In the days after getting engaged to the love of her life, blogger and author Stephanie Calis realized that she knew next to nothing about how to get married in the Catholic Church.
“It all just seemed veiled in mystery,” said Calis. “There was no resource telling me what needed to be done.”
Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner helps brides with the spiritual and secular aspects of wedding prep.
But by the time the Maryland native rode off into the sunset with her new husband, she had learned a thing or two about the secular and spiritual sides of planning a wedding. Newly married and unemployed in a new town, with a number of friends sprinting toward the altar, she decided to put pen to paper - rather fingers to keys.
In 2011, she launched her wedding blog
Captive the Heart
into the vast depths of matrimony-related Internet posts. In the following months, she imparted her thoughts and advice, both reflective and practical, to a growing community of Catholic women asking the same questions she had a year earlier. Her fresh way of working through the frustrations and challenges of the modern Catholic bride was a huge draw to those who didn't relate to the resources their parents had used back in the day.
The community grew in leaps and bounds when the blog was picked up by other notable bloggers. Then it happened.
In 2013, Calis received an unexpected email from a different kind of bride - a bride of Christ - Pauline Sister Christina Wegendt. Her email read:
“Our editorial team sees a desire among readers for a book that would address, from a Catholic perspective, planning and preparing for the wedding day, while emphasizing marriage as a sacrament, vocation and lifelong commitment.”
Calis didn't know anything about how to publish a book but she wasn't about to say no to a nun.
For the next two and a half years between working, being a wife and having babies, Calis worked with the Pauline sisters to deliver a new resource to Catholic brides-to-be. But it was no (wedding) cake walk.
“I was an English major but this was the most sustained writing project I had ever done,” said Calis. “(Sister Marianne Lorraine) helped me be less defensive about my writing.”
The end result was
Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner
released April 2016.
I wanted to (provide) something I didn't have when I got married,” said Calis.
The book starts with a master “I do” to-do list and a budget checklist before the opening chapters. In the following pages, Calis walks the bride through each step of the planning process from the initial planning phase and marriage prep, to picking out the dress and demystifying the nuptial Mass. But it doesn't stop there.
“You are building not just a day but a marriage,” said Calis. The planner includes some of the unexpected turns of married life and shares some of the challenges Calis had to work through in the early days. There is even an “intimacy” chapter.
While the book's style and tone definitely speaks to the bride, it is not without input from the groom. Each chapter ends with thoughts from Calis' husband, Andrew, along with questions for couples to discuss throughout their engagement.
Although it has been exciting for Calis to reach brides on a new level, she hasn't forgotten the blogging sisterhood that started it all. In June, Calis wrote her final post for Captive the Heart announcing her new ministry and website called Spoken Bride - a website collaboration of Calis and three other women.
The “about us” section of the site reads: “We are here to spark something. To showcase wedding inspiration that fixes our eyes on the beauty of the Creator.” The site helps brides find talented vendors with a passion for the sacrament of marriage, and welcomes brides to share photos and stories from their big day with the Spoken Bride community.
One might be tempted to ask, why all the fuss? For Calis, the answer is clear.
“There is something that sets Catholic weddings apart,” she said. “It transcends this world.”
Get the book
Invited: the Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planne
r is available in local bookstores,