I was at a wedding this past weekend for my cousin. It was a nice little ceremony with a splendid reception.
However, I have to admit that during the ceremony, I wasn't quite sure when the rite of marriage actually took place.
In a Catholic ceremony, it's cut and dried. You know precisely when you've completed your vows and are husband and wife.
In my cousin's ceremony, however, I had absolutely no idea when the union actually took place. There were two sets of vows, there was a sand ceremony that "symbolically united" them (similar to unity candles), and there were two blessings offered. There was also the ring-exchange. My niece kept asking me "Are they married yet? Are they gonna kiss now?" and I had no idea what to tell her because I didn't know, myself!
Granted, that's not a huge deal in the scheme of things. It was a nice ceremony - much nicer than some others I've attended - but it made me appreciate my own Catholic ceremony so much more.
I knew precisely when our Sacrament was taking place. Though our vows weren't "super unique" or funny, or quirky, or any other number of extravagant things couples try to put forth to show everyone just how special their love for one another is, I now fully appreciate the timeless aspect of our simple (and deeply rich) vows. After all, these vows have been around for millennia. They've provided the basis for countless blessed unions. Our marriage, in effect, became a part of this tapestry. It's a comfort to know that our vows are the same ones made by the strong family lineages that produced us. They are like tethers to our ancestry.
Just a musing. Again, I thought my cousin's ceremony was nice, but it struck me as odd that I wasn't sure when the actual marriage took place given the amount of circumstantial "fluff" that's sole purpose was to give everyone the warm fuzzies. And I'm cool with warm-fuzzies, but I feel that for a marriage, you should KNOW when the rite is taking place. It's such an important step in your life (two becoming one and all) that there shouldn't be confusion as to when the moment comes to pass.
Ah well. Regardless, prayers of blessing for them, please - they're good people. :)
My friend and I were discussing wedding attire since we both had celebrations to attend this weekend. When I pointed out I'd be wearing a long dress, she asked me why (especially because it was supposed to be hot).
I pointed out that I typically choose to wear longer dresses to weddings because it feels proper to me. I like shorter dresses. They're fine for folks to wear. I'll wear them to weddings, too, especially if I know it's going to be unbearably hot. However, I tend to prefer longer gowns if I can suffer through the heat because I believe in the Presence of God that participates in a very special way during weddings.
She shrugged and said, "But isn't your wedding outside? It's not in a Church."
I affirmed she was right, but it doesn't really matter where a marriage takes place. The couple makes their vows before God and man. God is intrinsically present during a marriage because sacramental marriage is one of His most precious gifts to humanity. It is through marriage that a husband and wife most closely resemble the Holy Trinity - God, Himself. This is even true of a priest. A priest is not "God-like" even during Consecration. In fact, during Consecration, he hands his body over to become a vessel for Christ. For a married couple, however, their charge is to emulate the Trinity. That's huge!
Just as the Father and Son are one, so too are husband and wife. Just as the Father and Son bring forth the Spirit through their Love, so too do husband and wife bring forth children through their love. The Trinity is, quite truly, a family. Obviously Theirs is a divine relationship that we cannot begin to fathom, but through the marital bond, we come to understand this relationship a bit more.
Because this Sacrament is calling us to such a holy and divine emulation, God is joyously present at the union of two souls.
Do not think for a second that just because you see two bodies still before you after vows that their souls are not linked. What God joins at the altar through the free consent of his children, no one can separate. It would be easier for you to melt two white candles together into one only to separate them once again.
God takes delight in the souls who find joy in one another. So of course He is present when two souls take the step of coming together in such a sacred way.
Thus, I take care to dress in a way fitting His Presence. Long gown with shoulders and back covered is typically the route I go. The dress I chose fit her color scheme (spring-ish) but since it was a bit more showy of my shoulders and back, I wore a shawl throughout the ceremony and blessing. Only after these parts did I dare remove the shawl.
So that's what I tend to keep in mind when dressing for weddings (aside from the obvious "Don't Wear White and Don't Wear a Tiara" rules). God is going to be present, and He's going to be SUPER giddy that two of His beloved children are vowing to live the rest of their lives in a way that more closely resembles Him.
He's coming decked out with Divine Graces. The least I can do is be somewhat presentable, ya know? *Grin*
I was honored to attend a beautiful wedding this past weekend. I was asked by this couple to do a blessing before the meal in addition to a reading at the ceremony.
Now, before any traditionalists reading start wagging their heads, relax. These two didn't get married in a Church, so I didn't set off any atom bombs by making my way to the pulpit.
However, when I was trying to write out the blessing, my friend poked over my shoulder and said, "Are you even allowed to do that?"
I laughed and said, "I'm not trying to preside over the marriage, if that's what you're asking. I was asked to lead prayer before lunch. You say grace before meals, right? This is exactly the same, only it's in front of a bunch of people there to tie one on in honor of the marriage."
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. I think he was somewhat scandalized that anyone but a minister would be asked to do such a thing. The fact that I - someone he related to as a "super traditionalist" - would consent to do something so "modern" threw him for a loop. So I explained it again.
"Mothers are called upon to bless their children. Friends bless one another through prayers and works of charity. Wives can bless their husbands. Priests aren't the only ones capable of speaking words of blessing. I mean, when someone sneezes, should I keep my mouth shut because I don't have the proper anatomy?"
There is a difference between attempting to play priest by offering the words of consecration (or even the blessing of the Church) and being a loving friend who offers words of blessing before their wedding luncheon.
In that analogy, he finally understood. I wasn't doing anything improper because I wasn't attempting to inflate my position. It was a simple leading of prayer - and I say "leading" because my words were likely those that were on the hearts of many present (my atheist husband not included - ha).
So while composing this prayer, I felt I should keep two things in mind: the Truth of Marriage (it being a sacramental gift that calls us to emulate God) and gratitude for both the meal and the couple, themselves. This is what I came up with:
Let us begin as we should all things...
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord, we thank You for this feast. Moreso, we thank You for the couple that this feast celebrates. Their sacramental marriage is a reflection of You - unifying, creative, self-sacrificing and unconditional. Thus, we thank You for joining together S** and B**** so that their love can forever be a beacon of Your Love.
We ask that you bless this meal, for it is through this meal that we all partake of their joy. Bless our drinks which we raise in their honor. Finally, bless all of us present here today - expectant witnesses of the multiplication of love their marriage has already brought forth and will continue to bring forth for years to come. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
Pretty non-heretical, right? So yes - a woman can most certainly bless. We are called to. A blessing is not simply the words of Consecration. A blessing can be listening to an upset friend, offering a ride to your coworker who just missed her bus, or even leading Grace before a wedding feast.
I have been incredibly busy the last few days (as you could probably guess from my lack of posting).
Anyway, some good and blessed news!
First, I attended the beautiful wedding of two wonderful people up in NY on Saturday. The 5 hour road-trip was a ton of fun, and the end result of the ceremony and reception will be fond memories I'll always treasure.
The rest of the weekend I spent filling orders and creating new earrings (which I've now posted to the store... mostly).
Also, I was privileged to see one of my best buddies for his birthday as an unexpected bonus. How incredible is that???
And finally, please shoot a prayer of thanksgiving up to God for the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
And yes, I just said the miracle of my friend's bike accident.
While he was on his way to the wedding, he was thrown from his motorcycle at about 80mph. The angels must have been with him, because he ended up walking away with a dislocated shoulder and road burn.
80mph on a highway into a guardrail, and the boy not only survived, he was able to leave the hospital the very next day.
God is incredibly good to have protected him from what could have been fatal. Thank you, Lord, for keeping an eye on him. We like him around. :)
Here are some pictures!
My oldest friend from high school, Theresa, got married last weekend. I can't wait to see the professional pictures of her because none of the ones I snapped do her or her dress justice.
As a married woman who was over the moon for her own wedding dress, I can honestly say that Theresa's out-shone mine by at least 10 light years! Her train was beyond magnificent. The lace, jewels and satin made her look exactly like the princess she's always wanted to be. I was (and am) so happy she and John finally exchanged vows!!!
Vince was her ring-bearer. He escorted a beautiful little girl named Allison down the aisle. They were SO CUTE together!!!
Unfortunately, Vince was a bit of a terror during the service. During rehearsal, the priest allowed Vince to run around the sanctuary. I had specifically corrected Vince three times, but the priest told me not to bother each time. He said, "Don't worry - it'll make for a cute photo op."
I knew, as any parent of a toddler would, that allowing that behavior during rehearsal was just about the worst idea ever. Vincent doesn't understand the difference between a rehearsal and the "real thing." Thus, if it's okay to run amok in a church Thursday night, it should be perfectly fine to do the same on a Saturday.
As predicted, that's exactly what happened.
I wonder how long it's going to take me to re-teach him that we don't act that way in a church. *Sigh*
Luckily he didn't knock the candles over or rip Theresa's dress. He basically ran up and down the sanctuary steps a few times during the exchange of vows and climbed into Father's seat, evading the attempts of groomsmen to wrangle him in.
Ah well... at least he was attempting to mimic a priest. I can't be entirely upset about that prospect. Ha ha ha!
Speaking of priests, the one presiding at Theresa's wedding Mass was the president of our now defunct Cardinal Dougherty High. It was fabulous to see him. He looks wonderful and his personality is still gentle and welcoming. As I watching him go through the rehearsal, I couldn't help but think that his handling of people was the primary reason God chose him to be a priest.
He is so incredibly genuine when he's in priest mode. He goes out of his way to make sure everyone feels welcomed and cared about. It's rare to be able to pull that off with a huge group of people so effortlessly, but he's incredibly consistent (which is probably why they made him President of Dougherty).
Anyway, his homily was great. He should make it available to other priests as a general "go-to" wedding homily. He gave a lot of good advice - chief among them to remember that God blessed them with one another. In order to make it to Heaven, they NEED each other. They need to rely on one another precisely because God brought them together for the purpose of reaching Heaven. The unique challenges they each bring will compliment the unique strengths they have, and together, they will live a life which aims for Heaven.
Married couples would do well to understand this. Our spouses are NECESSARY. They are the ones we are given precisely because they will challenge us to grow in love. They will challenge us to sacrifice... to hope... to trust.
It was a wonderful reminder to me, and it made my heart sing a hymn of thanks for such a beautiful reminder that I've been truly blessed with John. He has challenged me to trust... to hope and to sacrifice. All of that has deepened my capacity to love and has very much led me down the road towards my rekindling of faith. I am a better Catholic today because of John (something he'd probably be loathe to acknowledge - ha).
So yes... your husband or wife is a blessing sent directly from God, Himself, for the express purpose of ensuring your soul gets into Heaven. How wonderful is that? :)
Theresa and I
Today I got to help throw my friend, Theresa, her bridal shower. It was a blast!
I even wore pink for the occasion (she's a huge fan of pink).
Anyway, it was really nice getting to meet all the wonderful ladies who've been dropping me messages and phone calls these last couple months with their respective RSVPs. Putting a face to the lists of names I now seem to have memorized is nice. Ha!
Anyway, since this is one of the five separate parties I've been helping to coordinate, one of my friends asked me to list some of the things I ended up doing that weren't trashy or marriage / bride degrading.
May this help her and the rest of you looking for fun things to do for a shower!
Vistaprint. Seriously. For anything printed, I use Vistaprint. It's like the Salvation Army of print shops. I chose a postcard format with a butterfly backdrop (since she loves butterflies) and went to town.
I stayed super simple on this one. I created my own crossword puzzle using an excel spreadsheet (for the blocks) and Word for the clues. I used clues that were unique to Theresa and her fiance, but I tossed in some general "wedding" hints in there, too.
We also had a candy counter filled with Reeses Pieces (due to Theresa's sometimes nickname in high school - Reeses). Folks could guess how many pieces were in the dispenser and the closest number won the dispenser. We ended up giving it to a woman to take back to her 1st grade classroom. :)
Finally, little things like winning a prize if the bride opened your gift first, if you had a sticker on the back of your poem (part of the favors), or best "First Kiss" story (done at the individual tables) kept folks entertained as Theresa opened the line of presents.
I don't know if this'll help anyone, because these were really, REALLY specific to Theresa, but who knows?
Keeping the butterfly theme going, I found these incredible Murano glass butterfly keychains online. I tried to get them in pink (her favorite color), but they only made them in purple / blue. I got them anyway, because I knew she'd still really like them (especially since they matched the invitations).
From there, I knew I'd want to make her chocolate keys to go along with the keychain. I found the molds online (Amazon, I think) and purchased the meltable candy from AC Moore. I also got little pink heart candy to spruce up the key molds a bit.
Finally, to tie everything together, I wrote a poem entitled "The Key to Love."
Back in high school, I used to keep a book that would keep tabs on all the poetry I'd write. Theresa would sometimes keep track along with me, and after I hit the 200 mark, she said I'd have to write her wedding vows one day. I replied that I wouldn't write her vows, but I'd definitely write a poem for her. This was that poem, and it tied together the favors nicely.
This is what it all looked like:
Prizes - I admit I went a bit overboard on these, but I like variety!
I ordered a bunch of yummy smelling candles online. They were wonderful, a great price, and who doesn't love a yummy smelling candle? Theresa and her mom love those things, so I figured if we had any left over, they'd be more than happy to take them.
A couple nice accessory scarves found their way into the prize bags because I found them on sale while I was at AC Moore.
Two pretty (and sweet smelling) perfume spritzes were also found on sale, so they, too, found their way into the prize bags.
Oh, and the cake - Theresa's mother wanted to provide the cake, so when she asked me what should go on it, I said, "Just make sure it's pink and has butterflies."
This is what she came up with:
So that's about it. Lots of fun was had by all. Happy planning to all you ladies out there!
Oh! And the wording to the poem:
The key to love is simple
yet so very hard to find -
For some it's in a sonnet
or two roses intertwined.
For others it's a mystery
with an ever-lasing quest
to find "the One," a soul-mate
or the man most richly blessed.
There are those who search in vain
amongst novels, songs or plays
for this key that's ever hidden
in an ordinary haze.
The key is not some trophy
or a prize that's won and done.
It's a friendship that rekindles
with each rising of the sun.
So search out not a soul-mate
or a lover, god or spouse
Look not in romance novels
or in bankrolls, cars or house
The key is there before you
in a friendship strong and true
Love, sacrifice and compromise
The vows of "Yes, I do."
(She's a fan of rhyming quatrains... at least those were her favorites back in high school).
Photo of my silk-bouquets!
Father Z had an interesting post today that got the cogs in my little brain churning today.
Someone had asked him about the tradition of giving the Blessed Mother a bouquet of flowers during a wedding ceremony / Mass.
He basically answered, "I have no idea how it started, but since it's not in the rubrics, it shouldn't be done during a Nuptial Mass."
I'm neither here nor there with his answer, especially since he opened the combox for others to chime in since he wasn't sure of these traditions. I'd say that's fair.
However, I'd have to say I disagree with his assessment that it "shouldn't be done" at the Mass. As many of the commentators posted, this could easily be something as simple as a bride wishing to pray before a saint after Communion. So what if instead of just prayer offerings, she's got a little fistful of flowers?
For my own wedding, this was my most cherished moment. Considering I had planned my whole wedding around the Blessed Mother (month of May, my colors were "Blessed Mother Blue" and I got married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, etc, etc, etc), I wanted to be SURE to pay her this respect during the Ave Maria reflection after Communion.
I know - 110% KNOW - she interceded for John and I. I know it. She's still doing it. So when I got down on my knees before her with my bouquet of flowers (the only real ones I used the entire day as my sister is allergic to them), I sobbed like a little baby in gratitude. It was the only time I cried that whole day. I was so elated, so thankful, so touched by her maternal love that I couldn't contain myself and needed SOME way to express my gratitude. My flowers, prayers, and tears were all I had to offer. I also entrusted my marriage to her then, too.
So there is, in my opinion, a beauty to that gesture. I can't speak for other brides, but that moment wasn't about me - it was about Our Lady and the knowledge that she interceded for our marriage at the Throne of God before we had even met. I really do believe that.
***BTW, I'd love to claim that I created those gorgeous bouquets, but I did not. My best friend, Mary, and her mother spent hours hand-crafting those beauties. They're silk flowers, believe it or not, because my one sister is allergic to the real thing! So they created 7 smaller bouquets, my larger, cascading one, 10+ boutineers, several corsages, and probably several pew arrangements, too!***
So I got the distinct pleasure of joining my friend and her mother for some wedding fun today!
I arrived in time to see her waltz out of the room in "the" dress. She had that familiar, dopey look on her face that screamed "I'm a princess! I'm a flippin' princess!" and I knew she'd found her gown.
She beat my record. The one you see to the right was the 3rd one I tried on. Theresa snagged hers in two. Of course, she cycled through a few more that day, but her mom and I knew... it was pointless. She was smitten with dress #2. And for good reason! She really did look fantastic. :)
All the excitement brought back memories of my own wedding. It's incredible how quickly time flies and how much changes in so short a span of time.
This picture of me? I'm leaving my mother's house and herding the bridesmaids into the limo-bus as quickly as possible. I couldn't wait to make my way into Jersey to get the ceremony started. I couldn't wait to marry my best friend. I couldn't wait to start that chapter of my life!
Here I am, four and a half years later, and I've still just begun. I've got a wonderful, perfect little boy who has made my world a million times more beautiful, and his daddy is the picture of awesome. I've been blessed in ways I doubt I could ever fully comprehend.
In fact, that was the only moment I cried the entire day. As I was presenting the flowers to the Blessed Mother, I couldn't contain my tears. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for having been given such a wonderful man. I had always asked for her intercession (and her mom's, Saint Anne) in this regard - I always prayed for a good, strong man to create a family with. They were kind enough to grant me that favor through John.
So even when we hit our rough patches, in the end I still know I've been blessed in countless ways with him.
This is what was running through my mind as Theresa was running through dresses. I prayed that she, too, would be able to look back on these moments and see how far she's come - grateful for the blessings and hopeful for the future they'd build together.
All in all, definitely a great day.
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