Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Book review)

PSA: If you are a Catholic bride, stop what you are doing now and get yourself a copy of this book.

Stephanie Calis has a warm and friendly soul, you can tell from the way she writes.

In her brand-spanking-new book Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner, Calis invites (*ahem*) Catholic brides and grooms to make the most of their wedding celebration. Invited does something unique and wonderful that the—literally thousands—of wedding ideas and guides out there on Pinterest and in magazines or secular books simply do not do: it teaches an overwhelmed bride to take a deep breath and thank God for her vocation which is about to begin in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

I don’t mean teaches like reading a dictionary or the Catechism. I mean teaches like when you’ve been taking 30 minutes to get to work every day, but one day you carpool with a friend and it only takes 15 minutes because she knows a cool backroad, so now you always take that route.

When you read Invited, it feels like you’re sipping lattes with a friend at a sunny outdoor café. Invited gives you great advice but is not judge-y. It knows that your budget is not limitless. It knows that you are a good person and so is the man you want to marry, even if you both make mistakes sometimes. It knows that whether you went to Catholic school for 12 years or just attended Sunday School, you have almost certainly never planned a whole liturgy before, that this is your first wedding, and that you intend for it to be your last. 


Invited knows that everything will not fall into Pintrest-picture-perfect-place, and, just like a good friend, reassures you that that is perfectly okay. And you believe her.


So what is Invited actually all about?


The book has a lot of standard wedding-book stuff like a Things-to-Do checklist and a Budget sheet, but it also has several interesting features that are definitely missing from secular wedding prep:


-Directions for planning a nuptial celebration, Mass or otherwise (how to pick a church, where to find a priest, choosing musicians, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, selecting music and prayer texts)

-A guide to Catholic pre-Cana programs

-Affirmations of both inner and outer bridal beauty—Calis takes time to remind you that you are one of God’s Princesses and every princess is beautiful

-Sex talk that is frank and helpful for virgins preparing for their wedding night AND loving but virtuous advice for those who have “been around the block”

-Insights from the “groom”—every chapter contains a few paragraphs written by Calis’ husband where he provides a man’s perspective on the topic at hand

-Spiritual thoughts and advice on, well, everything wedding: how to include God while you’re registering at Bed Bath & Beyond, praying with your future spouse, seeing yourself through God’s loving eyes as you try on dresses, go to cake tastings, and figure out where you and your groom are going to live after your Big Day, etc.


If you love Calis’ book (or if you still need more convincing), she has two other fantastic resources for Catholic brides. Calis has recently helped launch the site Spoken Bride, a Catholic lifestyle blog filled with fashion, photography, and stories from real-life Catholic brides and newlyweds. She has also recently closed her blog, Captive the Heart, but her posts are still available to read: everything from spiritual reflections to arts-and-crafts ideas for DIY wedding paraphernalia to updates on her journey from bride to newlywed to mommy (full disclosure, long before her book existed I was an avid reader of Captive the Heart and even designed my “guest book” [a paint-chip leafed tree] based on her post DIY Guestbook Collage).


Let me leave you with a passage from Invited which reminds me exactly why I love that my husband and I married in the Catholic Church. Talking to brides and grooms who might feel overwhelmed with the task of really and truly loving another human being every day for the rest of their lives, Calis writes:


“Be kind to yourselves. We’re inundated with false images of love every day, making it even harder than it already is to love authentically, let alone effortlessly. Rick Astley’s 1987 hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” is one of the false ones. You know the words: he’s never gonna let his woman down, never make her cry, never hurt her…


Never gonna let her down? Even in the happiest, most well-adjusted relationships, expectations like these aren’t realistic. Compare Rick’s promises to the language of wedding vows:

    I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad;

    In sickness and in health.

    I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Your vows don’t seal off your relationship from difficulty, let alone guarantee you’ll never fight. They do, however, promise the most faithful love—the kind of love that doesn’t cease when your baby cries at 2:00 am or when you suddenly have to empty your savings account. It’s a love you can trust and count on even in the moments your emotions just aren’t on board.


So instead of viewing the fullness of Christ-like, lay-your-life-down love as an unattainable ideal you can’t even hope to compete with, I suggest seeing it as the most beautiful, perfect model of love imaginable. Model your marriage after the Cross, not after hilariously bad pop songs, and watch both your will to love and your love itself continually strengthen.” (Invited, pg. 45-46)

To all the Catholic brides out there: take a deep breath, grab a latte and a copy of Invited. Prepare yourself for marriage, the wedding will fall into place.

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