Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Beautiful and Holy Wedding Ceremony (with Sleepy Flower Girls!)

Is there anything more beautiful and awe-inspiring than a Catholic wedding Mass?  Even when an early morning Sunday Mass is a bit of a bare-bones ceremony, short and sweet and without a choir, it is ineffably moving.  How can it not be, with all it signifies?   But when you add in all the special elements that make up a traditional wedding Mass, where two young souls are joined as one, forever and irrevocably, in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, it is that much more awe-inspiring.

Just a week ago yesterday, our middle son and his Preciosa (that's our new daughter's special blog name, remember?) were joined together in front of God and about 180 witnesses, and it was one of the most beautiful wedding Masses I have ever had the privilege to attend.  It was held at St. Thomas Aquinas on the grounds of the University of VA, and Preciosa's longtime friend, Fr. Tim Holeda, was the main celebrant.
Preciosa, getting ready in the back of the church (with the oldest of the three flower girls).
Preciosa had another special friend, Colleen Nixon (who is a Christian recording artist with the most heavenly voice) fly up from Florida to organize and perform the music for the wedding, and she was truly astounding.  As one of my Pearl sisters-in-law who was in attendance commented, listening to that angel sing made her want to become a "wedding crasher" so that she could follow Nixon around and listen to her perform at other weddings.  The music was divine: Nixon played piano while she sang; she was accompanied by a violinist, and by another male friend of the bride who provided vocals and guitar.  The bridal party processed in to "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" and the bride was escorted down the aisle on the arm of her beloved Papi to the tune of "Doxology" (tear-inducing, I tell you).  During the course of the Mass, Nixon sang a gloriously beautiful Litany of the Saints; and among other songs during the ceremony were "Celtic Alleluia," "How Beautiful" (a two-hanky ode to Our Lord), "Agnus Dei," and "Ave Maria" (for the presentation of flowers to Mary).  The new Mr. and Mrs. processed out of the church to the strains of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."  It was a glorious nuptial Mass--reverent, holy, and perfect.

You may remember that I made three matching flower girl dresses: one for the bride's cousin's 6-year-old daughter and two smaller versions for my 2-and-a-half-year-old twin granddaughters.  The plan was that as they walked down the aisle together, the twins would hold up a lovely burlap sign hanging from a wooden dowel, on which the bride's mother had painted the words, "Uncle M--- Here Comes Your Bride."  Adorable, right?  And the older flower girl would walk in behind the little ones.  In the days leading up to the wedding, both the bride and her mother asked several times how I thought it would go.  " could go either way.  I can see them following the script to the letter.  But I can also see them melting down and falling apart."  They wondered, too, if I thought the twins would allow us to put the lovely angel's breath wreaths they'd had made on their cute little heads.  That was a tough call, too.  Sometimes, the girls will wear not only hats, but flower pots, plastic sand buckets, and similar objects, if the spirit moves them.  Other times, they rip any sort of headgear off almost immediately.  At their age, anything could happen.

And anything did.

During the rehearsal on Friday, Bonny Babe refused to leave her mother's side at the back of the church--even though her dad was pulled out of the groomsmen lineup to stand near the altar and encourage his girls to come down the aisle.  But Cutie Pie grabbed the sign and ran at full speed, with a huge smile on her face, all the way down.

Is that the way it went on wedding day, you ask?

Well, no.  The little ring bearers (young sons of the bride's cousin) came down first, holding hands and sporting dapper bow ties and suspenders, and they were utterly adorable.  They did, however, become fascinated by the baptismal font in the center of the aisle, and they stopped to check it out for awhile.  It took their aunt coming down to meet them to get them moving the rest of the way.  Then it was time for the twin flower girls (who were bareheaded, by the bye) to do their thing...and Bonny Babe refused to leave her mommy's side again, and Cutie Pie ran straight up the aisle again--but without the sign--right over to her Papa's waiting arms.  The older flower girl ended up carrying the sign that had been meant for the twins.  Then shortly after the ceremony began, the poor little things both promptly fell sound asleep on their tummies, identically stretched across folding chairs, with their Mary Jane-clad little feet hanging over the ends of the chairs.  I sincerely hope the photographers were able to capture that scene for posterity, because it was very sweet.  What can you do?  When 2-year-olds need to nap, they nap!

I wish I had pictures from the ceremony to share with you, but so far most of the pictures I have available to me are from the reception.  When I get a chance, I'd love to post some here at the blog.

There is one picture I simply can't get out of my mind's eye--it is indelibly imprinted on this mother's heart: it's the look on my son's face as his beautiful bride came down the aisle to meet him.  Through my own tears, I saw such a poignant expression of joy, pride, love, and excitement on the face of that boy who came into my life over 27 years ago and forever changed it for the better.  During the speeches given by his two best men at the reception, they joked about how he's a guy who spreads happiness wherever he goes--that "sparkles and rainbows" shoot out of his eyes.  Well, I'll tell you: as Preciosa walked down the aisle, resplendent in her ivory silk wedding gown and cathedral-length veil, she made those eyes of his sparkle as they never have before.

There's more to come.  I still have to cover the wedding reception, which was phenomenal.  Stay tuned!


  1. OH Laura{{}} Sounds totally beautiful!! I want to become a wedding crasher too. but when I read about the look on your son's face, I broke out into goose bumps. Sounds like his daddy and he'll just love his wife to bits:):) You both could have done no better, what an example:){{}}

    1. Thank you for these kind words--and the {{}}'s!--Erin.

  2. Wait a minute!! Cutie Pie left my side on the wedding day too!!! She sprinted alone to you guys without the sign, remember? It was just Bonny Babe who wouldn't leave me again. Good times, great wedding!

    1. You're right! What is wrong with my memory lately? She did run--and came right to Dad, right? But then the older girl carried the sign. Everything is a blur to me. I blame the three nights of insomnia before the big day. I'm going to fix this blog post now. And from now on, before I post these things, I'm going to ask Dad if I have my details straight!! :)

  3. I love this. I can just picture the girls sleeping in the chairs. They must have been adorable!

    1. I really can't wait to see all the pictures.