Wedding prep

Wedding prep

A couple of people have asked how wedding preparations are going. I have to say that I wonder what the big deal is. It’s been easy, but then Melanie and I have two things going for us. First, our motto is simplicity. We have no illusions that we are royalty and so we’re not planning some elaborate event to pretend that she’s a princess and I’m her prince. Second, we both have very similar tastes and neither are attached too much to any particular idea. A third thing (I know I said two) is that we just want to enjoy ourselves.

So far we’ve got most big things planned. We have a hall, a caterer, photographer, her dress, my tux, the wedding bands, her maid of honor and dress, my best man and his tux, invitations are out, we’ve registered at several places, I have our wedding web page done (at Melanie’s web site). We still have to order our cake, get flowers, pick the ceremony music, and reserve the honeymoon. Still, with four months to go, we’re relaxed and feeling good. It’s funny that our parents have been very laid back as well, reluctant to intrude on our planning.

The worst part will be moving into a new place just as we’re getting ready for the wedding. The most difficulty has been with the planning of the shower, which is funny because we’re not the ones planning it. I think if we were, it wouldn’t be a big deal either.

Obviously, as we get closer to the actual date, all those little things that need to be done will begin cropping up and we’ll be busier, but I certainly don’t think we’ll have “problems” per se. We’re both just too easygoing.

Update: I forgot to mention something that happened at the parish wedding music workshop yesterday. They hold these sessosn twice per year to let couples hear the music so they can pick what they want. It was the usual stuff: the marches by Wagner and Mendelsohn. Pachelbel Canon in D. They even had the “Masterpiece Theatre” music. Melanie elbowed me for doing my Alistair Cooke impression.

At one point, the female trumpeter was explaining that she could add an improv fanfare between whatever prelude music they had for the bridal party procession and the processional music for the bride herself. She said something to the effect of “Sorry grooms, but there’s no fanfare for you. The ceremony is about the bride. You can have the reception.” What?!

This is just the kind of idiotic statement that leads people to have stupid ideas about what Christian marriage is about and it’s coming from the parish. If the ceremony is all about the bride, then why don’t I catch up with her at the reception? Because it’s about us.

A big reason why so many marriages fail is because couples have unrealistic expectations of marriage. They think it’s going to be some kind of romantic fairy tale, that the brides are all princesses and the grooms are their Prince Charmings. Sorry folks, but neither is true. Marriage is not some movie romance where they live happily ever after. It’s work. It’s hard work. Love isn’t just for when you’re in your pretty white dress and everyone is oohing and aahing over you (Doesn’t anyone remember the story of Narcissus anymore?), but it’s also when your spouse is not feeling well, the kids are feeling worse, and you’re up at 2 am changing diapers or getting bottles, while you worry about paying the stack of bills sitting on your desk. That’s what love is.

If we insist on creating these fairy tales and unrealistic expectations of marriage and treating our spouses as accessories, not lifelong companion-saints/partners-in-life/loves-of-our-lives, is it any surprise people bolt at the first sign of trouble?

  • Congrats on the upcoming nuptials!

    I too am getting married this summer!

    Are you getting a papal blessing done (I think via Santa Susanna parish in Rome?)??

    Are you laying flowers at the foot of Mary?
    We are thinking about somehow “involving” the whole Holy Family at the end of mass.

    We are also asking for donations to the food bank at our mass..

    Do you have any other interesting ideas??

    God Bless!!

  • Whatever you do, do not, I repeat, do not do that “Unity Candle” thing.  And don’t arrive 45 minutes late (it happened to me once; the average is 15 minutes late).  And don’t buy a glass chalice for the poor priest to use at the wedding.

    I know you won’t do any of these things. 

  • Nope.. no plans for the Unity Candle!!… want to use the “additional time” to honor our Blessed Mother (and Joseph) at end of mass. Also, I want Euch. Prayer 1 used..

    The whole “donations to food bank” thing is to emphasize that it’s NOT “all about us”..

    I think there could be quite a ministry on “secular”  wedding discussion groups on the web.. there is SO much mis-information (and anti-Catholicism) out there – even from “Catholic brides”.. (eg. brides who get SOOOO upset if told that they have to walk down the aisle with the groom – as in a normal mass procession)

  • We, too, are processing together.

    No, no Unity Candle. We’re Catholic, not Protestant.

    I forgot to mention something one of the musicians said. I will add it to the entry above.

  • I jsut found this great deal!!
    A 10 CD set on the Theology of the Body!!! for only $3.90!!

    We went to a presentation my Christopher West and it had a HUGE effect on us!!

    Too bad we live in Canada.. 🙁

    There also is the $1/1CD version from the Marian Foundation..I think EVERY marriage prep course should give EVERY couple this CD…

  • I always tell couples, “Remember:  Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.[Luke 12:34]’”  Too often, as said above, couples think that “wedding” = “marriage;” they spend the whole time of preparation thinking about their “wedding day” and, since the majority of that day will be spent at very generic wedding hall at the MarriottHiltonRamadaHyatt, the most of their planning involves the RECEPTION.

    The average wedding in the US costs $24,000—and almost every penny of that is spent on the reception.

    I ask couples to realize that they are preparing to ask God to seal and strengthen their unity, and that they are coming to His altar to do so.  I ask them to remember that WHAT they are celebrating at the reception is their MARRIAGE, that which they did at that altar.  I ask them to realize, in light of Jesus’ admonition, that if they are spending $20,000 on a reception and $100 on the marriage itself, their hearts will doubtless be on the reception and not the marriage.

    Sometimes, couples get angry with me for being a wet blanket.  I tell them that I don’t want them NOT to celebrate, but rather to do so in proportion.  Today, too many young men and women hold back from marriage [and live together in sin?] because this obscene example of costly marriage parties makes them believe they don’t have the wherewithal to get married.

    Thanks, Dom and Melanie, for doing this simply.  And be sure to send a reproving note to the pastor of your parish for the boorish comment by the trumpet player.  Matrimony is the only “good” left from creation, untouched by original sin.  It should not be diminished by some dim-wit musician.

  • My wedding last summer cost between US$5,000 and $6,000 (not sure of final figure b/c parents did all the food). However, almost half of that was in church fees, service music, and renting the (very nice) parish hall. (I’m not complaining – our parish is very wealthy and very popular but they will cut the fees for lower-income parish members; you have to prove your parish membership by giving your envelope # and contributing at least $200/yr, which is $2/week.) The photography was another $1000. It was a lovely wedding for 80 people (the food ordered was for 100, the cake was for 150). The food was all bits and hors d’ourves and fruit and vegetables from Sam’s Club, along with yummy savories and sweets baked by friends who had offered to help (always say *yes*!), rearranged on lettuce/paper doilies on my mother’s & friends’ silver trays. Mother hired a co-worker from Neiman-Marcus, who works in the restaurant, and he kept everything stocked and arranged. It looked like we had hired a serious caterer. We didn’t have any hot drinks (so we wouldn’t have to rent an urn – it was also July in Texas), and we had champagne (bought in case lots from Sam’s), an alcoholic punch, and a tin tub full of cokes, Perrier, and bottled water (also from Sam’s for children, pregnant moms, etc.).

    My mother and I sat down one evening and thought back over very stylish Dallas weddings that we had gone to, to see, what did we remember about them? Generally, it was the music and the pace of the ceremony, and the dignity and love of the couple (and not trying to “personalize” the ceremony!); and at the reception, it was color in the room, tastiness and presentation of food, enough food, enough drink, enough room to walk around and enough chairs to sit down, good mingling, and the reception definitely having “personal” touches. My favorite colors are lime green and bright pink (think preppy) and my favorite flowers are gerbera daisies, so we used those and built from there. But, for example, we used clear plastic cutlery and clear plastic champagne flutes and plates (however, the kind of plates that have the pretty baroque pattern pressed into them, that almost look like etched glass – we were very specific about that), because in the end do you really remember if the cutlery was silver or stainless or whatever? Not too much. Also, in the church, I just used the altar flowers that were there for Sunday; I also used the florist who does the church flowers, who is both a parishioner and a good florist. But if you can use the altar flowers, it will save a good bit on the flower bill. OTOH, if your parish is horribly ugly, you might want *more* flowers . . .

    P.S. Our parish back home is very beautiful, gothic-type, and besides non-parishioners, non-Catholics apparently ask to use it all the time. I asked Father about this during our marriage prep. He told us a couple of stories, including one about this couple who came in and offered him $50,000 if they could “use” the church for their “renaissance” wedding. Father said he didn’t hesitate to say no, “but I still see that money sometimes.”

  • Sorry, $200/yr is roughly $4/week, isn’t it? You can see why I was an English and not a Math major (though my husband has degrees in both).

  • “This just the kind of idiotic statement that leads to people have stupid ideas about what Christian marriage is about and it_gmt>
    Actually, the wedding is not about y’all so much as the community. You’re making a promise to God and the community. And you enter into the same promise that many have done before you… which is why you’re not allowed to make up your own vows.

  • Yes, I can’t recommend the Christopher West cd’s enough. They would be a steal at four times the price.
    And I’d like to emphasize that they are for everyone, not just married people or people planning to be married. They are also for people called to the single or celibate life.
    You would be foolish not to get these cds. You can give them to everyone you know.  (do I sound like an ad? I really mean it.)

    I’m also currently reading Kimberly Hahn’s book _Life Giving Love_ Also excellent. I think every engaged couple and married couple should read it. It is very well-written, enjoyable, easy to read. An excellent guide to the Church’s teaching about marriage.

    Every Catholic couple getting married should be handed this book and these cds by their priest. In my humble opinion. Not nearly enough is being done to spread the good news.

    We are actually planning to take a bit of advice handed to us on a previous thread and do our pictures before the ceremony. That way we can go straight to the reception and spend more time with our guests. We will walk down the aisle together so there is no need for the silliness of not seeing each other before the ceremony.

    your comment reminded me of one of the petitions from last night’s evening prayer:
    “You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,
    —Make us reveal to the world the love of Bridegroom and Bride.”

    When we got to that one as we were praying last night, Dom and I smiled. This is exactly our vocation. So yes, the reason for a wedding ceremony is that our sacrament be a witness to the community as much as be witnessed by the community.  And not just on our wedding day, but for every day thereafter. We are a witness to the world, an image of Christ’s love for his Bride, the Church.

    Please pray for us that we may receive the grace to be faithful witnesses, growing in love and holiness as we follow in the footsteps of Christ. After all His marriage with His Bride was consummated on the Cross, a fact we celebrate at every mass, for the mass is the wedding feast of the Lamb.

  • Hope your “pre-Cana” is close to true Catholic teaching.  I’d recommend the book “Three to Get Married” by Bishop Fulton Sheen.

    Love is great!  all the best to you both.

    Ann W.

  • Just to add . . . my husband and I had both absorbed a lot before either of us had ever thought of getting married (as you two probably have) . . . the one new book we really read while we were engaged (which was about 7 months) was “For Better . . . Forever” by Greg Popcak. Very helpful. Also CCL’s book on marriage with the readings etc.

    One non-reading thing that was helpful was, my home diocese makes every engaged couple take – oh, I forget which test now, but every couple has to take it, and then go over it with their priest/deacon during marriage prep meetings, discussing the areas where they disagree (like money, sex, family, etc.). Most parishes also have “mentoring” couples for the engaged couples, but we didn’t do that since my husband was up in Canada and only came down once during our “official” engagement. We actually got to keep a copy of our test and go over it together afterwards, and really talk about things more, which was also very helpful. I think that often couples “paper over” any niggling differences that creep up during the engagement, especially the closer it gets to the wedding – people (especially the women) are “afraid” it won’t come off if they face the issues. But my husband and I both thought that God had brought us together and if he wanted us to get married, he’d help us work through to a solution. And so he did! Being honest, facing differences with kindness and charity, and seeking Christ in everything, is the best way to get through an engagement (or a marriage, or, well, anything!).

    Praying for you.

  • Chris K’s mention of the Crucifix reminded me of something. The most treasured gift my wife and I received for our wedding was a Crucifix that is also a y on behalf of my new uncle:

    “She got me today, I’ll get her tonight.”

    I’m going to venture your husband is of a much higher caliber. But many men who fit the profile you have described, are not far removed from the one I have described. Just ask anybody who has ever run an NFP or pre-Cana class.

    I don’t know your age, or how long ago this happened, and I’m sure your marriage is a blessed one. But men’s attitudes have by and large changed over the years, to the point where some of them actually DO care about the details. I know I did, and although the marriage eventually failed, it wasn’t because I was less of a man.

  • Yes, I would say that perhaps <b>some</b> guys don’t care about the wedding, but it is foolish to make that a blanket generalization, much less a prescription for behavior.

    <i>My</i> guy cares very much about the wedding. (If he didn’t you wouldn’t be reading about it in his blog). We have both been very disturbed by the assumption that he is just along for the ride.

    I think even if it is true that a guy doesn’t get excited, we shouldn’t encourage such apathy. Of course, I don’t get as excited about all the same things he does, but we’re in this marriage together.  It wouldn’t hurt him to at least try to be involved even if he does not care about the details.

    And maybe, just maybe, if women stopped insisting on making their wedding into a beauty pageant, men wouldn’t feel shut out. Then there might be room for her to make some compromises that would help him to feel like the day was about THEM not about HER. If lace and flowers and petit fours and all that aren’t his style, then maybe there should be something that is his style.

    If the ceremony is all about ME that sounds like a receipe for disater going into a marriage. Then maybe being pregnant will also be only about me, and changing diapers will also only be about me, and raising the children will also only be about me.


  • Dymphna –

    Marriage is a sacrament of the Chruch and should be treated with respect by Catholics and their non-Catholic spouses.

    I suspect the non-Catholics are generally more prepared to respect it.