Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Four Ways Your Wedding Website Can Help You Evangelize, with Love.
I was twelve at the time, but I can still remember my first encounter with a wedding website for my youngest uncle and now-aunt's wedding. My aunt wore those black Steve Madden platform slides that mysteriously have made a comeback this season (Maybe that's why I can't get on board with the slide/overalls/mom jean trends? They hit too close to childhood!), and within a few months all of my aunts, me, my sister, and a few of my girl cousins all had a pair, too. In other words, she was the coolest, and during those days of a younger internet, so was having a wedding website.
Obviously, it's way more common to make a website these days, but I still love reading about a couple's big day and love story when I get invited to a wedding…or, you know, even if I'm not invited but someone I know is engaged and I still want to read about their big day and love story. Please don't think I'm too crazy.
Aside from the normal deets like the who and the where and the RSVPs, directing guests to your wedding site also gives you a unique opportunity to share your faith with your family and friends. Stating why you believe what you do, in your own words and in a way that's truthful, casual, and aimed at the heart, can go a long way in making your Catholic wedding an invitation to deeper understanding and a witness to the beauty of marriage in the Church. I suggest...
Telling the story of a saint who's had a hand in your relationship. True stories of virtue and holiness speak for themselves, and they also offer you an opportunity to break down why and how Catholics call upon the saints' intercession.
Short explanations of parts of the Mass, like communion and the Rite of Marriage, for guests who might be unfamiliar. On the page with your Mass details, briefly and charitably talking about modest dress in the chapel, who can receive communion and why, and why the Rite of Marriage matters for the sacrament can all go a long way in making your guests (particularly non-Catholics or those who've been away from the faith) feel at ease and not experience any surprises that could be misperceived as exclusive or judgmental, like a non-Catholic not being permitted to receive the Eucharist. If you're looking for a starting point, this post speaks to some common questions unique to Catholic marriage, like vows, music, and cohabitation.
Host an open-invitation holy hour after your wedding rehearsal. One of the most beautiful moments of my life was praying with my best friends Teresa and Beth after Beth's rehearsal, before heading to dinner, in the chapel on our college campus where we'd all, at some point, smiled and cried thinking about our future husbands, babies, and marriages. The tears poured down as we knelt shoulder to shoulder and as I marveled at how the Father had answered each of our hopes and prayers so specifically and so abundantly in the men he gave to us. At another wedding I went to, the bride and groom had their priest and a few friends lead anyone who wanted to come in an hour of Adoration, confession, and Praise and Worship the night before the wedding, and heaven really did touch earth during that hour. Following suit, by planning a holy hour and sharing it with your guests via your website, is amazing for both you as the couple getting married and for everyone who will share in your wedding with you.
Invite your guests to leave their intentions on your wedding site, and pray for them. I love writing a message in a couple's online guest book and requesting songs in the, well, request box on their site, but two of my friends also included an Intention Box on their wedding website. Guests' prayer requests weren't public, so only the bride and groom saw them, and I found their promise to pray for everyone attending in such personal ways so incredibly generous and beautiful.
I hope these ways of evangelizing to your guests really do call your family and friends into communion with you and express what you stand for in a loving way, especially if there are sensitivities among them where faith is concerned. Above all, though, I truly think the best, most important witness of all is one that doesn't even need to be typed and posted--quite simply, the joy of entering into marriage with a pure heart, radiant, evident joy, and desire for complete self-gift is impossible to ignore. Don't worry about it being your personal responsibility to change anyone's mind about the Church; just be yourselves, the selves who so clearly wear their love for all to see, knowing that love flows from Love himself, and what you value and what sets your marriage apart will be crystal clear. I promise!
Did I miss anything on this list? Tell me how you've shared the Gospel with your guests through your wedding site or otherwise!