Wedding Wednesday // How to Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner

When I first started this blog I knew I wanted to share with y’all details of our special day and a little sneak peak into our love story. If you pop on over here you’ll see a collection of the posts I have already published.


Rehearsal Dinner Image

Today I want to share with you about our rehearsal dinner. The only photos I have from the day are super blurry, so alas you’ll just have to visualize with me. I wore a white dress with rose gold gold floral high heels and pretty sparkly rose gold jewelry. I originally had  pretty pink dress picked out to wear, but last minute I changed my mind when I remembered I only got to be a bride once and I really should we white. I am really glad I had that change of heart, because I felt like a beautiful bride-to-be all night.

The whole evening was simple which is exactly what I wanted. We started at the parish, Saint Mary Catholic Church in Hudson. The wedding planner was a familiar face from the parish. She was organized and friendly, which helped set a peaceful and stress free tone. We had turned in paperwork with all of the details about our wedding a few weeks before so she knew who was walking in with who and in what order. She knew what songs would be playing when and even the age of our little flower girl. It was helpful to have her so informed, which really helped the our parents, our bridal party, and our lectors remain at ease. Our priest was also super casual, relaxed, and funny which made the atmosphere happy and inviting for our family and friends. It was a pretty quick rehearsal, then it was time for dinner.

We decided to host the dinner at our favorite restaurant, Winking Lizard. It is a really casual place with multiple locations in Northeast Ohio. We have been on dozens of dates there and it holds a special place in our hearts.We chose the menu with Steven’s parents a few months before hand and reserved a special room at the Peninsula location where we had our own bartender and space to spread out.

When we arrived, we had time for mingling and chit-chatting before dinner was ready to be served. Steven and I quickly ate (good practice for the next day ;)) and went around to thank each person for being there for us. Afterwards we handed out our bridal party gifts and received a lot of tears and joy! It was a happy moment for us to share with our friends.

My advice for brides-to-be would be this: each moment of your wedding and rehearsal should be a reflection of you and your love for each other. Host the dinner in a place that is special to you, or that you can make special with decor. If you are unable to do so, remember that your loved ones are there – especially your soon to be husband – and ultimately, that is what is most important.

What do you remember from your rehearsal dinner? What advice do you have to share?

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Linking up with Wedded Wednesday

#36: Bake monkey bread for Steven

Bake Monkey Bread

Keep on celebrating — Christmas is not over, friends! For faithful Catholics, the Christmas season begins at midnight on December 24 and continues well into January. Although the rest of the world is winding down their Christmas celebrations, we are just gearing up for ours. Right now we are in the midst of the Christmas octave, the 8 days of celebration following a feast day.

Both during and after the Octave of Christmas, there are number of feasts to commemorate and celebrate. The season of Christmas ends on January 10th, which gives us 17 full days to celebrate the birth of our Lord! Awesome, eh?

  • December 26 – St. Stephen (the first martyr)
  • December 27 – The Holy Family
  • December 28 – Holy Innocents (children murdered by Herod’s soldiers in the effort to destroy the Christ Child)
  • January 1 – Holy Mary, Mother of God
  • January 3 – The Epiphany of the Lord (visit of the Magi)
  • January 10 – The Baptism of the Lord

On Christmas Eve, Steven and I went to Mass at 4pm and then headed over to his parent’s house for dinner. They cook a traditional Italian fish dinner each year. I tried all 8 fish this year and I was very proud of myself for keeping up with the Bacher’s. We brought the salmon, which my dad had caught on a fishing trip to Alaska earlier this year. It was a big hit!


(Christmas Eve Mass)

Then on Christmas morning, we woke up early and I baked Steven monkey bread (which you will hear all about in this post!) before we opened presents just the two of us. Then we headed over to my parent’s house for presents and dinner. We ended the day at home watching our wedding video. We truly enjoyed our first Christmas day together.

Then on the 26th, we celebrated his feast day and on the 27th we celebrated my birthday (I’m 26!) and the feast of the Holy Family. What a blessed first few days of the Christmas season!

Mini Monkey Bread Recipe

Without further ado… the monkey bread! I had added this to my 101 in 1001 list, because it is one of Steven’s favorites and I wanted to learn how to make it for him. I searched for a great recipe and found one that I wanted to try! I knew Christmas morning would be a great time for it to make its debut.

– 1 can of Pillsbury biscuits (I used Southern style but you could probably use any kind)
– 6 tbsp butter, melted
– 2 tbsp corn syrup
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1 tbsp butter, melted
– 1-2 tbsp milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Cut each biscuit into 6 equal pieces. I used a pizza slicer, which made it super easy! In one bowl, combine the melted butter and corn syrup while in another bowl, combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and mix well.
2. Spray your muffin pan with Pam. Dip each piece of biscuit into the butter mixture and then into the sugar mixture and place in the muffin pan. I found that 3 pieces per cup was perfect. Once the pan is full, place in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 min. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
3. After your breads have finished baking, combine the icing ingredients and mix well. Drizzle on top of the monkey breads. Serve warm.
monkey bread

What do you bake on Christmas morning?

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Linking up with  Ember Grey

Married Life // 3 Month Review

3 Months of Marriage

I love married life with my sweet, sweet husband. Steven is kind, caring, and thoughtful. He is hard working and dedicated to God, his job, his family, and our marriage. The graces of marriage are flowing. I wanted to share what I have learned thus far in our short, short 3 months of married bliss.

Month 1

  • I need to be more of a Mary and less of a Martha.
  • Being a great cook is not a requirement to being an excellent wife.

Month 2

  • The importance of three things: daily affirmation, daily prayer, and sharing feelings with each other.
  • The importance of vulnerability.
  • The importance of mindfulness and recognizing my feelings in the moment.

Month 3

  • I have to go to sleep before him. Some couples can head to bed at the same time, but that is not us. I’ll just talk and talk and talk and then we ever sleep.
  • It’s really fun to buy stocking stuffers for your husband.
  • It’s impossible to hide Christmas presents from your husband in a tiny apartment. Also, he guesses all of his Christmas presents and I’m a terrible liar when I say, “Nope, that isn’t what I bought.” He sees right through me. Life isn’t fair sometimes, ha.

That’s a wrap! Thus far we have been very blessed. Our marriage prep was SO solid. Saint Mary Catholic Church does a great job with preparing couples for the sacrament. For that we are eternally grateful. I have so many parts of the preparation that I loved, but I especially enjoyed our Natural Family Planning classes and our Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat. Both helped us to slow down, take a break from the planning, and learn to love each other and God in a deeper way. More on that soon 😉

What lessons did you learn when you were first married? What was your favorite part of marriage preparation?

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Linking up with Little by Little and Thoughtful Thursdays

#31: Start a family tradition


We’ve almost made it through the whole month, friends! Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? Today I am sharing with you how I made it through another of my 101 in 1001 goals.

Steven and I have talked a lot about creating traditions in our first year of marriage. Thanksgiving was a great place to start for us! It is one of my favorite days. I actually have been surprised how much I am coming to love November. It is such a positive, happy, grateful month!

November can get busy quickly and Steven and I knew we wanted to make time for each other. Tonight we are going to a Turkey Bowl and tomorrow we are headed to celebrate with each of our families after the Cleveland Turkey Trot.

When we started to plan our our week, we knew we did not want to be stressed, so we tried to slow down and intentionally plan our week. We wanted to create a special tradition for just the two of us. I went on Pinterest and searched blogs for ideas, but nothing seemed to stick. We are pretty simple people and all the ideas were beautiful, but just not us. You know?


SO… we bought a little 2 pound chicken, asparagus, and ravioli at the West Side Market in Cleveland and had a little Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us. I enjoyed cooking for my sweet, sweet husband. It was nice to decorate the table and enjoy slowing down to eat together. We had thankful placemats, a tiny pumpkin, our  crucifix from Poland that we held while we said our vows, and our Engaged Encounter candle.

After dinner we made two pies! First we made a pumpkin pie and then we made an apple pie. Someone had gifted us all of the apple pie making supplies as a wedding present, so it was really fun for us to make those together. We are bringing them to the Bacher Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. I’m excited to try the apple one!thanksgiving2

There you have it – our own little tradition. Every year, though we love our families, we want to make sure we take time for ourselves to celebrate together (hopefully with our own kiddos one day!)

Also, I forgot to mention… I had S clean out the inside of the little chicken and cut it up 😉 Marriage is about compromise, am I right?

Have a great Thanksgiving, my sweet friends!

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Linking up with To Travel and BeyondMessy Marriage and Women With Intention Wednesdays.

The Weekender Link Up // #PrayForTheWorld

Every night before we head to sleep, Steven and I pray an Ignatian Daily Examen together. We call it the “CPR” prayer.

C – Claim your blessings.

P – Pinpoint victories and losses.

R – Renew commitment to Christ.

In a way, it allows us to pray backwards through the day. We first center ourselves in God’s presence. Sometimes are cuddled up on the couch and other times I have already put on my pj’s and I am tucked in bed with the lights off. We start by reviewing our day with gratitude. We look at where God was present throughout our day with the people we interacted with and the work we accomplished. We look at the small things, like meals together, good conversations, and beauty in nature. God is in the details.


(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

After we review our blessings, which are sometimes many, we pay attention to our emotions. God is in the movements of our emotions through the day. Sometimes we are bored, elated, angry, or sad. We talk about how God has allowed us to have victories and losses throughout those emotions. We also remember how we fell short and sinned, if we had an argument with each other or were a little lazy and unproductive at work. During the time of losses, we also talk about the world. Steven has a much better world view than I do, so he updates me on current events and what is happening around the globe. When I heard about the attacks in Paris, I immediately paused to pray. Steven said that there is something about Paris that makes it much more real. It might be because so many of us have traveled there or had friends there, but regardless of the reason, we had to pinpoint that loss and pray for all those impacted by this tragedy and the other tragedies occurring throughout the world. Our hearts break when members of our human family are hurting.

Finally, we renew our commitment to Christ. We talk about what we are going to do tomorrow for Jesus. I mention what plans I have the next day and how I can incorporate my faith into what I have scheduled. Steven often reflects on how he can say a Divine Mercy Chaplet or listen to Christian music throughout the work day. Our plans are usually not epic, but God is in the small, sweet moments of our day. We please Him by smiling at a co-worker, mentioning how glorious the weather is, or calling a friend who we know is struggling. We joyfully look forward to the next day, knowing that with Christ at our center we can do all things.

There is always something to pray about, there is always something to be grateful for, and each day is filled with both moments of great joy and great sorrow.

The Ignatian Examen comes from Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. This type of prayer resonates well with us, because Jesus is not only our Lord but also our best friend. We are able to ask for help, protection, courage, wisdom, and all those amazing graces we need to thrive each day. When we center ourselves in the spirit of gratitude and view life as a gift, we are able to place our confidence in God knowing that He is walking with us each step of the journey.

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The Weekender Link Party
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#BISsisterhhood Link-Up // Unconditional


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A week before our wedding, Steven and I went to Reconciliation. Through the Sacrament, God made us knew creations. We had to admit that we weren’t perfect. We had to bring our shortcomings to failings and our wounds to the Lord. We had to bring them to the light.

We knew we needed to be there. We had burdens in our lives that we needed to get off our hearts. We knew we had a lot of sin to empty before we began our journey as husband and wife.

November 19

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

The Lord’s heart is merciful. It is so hard to remember and grasp this, especially when we feel as if we are falling short. We can feel unworthy of His forgiveness and grace. Our sin breaks the Father’s heart, but our relationship is restored when we run to Him with open arms. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. His love is relentless, eternal, and unconditional. 

When Steven and I are weary, our Heavenly Father allows us to rest in His presence. When Steven and I feel unworthy of love, the Father reminds us we are His masterpiece – fearfully and wonderfully made. When we cry, the Lord looks to us with His Sacred Heart. When we stray like the prodigal son, our Heavenly Father patiently waits for our return to welcome us home with open arms. When we are tangled up in sin, our Heavenly Father comes right into the mess and meets us in the confessional with an ocean of mercy. 

Before our wedding, Steven and I recognized our need for confession. We are human; we sin. We had to perform an Examination of Conscience in order to look deeply into our lives and see where we have failed to love the Lord, those around us, and ourselves. Then we had to…


I think this is the hardest part. Even at our retreat a few weekends ago, we had to encourage each other to go. When Steven was nervous, I looked at him and I said, “Go, be a saint!” Those nervous thoughts are from the evil one trying to separate us from the love of God. 365 times in Scripture the Lord tells us, “Be not afraid.” The Lord is ready for you, ready to meet you with His tender unconditional love.

be a saint

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

After waiting in line for a few minutes, it was my turn to confess my sins to the priest, who stands in persona Christi capitas et spousa. I love this part of confession. I believe that I am confessing my sins to Christ Himself. After I was finished, I walked out of the confessional feeling light and free. I felt ready to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, because I had repented for my sins and received absolution. I was ready to do my penance and soak in the graces I had been given in order to fully embrace our marital vows.

I asked Steven what his favorite part of confession was and he said, “I like it’s healing power and the light feeling joyful feeling you get when walking out of there and the smile that is on your face.” What a sweet, true sentiment.

God today, wants you to be an amazing person. He has amazing plans for each of you. Take all of your weight and lay it at the foot of the cross. You do not have to do it on your own. If you’re nervous about confession, remember those thoughts are not from our Heavenly Father. He does not work through fear. He works through compassion and grace.

“Everything I am, everything I long to be, I lay it down at Your feet.”
Matt Maher, Lay it Down

Want to find a Reconciliation time near you? Check out Mass Times or Catholics Come Home to find a nearby parish.

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Linking up with Blessed Is She to talk about the theme “Unconditional”


As a new blogger, I have been on the search of some beautiful link-ups to join in with. So far my life has been truly blessed by the link-ups I have found, and I am confident this one with be no different! Today I am joining in with In Its TimeWhat Joy is Mine and Radical Femininity to share my THANKFUL acrostic poem!

T – Teamwork

It takes a village to raise a child, am I right? I take my role as a Youth Minister very seriously. I see each child as a beautiful daughter or son of the Lord and strive every day to pray for them and remind them how loved they are. It takes a whole lot of teamwork with parents, Core Staff members, priests, peers, and parishioners to help my teens on their journey to Heaven. I am thankful to have so many saintly people helping me on this youth ministry journey.

H – Holiness

I see holiness all around me. I see it in my coworkers, my friends, and my family. I am walking this journey to sainthood with individuals who are put God first in their daily lives and that holiness inspires and uplifts me each and every day.

A – Affirmation

I am thankful for the gift of affirmation. I am a HUGE fan of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In his book, he explains how each of us gives and receives love in unique ways. There are five categories of love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. I receive love through words of affirmation. After last weekends retreat, I loved hearing how much teens enjoyed the weekend. I appreciated the thank you notes from parents, the sweet text messages from teens, and the email from the retreat center thanking us for being so kind and respectful. For me, receiving words of affirmation conveys love in such a simple, beautiful way.

N – Nourishment 

I am thankful for the nourishment that comes from the Word of God and from the Holy Eucharist we receive at Sunday Mass (and weekday Mass, too!) I have become a big fan of reading the Blessed is She Devotions each morning. Reading the daily scriptures, then reading the reflections of holy women leaves me centered and ready to begin my day.

K – Knowledge 

Our semester theme for Life Teen was vocations. Each Sunday night we learned about a different topic: marriage, holy orders, discernment, and single life (to name a few). I am thankful for the knowledgable individuals who came to guest speak. I could not have done it without holy friends who offered their time and energy to help my teens grow closer to the Lord.

F – Forgiveness 

YES! How could I not mention this? I am thankful to my Lord for forgiving me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I am thankful to my husband for forgiving me when I am short with him or struggling to understand where he is coming from. We all need mercy and forgiveness in our lives.

U – Unity

I am thankful for the unity of being husband and wife. Steven loves sports and athletics, while I really enjoying blogging and journaling. Although we have differences, we come together as a unified front to support each other 100%. Our time apart exploring our own interests allows us to grow as faithful individuals. Steven uses his time running and cycling to pray and admire the beauty of God in nature, while I find God through reading amazing blog posts and pouring my heart into my little journal. When we come together, we are more unified and stronger Christians.

L – Laughter

Working with teens = constant laughter. Last night at youth ministry our topic was discernment. We had the teens separate into two groups – boys and girls – and had them come up with lists of the big and little decisions they make each day. The girls immediately said, “flats or boots.” ha! Seriously, though… I ask myself that every fall morning. Spending time with my young friends means constant laughter and joy!

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#Marriage Link Up // Feet Washing Ceremony

Today I am linking up with Messy Marriage, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and To Travel and Beyond to talk about our feet washing ceremony.

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When Steven and I were planning our wedding reception, we knew we wanted to add our own Catholic touches. Something we had always admired was couples who added a feet washing ceremony to their reception. We immediately wanted to follow in their footsteps, so to speak.

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13: 14-15)

For us, a feet washing ceremony was a sign of being humble, thoughtful, and willing to serve each other. We had a pitcher with just a little water in it, a bowl, and a towel. I went first. I sat in a chair and Steven helped take my shoes off (which, I have to admit was nice after wearing 4 inch heels all day). He gently washed my feet. Then we switched. Sometimes only the bride has her feet washed, but we knew we both wanted to serve each other.

Washing my husband’s feet was a sign of love and honor for him, my new spouse. Kneeling before him showed my great love for him and placed me in a position of prayer and humility. When he washed my feet, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from both Steven and from the Father. I felt that I would never have to “go it alone” again. I also felt humble, knowing that I was being served and allowing my husband to help me.

The entire ceremony was beautiful. We wanted to follow the example of Christ. Was it a bit awkward? Yes. But it boosted our commitment to each other and was a gentle reminder of how loved I am by husband and by my Lord.

A side note: We had a song picked out to play during the ceremony (Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath), but our DJ missed the memo and did not play the song. At first we felt funny since it was so quiet and since we specially chose that song, but afterwards many, many of our friends came up to us and complimented us on how silent the room was (seriously, you could hear a pin drop). It meant the world that our friends and family were so supportive. My eyes are tearing up just remembering how many compliments we received throughout the night.

“Love is the river than flows through. Love is the arms that are holding you. Love is the place you will fly to. Love never fails you.” Brandon Health

feet washing

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

I am thankful we chose to do this ceremony. I am also thankful our photographer captured this beautiful moment for us to treasure forever and remember our daily call to lay down our lives for one another.

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To Travel and Beyond
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Monday’s Musings Link-Up // Future Husband Letters

Today I’m linking up with What Joy is Mine to share about writing letters to my future husband.

In the 7th grade I began to pray for my future husband by starting a journal filled with love letters. I found such great value in writing these letters, because I was able to honor my future spouse and pour my prayers into our marriage before we even met. It was always my prayer that he would feel loved by these letters, knowing that I waited fully for him, prayed for him, and sacrificed for him.

When I wrote, I would imagine how much he would love cracking open the journal and seeing the pages of my heart poured out right in front of him. I knew some letters would make him laugh, while others would make him cry. I would dream about what we could do for the Lord together and what our marriage would look like centered on Christ.

The journal kept me accountable to the Lord by saving my heart for my husband. I shared what I was looking forward to doing with him, what I wanted to accomplish in life together, and many prayers for his spiritual growth and our relationship. I also shared favorite quotes from the Bible or books I was reading at the time.

The letters show snapshots of where I was in life, sharing moments of great joy and great sorrow. Over the years, the journal began to fill with my hopes, dreams, fears, and deepest secrets. As it progressed, especially when I met Steven, I saw a longing to lay down my life for another. I shared those emotions through my writing to him.

I wrote frequently and shared the deepest desires of my heart. I did not hold anything back. I wrote about my weaknesses, my successes, and areas where I needed prayers. I had such a deep longing to pray for the one person that God set aside for me. Whether I was called to marry another human being or whether I was called to marry the Church through the vows of religious life, I wanted to grow in virtue and holiness by praying for my future spouse and vocation.

I told myself I would give the journal to my husband-to-be on our wedding day, if I was called to marriage. My dream came true. On our wedding day, I had my maid of honor deliver this special journal to my groom.

Future Husband Letters

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

The journal now resides on his dresser and he reads a few letters at a time. There are hundreds, so he is working through them slowly. I love getting a glimpse of what page he is on and re-reading the letters when he leaves the book open.

Writing letters to him was such a treasure. I am thankful and blessed I started this collection way back when and I am confident all of those prayers I said as a teenager will bless our marriage.

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#Tell His Story Link-Up // The Proposal

“Holiness means giving ourselves in sacrifice every day. And so married life is a tremendous path to sanctity!” Pope Francis

Steven proposed on November 15, 2014. I cannot believe it has been almost a year since that beautiful, holy day. Today is Wednesday, so I am joining in with the #TellHisStory Link-Up to share our proposal story, because it has has God’s fingerprints written all over it. So friends, here is our proposal story, written by the best Divine author.
Her Side

When God writes your love story, you know it is going to be beautiful. When I was a sophomore in college, I was introduced to Patti through a mutual friend. We were both searching for roommates and met up for coffee to see if we would be a good fit. Long story short, we lived together for two years and formed an incredible friendship. Patti was right along my side when I met Steven and she has been a constant friend throughout Steven and I’s love story.

Steven, well aware of our friendship, worked with Patti to bring me to John Carroll University’s Saint Francis Chapel – one of my favorite places in the world. Patti is a current student at Walsh University studying for her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Her next clinical rotation was near John Carroll and she asked if I would like to visit apartments with her. I, of course, said yes! On our way, Patti said she needed to stop and use the restroom at Carroll and suggested we could walk through campus to get to the apartment.

She asked if I wanted to walk through the chapel while we were there and my heart exploded with joy. I knew my best friend would be there waiting for me. I immediately saw him praying peacefully by the tabernacle. He later told me that he was praying on the rosary I gave him a few years ago for Christmas – the rosary was for his future wife. My heart… my heart. I carried it in my bouquet on our wedding day and we held it during our engagement pictures!

PicMonkey Collage

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

When I walked over, Steven took my hand and we prayed a Hail Mary together. We have an incredible devotion to the Blessed Mother, so it was perfect for her to be a part of our proposal. Steven then got down on one knee and used my full name – Mary Cecilia Anastasia Semenczuk – to ask me to be his wife. I said “yes, yes, yes!” before he could even finish.

Afterwards we celebrated with dinner at Melt (yum!) and went to visit his parents and my parents. We are so blessed! It was a beautiful proposal. I could not have dreamed up anything more beautiful, simple, and fitting of our relationship.

His Side

I wanted to propose at John Carroll, because it is a very special place to her. It is also special to us because Mary was a student there when our dating adventure began. I could not ask her friend to ask until I knew that the ring was in, because I wanted it to be a surprise. I do not keep surprises very well. I had two days to plan the proposal with her best friend Patti.

The day of I had planned on getting a haircut and arriving at John Carroll at least an hour before they did; however, Mary needed me to pick her up Ginger Ale, because she had a stomach ache. Before walking into the hair cut place I picked it up for her and brought it to her and then made an excuse to go watch the Notre Dame game. Then the fun began.

Patti was picking up Mary to go looking for apartments, because Patti had a new rotation close to John Carroll. The Notre Dame game kind of threw Mary off the scent of a proposal at John Carroll that day. I stopped to pick up flowers and then went to Saint Francis Chapel and sat and prayed before they got there. Patti asked Mary if she wanted to go to the Chapel and they came in.

I sat down next to Mary and we prayed a Hail Mary. Then I asked her to stand up while I got on one knee. Then I asked her if she would marry me. She said yes before I finished asking the question. We were both super excited and met a student at John Carroll while we were taking pictures at Mary’s beloved Saint Ignatius statue who was even more excited than we were. We then went to Melt for dinner and visited both our parents to share the good news.


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