by Jackie Angel
I hated planning our wedding.
Thinking about this one-day event for nine months about made me want to stick a chopstick in my eye.
Not because I felt like I did it all by myself (I didn’t), nor because I don’t like having fun (I do), or because I hate sparkly things (I love sparkly things), but because in a Pinterest-obsessed world where everyone is competing to have the most creative centerpieces that are way better than yours and a wedding that is the most original since the beginning of time, my heart cared much less about the wedding of my dreams and cared more about the marriage of my dreams.
For those nine months, I just wanted to be married to the man for whom I was created all along! I knew our wedding day would come and go, but afterwards I would be sharing a lifetime with my brother in Christ, my best friend, and the love of my life. In my mind, it was silly to spend more time planning for a one-day wedding than planning for a lifetime of marriage.
Thus, our goal for our wedding day wasn’t that it would show up in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, but that we would have a beautiful, holy Mass and a super fun reception with great food and lots of dancing. Of course I wanted a stunning and classy wedding dress, showing that it is possible to be modest without being frumpy—it just took me trying on 20 dresses and searching ‘til Kingdom come. Of course we wanted a cool reception place, which ended up being a vintage-looking ballroom built in the 1920s. But more than that, we wanted God to be present throughout the day.
Bobby and I knew that if we wanted God present in our wedding day, we’d have to do nine months of major preparations—in our own hearts. For our whole dating and engagement, we would read books together—from Three to Get Married by Fulton J. Sheen to Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Dr. Edward Sri to Fill These Hearts by Christopher West to Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken to re-reading Familiaris Consortio (the Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II translated as The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World). During our engagement, we re-consecrated ourselves to Our Lady, we started taking Natural Family Planning classes, and also met with a married couple from our church every two to three weeks. We also went on a week-long retreat/course at the Theology of the Body Institute (where we first met two and half years ago). As we did while we were dating, we would continue to pray together in various ways. We’d go to Daily Mass and Adoration as often as we could, pray the Rosary together, and attend a weekly Bible Study.
The night before our wedding, we decided to have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at a nearby chapel after our rehearsal dinner. This intimate chapel was filled with close friends and family and lots of candles and incense. Our friend, Ryan and his bride, Terese, led the music. Since practically all our friends are musicians, worship leaders, or singers, the chapel was immersed in beautiful singing, sounding like a choir of angels in Heaven. Our baby priest friend (ordained a year), Fr. Victor, gave a short reflection and then had everyone pray over us. It was so beautiful. I can’t imagine having a better way to usher in the day of our wedding. My heart was overwhelmed with peace and joy. I went home to sleep in my bed for the last time as a single woman, knowing that my mind, heart, soul, and body would be taken care of by a man who loves God first and is willing to “run the race” to Heaven by my side. I slept like a baby.
The day of our wedding finally came. Just as everyone said, it went by so quickly. A few things that really stuck out from the day as beautiful “God moments”: praying the rosary with my bridesmaids while across town my bridegroom was praying the rosary with his groomsmen; my bridesmaids laying hands on me and praying for me before walking down the aisle; having a Bishop and 5 priests preside and a few seminarians as servers; having a choir of friends led by Ike Ndolo and Sarah Kroger pray and lead the music for Mass; having 300 people sing soooo loudly in Church that my dad (who isn’t Catholic) said, “I’ve never heard people sing that loud in a Catholic Church—not even at Christmas!”; listening to another baby priest friend (ordained three months), Fr. Ben, give an awesome, funny, prayerful homily about free, total, faithful, fruitful love; taking vows and getting married; offering up the gifts of bread and wine together as a married couple; praying with my spouse after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time as a married couple; offering flowers to Our Lady as my sister, Claudine, and Sarah Kroger sang Danielle Rose’s version of “Hail, Holy Queen”; and walking back down that aisle as Mr. and Mrs. Angel!
When the Mass was finished, it was all downhill from there. I didn’t care if the reception was a dud—but it wasn’t. We had so much fun, so much dancing that our photographer (who isn’t Catholic) even said, “I didn’t know Catholics could have so much fun without getting raunchy!” Well, they can. And we did. And the wedding day has come and gone, leaving behind the wedding of our dreams, and starting the marriage of our dreams.
And thank God that we have been planning for our marriage all along, for we are living happily ever after…laughing often, fighting and bickering in a healthy way regularly, swing dancing occasionally, praying daily, adventuring the California beach and mountains weekly, and loving God and life all the time.
Want more from Jackie and Bobby Angel? Watch for Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Marriage, coming from Pauline Books & Media in September!