Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our Lady of Victory Basilica FAQs

I've received a few emails about weddings at OLV in Lackawanna from both brides that want to get married there and current brides planning their wedding there. I wanted to share some guidance for frequently asked questions.

1. How much does it cost to have a wedding at OLV?

Like most churches, OLV asks for a contribution. Of course, if there are any financial hardships it's best to speak with a priest. The requested contribution is $450 and includes everything (organist, sacristan/altar servers, priest). In my opinion, this keeps it simple, no need to fret over how much of a contribution you give to the priest, organist, etc.

2. How can I have my wedding at OLV?

First and foremost, you need to be a member of the parish (this is typical of most Catholic churches in Western New York). This, in my opinion, ensures that the party getting married is getting married in the Church for proper reasons. To ensure that you are a practicing member, OLV requires that you are a member for at least 9 months prior to setting a wedding date.

3. What days of the week/what times can weddings take place?

Saturdays are without a doubt the most requested day. For Saturday weddings, there are two time spots: 11.30am and 1.30pm. They also have weddings on Friday afternoons and evenings. You can inquire about other days of the week as well, however you cannot have a wedding on a Sunday, per the Diocese of Buffalo's regulations.

4. Is there a bridal preparation or waiting room?

No. You will need to be dressed prior to arriving at the church. You can wait in the basement, where there are some benches, if you're looking for a spot to sit or are worried about anyone seeing you prior to the ceremony.

5. What are the photography/videography restrictions?

Each priest at OLV has their own guidelines whether or not flash photography is allowed. The priests at OLV during my preparation had no problems with flash. Photographers and filmmakers are encouraged to be as discrete as possible, but they are allowed to walk around for coverage. They can also go up into the organ and choir loft for photos/film. In my opinion, they were overall lax in this category compared to other churches I've heard about.

Other Guidance:
* The floor of the Basilica is quite dirty. The heavier the dress, the more dirt seems to adhere to it according to a few OLV Brides I've spoken with. You cannot use an aisle runner in the church.

* There is a Pepsi machine downstairs. This is helpful in case you need or want a drink after the ceremony to take with you for your formal portraits.

* Getting a phone call in return from a priest or secretary can be difficult. Stay on top of them. The secretaries don't seem to know anything and always defer to the priest -- even down to the question "who needs to be in attendance at the rehearsal?" We had to call our local parish in Washington, DC to inquire about the norms of rehearsal because we never received a phone call back after numerous attempts.

* If there is another wedding taking place the same day you can work with the other couple to share in the cost of flowers, etc.

Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes
(personal photo)

* If you choose to give flowers to the Virgin Mary during the ceremony, you will be giving them to her in the Lourdes Grotto (where Father Baker is located) and not the Mary behind the altar (and out-of-view from the church). It's important to notify your film crew and photographers because it's behind where the filmmakers/photogs generally cover -- they set up their tripods facing the altar -- and they may not be prepared for this if you don't notify them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Nuptial Mass Music

We had a full Catholic Mass that included Communion (aka a "nuptial mass").

We narrowed down the selections to the following and linked the choices to YouTube videos:

considered Trumpet Tune in D Major, David Johnson

selected Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

We selected Holy God, We Praise Thy Name to walk down the aisle together because we met at Adoration, so this song holds a special place in our hearts. Although when I heard that Trumpet Tune, I was stunned! It's beautiful!!

Offertory Hymn (Preparation of the Gifts):
Improvisation/Organ Music (organist just plays something he likes/makes something up)

Sign of Peace:
Prayer of St Francis ("Make me a channel of your peace") -- I'm not sure if this was actually played.

Agnes Dei (Lamb of God):
Agnes Dei (in Latin)

The groom requested the Latin version although it's not typically used wide-spread in Buffalo (and not at all at Our Lady of Victory, but the organist was fine with it)

considered One Bread, One Body [organ-only version]

selected Gift of Finest Wheat

We wanted a Eucharist-related song for communion, as it is a highlight of the ceremony. However, as we were having many non-Catholics attend the ceremony we didn't consider "Taste and See" due to the lyrics, knowing that those non-Catholics would not be able to receive communion (and therefore won't be able to 'taste'). We thought that "One Bread, One Body" may be a bit along the border too.

Post-Communion Meditation (taking flowers to the Virgin Mary):
Ave Maria

Hallelujah Chorus, Handel [this rendition wanted me to have a choir]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(Catholic) Wedding Music Resources

There isn't one place that lists sites for options for Catholic wedding music. Each diocese and parish (and sometimes each organist) has it's own regulations, so it's important to find out what those are. I found it very helpful to narrow down selections at home before meeting with the organist (in fact we had everything in order prior to meeting with him) and it looks like on various forums, including WeddingBee, many brides are looking for music resources.

Here are the general guidelines from the Diocese of Buffalo.

Wedding-specific song sites (please add more to the list if you know of any!):

St. Patrick Cathedral in New York

St. Clement Catholic Church

St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh

Diocese of San Diego
[pdf file of guidelines and suggestions]

Regis University [pdf file of guidelines and suggestions]

Adoremus Bulletin

Catholic Books that address wedding/nuptial mass music:

Celebrating Marriage: Preparing the Roman Catholic Wedding Liturgy [I have personally not used this resource]

Catholic Song Sites in general:

Spirit and Song

Tomorrow I will post more about the music we included in our nuptial mass.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY: Wedding Water Bottle Labels

For our out-of-town gift bags we decided to put in two bottles of water, and to jazz it up a bit we decided to customize the labels. It was a good way to use our engagement photos. The wonderful Erich Camping came to Washington, DC to take our photos since he was unavailable for our wedding day. My family loved it so much that we decided to label some of the water bottles for the reception as well.

People kept commenting about this so we feel that it was very much worth the effort -- it was a little detail that stood out. However, we created five designs and people at the reception were trying to 'collect all 5' and I'm worried that's a reason why the water ran out (it was a hot day to begin with but with people hording... not a good idea). So if I had to do it again, I would limit the designs to two or three.

Product: We ordered the 8.5" x 2" waterproof labels from Online Labels* (they come in virtually any quantity and various sizes that you could imagine). The labels we ordered fit around Aquafina water bottles. In the end we found Eco-fina (Aquafina's eco-friendly line) at Sam's Club and the labels needed to be trimmed a little bit on one of the five designs for it to fit without overlap.

Design: Online Labels has downloadable templates which were easy to use and we had no troubles printing on them. For the design, we just took a photo and popped it in and added our names, wedding date and a quote/verse. We kept it simple. Here is how they turned out:

We had our engagement photos taken at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
These are screen shots of the design which accounts for the squiggly red line. I also added the black border to help visualize what it looks like.

It was a perfect day: hot but not blistering and sunny.

Tips for taking engagement shots: bring water, wear comfortable shoes, and you do not have to wear the same color as your significant other. I really like how the red and the blue works in the photos.

This design incorporates our "Shuffle off to Buffalo" theme for the wedding.

We wanted to take our engagement photos at the tidal basin with the Cherry Blossoms, but they came too quickly and ended too soon, so by the time Erich got to DC we decided to have a plan B, and we still got beautiful flowers!

It was super easy to put these labels on the water bottles. We put them on four cases of bottles in under 20 minutes. It's as simple as tearing off the labels and attaching the new ones.

Other options: we also looked into printing the designs on plain white paper using a laser jet printer, and I even tried it to see if the color would run with water....and it didn't. However we decided that it would be too laborious (print out, measure each one perfectly, hand cut out or pay Fedex kinko's to cut them out, and glue them on...and wait for them to dry).

Plus, the price of the labels was very reasonable: 9 cents a piece. Totally worth it!

* Product Number OL1985LP; 5 labels per sheet; weatherproof polyester laser

Friday, June 18, 2010

We made our own wedding rings!

Yes, we made our own wedding rings --- how cool is that?! I found out about the Wedding Ring Workshop thanks to Miss Pencils on Weddingbee. As soon as I read about this (and couldn't believe my eyes) I went to dear fiance and told him all about it. He was really excited too and he went ahead and booked us an appointment!

This solid piece turned into our rings (two rings)! I love the symbolism.

The day was so wonderful. We picked up a rental car from the airport and drove out to the Virginia country-side. Chris, our expert (and was Miss Pencil's expert too), was so much fun to be around and it was so easy going. We took part in each step with Chris helping along the way to make sure that our rings would turn out perfect. I love it that our bands have the smallest soldering mark (that can only been seen if you're looking for it) because I soldered his and he soldered mine.
Working hard to bend the metal.

Chris told us that people have travelled far-and-wide to partake in this experience (Maine, Georgia, etc); and I can see why. I would describe this to people as a build-a-bear type moment: it's the experience that makes the bear that much more special and it's the same thing with the wedding rings. Prior to this experience the rings to me were just that: rings. I honestly would not have cared if I had one. But now when I'll look at my ring, I'll know my husband made it. :-)

Looking busy.

If you're thinking about doing it -- just do it. If you're wondering about the money -- just do it. Find a way. You will wear these rings every day.
Our rings. Yes, we made those.

FYI for those going to a Workshop: I'd suggest you'd wear closed-toe flat shoes, tie up long hair and wear comfy clothes. At the end of the Workshop you get Champagne...but if you don't drink alcohol, Chris (he thinks of everything) has sparkling cider that tastes wonderful!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Registries: REI and Bed, Bath and Beyond

In order not to get random gifts from family and friends, we decided to register for some items, despite having lived on our own (and now combining households) for many years.

Registry Experience #1: REI

I looked into a registry with EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports), a favorite backpacking/hiking store, but they do not have a registry service (and I really needed a 'footprint' for my tent...the groundcloth that goes under the tent to protect it). REI, a similar store, does have a registry feature.

It's been effortless -- we've been building the registry only online (have not set foot in the store). Catholicgauze needs hiking boots and a backpack for our adventures, and I'd like to get some add-ons to the JetBoil I purchased at EMS a few years back. We'd be purchasing these items anyway, so if family and friends would like to give them as a gift, that would be great.

Registry Experience #2: Bed, Bath and Beyond

We decided on Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB) for multiple reasons. First, they have locations all around the country (important for family and friends that are from far-away lands). Secondly, they have a wide variety of merchandise and options. While we already have most household items that we need, there are a few items that would be nice to have, but we're indifferent if we receive them. This registry is structured more towards those that are inclined to purchase a gift off of a registry than give money.

The folks at BBB were great. They took the time to explain the process, and the associates around the store were quick to say "hello" when they saw us coming with the 'scan gun' and when we had a few issues, they were quick to solve it and eager make it easy on us. They even offered us something to drink. You can build the Registry online as well, but it's nice to be able to touch the towels and sheets in order to select the one you like best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Special Delivery

We invited President George W Bush and Mrs Bush to our wedding. They sent a reply back stating that it was an honor to be invited but unfortunately their schedules would not allow them to attend. Oh well, better luck next time. :-)