Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Church Wedding - The journey

Our church wedding on the 13th Dec 2008 is especially very meaningful, for both of us. It was something that almost did not happen, and the journey itself was bittersweet till the very day itself.

While both of us are Christians, our own conflicts begin with our respective denominations - him being an Assemblies of God, and I'm a practising Roman Catholic. What made it even more complicated is the fact the to get married in church (either one), we both need to attend marriage course, and other sessions with the priest or pastor to ensure we are ready for marriage.

While discussing our wedding, my fiance was very hesitant to have a church wedding due to personal reasons. However, he obliged to partake in the Sacrament of Marriage in our church for my sake, but that does not necessarily mean getting married in church itself. We could have it in the Parish Office instead.

The usual process to get married in a Catholic Church is as follows :

1) Lodge intention to marry in church. This needs to be done at least 6 or 9 months, depending on the church
2) Register and attend Catholic Marriage Preparation Course (CPMC)
3) Once completed the course, arrange for Pre-nuptial Inquiry (PNI) with the parish priest
4) After PNI, proceed with civil registration
5) After civil registration, prepare for church wedding.

What made it a little complicated is that I go to Holy Rosary Church (HRC), and I know our parish priest Fr. Daniel is very strict with the procedures, and we can't book the church in advance until we complete the Catholic Marriage Preparation Course (CMPC). For other churches, I understand it is slightly easier as this is handled by the respective Parish Office, but Fr. Daniel oversees this for HRC.

Things didn't go well from the beginning. After lodging our intention to marry in church in Dec 07, we needed to quickly register for the weekend CMPC session as there's limited sessions available. The January session was already fully booked, so we took the May session instead. There was actually vacancy for the Jan session subsequently but we didn't take it as it was too short notice and we both were still in the midst of year-end close.

Then came April when my fiance informed me we had to postphone the May session as he had to attend an important company function. My heart was torn into two when I first heard that, and for a moment there I truly dispised him and threw a very bad tantrum . Later, when I cooled down, I quickly called up the organisers and requested for a reschedule. The next available session is July, which means even lesser time for us. It has to go on.

During the last week of June, I was told that I needed to fly over to Manila for a business trip - and it coincided with the CMPC weekend! No way I'm going to miss this session, as the next one is in October and that is definitely too late for us! Thankfully I managed to make arrangements with my counterparts on the schedule, and as a result I flew back on a Thursday evening to attend the CMPC on Friday.

The CMPC session was - in my opinion - tough. While the first two days we covered subjects of which we already had discussions on, it was the 3rd day when the discussion on religion struck the core of our nerve - and the root cause of why we never got married earlier. It was the toughest session ever, and we came out in doubt whether should we get married or not. I know it's tough for my fiance to do something which he truly objected in, but I do not want to force this on him. We've been together so long, yet we knowingly avoided this subject as everything we brought it up in the past, it was always quarralling and more quarraling. My fiance then wanted to go back to his church, to listen to what God has to say to him.

I followed him to his church (which had an evening service) and prayed hard as well. I prayed to God, leaving the decision up to Him. Whatever message my fiance received, I will accept it. I cried silent tears during the praise and worship session as I see him praying.

Then a miracle happened.

After his service, he approached one of the pastors and started talking to him. I stood at a distance trying to listen to what the pastor said to him, but only hear bits and pieces. As we left the church, he was very quiet and I wondered what's in his mind. He kept quiet throughout our journey from church to the restaurant. It was over dinner that my fiance discussed with me on the details. He told me this :

"God said to leave it all to Him."

I was stunned. So was he.

He proceeded to say that he was already surprised to see that pastor during the evening service. My fiance wanted to speak to this pastor all along, but knew he rarely gave sermons during service. By his attendance on that day - it was all God's will and arrangement. He told the pastor of his situation and asked for advice. The pastor did mention that while it was too late to enroll in their church marriage preparation course, "it is the spirituality that matters".

So it looked like we are getting married after all. Thanks be to God!

We both went for our PNI with Fr. Daniel. He was a difficult person to schedule an appointment coz he is so busy but we manage it finally. On our way for the PNI, we were running late due to bad traffic and I could not get hold of Fr. Daniel! Seems he was on the phone the same time I tried to contact him. Luckily he called us back and apologise if we can't get through him.

The PNI session was conducted individually with the priest. While Fr. Daniel explained to me the importance of the sacrement of marriage and conducting the 'interview', my fiance waited outside. While it was his turn, I waited for a very long time, presuming the priest had a lot to ask him, and he had a lot to ask the priest as well. I can't remember exactly how long it took but it was almost close to an hour of waiting and anticipation. In the end, with God's blessing, Fr. Daniel gave us the green light to proceed with the Sacrement of Marriage on the 13th Dec 08.

Next question - could we have it in church or not?

During our early discussion, I was willing to settle for a very simple wedding not in the church but in the parish office since it's already a compromise on his part for not having a church wedding in his church, and yet still fulfilling my obligations as a Catholic. I know Oka-san's preference is to have it in church, but I wouldn't push for it considering the position we are in. After the PNI, I did ask if the decision stays or he has second thoughts. He didn't give me an answer right away.

It was about 2 - 3 weeks later only I found out from my fiance's mum (now my mother in law) that the family has given the green light for us to have a church wedding. It was just that he didn't inform me yet, for whatever reasons. I cried tears of joy upon hearing the news over the phone, and praise Lord over again and again.

The next day I quickly called up the Parish Office confirming that we are having our wedding at church. Luckily the slot we wanted is still available. Immediately I had to also contact a few people who will be helping us on the wedding day. The head of the alter ladies service - who prepare the flower arrangement - said that the couple before us had a different colour scheme. However, she did say she'll try to come up with something to suit both of us. Next is the music ministry. The organist is a very busy lady, and she is a frequent traveller as well. Luckily she is available that day. After running through hymns and song choices with my fiance, I shared the list with her.

There were two things that stressed me out during that time, the pew decorations and the program booklet. The pew decoration were not covered by the alter ladies, so I thought of tying some pink and cream organza ribbons over them to save cost. The painful bit was that the pink colour of the sample organza ribbon is not available in the local ribbon shops, so I had no choice but to settle for a very light shade of pink which wasn't what I wanted in the first place. I also made the miscalculation of buying in bulk to save cost, but I'm now left with two huge bundles of ribbons waiting to be used in future occassions!

As for the program booklet, the Parish Office had their own sample copy in Microsoft Word of which I had to edit it on my own (in booklet form some more!). I also had to insert my own hymn lyrics and readings in it prior to sending back to them for their review and approval, in case there's any inappropriate content (e.g. lyrics, change in vows etc). It was stressful trying to come up with a format and especially the cover! I'll share more of the booklet design in a separate post.

The last piece of work is the rehearsal. We had it the day before the actual wedding. Uncle Brian went through the rehearsal with us. It was really tiring and hard to remember! I was worried if my in-laws would be hesitant to enter the church, but thankfully they were OK. Extra stress for us coz we need to memorise the steps for the best man and maid-of-honour as well! When this is over, all I need to do next is a prayer of Thanksgiving to God before I sleep, in anticipation for the BIG day, hoping everything will go on smoothly...

1 comment:

lilium said...

Thanks be to God! Everything is over now. The focus is continuing the journey as a married couple just as what God has planned for us =)