Tag Archives: weddings

Serena’s Wedding Toast

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BY RACHEL

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I can’t tell you how excited I am about this wedding! Actually, I (like many of you here) may be able to claim the dubious honor of being excited about this wedding before it was for sure going to happen. Actually before there was a couple. Oh dear, possibly before I was technically friends with either party?

 

This is because this marriage has been a while in the making. I remember when I was just getting to know Serena freshman year at UD. Several of us were sitting in that cozy tea filled dorm room in Catherine Hall. I asked “So… you and Anthony…?” And of course she said… “Oh god, no! Why does everybody think that?!”

 

Well, part of why everybody thought that is because (I am pretty sure) that Anthony knew that. But he also knew the value of patience, but we will get back to that.

 

You frequently hear the phrase “Opposites attract.” And it is sometimes true. For instance, Anthony is capable of being ON TIME. However, I have also developed a theory from watching my friends fall in love: the most beautiful couples work because (even when they are radically different in superficial things) at a deeper level, God has blessed them both with one or two of the same gifts. A blessing so rare that only the other person can really appreciate the value of that virtue. There are two gifts I have seen running through every part of Anthony and Serena’s beautiful relationship.

 

Let’s start with the virtue of Patience. Anthony, here’s to you. From O’Hara before Freshman year (when, I’m guessing, you knew that this girl was the one?) to Mike Lococo’s 21st birthday party Junior year when y’all actually started dating for real is a long time to wait for a date. And you spent every minute of it being the best possible friend. Never pressuring, always caring for her. Amid the difficult times that came over those 2 years, you were a rock and the picture of true generous patience.

 

Serena, here’s to you. From the end of Senior year until this August is a LONG TIME of long-distance relationships, train schedules, bus schedules, and negotiating the rival demands of grad school, work and endless labs. And you managed it, quietly trying to adapt your plans so that when the time came, you would both be ready. That is patience the like of which I cannot even fathom.

 

The other virtue that both Anthony and Serena have in spades is care. I am not sure that is quite the right word. I want to call it present-ness too, but that isn’t exactly it either. Let me explain:

 

You may have noticed a tea theme in the room tonight? Maybe? Remember that beautiful tea and pillow-filled room I mentioned from Serena’s freshman year? Serena’s room is ALWAYS like that. When you come in with a problem, she has the gift of knowing that so many of the problems we face can actually be fixed by a cup of tea. Or (once she moved into an apartment with a kitchen) something delicious and artery clogging. Even when we didn’t have tea readily available on our Rome, Serena was blessed with the ability to be present and care, not in an abstract way, but in a solid way for those around her. I came to value this gift all the more when we moved to different states after college and I realized that my best friend’s caring and present-ness can miraculously extend across at least 1,425.8 miles. By the way, that is how far our houses have been apart for the past couple years. And it sucked.

And against all odds, Anthony has the same gift, though not in the same way. (Anthony, I am sorry, you will never be quite as awesome at tea-and-oxytocin as your wife… you might be able to give her a run for her money in the cooking delicious things department. )However, Anthony also takes care of people. I remember figuring this out on a trip to Cinque Terra with 16 BILLION people. Maybe it was only 10… but still. While most of us were fighting the urge to strangle each other, Anthony quietly took care of us. While most of us whined, were indecisive, snapped at each other, and generally made each other miserable, Anthony printed schedules, looked up maps, and figured out our actual options so that when the rest of us calmed down, we could make a choice. (Incidentally, this quality of taking care of people is what earned him the endless envy from his junior year roommates who called this type of behavior “Just being The Sig”. I am pretty sure Anthony has never met a problem he couldn’t eventually work out. From traveling to camping to Serena. Boy did we girls love him for that! And, MAN were those boys jealous!)

 

So, those are the qualities. Patience pretty obviously played into Anthony and Serena’s relationship. But actually I have to tell you a little more about how that “care-taking” gift that they share has become to me the emblem of a beautiful and equal relationship.

 

As some of you may know, UD has a Rome semester, which can be miraculous. What very few people will tell you is that the semester after our Rome semester is not exactly a walk in the park, and it certainly wasn’t for Serena and I. When you come back, having learned more about yourself than you thought possible or really… necessary, figuring out how to live a normal life in Irving can be difficult. I lived with Serena that semester, and what I remember most (aside from her perpetual snooze-button-routine every single morning) was Anthony. (Remember, this is before they were dating). Anthony was always there. Always ready to reorganize his schedule so that he could bring her food, or study with her, or sit with her, or just be normal with her when being normal was difficult. Anthony took care of her.

 

So much so that even knowing how gifted she is at caring for people, I wondered how she would ever be able to be as present to him. But she was! The December after they started dating, Anthony came down with what I can only describe as the plague. Technically it was just mono, but it was awful and (over-acheiver that he is) ANTHONY WOULD NOT JUST SLOW DOWN AND SLEEP. So he got worse and ended up dehydrated and sick in the hospital, and I got to see just how much Serena could take care of Anthony. Sitting in those waiting rooms, I was blown away by the lists of questions Serena had written down to ask the nurses and doctors. (Later she told me she got them from her wonderful mother). Every free moment she was at the hospital. She kept the most organized log of what and when Anthony ate, what he drank, which medicines he needed, etc. etc. When they got out of the hospital, she lovingly force-fed him every vitamin and homeopathic cure known to man until he went home to St. Louis. Serena took care of him.

 

I remember looking at them and thinking – as I have done on many occasions before and since – “So this is what a relationship looks like.” They have been an example to me. Not only of a good relationship, but of the virtues that make a good marriage possible.

 

So, without further ado, let me propose a toast: to Anthony and my best friend Serena. I can think of no better people to set out on this adventure, and no better virtues on which to build. Be patient with each other. Take care of each other. And thank you.  

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On my Sister’s Engagement

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Hello everyone! My name is Teresa. I’m Selina’s older sister and Matron of Honor. First, I just want to say how happy I am that we have all just witnessed this truly beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony between Selina and Andrew. And I have just one thing to say about it… FINALLY.

In all seriousness, though, this has been a long journey.  Selina was saying that as of yesterday, she and Andrew had been engaged for seventeen months.  Now, I know that they didn’t necessarily plan their engagement this way, and it’s been difficult for them to wait so long to finally be married.  But I just want to say that it has been one of the most beautiful engagements I’ve ever witnessed.

I was blessed enough to move home just a couple months before Selina and Andrew were engaged, so I was able to be there—and to be with Selina—for much more of it than I would have otherwise. As Selina’s older sister, I can say that she and Andrew both have grown so much these past seventeen months, and I want to tell you all about a few of the virtues that I’ve witnessed in their engagement—that I know now are going to be hallmarks of an amazing marriage.

I think the first big challenge in Selina and Andrew’s engagement came the spring after Andrew proposed, when they decided it would be best for Andrew to take an opportunity to work and teach with a school in Urbil, Iraq.  I remember Selina coming into my room shortly after they’d made the decision, and she was just crying.  At first I thought she was crying because it would be so hard for her to be away from Andrew.  But in fact, Selina was crying from joy! Because she was grateful for the opportunity, because she was grateful for Andrew’s courage in taking the position, and because she was filled with an unexpected peace that they would emerge from that challenge all the stronger.

It was beautiful to see Selina’s faith in that moment—faith in God, in Andrew, and in their relationship.  In that moment, my little sister’s maturity and self-sacrifice amazed me.

And then, as you all know, Andrew was accepted into Officer Candidate School midway through his time in Iraq.  And he and Selina made another difficult decision: for him to come back, go to Rhode Island, and commit to the U.S. Navy. One of the biggest challenges that came with that decision was that the timing of this whole wedding was thrown into complete turmoil.  As was mentioned last night at the rehearsal dinner several times, both Selina and Andrew are planners. Andrew’s being in the US Navy made it really difficult for them to begin to plan either this wedding or the rest of their lives together.

But again, I witnessed Selina rise to the occasion with so much sweetness and grace.  You all should have seen her in the months leading up to this day. Her concern with the material details of planning a wedding sort of fell away, and she told me, “I don’t care.  I just want to be married.” I admire so much Selina’s ability, amidst the stress of planning a wedding (not to mention being IN SCHOOL), to focus on what really matters. Because your marriage is your vocation.  It is THE MOST important thing that God has put in either of your lives.  Everything else is secondary. And you have both shown that you understand that.

Andrew, I am so happy to welcome you into our family.  Because I see these things about Selina—that she is selfless and faithful and sweet and gracious—but I think you see them even more.  You see that you are the luckiest man in the world, because you could not ask for a better wife.

And Andrew, I want to tell you one more thing that I think you know: Selina is so proud of you. She is so proud, that I am sometimes embarrassed to take her out in public because I know as soon as I turn my back she’ll start talking to a complete stranger about you and your accomplishments, and this day, the day she gets to be married to you.  You deserve that pride she has in you.

This has been a long journey for you both.  But you have shown that you have faith in God, you have faith in each other, you can roll with the punches and you can come up with the knowledge of what is most important in life.  You are going to have an exceptional marriage, and I could not be more proud.

Congratulations Selina and Andrew.  Many blessings for a beautiful marriage and life together.  I love you.

Bride Wars

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Introduction (written c. November 17, 2012):

Okay… so I wrote this post a while ago, actually, when Selina was home for Labor Day and I was really struggling with jealousy over her wedding. I was sort of debating whether or not to even post this.

I decided to because a) well it’s honest and b) I think it says something that’s sort of important. Plus c) it might maybe be helpful if you’re thinking of getting married someday or if d) you have some extra space on your prayers list.
The Post (written c. September 3, 2012):

For those of you who don’t yet know:

My sister Selina is engaged.

I am engaged.

I am older.

She is younger.

She was engaged first.

I am getting married first.

Two words, people:

Bride Wars.

I don’t know how it happened! And I can hardly remember a time when I have found myself in a less satisfactory position. I have been engaged in a spiritual struggle lately, in which I have been so (SO) tempted to see my life as (as Meredith so wisely put it) “a zero sum game.” That means: Selina’s dress… takes away from my dress. Her flowers from my flowers. Her adorable doily-candle-holders from my I-don’t-have-anything-like-that-in-my-wedding(s).

Awwww, sisterly conflict. It can be so cute if you’re tiny and Asian.

Now I want you to notice something about these examples. Dresses, flowers, doily-candle-holders: they’re are all… things. Things! Really pretty things, but things nonetheless. It’s not that I’m jealous of Selina’s fiance. It’s that I’m jealous of her things.

That is silly. That is really, really silly!

The first and most important purpose of this post is to ask you all to please, please pray for me and for all brides or brides-to-be! Because I’m pretty sure (is it wrong to say I hope?!?!) I’m not the only one who feels this way. And I super-de-duper don’t want to, and I bet other brides don’t either. Because really — why are we all getting married? Oh yeah because we’re answering a vocation. And being united in a sacrament. And loving another person more than ourselves. And all sorts of other things that aren’t at ALL compatible with envy. So their sometimes-coinciding is, well, really uncomfortable.

The other primary purpose of this post is to say that brides today struggle with envy, jealousy and greed because of:

  1. Well, original sin, duh, but also and more importantly
  2.  The constant assault on brides by the wedding industry. Which is often actually
  3. Assault on brides by the devil. Because what does the devil do? He attacks those things that are most powerful in the most insidious way possible.
  4. If you think I am going overboard here (see pt 7), yeah yeah yeah you’re not alone.

Nevertheless, I want to ask you to pray for us. For me, my sister, all brides (which now, as I’m re-writing this, includes Brianna! And my cousin Grace! Whoop! Our family is a-growin.) Because again, the devil likes to assault those things that are the most effective avenues of grace in our lives.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Addendum (Written January 7, 2013):

Selina and Andrew have set a date! Please keep them in your prayers, since Andrew just went off to Naval Officer Training (I think that’s what it’s called?) in an… undisclosed location? Just in case?

Anyway, he’ll be gone for at least three months, and he and Selina are only allowed written correspondence. They are doing really great though, and I’m so proud of my little sister and how maturely she is handling such a difficult wedding planning situation!

I was so afraid that even after Dan and I were married I might experience some sort of retroactive envy for Selina’s big day. But: so far so good? I’m hoping this is due to the marital grace people keep telling me about, and that it’s going to stick around.

I did, however, have a nightmare that Selina decided she wanted her reception theme to be: bilingual. Not that that makes any sense. The point is, all the toasters had to give their toasts first in English and then in Spanish. So I was freaking out at the reception trying to write a speech that was both as heartfelt as Maura’s at my wedding… and simple enough to be quickly translated into remedial Spanish.

It was horrible. I was all like, “A bilingual theme?? Seriously Selina?!”

Totally something she would do, too.

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The sneaky little booger.