Last month I received a message on my blog from Christina Capecchi, who introduced herself as a Catholic journalist and stated that she would like to write a column on me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I decided to go ahead and shoot her an email and see what it was all about. Turns out Christina is the author of a column called Twenty Something that runs in 50 diocesan newspapers across the U.S. reaching 2 million Catholic households, and she said she wanted to talk with me about my passions, engagement, dream of being a Catholic Wedding Planner and my thoughts on Pope Francis’s new letter Amoris Laetitia.
So 24 hours later, a few days before finals, I found myself having an hour and forty-five minute conversation with Christina in which he chatted like we were old friends. We talked about everything from beauty, fashion, and materialism, to the role of faith in culture, the integration of faith and reason, and theology of the body, to post-grad plans, wedding planning, and the Church’s beautiful vision of marriage. I’m so grateful for the time, talent and generosity Christina shared with me as we talked and as she wrote this beautiful column. I’m so honored to be featured in it.
I don’t have the entire list of dioceses that the column runs in and I’m not sure which ones are in print and which are online, but here are a few I’ve found so far:
Feel free to comment and send me the link to more if you come across them!
Below is the column:
‘A WORD TO FIANCÉS’: THE FRANCIS EFFECT ON WEDDING PLANNING
Written by Christina Capecchi
It had been a long Thursday, and Brooke Paris couldn’t wait to take off her heels, peel off her contacts and wipe off her make-up. She changed into her pajamas, climbed into bed and opened her MacBook to the pope’s new apostolic exhortation.
Amoris Laetitia was released two weeks after Brooke’s high-school sweetheart, Timothy Foley, had dropped on bended knee in Mary’s Garden, the grounds behind the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. As he proposed, the sunset lit the flowering crabapple trees with a soft glow, and a fountain trickled behind them. It was the most easy, joyful yes of her life — and it was rooted in a relationship that felt ordained by God.
But since that idyllic moment last month, the soon-to-be college graduate had managed to squeeze in just enough wedding-related activity to make her dizzy. She’d bought The Southern Weddings Planner, ordered sample wedding invitations and conducted a midnight Google search into pricing of reception venues. She had doubled over from the sticker shock.
So she took a deep breath and began scrolling through Pope Francis’ 264-page document. Within five minutes Brooke found herself in Chapter 6, in a section titled “Preparing engaged couples for marriage,” arrested by these words: “Here let me say a word to fiancés. Have the courage to be different. Don’t let yourselves get swallowed up by a society of consumption and empty appearances. What is important is the love you share, strengthened and sanctified by grace. You are capable of opting for a more modest and simple celebration in which love takes precedence over everything else.”
“I knew immediately that that was what I was supposed to find at that time,” said Brooke, 21, a Virginia native preparing to complete her bachelor’s in theology and religious studies from The Catholic University of America. “It was a great reminder that it doesn’t matter if my venue is as lavish as my Pinterest boards. There are ways I can save money and still make my reception a celebration of the love Timmy and I share.”
The timing of Pope Francis’ just-launched reflection to inspire their brand-new engagement was not lost on Brooke. “I think God gives you tools to live out your vocation.”
Brooke is drawing a double value from Amoris Laetitia — for her own 2017 nuptials and for the clients she hopes to one day serve in her dream job as a Catholic wedding planner. She envisions a service that combines planning the liturgy, planning the reception and preparing for marriage.
And she has a clear-cut approach in mind: She’ll begin by helping couples plan a liturgy that reflects their unique relationship and God’s vision for marriage; then she’ll help plan a reception that echoes that liturgy. It’s an approach that reminds couples the liturgy is the pinnacle of their wedding day, not a pit stop to the party.
Brooke nearly bursts with giddiness to consider the rich possibilities of a distinctly Catholic reception. It may mean framing verses from the readings at your wedding Mass and using them as table centerpieces. It could mean asking reception-goers to sign a Bible versus a guestbook or inviting them to write prayer intentions and place them in a jar. It might mean saluting the longest-married couples in the room. It could mean having the groom and bride wash each other’s feet as a symbolic act of service rather than challenging him to remove her garter. It definitely informs the way you handle mealtime, toasts, dancing and alcohol.
Brooke has the courage to be different, and this wedding season she’s encouraging other engaged Catholics to do the same, to heed the Holy Father and let love take precedence over everything else.