Welcome back! After having some other Catholic wedding things to blog about recently, aka my own!, I’m excited to have another Catholic bride share with us about planning her uniquely Catholic wedding! I met Rylee when I first transferred to CUA and we quickly bonded over working at the USCCB, being student ministers, and most of all by both having relationships that started at the same point in our lives and with boys both named Tim…weird, we know. I’ve looked up to Rylee since the first day I met her and I’m so excited that she is sharing the details of her beautiful wedding and how her and Tim prepared for marriage!
*All wedding photos were taken by Lynn Bouwkamp Photography.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I find this prompt oddly challenging… I tend to alternate between the awkward anecdote leaving people wondering, “what the heck was she talking about?” and babbling on for way too long until they beg for reprieve. Just ask my students. And now that I’ve done both, my name is Rylee Kenney. I am a CUA alumna married to a Notre Dame grad. Tim is getting a Masters at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry at the moment so that’s where we call home. It’s also the only place we’ve ever lived as a family. I am a Theology teacher/ Campus Minister for an all girls high school by day and wife and mother by round the clock, because vocation. Our daughter’s name is Gemma, she’s the cutest 4 month old there ever was (spoken like a true mom).
Tell us about your husband, how you met, and your love story!
In Brief: High School Sweethearts attempt the struggle of long distance college relationship and succeed. Their prize? A wedding 3 months after graduation and happily ever after.
The more extended version; Tim and I met on the first day of Freshman year of high school during 3rd period World History. I almost immediately developed a huge crush but for the next two years he dated a few other girls and that one time he was single I was sort of dating a different boy. (I’m calling out your 16 year old self Tim Kenney!) And finally the timing worked out Junior year. We had worked together on a peer witness talk for a Diocesan Program and everything looked like it would finally happen. So Tim sat me down for a serious talk and it was determined that… he needed my help asking out my best friend. Bahahah, cruel joke! When that didn’t work out, toward the end of first semester he asked me to Winter Formal and eventually we started dating. A year later we were facing the reality of college decisions and the possibility of a long distance relationship. We decided that it wasn’t just a silly 17 year old relationship and we owed it to each other to give it our all. Four ridiculously challenging years later (with the exception of a semester together in Rome) he proposed and we were planning a post-graduation wedding. Senior year of High School we won the Class Superlative of “Most Likely to Live Happily Ever After” and it’s been true but only because of the choices we make every day. We are constantly faced with decisions where we have to put the joy of our family first.
- *Engagement photo by Anastassia.
When you were dating, in what ways did you cultivate a faith life together?
This was much easier when we lived in the same town. We would frequent the chapel together daily, pray our decade, and go. We developed rituals and routines, patron saints and liturgical practices. And then we decided to go to school 1,000 miles apart. At this point our shared faith life took the form of discussion, openness and praying for each other rather than with each other. In many ways it felt like we didn’t have a shared faith life at this point but instead that we were pushing each other to strive and grow in faith individually. I think this was essential because we learned, first hand, in our long distance relationship that the goal of our vocation was to push each other to sainthood and not to be a saint for the other. That is, I am supposed to be challenged and reminded that the goal of my life is Heaven and not a perfect prayer life with my boyfriend/ fiancé/ husband. And that’s what I tell myself when I panic that our prayer life isn’t perfect…
How did he propose?
I went to South Bend (also our Hometown) for Tim’s Glee Club Concert Senior Year. After the concert he led me, through a series, of events to the Chapel for prayer and a video and then to his favorite spot on campus. It was raining and there were a group of people singing “The Servant Song” with candles as we approached. He said a bunch of beautiful things that I can’t remember (read: all a blur) and I didn’t cry (why is that the first thing people ask?!? Just because I didn’t cry doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart). We ended our the evening at the Grotto giving thanks, in all things, to Mary and asking her intercession for our family. And then it took 24 hours+ to call everyone we knew. See more about this from Tim’s perspective here: (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/01/not-what-i-asked-for.html ) and here: (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/02/part-two.html ) and here: (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/02/from-tim-part-3.html ) And from me here: (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/02/my-pov.html ) and here: (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/03/november-1st-thought-process.html )
How did you two prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage? How did you balance wedding planning with marriage preparation?
We were those crazy kids who were planning a wedding as we were passing comps, writing Senior theses and applying for jobs. We spent most of our engagement in a long distance relationship so regular and recommended marriage prep didn’t pan out for us. But we were lucky to have Fr. Christian be so accommodating to us. Tim visited us in DC for a weekend and we visited Fr. Christian in Southern Indiana for a few days which were crammed with emotion and extroversion and all forms of communication. There were also different Diocesan requirements and of course Natural Family Planning and we had to continuously step back and remind each other that these were not simply boxes to check.
What was your favorite reading during your wedding liturgy? Why?
Well as a Theology of the Body Junkie, you really cannot get better than Ephesians 5. But I have to say I also really have a big connection to our Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 128, reflecting on the fruitfulness of a happy home and truly asking for those graces in the sacrament.
Did you incorporate any special family traditions into your special day?
- We were married at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Notre Dame’s campus which is the same church that Tim’s parents were married 31 before and we also took many pictures in the same locations and poses.
- My something old/ borrowed was my mothers rosary woven in my bouquet.
- We all got ready in my childhood home and it’s so special for me to have the pictures of my mom and sisters helping me into my dress in my parents bedroom and my sisters all crammed around the mirror as we had developed a ritual every morning on our frantic way out the door.
- Tim and his brothers and dad went back to his childhood home for a few rounds of driveway HORSE the morning of the wedding.
- Finally, one of my cousins was in my parents wedding as a flower girl. When she got married, me and my four sisters were flower girls. So it was really special to have her daughter as a flower girl (with Tim’s cousin) wearing the dresses my sisters and I had worn. And don’t forget my adorable godson as the ring bearer too! Similarly, Tim’s cousin was an altar server for our big day just as his dad had been for Tim’s parents.
How was your wedding day a means of evangelization to your guests?
Tim and I both come from predominately Catholic families, and as Theology majors at Catholic Universities most of our friends are Catholic too. That said at least 90% of our guests were Catholic. The challenge here was not their exposure to Catholicism it was the varying degrees of practicing. Our main means of Evangelization was through our programs. We made sure that they were lengthy so they could be detailed and easy to follow and that responses, explanations, directions, and music were clearly printed so that participation was key. Our favorite way in which we directly felt that we were of service to our guests was by acting as Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. It was such a moving experience to personally invite our loved ones into the Body of Christ as we were gathered at a true Banquet Feast.
What was your favorite way that the Catholic faith was made manifest on your wedding day?
Tim and I were married at a beautiful and traditional Church with a full mass. We followed this formal affair with a night of celebration at a barn in Indiana (without air conditioning). In some ways this might have seemed like a huge clash and left some wondering how to dress, and no one was shamed for changing into shorts for the reception. But it was perfect for what we wanted and dreamed for our wedding day and it really captured who we are as a couple. We had a fantastic, sweaty, casual, heartfelt, dance/drink/ eat all night type of party and a formal, traditional, and intentional ceremony. At the end of the day the reception did not over-shadow the Liturgy and still our guests knew that it truly was a celebration of humble means but overflowing love, gratitude, and generosity.
As husband and wife now, what are some ways that you continue to cultivate your faith lives together?
After getting married and moving to Boston it became important to us to get involved with our local parish. Tim’s a theologian and I work in ministry full-time so our personal faith is something that we try to cultivate together and support each other to prevent burn-out. We serve as liturgical ministers at our parish and have been part of womens/ mens groups too. Ultimately, we try to keep Jesus and our Catholic faith at the forefront of every decision and every day among the chaos and business of daily life.
Do you have any tips or advice for Catholic brides-to-be?
I would say to remain calm and keep focus on what is important but that would be hypocritical (http://mylifemysweetness.blogspot.com/2014/09/chaos.html) because I lost my cool on a regular basis. So maybe you shouldn’t ask me for that kind of advice. But, from a practical perspective, as I tell all my engaged friends, don’t save the program until the end because you will lose sleep over it. And don’t forget to include your brothers on the program… you will have to print again. And if you are going to do a DIY wedding, make sure every family member (immediate and extremely distant) is on board!
Rylee, I can’t thank you enough for sharing with us! Your insight into building a long-distance prayer life and also into including family traditions in your wedding is so valuable! Huge thanks to you and Tim for being incredible witnesses to married love!
Please enjoy this adorable picture of Rylee, Tim and Gemma!
*Photo taken by Christine Casey Photography.
To contribute to “Uniquely Catholic Brides and Brides-to-Be” on Something to Behold email email@example.com. I can’t wait to hear how you planned/are planning a wedding that is uniquely and wonderfully Catholic!