Welcome to Uniquely Catholic Brides and Brides-to-Be on Something to Behold! I’m so happy you’re here! Let me quickly introduce you to our bride-to-be for today: I met Elise when we were both interning at the USCCB, and we found out that coincidentally she and my older brother were walking down the aisle together at a mutual friend’s wedding! The few times I’ve gotten to interact with Elise, I’ve always been impressed with how enigmatic and colorful her personality is! I’m so thankful that she is going to share with us today, and if you like what you read make sure to visit her blog over at Anchored Hope!
All of these beautiful engagement photos were taken by Alicia of Love Knot Photo!
Tell us a little about yourself!
Hello beautiful readers! My name is Elise Crawford and reside in Washington D.C. I graduated in 2013 from Catholic University, where I met my fiancé, Hunter. I recently finished my Masters in Communication at Johns Hopkins in December 2015 and just launched my own digital marketing firm, Ringlet Media this past month!
Tell us about your fiancée, how you met, and your love story.
Oh man! Well, you can actually read the whole story here. We met the winter of our freshman year at CUA. We lived in the same dorm and were both a part of the same Renew group (a bible study). We hung out with mutual friends and eventually became friends ourselves. One of the first things that struck me about Hunter was the fact that he was just friends with everyone. He is the most outgoing and loving person I know. One night during finals week of our freshman year, Hunter led me to the garden behind the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and asked me to be his girlfriend. Bonus embarrassing note: A month into dating, the first time I met Hunter’s family, Hunter told his dad that I was the one that Hunter was going to marry. His dad was absolutely shocked. Well, he was right!
When you were dating, in what ways did you cultivate a faith life together?
Prayer, prayer and more prayer. In college, we were both a part of Catholic ministry so there was some natural prayer time worked into our lives. We attended mass during the week together and on Sundays, which centered our relationship on Christ. When we were in graduate school, living about an hour apart, we made it a point to say the divine office at night together over the phone and recited a rosary once a week together. One of my favorite parts of my relationship with Hunter is that before we leave each other, we prayer over one another, praying for the other’s needs and special intentions. I think one of the most important parts of a relationship is not only nurture a prayer life together, but also making sure to take time to foster an individual prayer life as well. I have noticed over the years that if I don’t take time to pray, if I don’t always put Christ first in my life, my relationship with Hunter is always thrown off kilter.
How did he propose?
I just told someone this story and it took approximately 20 minutes… so I’ll spare you the details 😉 He proposed on November 22, the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Cecelia. He surprised me on the campus of CUA on a Friday afternoon. He asked two of my friends to distract me after class while he drove from Baltimore to D.C. (he was in graduate school at Loyola University at the time). My friends took me to lunch on campus and afterwards led me to statue of our Lady of Wisdom on campus, which is a spot where Hunter and I often prayed during college. There, they surprised me with a dozen roses and a letter from Hunter that were hidden behind the statue (Hunter had placed them there minutes before). It was at that moment that I finally caught on and realized that this was it! My friends then led me to the entryway of the same garden where Hunter’s and my relationship had begun three and a half years ago earlier. I walked down the path to the garden and in front of the garden’s fountain, Hunter was kneeling and asked me to marry him. Afterwards, since it was a Friday, we went inside the Basilica and prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was so beautiful, I couldn’t have asked for a better proposal.
How are you two preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage? How are you balancing wedding planning and marriage preparation?
We are blessed with an amazing priest who has been preparing us for marriage. We took the FOCCUS pre-marriage inventory, which was super helpful and has guided our conversations during this special time. Since we’ve had a longer engagement, I feel like we’ve focused more on marriage preparation than wedding planning so far. One of the things I’ve learned during this time is that marriage preparation is not just a spiritual but also a practical preparation as well. Marriage is a very material vocation! During our engagement we’ve both finished graduate school and started our careers. Hunter and I have been working really hard these past two years two not only prepare for our vocation through prayer, spiritual reading and direction from our mentors; but we’ve worked to approach our vocation with financial responsibility and awareness of what is required to build a family. This was a difficult decision at times but the Lord has been with us at every step. Some of our favorites books that we’ve read during engagement have been: Three to Get Married, By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride, Holy Sex, The Theology of the Body, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse, and anything by the Von Hildebrands. Lastly, Hunter and I have fostered a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe throughout our relationship so reciting the rosary together has been crucial during our engagement. We’re also really lucky that I currently live with an Creighton Model NFP instructor so it’s been great learning the ins and outs of NFP during engagement.
Have you chosen the readings for your wedding liturgy? Why did you pick these? Which is your favorite and why? Hunter and I both have a handful of readings we’d like to use. We will definitely include a reading from the book of Tobit (the scene where Raphael talks to Tobias about his marriage) because I’ve had a special relationship with the angel Raphael since our engagement. I also would like to use a reading from Hosea (2:14 – 24) because this particular reading has had a significant impact in our spiritual lives as a couple. Through this reading we’ve developed an understanding our love for one another and Jesus the Bridegroom’s love for each of us individually. I would love to use the Song of Songs as our psalm readings. We’re not sure about the gospel reading quite yet but the Wedding at Canna is always a classic.
Are you planning on incorporating any special family traditions into your big day?
I’m hoping to use my mom’s wedding veil. I can’t wait to include a moment during the liturgy where we get to honor Mary. Specifically, there is an image of our Lady of Guadalupe that Hunter and I have prayed to for the entirety of our relationship so I hope to have that painting at the church when we honor Mary during the liturgy. Mostly, I’m just really excited to include our family and friends in the wedding. I feel so blessed that Hunter and I will have our closest friends and our family by our side as we recite our vows. We will have a good friend playing the organ for us at the mass and another great friend playing the music for the holy hour after our rehearsal dinner. We’ll have the three little boys I nanny walk down the aisle as our ring bearers. We have heard of the tradition of couples actually laying prostate in front of the altar during the wedding mass to receive the final priestly blessing. We also would like to recite our vows while placing our hands on a cross that we will place in our future home.
Are you planning any special way to evangelize your guests on your wedding day?
I love the idea of displaying the wedding readings during the reception (especially a Song of Songs quote!) Most of our extended family members are not Catholic. We hope to invite our families into prayer and an encounter with God in two ways. First, the summer that Hunter and I started dating, I joined a young adult ministry group called Christ Life that runs out of a Franciscan monastery that is just three minutes from my parent’s house in Maryland. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place that is surrounded by farmland. Since that first summer, this monastery has been a special place for Hunter and I where we have spent much time in prayer and in community. We will be hosting the rehearsal dinner at the monastery and will have a holy hour there that night. Secondly, we will have a full mass as our wedding liturgy. We hope the music, the incense, our priest’s words, our vows and our joy will stir in our guests’ hearts a desire for God. Overall, we hope the welcoming atmosphere of our wedding will allow people to see the truth, beauty and goodness of our faith.
A Catholic marriage is meant to be fundamentally open – to children, to society, to community, etc. How do you plan to let the love between you overflow into a love for others?
Good question! I think one of the most important things Hunter and I want to do in our marriage is create community- a community within our family, a community within our work places, a community in our parish and a community among our friend. Hunter and I are hosting a dinner party this weekend at my apartment! Small things like inviting friends over, inviting them into prayer, into fellowship and into our own marriage will be a cornerstone of our marriage’s charism. I currently live with a family that I nanny for and I absolutely adore them. They have welcomed me into their home and have modeled to Hunter and I what it means to have a marriage and family that is open to the world. And of course we can’t wait to have kids!
Do you have any idea what your something old, new, borrowed, and blue will be? Do you have any suggestions of faith-filled items that could fill these categories?
I have a blue rosary from my grandmother that I will use as my “something blue” but I’m not sure about the rest!
Elise, thank you so much! We are so lucky to hear the wisdom you have shared on long term relationships and engagements, how to build a mutual prayer life, and how to plan for a uniquely Catholic wedding!
To contribute to “Uniquely Catholic Brides and Brides-to-Be” on Something to Behold email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to hear how you planned/are planning a wedding that is uniquely and wonderfully Catholic!