Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Rosary for Engagement and Marriage: a Free eBook and a Thank You

If you'll oblige me with some clickin' today, I have a gift for you!  Pauline Books puts together a lead page for each of its new releases, and usually offers a preview of the upcoming book or some other little extra as a thank you to readers who visit the page or are generally interested.  As we were putting together mine, I was asked what sort of extra I wanted to offer.  I suggested a customizable download of the sample wedding program included in INVITED since my wedding program was such a source of stress, but, oops, they couldn't give away too much of the best book content.  I debated writing a little something about how I chose my wedding dress or my first dance, or specific ways we saved money.  But that all sounded  I don't want this project to be about me; I want it to be about you, your relationship, and your wedding.  Your path to holiness.

So instead, I eventually came up with the idea of writing a short prayer book for couples to use during their engagement and later in their marriage. I told Andrew about it, and he suggested writing prayers to accompany the Rosary.  The Rosary has been one of our favorite ways to pray together since the first months we were dating, and over time we've become fairly consistent in the intentions we pray for each of the different mysteries.  This book is our sharing some of those intentions, a little piece of our spirituality, with you, and we hope they take root and bear much fruit in your relationship.  You can get yours from INVITED's lead page here, and directions for loading it onto your Kindle here.

As a thank you for downloading the eBook and supporting INVITED,  you'll also get a 20% discount coupon to use when the book is released on Friday!  And by the way, I also just want to thank you for supporting my book in general.  I mean it.  Check back next week for two sweet release day giveaways, and meantime, in the spirit of Full of Grace, here's a roundup of past posts on praying together:

Join me in praying for all of the brides who'll find these books in their hands, and as the release gets closer, I'd love to offer it for you.  Email me with your intentions or leave them in the comments, and let know how I can specifically pray for you! 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Clinging to the Cross: JPII's Final Good Friday

On this holiest, most solemn day, I'll get myself out of the way.  I just want to share with you an incredibly beautiful, new-to-me story and image and let them speak for themselves.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Jason Evert's Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves and learned the details of JPII's final days for the first time.  He died during Easter Week, and the book describes the Pope's last week on earth.  At the time, he had just undergone a tracheotomy, concerned he might never speak again, and his body was weary.  John Paul embraced his weakness for the burden that it was, calling it his own Way of the Cross.  As Holy Week of 2005 drew to a close, he was too weak to leave the Vatican for the Good Friday service and Stations of the Cross, so a TV was brought to his private chapel and he watched the service and prayed the Stations there.  He clung to a crucifix nearly the entire time.

Of course, as soon as I read that account I went straight to Google, and the image of this great saint embracing Christ made me sob.  It wasn't just the postpartum hormones.  Here are photos from this sacred moment in time, if you've never seen them before.

Even as the sky darkens and the earth shakes, even as Christ temporarily departs from us, there's joy on the other side and our hope is in the Resurrection.  Have a fruitful Good Friday, friends.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

To First Look, or Not To First Look: What to Consider and How to Decide

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Are you planning a first look with your hubs-to-be on your wedding day?  Five years ago, I thought the idea of seeing each other before our wedding Mass was crazy, partially because I figured that was just how the tradition went and didn't really know otherwise (this was about six months before Pinterest!), and partly because of that line from the movie 27 Dresses about how amazing it is to watch the look on the groom's face, not the bride's, during her walk up the aisle--the first time I saw that movie, I'm pretty sure I hadn't yet had any boyfriend experience beyond a few dates here and there, so I was all over that idea.

And you know what?  Seeing Andrew waiting for me at the altar, tears in his eyes and the most radiant smile on his face, is one of the most cherished memories of my life.  I love that we saw each other for the first time that day right as our wedding Mass started and we were about to become one.  I will say, though, that my general take on first looks has changed since then.  I was coming from the mindset that if I chose to buck a particular wedding tradition, particularly one so tied in with other aspects of waiting for marriage, then my wedding wouldn't be traditional enough or fit in with the holy witness we hoped to express.

Obviously, the Scripture and tradition of the Church are still non-negotiables for me, but I've come to a more subtle understanding of cultural and social traditions surrounding weddings--that's to say that while traditional customs like the bride and groom waiting for the ceremony to lay eyes on each other are very sweet and worthy of consideration, I no longer think tradition alone should be reason enough to choose them.  It's good to approach the idea critically, I think, with an understanding that if you don't want to see one another beforehand, it's good not to pursue tradition just for its own sake, and that if you do, it doesn't make you untraditional or somehow violate chastity.  If you're trying to decide whether or not to do a first look, here are a few points to consider in your decision-making.

There is great joy in the anticipation of seeing each other at the altar. Like I said, I treasure the memory of locking eyes with my about-to-be husband when the church doors opened and I walked toward him.  The Church, the Body of Christ, is about communion, and that's a major aspect of the sacraments, whether they are celebrated in communion or whether they draw us (or draw us back) into communion, or both.  It's a privilege for the community to witness the moment the couple first glimpses each other in the fullness of their identities as bride and groom.  I asked a few brides about their experiences, and Jenn said, "because it was the firsts time that day, all the weight of the moment and what we were about to do was felt, and it was kind of like seeing each other for the first time all over again."  So beautiful.  On the other hand…

...A first looks lets you steal a peaceful moment. If there's one thing I wish had been a little different about my wedding day, it's that I literally didn't have one second alone to talk to Andrew or just take in the experience together, until our first dance, at which point we just laughed at the fact we were married, and that we didn't know what to talk about when all eyes were on us dancing!  Everyone tells you your wedding day passes in a blur, and though in some ways mine did, I'm also happy to have crystal-clear memories from quite a few moments during the day.  But driving off from the reception together, at 11 P.M, felt like the first time all day we could sort of absorb everything that happened.  As happy as we were to see each other at the altar, I think that, in hindsight, we would've also really enjoyed having a quieter opportunity to be together and talk before the Mass.  I think if I'd seen Andrew for the second time as the Mass began, I would've been even giddier than I actually was, excited to return to him and knowing not just on a visual level, but an emotional one, what was in store for us.

Your wedding portraits will probably look different if you opt to see each other before the ceremony than if you don't.  Not better or worse!  Just different, because each choice has a different effect on your timeline.  Since most weddings are in the afternoon, and since taking bride and groom and wedding party pictures take a while, most photographers will snap these images before the Mass if the couple decides to do a first look, and after if they don't.  That means a good deal of your portraits will be from the daytime if you choose a first look, and that you might join your guests at the reception sooner than if you stay taking photos after the ceremony for a while.  If you choose to not see each other before the Mass, there will be that bit of extra time for photos in between the ceremony and reception, and your photographer will probably have you duck out of the reception for one or two bride and groom portrait sessions while everyone is dancing and hanging out, wherein you'll end up with more evening or sunset photos.  Regardless of which option you choose, remember that your guests are there to see and celebrate you, and it's polite to keep each sesh relatively short.

 The Rite of Marriage actually prescribes that the couple walk up to the altar together at the start of the Nuptial Mass.  I know!  The USCCB also points out this opportunity (this links to a video; skip to about 9 minutes for more on this).  I actually had never heard of the tradition of bride and groom entering the Mass together until I went to the wedding of two friends who are both Theology scholars and explained in the program that "Processions, as with everything else in the liturgy, are theologically and symbolically rich.  The most important persons of the day come in last: the ministers of the sacrament for which everyone is gathered.  The bride and groom, who confer the sacrament of marriage upon one another, enter the church last and together, signifying the import of their role in today's celebration and their equality as celebrants of the sacrament."

I told you they were scholars.  Basically, the bride and groom aren't the most important peeps of the day just because, you know, it's their wedding, but because they, not the priest, are the ones ministering the sacrament of marriage--it's an entirely different sort of being the center of attention, one where the real attention is on God and his grace.  Anyway, choosing to adhere to this part of the rite and enter the church together sort of necessitates seeing each other beforehand, so incorporating a first look into it is a nice way to celebrate the moments before you walk through the doors.  Kate said she and her husband "wanted to walk down the aisle together because we were both coming together before God and liked the symbolism," and incorporated a first look into the time before the Mass.

Each of these points invites you to consider different aspects of planning out your day, but if you're having trouble deciding, I suggest considering both of your top priorities for your wedding (other than conferring a clutch sacrament, that is).  Is it photography?  Is it making sure you get to spend time with your out-of-state friends?  Is it tradition with respect to the why and how, not just tradition for the sake of tradition?  Above all, I recommend not viewing a first look as a moral question, but one of practicality and your personal preferences--no matter what you choose, I can promise you won't forget that initial glimpse of each other in your wedding outfits and that first time your eyes meet on your wedding day.  Breathe those moments in, bathe in them, remember them.

Are you planning on a first look for your wedding?  Are you not?  I'd love to hear the reasons behind your choices, and if you're already married, stories of your experiences!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tough Wedding Questions Answered, and a Giveaway: Win a Copy of INVITED Before It's Released!

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If you're reading this, you might be engaged and fielding questions from friends and family members wondering why Catholic marriage involves so many rules, and you're looking for a way to charitably clarify it all.

Or maybe you're one of the ones wondering.  Maybe you have questions yourself, and want to know more than just "the Church says so." So let's change the conversation today.  I think it's time to talk about the truths of the Catholic faith in a way that's not just about rules, but about freedom.

My homes Pope St. John Paul II said, "freedom is for love."  In light of your spouse-to-be, that means that putting him or her first, over and over, will in time become a habit and a choice you actually prefer to putting yourself first.  In light of the Father, it means teachings that seem like rules are actually directives intended solely to make us most whole, most fulfilled, and most alive, giving us the ability to choose what's best for the other and for our relationship with God.  What does that look like in the concrete aspects of wedding planning?  Here, three frequently asked Q's about marriage in the Church, and three answers.  Whether you're asking or answering, I hope these words are imbued not just with truth, but with love.

Why wait to live together or sleep together when you're already engaged?  I get that this is hard.  So hard.  When two people have promised to marry each other, it's tough to see why they shouldn't just go ahead and act like they're married.  But maybe we're asking the wrong question.  Consider, instead, what the point is of serious dating and engagement. At that point, both people in the relationship are committed to each other, whether through their communication or through an actual engagement ring, and if, during that time, you're preparing for the long term, it's important to know what virtues and good qualities your partner possesses, and how his or her virtues will help you become more virtuous.  Someone who opts to live together before marriage is essentially saying they are okay with living and sleeping with someone they aren't married to--a wedding ring won't automatically change that outlook.

Granted, the likelihood of unfaithfulness in that sense is a little extreme, and I know there are couples who live together and genuinely have each others' best good at heart.  Ultimately, though, the fact that your partner wants the fun and romance of married life but not the true commitment of having spoken marriage vows conveys a lack of self-discipline and patience--would most people want to be married to someone who could control their desires and say no, or someone who couldn't?  Choosing to wait until after the wedding to live together is a way to grow in that discipline and self-control.  So, the point of a committed relationship isn't to see how much one can get from the other, but how much one can give, by loving selflessly.

Why can't you use secular music for the ceremony?  My old roommate once came home from a night of going out of curiosity to a country line dance, and she was so alight with the novelty of it all that I asked her to teach me some of the dances.  For the next half hour, we seriously galloped around our apartment while the Dixie Chicks accompanied us via iPod.  Loudly.  Moments like that, of complete abandon and exuberance, lift you to the heights.  "Abandon" and "exuberance" can also describe the experience of getting married--of freely, entirely surrendering your will because you know the joy that's in store.  But, it would be weird to have a country line dance song, let alone the galloping, playing at your wedding Mass, even if the end emotion were the same.  Obviously, most couples would prefer to have something more romantic than that playing when, say, the bride walks up the aisle.  But it's the same underlying principle: music needs to fit the context of the setting it's played in.  So, if your wedding ceremony is set in the Church, the music needs to fit the purpose of worship.

Why can't you write your own vows?  CCD throwback, anyone?  Every sacrament of the church has a specific rite that must be followed in order for the sacrament to be valid--if a priest doesn't follow the prescribed language of consecration, for instance, the Eucharist for that Mass is invalid.  Getting married is the same--in order for the sacrament to take place; that is, for the couple's bond to literally be transformed and suffused with grace, the bride and groom need to speak the language of the Rite of Marriage.  It's more than just input these words, get out this result--it's allowing yourselves and your love to take on something entirely, sacramentally new and humbly inviting God into your life together, knowing it takes three, not two, to live out your promises.

And now, in a totally not transparent transition, I'll say that my book, INVITED, addresses more on each of these questions, along with other hard teachings like chastity, birth control, and divorce, in an in-depth way that I truly hope communicates the wellspring of joy and true freedom to be found in a sacramental marriage, and in a way that feels like having coffee with a friend.  But it's not all theological talk.  There's worksheets to help you get organized, set a budget, and make sure all of your spiritual and practical wedding preparations get taken care of.  There's what I hope are endearingly embarrassing, rather than just outright embarrassing, stories of some of Andrew's and my arguments and missteps during our engagement and first months as newlyweds, and what we learned from them.  There's honest talk about choosing a dress, shutting up your inner temptation to compare yourself, sex and what it's meant for, and (spoiler) even a Rick Roll.  Come on.  I had to save the best thing for last.

Want a copy?  The book's official release is April 1, but I'm unbelievably excited to share 3 copies ahead of time (and it's okay if you're not engaged)!  Enter below, and head to Instagram for extra entries.  Giveaway ends this Sunday, the 20th, at 11:59 P.M.

And can I be completely honest with you?  As happy as I am to see my book about to be released and as exhilarating as it is to think of the ways it might resonate, I'm also SO nervous for these words I've been putting together for the past three years finally making their way into print for anyone to read. Marketing and self-promotion are no joke, and my constant prayer over the past few weeks is just that I might decrease and let the book, and what I hope is its evident passion for helping couples understand authentic, life-giving love, speak for itself and take center stage instead of me.  So please join me in asking the Holy Spirit to guide this project into the hearts of whatever brides--stressed out, returning to the Church, looking to elevate their romance to the divine--and marriage prep programs most need it.  And please pray that the Spirit might lead my own heart to the right balance of promotion and humility, which I don't take to mean silence, but a full awareness that it's not about me.  Much love, friends.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

It's a Date: INVITED Book Release

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Earlier this week, the sisters at Pauline Books and Media told me a set of author copies of Invited was on its way to my doorstep.  After a semi-fiasco involving the mailman calling Andrew to tell him he had a package for us and could he let him in, Andrew chasing the mailman to the other building in our apartment complex after finding out the mailman was outside the wrong door, then Andrew being suspected of mail fraud and having to show ID to claim the thing, I opened up a box with 20 fresh copies of my book, tied together with lace and sprinkled with silk flowers.

Save the date, friends.  Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner will officially be released April 1!  Want one early?  I'll be giving away three copies next week, along with some other wedding dare-I-call-it-swag as the release gets closer!  Follow along here and here to stay in the giveaway loop.                                                                      

Join me in praying for the brides and couples who will find this book in their hands, that their marriages be abundantly free, faithful, total, and life-giving.  And if I could also beg your prayers for our family, Andrew's comps for his PhD are next week, Aaron recently quit on me for naptime, and I find myself constantly thirsting for a deeper sense of peace and rest.  Tell me how I can pray for your intentions, and let me know what you're up to this weekend!  Is it wedding season for any of you yet?

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Collection of Novenas and Prayers for Engagement and Marriage

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Like, I expect, pretty much every other Catholic our age, Andrew and I have spent a good amount of time on the wedding circuit.  There are few things I love more than witnessing our friends entering into their vocation.  Although, obviously, every couple and every wedding is different (unique and unrepeatable, yo), it can feel…not repetitive or tedious, but exceedingly similar from wedding to wedding if I'm not careful.  Seeing the same friends, going through the same process each time of packing up an outfit and choosing a gift, even dancing to a lot of the same reception songs; it's too easy to feel on wedding autopilot sometimes.

But I don't want auto.  Bearing witness to a sacrament between two people I cherish, Love incarnate and grace come down to earth, should be anything but.  And truly, I have cried at every faithfully Catholic wedding I've been to, amazed at the love and anticipation between the couple and renewed in my determination to live out my own wedding vows with intention and joy like I promised I would.  It's the pre-wedding time, with its flurry of to-dos as a guest (particularly when I've been an out-of-town guest), that distracts from the sacrament.

That's why Andrew and I decided to start praying novenas for our friends in the nine days leading up to their union, ending on the wedding day.  We like to ask the couple about some of the saints they have a devotion to and try to choose a novena to one of those particular saints, but if we can't find one or forget to ask, we pray this one to St. Joseph for his example as a wholly loving spouse, his chastity, and his guardianship of the Holy Family.

To my surprise, praying these novenas together has borne fruit not just in the relationships of the couples we prayed for--at least, that was our intention--but in our own marriage. We have our own personal litany to saints we've come to love individually and as a couple, whose intercession we ask at the end of the Rosary, but to tell you the truth, I had mostly ever prayed novenas in times of desperation before (e.g. St. Raphael-where-is-my-future-husband, St. Gianna-please-let-Aaron-learn-to-breastfeed, St. Peter Damian-when-will-my-baby-sleep-through-the-night).  Since we started saying the wedding novenas a few years ago, though, I've come to love adding the prayer time into our spirituality as a couple, as well as the length of time a novena affords to ponder different aspects of a saint's life each day and to be mindful about our intentions for the entire duration.  Full disclosure: even though I've changed tack on the desperation thing, we do have a steady St. Joseph of Cupertino-please-let-Andrew-pass-his-comps thing going on right now.

If you'd like to join my husband and me in giving this pre-wedding gift, or, even better, if you'd like to begin praying for your own engagement and coming marriage, I hunted these down as a starting point for you:
Novena for a happy and faithful marriage: Amazingly, I'd never found this prayer before writing this post.  Inspired by St. Josemaria Escriva's homilies and spirituality, it's by Opus Dei and is truly beautiful.  There's one set of reflections for engagement, and another for marriage.  Andrew and I are planning to start this after we let Joseph of Cupertino off the hook!
A Theology of the Body-inspired novena that invokes the intercession of the Holy Family, the archangels, and JPII for the bride and groom.  In other words, boss.  This will be our personal go-to wedding novena from here on out. 
Novena to St. Anne, mother of Our Lady: Held up in the Church as a model of a holy wife and mother (I mean, how difficult a child could Mary have been to raise, but still.  Not just anyone could've been the grandmother of God!), asking St. Anne's prayers for imitating her example is an act of humility, generosity to your future husband, and an affirmation of your feminine worth. 
Prayer to St. Jude for the healing of a relationship: Self-explanatory.  In the past, I saw healing as something only necessary for major wounds or transgressions, but the longer we have been married, the more I have seen the value in total honesty and a will to forgive and repair even the smallest sources of division. 
A sweet, simple marriage blessing that would be a wonderful addition to your nightly prayers.
I should contemplate this more often, I think, but in a way, wedding guests have a responsibility for spiritual preparation just as the bride and groom do.  Prayers for the couple's marriage and, God willing, future family, is powerful and invites us as guests to experience the wedding in a way that draws us out of passivity; not because it's about us, but because together with the couple, our eyes are fixed on something greater.

I'll end this with two devotions I've recently added to my daily prayer.  First, here's a prayer for your husband that, to me, speaks the language of the self-emptying, other-focused love I strive to give Andrew.  It's beautiful for both engagement and after marriage.  Second, I found this nightly examen for married couples a few months ago and have been motivated but, frankly, embarrassingly humbled by its promptings to hold my tongue, to spend my time intentionally, and to cultivate a servant's heart for myself and more for my husband and my family.  So good.  I'd love to know what prayers you say for your relationship!  Spill.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Advice for Planning Your Nuptial Mass: Interview With a Catholic Wedding Coordinator

Kate C. and I went to college together.  She started dating her now-husband at the start of her freshman year! Kate got involved with being a sacristan for the daily and Sunday Masses on campus, and our chaplain later suggested she apply for an open wedding coordinator position as an extension of her sacristan duties.  A few years after I graduated, we ran into each other at my friends' wedding, which she coordinated during her senior year.  In my experience, figuring out a wedding day timeline, from getting ready to traveling to photos to the Mass to the reception, was one of the biggest challenges, due to the sheer number of vendors, locations, and logistics involved.  So, figuring she's seen the gamut of wedding Masses and gained some serious insight into planning the liturgy and how it fits into the rest of the day, I asked Kate to share her experience, along with a few secrets!

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Kate, her husband Joe, and their impeccable cake manners

Well first, let's talk about what a church wedding coordinator does.  Can you tell me about your responsibilities?  How is being the sacristan for a nuptial Mass different from being the sacristan for a regular Mass?
The responsibilities of a sacristan are to set up, clean up and care for the church before and after a Mass.  A church wedding coordinator can also be the sacristan for weddings, but is primarily there to make sure the wedding goes smoothly and to act as a liaison between the church and the couple.  As a sacristan at a nuptial Mass, it means my focus is split between the preferences of the priest and of the bride and groom for things like how the chapel is set up.

Working on your college campus must have meant you knew a lot of the people at the weddings you coordinated.  How often were you scheduled for the weddings of your friends and acquaintances, and what was it like to be there for their Masses?
I enjoyed seeing my friends fall in love and get married at the Mount. It was an honor to see them get married, and a blessing to watch so many couples follow Christ's teachings so passionately, despite their weaknesses.  I guess was truly able to see the human element of marriage more clearly by watching my friends, relatives, and acquaintances get married.  As a coordinator, I went to a wedding once or twice a month. During my senior year, I went to about 20!

You're a twin!  You were engaged at the same time, and you've mentioned to me, in the past, the craziness of helping plan your sister's wedding.  What was it like, and did you bring in any of your official wedding coordinating experience?
Yes, I have a twin sister.  The dynamics of two weddings within a year of each other is another blog post!  For now, I'll say weddings, babies, and funerals change family dynamics, and because of that, it's important for brides to take care of their mental and spiritual health.

Your job, as a sacristan and coordinator, is to help the bride and groom's wedding Mass go as smoothly as possible.  What's the most helpful thing a couple can do to simplify things for themselves and make your work easier?
The most helpful thing a bride can do is plan ahead.  I know that there are a lot of tiny details and they can be overwhelming.  Two essentials are, first, knowing who will pick up flowers for the church, and second, choosing your readings ahead of time.  It saves both the sacristan and the bride headaches. The couple should also keep extra copies of their selected readings and music.  I can't tell you how many liturgical ministers lose music and readings!

I'd love to hear stories from some of the weddings you've worked on!  Are there any particularly profound moments that stand out to you?  Any funny or otherwise memorable ones?
One couple, an acquaintance of mine, shocked me when they chose John's account of the Passion for their Gospel reading (NB from Stephanie: This is the wedding where Kate and I ran into each other!) .  It was interesting to hear of the sacrifical nature of marriage so openly discussed at a wedding. 

At another wedding, I spent 30 minutes talking to the visiting Franciscan Priest about whether he should wear shoes during the wedding. He insists that the sanctuary should not be marred by unclean shoes. He said if Moses didn't wear shoes in the pressence of God, he shouldn't wear shoes near the tabernacle where Christ is pressent fully.

I also once consoled a flower girl who cried when she realized she wasn't going to marry her brother, who was the groom. She was about 5 years old at the time. I think it was a testament to her brother's character and faith. I was privileged to see this unique family welcome their son's bride into the family.

How did your coordinating experience come into play when planning your own wedding?
When I was planning my own wedding, my experience helped my husband Joe and I plan our wedding liturgy with ease. We knew we wanted a Latin liturgy, so we were able to communicate our desires with the three concelebrating priests.  Even though Joe didn't get the full Latin mass he hoped for, my experience as a sacristan helped me work on a compromise between us and the priests, to have Latin responses to the Mass parts.

Any other advice or planning secrets you can share with Catholic brides-to-be?
Obviously, prudence about what to compromise and when is necessary.  Just because you're getting married doesn't mean you'll get every wedding detail that you want.  As long as your fiancé is the man of your dreams, the details will fall into place.  The happiest brides (and the ones most ready for marriage) are completely focused on God and their fiancés.  These brides are invested in wedding planning, but they know even if they don't get this or that, their marriage is what's paramount.  So, don't stress out, roll with the planning punches, and focus on spending your life with your fiancé.  Honestly, no flowers, pictures, or decorations can compare to building a life with him. 

Here area couple things that are good to know for planning your day: First, any flowers you purchase to decorate the church may act as a donation, including vases.  Different churches have different police, so ask the sacristan how the flowers are handled after the wedding Mass.  Second, though you technically don't have to pay to get married in the Church, parishes may ask for a small donation to help pay the priest, sacristan, and other staff.  Third, delegate tasks to others the day of your wedding.  You will not have time to do it yourself!  Things like handling the flower delivery should be handled by a friend.  Lastly, note that you won't have the church for the whole day.  You may have only 2 or 3 hours to get in, get married, and get out before another function needs to start.  So, try your best to be on time!

Just for fun, I would love to hear your best piece of advice for Catholic marriage, in general!
Remember that love is not a feeling, but an action. You will not always like your husband but your vows compel you to always choose him, over and over, for a lifetime. That is the secret to love and marriage: one must choose love repeatedly. 

Thanks so much, Kate!  Here, if you're planning your nuptial Mass, a few other offerings to help you out:


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