When Stephanie Calis was getting married five years ago, she found few resources to help her plan a Catholic wedding. She knew other Catholic couples were having the same dilemma.
Fast-forward five years, and Calis is now author of “Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner,” published by Pauline Books and Media and made available on April 1.
The 208-page book has nine chapters that follow the basic matrimonial timeline to a Catholic wedding from engagement, what to do after a couple is engaged to adjusting to being a newlywed.
“The chapters include how to choose and get the most out of a marriage prep program, how to plan your nuptial Mass (a liturgy planning sheet is included), and how to plan your reception, with a sample timeline included,” Calis said.
“The book also contains chapters on beauty and the feminine genius, an introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and how chastity and a contraception-free marriage open couples to the most authentic, fulfilling love, and a chapter by my husband Andrew on the groom’s perspective. Andrew also wrote a short reflection and discussion questions for the end of each chapter.”
Writing book a dream
Calis earned a degree in English from Mount St. Mary’s University near Emmitsburg, Maryland. In fact, she said, she met her husband, Andrew Calis, in a British Literature class.
“I was always so, so interested in what he had to say,” Calis said about the man who sat a few desks away from her in class. “I had the sense early on in our friendship that he was someone I really could spent my whole life talking to.”
They married in 2011 at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg.
In between jobs – because of a move so her husband could earn a master’s degree – she found herself looking for a creative project to fill the time. About the same time, she and her husband had been invited to approximately 12 weddings of peers.
Knowing how she struggled looking for practical Catholic wedding resources, she started a timely blog called “Captive the Heart” in February 2012, “as a way to minister to other brides.” Calis said it was something she updated several times a week.
Pauline Books and Media discovered that blog and asked if she would be interested in expanding it into a book, focusing on planning a Catholic wedding. They wanted a timeless resource for Catholic couples.
“In my experience, there were a few practical wedding sites for Catholics, detailing things like the liturgy,” she said. “There were a few theological books on love and marriage along with the many secular planners and sources of inspiration. I wanted my book to combine these needs – the combination of the spiritual and the practical – along with ideas for a beautiful day, into a single resource.”
The publishing house’s initial email to her was surreal, she said. She had to send it to her husband to get his confirmation that the publisher actually intended to make her an author.
The email read, “Our editorial team sees a desire among readers for a book that would address, from a Catholic perspective, planning and preparing for the wedding day, while emphasizing marriage as a sacrament, vocation and lifelong commitment.”
“It was hard to believe,” Calis said, adding that her next thought was that now she had to write a book.
She spent the first two years “drafting a proposal and writing the manuscript and the last year finalizing the writing and marketing the book,” she said. She is extremely pleased with how her first book turned out. It hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon New Releases recently.
Calis’ life now
Calis currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children: Aaron, 2 1/2, and Lily, 4 months old.
Now that she has a book under her wings targeted to any couple getting married in the church (included in the book is an appendix with the basics of pursuing a valid remarriage, explaining the difference between divorce and annulment), she says she would like to write another but isn’t yet sure of the topic.
She had always dreamed of writing children’s books.
“I like spiritual writing and writing about relationships in the Catholic perspective,” the 27-year-old said.
The wedding planner is available at www.pauline.org or amazon.com.
Christine Bordelon can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.