I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post from Kristin! A Little Cenacle

It's so exciting to plan and daydream about your wedding day, but obviously, the big day's only the start of an even bigger adventure.  Sharing a living space, covers, a fridge, and life in general can seem overwhelming sometimes, but one of the best things about the faith is that we're never going at it alone.  The saints always have our back.

Remember my friend Kristin?  She is so, so impossibly lovely; she and her husband Jed are always beaming at each other like it's a solar eclipse,  in tune with the Holy Spirit, and eager to surrender everything to His will.  I'm thrilled to share some of her amazing words with you today!  Read on.

So you've finished that last thank you note, you've done your time at the DMV changing your name, and you've finally recycled that last moving box and have begun to set up your little home.  This is a most joyful time, but it also has its stresses: curtains or blinds?  Both?

As tempted as I am by Pinterest to devote hours to revamping our space, I think it is good to remember something.  Our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, came to us in a small stable and was laid in a manger that held fodder for animals.  Now, this shouldn't make us feel comfortable with living in a pigsty, but it should remind us that even the dullest, most lackluster place can be transformed when we think of ways to make our most important guest welcome.  I would like to offer some thoughts that have truly inspired me and my husband.  About a year ago, I began a kind of literary pursuit to "make friends with the Saints."  These men and women have so much to offer by means of spiritual guidance. Let's take a look into the life of Saint Gianna Beretta  Molla.

If I were at a party in her home, I imagine St. Gianna would be the perfect hostess; a humble servant with a radiant smile and the knack for making everyone else catch her contagious joy.  Everyone would want to be near her and she would make each guest feel as though the party was in his or her honor.  While reading the book Saint Gianna Molla: Wife, Mother, Doctor, I learned more about her life.  In love with the Lord from a young age, she sought to bring Him to others.  At the age of 20, she began her studies in medicine.  Seven years later, she met Pietro Molla, the man who would become the love of her life.  The book, written by Pietro, contains many letters between Gianna and Pietro, and it is clear that their love was rooted in the eternal love of Christ.  They were so adorable, so passionate, and so infectiously joyful.  They were married in 1955.  Shortly before their wedding day, Gianna wrote to Pietro,

"With God's help and blessing we will do our best to make our new family a little Cenacle where Jesus reigns over all our affections, desires, and actions...There are only a few days to go and I feel moved at that thought of approaching and receiving the "Sacrament of Love."  We will become collaborators with God in His creation and so we will be able to give Him children that love and serve Him."

I was struck by these words a year or so before our own wedding.  Our Lord once again reminded meow them as we began to form our own little home these last few months.  "A little Cenacle."  A cenacle is typically understood as "a small circle or room."  Traditionally, people understood "cenacle" to mean the location of the Last Supper.  A place set aside for Our Lord and His nearest and dearest that would enclose one of the greatest mysteries and gifts ever given to man--His very Body and Blood--the marriage between His people and Himself.  Our Lord comes into us, into our very beings.  Ponder that for just a moment.  How does that transform us?  How do we make our homes into places which help us welcome our Lord and invite Him into our midst?

In a whopping eight months of marriage, my best friend and I have come to understand a few ways:

  • The coziest home is the home that is the most peaceful.  We found that praying together in the morning really sets the day off on the right foot.  It gives us the armor we need against all that wants to keep us from God and from living our vocation of marriage to the fullest.
  • Blending two sets of needs and responsibilities takes some juggling in the beginning.  This isn't a bad time; it's an interesting time and you learn a lot.  Taking the time to ask God what He wants you to do and when to do so makes a huge difference.  You might think that God isn't particularly interested in humdrum daily activities, but I promise you He is.  He loves to be invited into our work and in turn, transform it into His work.  Gianna explained it well when she said, "one earns paradise with one's daily task."
  • Having tangible reminders around our home helps us to remember that our faith is living and present.  The Saints are praying for us, and having them around gives loads of encouragement, much like loved ones in frames and albums.  The Crucifix, in particular, reminds us that marriage mirrors the same sacrifice.  We give to each other completely and totally.  This stretches us.  It exposes our faults and makes us vulnerable, but it ultimately helps us rise to new life in Him.
  • Religious orders have rules to live by.  In talking with other couples we are close to, we have found that having regular habits keep us grounded in our prayer life.  These habits might include the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, reading Scripture together, and blessing each other whenever parting.  These times to pray together are crucial, but also making sure each of you has personal prayer time is of great importance.  That might mean sacrificing time together after dinner, but it truly is one of the most loving things you can do for your spouse.
  • The last ways expressed quite beautifully in Gianna's own words: "the secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all the He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day."  Cultivate the habits of thanksgiving and joy.  In all things.  This means transforming complaining and gossip into surrender and trust in the Lord, and having your spouse to help you be accountable is a huge blessing.

I hope you find these small ways helpful.  Whether you're married now or will be soon, I pray that our Lord be a seal on your hearts and the inspiration for your little cenacle.  May He bless you and your loved one with the strength and grace to persevere toward your primary goal of eternity with Him.

In Christ,

Want to be a guest blogger on Captive the Heart?  Email me at!

Friday, July 13, 2012

D I Y: Do Me a Favor

Ladies, I'm so excited to share this with you!  Very gradually and humbling-ly, I've been trying to teach myself some basic graphic design lately.  I want to put the results of it here, not to show off, but to offer you some wedding goodies!  Every few weeks, I'll alternate a DIY project with a printable you can use.

First up, a favor.  Not as in do me a favor, but as in a little token for your guests to take home.  I'm sure there are at least a few saints you've had a devotion to in your personal spiritual life and as a couple, and asking for their continued intercession in your marriage is a beautiful thing.  So, for a simple but powerful favor, slip a medal featuring your saint of choice onto a pretty ribbon and thread it through this card.  God willing, you'll have plenty of friends and family praying for you two in a specific way long after they head home from your reception.

You can download this prayer card by right clicking the blank one and saving it to your computer.  The two small circles in the center mark where you can punch holes for a ribbon or string. To add in your names and wedding date, open the image in a program like Publisher or Photoshop and add in a text box.  Enjoy!

What do you think?  Do you want to see more printables on Captive the Heart?  And, of course, if there's any issue with downloading or editing this, leave a comment and let me know!  I'm not baring my soul here; it's just a document that I want to make the best I can for you, so don't be afraid to speak up!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Economy of Salvation: Not Just Desserts

{creative ways to save your pennies on the most expensive day of your life}

There are a few wedding-related things, like garter tosses and the Electric Slide, that everyone seems to have a strong opinion about.  It's safe to assume, though, that no one will ever really complain about the cake.  Nearly every time I browse through wedding images lately, I see pictures of adorable dessert bars featuring dainty, color-coordinated treats, like cake pops and macarons, alongside the main event.  These setups can reflect your wedding style and provide a few extra alternatives to cake.  That means, if you want, that you can get a slightly smaller cake and offer a bigger selection of other sweet noshes. And, it doesn't mean shelling out for much more food--going the homemade route is easy and delish!

I think a dessert bar is so great, not just because you can save on your cake costs, but because you can use it as a way to share your family traditions!  You know how everyone is always asking how they can help with your wedding?  If you have relatives who love to bake, get them on board with making a few batches of your family's favorite cookies, pastries, or candies.  Display the story behind each recipe nearby, and be as fancy (icing in your wedding colors) or casual (a homey pie setup) as you want.

Get inspired by these sweet setups!

All white treats are chic and pretty.  They match everything!

Or, if white's not your thing, let your wedding colors guide you.

Who doesn't LOVE the idea of an ice cream bar?!

Your dessert table doesn't have to look like a fancy magazine spread.
Check out how simple and accessible this one is!

Candy is an easy, affordable addition, no baking required.

As a lover of baking and all things it produces, I'm curious!  What are your treasured family recipes?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rite Resources: Wedding Flower Rosaries

I love, love, love rose petal rosaries.  There's something about the raspberry color, the association with St. Therese, who has had my back so many times, and, of course, the gorgeous scent that I've come to associate with something holy.

And now, prepare for something awesome.  Who knew that there are people out there who can make a rosary out of any flower petals, not just roses?  Specifically, your wedding flowers?!  When I stumbled onto a few companies that makes rosaries out of special occasion blooms, I immediately wished I'd known about it a year ago.  A double rosary made from the stuff of the day your life together began, which will be a sweet reminder each time you pray with it?  Oh, how I wish.  There are quite a few ways to preserve your bouquet, I guess, but to me, this has to be one of the most special, unique ways to do it.



Floral Rosary

Heaven Sent Rosaries

Aren't these beautiful?  How will you hold onto your flowers?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Inspired: Statement Necklaces

{wedding candy}

Did you ever see that old movie Steel Magnolias?  Southern accents galore, as well as this little chestnut: "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize."  Philosophically speaking, that's not entirely true, but it sure does make it fun to be a girl.

Looking around for bridal jewelry is a task unto itself, but it doesn't have to be stressful!   Obviously, that beautiful dress is going to take center stage on your wedding day, but if it's got a simple, unadorned neckline, a bold necklace can be the perfect way to add a little more flair and top off your look. You can even consider it an investment--go beyond bridal shops, which tend to have limited, overpriced options, and look for a special piece you know you'll wear over and over.  Costume jewelry shops and handmade craft vendors are a great place to start.  Whether you like classic pearls, delicate appliques, or modern geometric shapes, it's not hard to find a little something extra that lets your style shine.

Give these pretty options a try:


Stella & Dot



J. Crew 

Lord & Taylor

Which do you like best?  And, I'd love to know: how are you accessorizing your dress?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Spirit Rejoices: As I Kneel Beore You and You Are the Best Thing

{sweet sounds for your Mass and reception}

Chances are, if you're having a dedication to Our Lady at your wedding Mass, you've been checking out the host of hymns dedicated to her.  There are so, so many beautifully traditional choices like "Ave Maria," as well as a few newer ones, like As I Kneel Before You, that express perfectly a prayer to be united to her Son through her own heart.  There's a lovely, simple chorus that borrows from the Hail Mary in Latin and lines like this one that convey such a desire to surrender everything:

Take this day,
make it yours
and fill me with your love

In college, I was part of a group called Militia Immaculata, a prayer-based movement founded by St. Maximillian Kolbe.  There's a consecration prayer to Mary that includes, "Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death, and eternity, whatever most pleases you."  That part of the prayer keeps coming back to me as I listen to this song.  It brings me such a sense of peace to consider the fact that any of my worries and all of my hopes and actions don't even belong to me; they are hers, and she knows so much better than I how they can be redeemed.  How she humbles me and how she loves me.  She'll pour her protection and guidance over the both of you.

I had a hard time finding a good sample for you, but there are versions on YouTube!  Do any of you know a source for youthful-sounding, nicely arranged hymns?

Onward we go...Ray LaMontagne is among my absolute favorites.  He sings with such an ache.  Lots of his songs are about lost love, but this one, You Are the Best Thing, is about nothing but the glorious feelings of joy and gratitude you find in your beloved.  It's when you feel like they are, in fact, the best thing that ever happened to you.  It sounds glorious, too--check out the huge horns and the choir!  The words are simple, but the sentiment's big:

Both of us have known love before
to come up on promising, like the spring...

...Our hearts are strong and our hearts are kind.
Well, let me tell you what exactly is on my mind

Listen up!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Turn the Page

This is a little off the topic of weddings today, but it's too good not to share!

Every once in a while, I love to take myself on an afternoon date to Barnes and Noble.  I walk around, collecting a pile of cookbooks and decorating books I'll probably never buy, and park myself in a comfy chair to look through them.  When it comes to magazines, though, there's much less that holds my interest.  I love reading about crafts, entertaining, and healthy living, so there's the Real Simple type publications, but when it comes to beauty, fashion, and just being a girl, I always feel like I come up short.  There's only one women's magazine that I regularly read, on the principle that it sticks to clothes, jewelry, and makeup, rather than sex and relationship articles.  Even in that one, though, it's hard not to compare your body and your budget to what they're presenting as an ideal.

Do you ever just feel tired and still hungry when you flip a magazine closed?  It seems like there's never been a solid, moderate mag between the choices targeted at our age group, which basically instruct one how to turn herself into a sexual object, and the more family-oriented choices for older women, which aren't as relevant to our current state in life.

Happily, I'm so excited to show you something better!  Verily is a brand new magazine for young women, with a mission to provide "an honest message that relates to their experiences which is uplifting, affirming, and true," "a holistic and positive vision of relationships to which women can aspire," and "wearable looks that complement women and enhance their dignity rather than compromise it."  You can read about their mission here.  Verily gets that femininity is special--so special that it's not meant to be put on display, used by a guy, compromised for success, or diminished by fear.  Their approach feels like such a fresh, right take on being a woman, doesn't it?  Best of all, this is top-notch reading, ladies!  It's got well-written, quality features, books I actually want to read, decorating ideas I can actually use, and dresses I would actually wear.  Typically, I dream about the stuff I see in magazines, knowing I'll never be able to afford it or pull it off, but everything here is real and accessible.

At Verily's website you can read their teaser issue, pore over their awesome blog, and even learn how to become a contributor.  You can buy a subscription, too.  So go!  Have a look, and breathe in that fresh air.

Have you read the teaser?  What do you think?


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