amy-mattAlthough Catholic marriages have gone down by half within the Milwaukee Archdiocese since 2000, the wedding ceremony was the highlight of the day for Matthew and Amy Taylor, married Oct. 16, 2010 at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee. Surrounded by family and close friends, the two began to “understand on a much deeper level what marriage is supposed to be like.” (Submitted photo courtesy K & M Photography) It’s 2:05 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, and I’m trying my hardest not to have a nervous breakdown. Behind the large doors of the Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, I’m surrounded by my immediate family, close friends and, of course, six little girls all dressed in white, tugging on my ivory dress and asking me why can’t they just start walking? I take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

My dad has his arm locked into mine on my right-hand side, and my mom is nervously clutching my left hand and trying hard not to cry. As music begins to play, my bouquet of ivory colored roses start to tremble as my hands shake. How did I get here? I asked myself. 

When Matt and I first began planning our wedding after we became engaged on St. Patrick’s Day 2009, it seemed as though we had a lifetime to figure out just what was important for us to include in the wedding. At the time, all I knew was that the food had to be outstanding (I am the daughter of a caterer, after all), I wanted all of my nieces to be flower girls, and we had to get married in the Catholic Church.

These days, it seems as though so many couples put more and more emphasis on the party aspect of the wedding, rather than the actual vows that make the marriage as holy as it is. Even for us, the amount of time Matt and I spent making our invitations didn’t even come close to the amount of time we spent planning our ceremony liturgy. However, to be honest, that might have had more to do with us not knowing how to use a glue gun properly than not caring what kind of ceremony our priest performed.

Having my wedding ceremony take place in the Catholic Church was extremely important to me, although for my loving then-fiancé, that idea didn’t have as much appeal, as he didn’t share the same faith that I did.

Matt and I met during the winter of 2005 when I was attending Marquette University and he was working at the local Starbucks (yes, I fell in love with the man who made me Grande Mochas every morning). When we began dating, he told me that he had been raised in a Mormon household, but no longer practiced his religion. After we became engaged, Matt and I had many discussions and, in the end, we decided that, while he might never become Catholic, he would always support me in my religion and in my faith journey. That included, of course, saying, “I do” in the Catholic Church.

I wonder how many others in my age group would do that for the one they love?

In 2000, the Milwaukee Archdiocese performed 3,108 marriages within its 10 counties. That number has dropped to 1,942, down more than half the amount in those 10 years.

In 2000, the Milwaukee Archdiocese performed 3,108 marriages within its 10 counties. That number has dropped to 1,942, down more than half the amount in those 10 years.

With that knowledge in mind, I have to ask myself: Are fewer people falling in love today? Statistics I’ve read recently point to the contrary. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in November 2010, young people are more inclined to cohabit rather than tie the knot. Also in the survey, 44 percent of all adults (and more than half of all adults ages 30 to 49) say they have cohabited at some point in their lives. Among those who have done so, about two-thirds (64 percent) say they thought of this as a step toward marriage. Among those people cohabiting are cradle Catholics who’ve fallen away from their faith.

An article published by the Catholic World Report in January, “The First Vocations Crisis,” reports that Catholic marriages have been on a steady decline for years. In 1965, there were 355,182 Catholic weddings within the United States. That number rose in the 1970s, and then fell to 292,499 in 1995. By 2008, it stood at 191,265 – a decline of 35 percent in less than a decade and a half. It would appear that couples such as Matt and me are now the exception to the rule, rather than the norm, especially because we decided against living together before marriage due to my religious beliefs.

Although it was fun to coordinate flowers and table runners and choose the dinner menu for our wedding, meeting with our priest, Franciscan Fr. Alejandro Lopez, and planning our liturgical readings and music was one of the most meaningful and mindful decisions Matt and I made together.

In spite of Matt not being Catholic, we both understood on a much deeper level what marriage is supposed to be like, and how the Catholic Church helps couples such as us not only on that day, but for the rest of our lives, especially with programs stemming from the John Paul II Center’s Nazareth Project for marriage and family.

For myself, reciting my vows at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, surrounded by almost everyone I’ve ever known and loved, is truly one of the most beautiful memories I have. Listening to Fr. Lopez’s inspiring homily, being blessed by family and friends, offering roses to Mary’s shrine (and asking the Blessed Virgin to pray for our marriage and for me to not slip in my heels on the way back to the kneeler), looking into Matt’s eyes as we slipped rings onto each other’s left hand, and feeling the blessing that God bestowed on us as we were pronounced husband and wife, was truly an amazing feeling.

Now that we’ve been married for the past five months, we now have other things that we’re in the midst of planning – paying back student debt, saving for a house, anticipating children and overall just enjoying our lives together. Knowing that our marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church is truly a comforting feeling for Matt and me as we continue on our marital journey. Cheers!