A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Tag: Engagement

Top 13 moments from 2013

I love New Years. It’s a time to reminisce on the past and reflect on how you’ve grown. It’s an opportunity to dream, hope and resolve for a better self…a better future. It’s a fresh start, and no matter who you are we can all use those from time to time.

As 2013 draws to a close, Patrick and I have reflected on what this year has meant to us… as a couple and individuals. So here it is the top 13 from 2013.

1. We got married!

Nicole says: While most of this year was spent in the whirlwind that is wedding planning on November 23rd we made it official.

Pat says: WOOHOO, we finally made it! I married such a beautiful bride. I am so thankful to be done with engagement… it was like purgatory.

2. Honeymooning in Italy – We met the Pope…and then took a selfie.

Nicole says: As if getting married and enjoying a honeymoon in Italy wasn’t enough of a blessing, thanks to the Archdiocese of Kansas City Kansas Pat an I were fortunately able to attend a Wednesday audience with Pope Francis and afterwards we were able to meet him. YES, we met the Pope–a life goal checked off my list.

Pat says: This was an amazing trip. Between the food, the sites, the spiritual journey and my travel partner, I feel so blessed. I look forward to posting more Italy photos online soon.

3. We started a blog

Given that you are on our site right now, we’re guessing you know this. We’re only a year into this endeavor and so far it has been a fun way for us to recount our experiences as a couple and share them with you. We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey with us. Here are a few of our recommended posts:

We often post on Twitter too. You’re welcome to follow us!

4. HuffPost Interview

Pat says: Ok, so this was completely unexpected. I got an email from one of the editors from HuffPost LIVE (Huffington Post’s  live-streaming network) and before I knew it we we’re being interview about our choice not to live together before marriage.

SEE: A recap of our Interview with HuffPost LIVE 

5. Moving in together

Nicole says: While we didn’t live together before marriage, we did start going through all our things and got settled into our new house where I lived until the wedding. Safe to say that the majority of my summer was spent cleaning, sorting and organizing our new home…every teacher’s dream for the summer months. 🙂 Also, I can’t forget the many trips to drop off car loads of donations at our neighborhood thrift store.

Pat says: I am so thankful to not be driving home to my parents house each night! I feel like multiple people told me it would be a big adjustment, but honestly I just feel like I am living with my best friend and get to come home to her all the time. Can’t wait to get into a routine now that we are back from Italy.

6. Retreats and Reflections

Pat says: I had an amazing time at a men’s retreat with a Catholic Community up in Minnesota. It was a great reminder that we as men are called to be fathers and imitate God the Father. We were made in His image and we act like The Father by providing and bringing people to the Lord.

7. We’ve kept Hallmark in business

Pat says: Nicole and I love cards (especially our hometown company Hallmark). We love finding unique cards for our friends and family. Also, Nicole and I exchange cards often. However, this year in particular had some gems (especially since we could count down till the wedding). Watch this singing birthday card Nicole got me!

8. Pat STILL didn’t join a gym

Pat says: I know, I know… (thanks for calling me out Nicole!!) Unfortunately this year I did not keep up with my Insanity workout routine like I planned. At least now we can save money with a YMCA family pass. Look for an update on this in 2014.

9. The year of transition (a.k.a. weddings and babies)

Nicole says: Without a doubt, this year will be known as the year of transitions. The transition to engagement and newlywed life was obviously at the forefront for us both. However, for me the transition of moving back to KC, starting a new job and graduate school cannot be overlooked. Aside from the transitions in our own lives, some of those closest to us were experiencing their own transitions as well from weddings to babies and sometimes both.

10. Partying with family and friends

Nicole says: No doubt marrying Pat was wonderful, but truth be told my favorite part of the wedding weekend was spending time with all our family and friends. There is something so humbling in the knowledge that all these people, from all different aspects and eras of our lives came together to celebrate our entrance into this lifelong vocation. Words could not begin to describe my appreciation for each and every one of those people.

11. We traveled

Nicole says: We really got around this year. Here is a short list of places we were lucky enough to visit together. Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Atchison, KS, Lincoln, NE,  and of course Italy (Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, Assisi, Siena and Venice).

Pat says: I also did a whirlwind tour for work including Memphis, TN, Boston, MA (for the 2013 Catholic New Media Conference), Austin, TX, Marianna, AR, Los Angeles, CA.

12. We started learning and using NFP

Nicole says: It has been a journey for sure and they weren’t kidding when they told us it would be difficult. Difficulties aside I can without a doubt see the benefits of using NFP as opposed to any other form of family planning. It is giving me a deeper appreciation for my husband and is teaching me how to love him WELL. While it isn’t a cake walk, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

13. The continual rise of online entertainment

Pat says: It’s no surprise that this year brought a slew of new online hits. We learned what the Fox says, heard inspiring messages from Kid President, saw Taylor Swift do a duet with some goats and many other Internet sensations. I hope that the New Year brings with it a fresh crop of videos with higher standards than twerking and the Harlem Shake. So I thought that this baby joyriding on a Roomba is probably the best way to end 2013… and it is ever-so-appropriately set to the 2006 hit “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire.

We look forward to sharing another great year with you. So many good things to come. God bless and have a Happy New Year!

6 Creative Ways to Use Engagement Photos

You did it. You and your soon to be spouse finally agreed upon a photographer, picked out coordinating outfits (or not so coordinating) and set aside some time to get your engagement photos done. You’ve spent money on these lovely portraits now what are you suppose to do with them? You and your fiancé are only this young and beautiful once so why not showcase your attractiveness in a creative and fun way? Here are a few ways to use your engagement photos for the wedding and your blissful life together afterwards.

1)   Save the Date.

This one is an obvious choice. You can easily have your save the dates made through websites like snapfish or shutterfly at a reasonable cost. If you are feeling a bit more creative you can take a shot at making some yourself with Photoshop or Apple Pages.

2)   Shower Décor.

There are lots of ways to incorporate your photos into bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Some are little more exciting than others. The floating chandelier is super easy to do for anyone who wants to add a touch of personalization to the party. Another easy way to display your and your beau’s pics is through garland.

3)   Wedding Website.

My fiancé and I created a one-stop shop wedding website for our guests to peruse and find out all they need to know about our big day. Our engagement photos work as nice accents and backgrounds for the site. Need some ideas, check it out: www.patplusnicole.com

4)   Cake Topper.

Pat and I will definitely be doing this for our wedding in November. It’s an inexpensive, DIY touch that adds a personal flair to your cake .

Polaroid cake topper

5)   Centerpieces.

At first glance this might sound a little boring or uncreative, but there a numerous ways to use your photos as part of a larger centerpiece. Pintrest has plenty of ideas to inspire you. I personally love these DIY vintage photo mason jars.

6)   Decorate your home.

I’m not simply implying that you throw your pictures in a few frames and hang it on the wall (although you can do that too), rather make something a little more unique. Check out this photo letter art. Better yet, try your DIY skills with this shabby chic picture window.

Well there you have it. That’s the best I’ve got. Have any other creative ways to use engagement photos? Share them with us in the comments below.

7 Wedding Registry Tips: How to Register with Authority

There aren’t many parts of planning a wedding that I have truly enjoyed, but registering for gifts that others will buy me has been enjoyable. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the registry process, but not to worry, I’ve come up with a list of practical wedding registry tips to keep in mind when tackling this aspect of the engagement adventure.

1. Start with general ideas of what you need.

Go with categories here people. Consider what rooms you need to fill. What do you or your fiancé already have? Where are you going to be living after the wedding? Before you even step foot into a store jot down a list of must have items for both you and your fiancé.

Wanna look over a wedding registry checklist? Here are some helpful links:

Bed, Bath and Beyond Wedding Registry Checklist

The Knot Registry Checklist

 2. Focus on 2-3 places for your wedding registry.

Not all of your guests are going to have the same budget, but many will spend more on you than you would ever spend on yourself. The key here is to give your guests options. The more options you give them the better. Try to select stores that cater to different price points. Also, keep in mind the geography of your guest list. If most of your guest are coming from a ruaral small town that barely has a Target, you probably want to think about registering there instead of that high-end department store in your city.

Before you get all scanner happy, be sure to check out the return policy. Some places are definitely easier to work with than others. My recommendation… Bed, Bath and Beyond. They have a great return policy and the sales associates there are great at helping you get started.

 3. Try to keep an open mind.

You and your soon to be spouse will most likely have different décor flares. Just like marriage the art of compromise will come in handy. If you find yourself at a stand-off there is no rule that says you can’t get more than one.

 4. If you want it, scan it.

Chances are you will be making many rounds of returns later. So, if you are on the fence about an item, my advice is to scan it. This also goes for things you would like, but might feel they are unnecessary (i.e. back massage chair). Scan it anyway. No harm in asking right? If there are certain items you really want be sure to scan them at multiple stores. You’ll have the best chance of getting it this way.

 5. Don’t scan seasonal items and think quality.

Be sure to avoid seasonal or sale items cause they probably won’t be around when your guests go shopping for you. Also, focus on quality. There is only one time in your life that you can ask for free stuff, so why not get something that will last a lifetime.

6. Don’t bring an entourage.

The fewer involved the better…you and spouse, not entourage. The more people that are involved, the more opinions you will have to listen to. These people don’t have to live with this stuff for the next 30 years…you and your spouse will.

7. There aren’t any rules.

Just because your mother is insistent upon registering for some nice china, doesn’t mean you need to do it. Same goes for sales people… take advice but go with gut. You are the ones who have got live with it later.

One final word, registering is time consuming. Be prepared to set aside a good chunk of time. I would say about 2-4 hours. Patrick and I spent 6 hours in the first trip. If you can’t make it that long, then stop. This is going to be a multiple trip process anyway. So when you stop caring, stop scanning. This process can be stressful at times, but in my experience this is also one of the best parts of engagement. So don’t hold back. Scan away and enjoy the process. Once you get the hang of it you’ll find yourself on a roll.

Got more wedding registry tips, let me know in the comments below.