After weighing the positives and negatives of using the perfect pastor as our officiant versus marrying in the church I grew up in, I decided that the meaningful location just couldn’t compare to having an officiant who truly embodied the religion we were marrying into. So, to the dismay of my mother, I contacted Father Chuck and let him know that we’d like to set up our ceremony at his parish.
After much back and forth on the date (he’s a very popular priest at a very popular church, so finding a date that worked with the church and my very popular reception venue was not an easy task), we settled on July 3. I wasn’t thrilled that it was a Friday, but it’s a national holiday because July 4 falls on a Saturday. So it should still feel like a Saturday wedding, plus all of our vendors would be less expensive on a weekday! As we went back and forth on the date, Father Chuck let me know that finding a date was the hardest part of the planning process—I hope he was correct!
The Catholic Church has a bad reputation for putting engaged couples through hell (no pun intended) when they try to get married within their religion. Father Chuck was amazing, but he didn’t make all the rules, and we weren’t sure just how many hoops we were going to have to jump through to survive the planning process. Andrew and I have been living together almost four years, so we figured that might be an issue. We also hadn’t exactly been devout Catholics since going to college; we’d become those twice-a-year churchgoers I always judged when I was a good Catholic attending Mass every Sunday. But we also said we weren’t going to lie about any of these facts, because, well, who would actually lie to a priest?
So we met with Father Chuck and went over the guidelines and ground rules of what we needed to do to get married. It actually wasn’t nearly as complicated as we thought it’d be. Other than a bunch of paperwork, there were really only three things we needed to do to get married at Good Shepherd. First, we had to take a Scantron personality test to identify any problem areas that Andrew and I (and the church) should be worried about. Then we’d have to meet with a sponsor couple at least five times before the wedding. The sponsor couple is two people from the parish who have been married for a while and can give us real-life advice on how to make marriage work. The last activity is what I’ve come to call “marriage school”—a daylong or weekendlong retreat with your soon-to-be spouse on how to be a good, married Catholic couple. All in all, not too bad!
The meeting really eased our fears about the complications of this whole process—I really should’ve known it wouldn’t be all that bad with Father Chuck. Best of all, he didn’t flinch at the fact that we lived together—he seemed to expect it! So we scheduled a time to come back and take our personality tests and then left the church with a huge sigh of relief. We had a bit of time before the test, so now it was time to shift focus to other important tasks . . . like figuring out if my bargain dress was the dress. I guess it’s back to the bridal shops for round two.
Lisa Marie, a local bride-to-be, writes every Friday about planning her wedding, which will be in Washington in July. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.
If you like reading about Lisa Marie, make sure to check out our other blogging bride-to-be, Eleni, who writes every Wednesday. Follow her adventures here.
To read the latest Bridal Party blog posts, click here.