Planning Your Catholic Wedding – With Gina Updike

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About the Guest

Gina Updike is a wedding planner based in Buffalo, New York. She owns her own wedding planning business and travels around the country helping Catholic Brides plan the wedding of their dreams!

Episode Links

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The Five Love Languages Book

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Ann Losinski 0:03
Welcome back everybody to the Catholic brides podcast I am joined today by Gina uptake who is located in Buffalo, New York, she is a wedding planner she has a wedding planning business, and she serves brides in New York, but also travels the country as well, serving all of the Catholic brides in the country. So, welcome to the show Gina.

Gina 0:30
Hi, and thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.

Ann Losinski 0:33
Yeah. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your faith journey.

Gina 0:40
Sure. Great. So, um, so I am 23 years old. I just recently got married last year myself and my husband and I moved out to Buffalo, New York. A few months ago from New Hampshire, so I have a lot of my family and I grew up in New England. I grew up a practicing Catholic and a family that practiced Catholicism. And I went to a Catholic school, and then went on to study at Franciscan University, but I didn’t really you know adopt the face as my own I’d say my faith journey really started in college at a retreat in, in school. And it sort of, you know, piggybacked on our relationship with Mary, so I’d say that kind of started when I was at World Youth Day in Poland in 2017. I think that was no 2016. It was 2016. Yeah, and kind of came back with this devotion to Mary, and my faith journey kind of just sprouted. From there, I would say. So I’ve been Catholic my whole life but I’ve been, you know, much more serious about my faith in the past like four years or so.

Ann Losinski 2:02
That’s super cool I also was at World Youth Day in Poland and I was a super, super powerful experience just to kind of muddy. Yeah, and like, have faith in like a different way and with people of all different or played out religions, but all different cultures, right coming together to celebrate it was super cool

Gina 2:24
yeah awesome it was really really cool.

Ann Losinski 2:26
So you’re a wedding planner so could you tell us a little bit about what you do and how your passion for weddings kind of started.

Gina 2:36
Sure yeah so I’ve always been passionate about planning and organization in general. Ever since I was like, maybe 10 years old, I started by planning my own you know birthday parties and sort of upgraded from there. But I, you know, when I was originally trying to figure out what the Lord was calling me to as far as a career path. I was really starting to feel called towards some kind of a planning position. And I pursued for a little while, more of like a corporate planning, you know like, corporate Christmas parties and big five day conventions and things like that so I did a little bit of interning with a company in Boston, that did that sort of thing. And I really had my heart set on that. But the Lord just kept opening doors for me. Since then, in the wedding industry, and I kind of took took that as a cue and really just started to find my niche in that industry instead and found a love for weddings and a few years ago, I you know I had been working in the wedding industry already for about five years, throughout college and after graduating. And then I was working for secular companies and then I just sort of felt this tug on my heart to focus on Catholic weddings. And as much as I, you know, enjoyed my job working for other companies. I just really just felt every time I’d have a client that I just felt really focused 100% on the party 100% on the reception. And on those details and I, you know, which is great for the planner usually because that’s where you can kind of start to shine and with your design and decor and all of that stuff, but I really just felt God’s sort of calling me to focus on the sacrament. So, when I started to look into Catholic wedding planning, there wasn’t really, you know, any companies that do that especially, you know, big companies that would look to hire second third fourth fifth planners. So, so that’s when I decided to start my, my own company so that I could focus on the sacrament with My Brides and not just on the details of their wedding day, but also help them prepare for marriage, in general, and sort of be involved on you know both of those aspects with them while they’re engaged.

Ann Losinski 5:19
Awesome. I liked how you said that you help them to focus on the sacrament and not just on the party because especially like with the secular world and the secular like wedding industry, it is super easy to get caught up in the planning of the wedding, but the reception is like the highlight whereas we should be focusing more on the sacrament because the sacrament is the reason behind everything else, and everything else kind of close Yeah exactly.

Gina 5:47
Yeah, exactly, that’s that’s 100%. What I’ve been thinking and just swapping you know from the second of clients to the Catholic clients. It really was, you know immediately apparent that, that, you know, in the secular world. I was working for these brides and the ceremony was like, yeah, we’ll set up some chairs, I’m gonna walk down the aisle. So people, you know, didn’t even want to set up chairs, they just were like well I’m not gonna rent chairs, so that people can hear me talk for five minutes, being a witness wasn’t that big of a deal to them. And we spent almost 100% of our time on the reception, and then going from that to the Catholic clients and the Catholic industry side of weddings, and it’s kind of the reversal. The first thing that we want to figure out is the church, the first thing we want to figure out is, you know, all of the details surrounding the sacrament itself and like that’s the most important thing, and especially right now with COVID interacting, or interfering with a lot of people’s plans. Unfortunately, but especially right now. It’s so beautiful to see Catholic weddings still happening and Catholic brides still feeling like they got their wedding day even if all that they get is the ceremony because that’s their focus and that’s just a really beautiful testament to me and to, I think, I think everyone should get to experience that and see that that’s a thing cuz it really is the most important piece of the piece of the puzzle here.

Ann Losinski 7:23
Yeah, for sure, I, I totally agree with you and I think that it’s so sad that in the non Catholic world there is a lot of people that are just like, Oh, it’s not a big deal, we’ll just push it off until later. You’re like, the Catholic people are like, no, this is important. And this is why and we still want to go through it, even if we can’t do all of the big frilly things that usually people do, but like we can still have our small intimate ceremony with our family and still make it happen.

Gina 7:52
Right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Ann Losinski 7:56
Yeah. So, with that, what are your top like wedding planning tips specifically for Catholic people who are planning their weddings.

Gina 8:04
Yeah, so I’d say probably. Excuse me, I’d say probably the most general tip that I can give any bride is specifically when it comes to planning the wedding is to spend some time and really formulate what your vision for the day is the clearer the vision, the more likely you are that’s what you’re going to see on the day. Whether or not you have a planner, just, you know, the more you know what you want, the better you can communicate with your vendors better you can communicate with your family. And that goes for things, you know, as, as designing as florals and centerpieces but it also goes. You know, it also speaks to things like I want the day to be stress free I want the day to be about the sacrament, you know, that sort of thing so during engagement it’s really important to have that clear vision in mind, you know after the wedding day are you going to feel like it was a successful day. If all you were thinking about all day were the details of the perception, or do you want to walk away from the day feeling like you had prepared for the mass you were there for the mass you experienced the mass and you weren’t thinking about, you know, I hope that the florists arrived on time or, you know, so that would seem, it would be the number one piece of advice is to formulate that vision because all your other decisions are going to come from that vision. As far as, you know, maybe a little bit more specific budget tips, I’d say, my best piece of advice budget wise, is to find vendors who work out of their homes. A lot of florists a lot of bakeries, even sometimes caterers will work out of their homes if they’re a little bit newer to the industry or anything like that. and even caterers that are connected with a restaurant, are also going to be a little bit less expensive because these actors don’t have any overhead. So they tend to keep their prices pretty low. And then I’d say for specifically Catholic brides is to focus on the sacrament to really make that part of your clear vision, and to work. Work marriage prep into your engagement, the way that you would work like a planning timeline, you know like six months out I have to send my save the dates and but five months out, you know I want to start this consecration with my fiance. Kind of just making it part of the planning process is really going to help you look back on your engagement and feel like you were prepared for marriage. Don’t worry about if you don’t want to worry about the details then I mean, I can’t not suggest that you hire a planner.

Ann Losinski 10:49
For sure. I really, that’s beautiful about how you mentioned planning spiritually as well as like planning for the day because it is super important during engagement to continue to grow closer to your future husband and spend that time intentionally growing deeper together in like a poor life together. I think that’s super important, like you mentioned,

Gina 11:12
yeah oh my gosh that’s so true because, and I will always thought this, and especially when I was engaged people kind of treat engagement like it’s like this like hump they have to kind of get over you know to get to marriage. And, and in a way that’s kind of true, but when you think about it. I mean, you probably were friends with your husband first, and you will be friends. Until the day you die and then you dated. And the idea is that you you know continue dating and having fun and getting to know each other until, you know, for the rest of your lives. And once you get married. You’ll be married for the rest of your lives and want to become parents your parents without your lives, but the only state that you’ll ever have with your husband that’s not going to last for the rest of your lives is engagement and so there’s something really special about just that period of time. That anticipation and waiting and super intentional preparation. So I really challenged brides not to just sort of, you know, get through it, so to speak, but really enjoy it and get everything out there is to get out of that time,

Ann Losinski 12:20
for sure. So with that, I know you mentioned like doing a novena or something with your future husband, but what are some other like concrete things that you can do either that you did before you got married or you wish you had done before you got married, and you would recommend to somebody who’s engaged.

Gina 12:37
Sure, yeah so part of my initial consultation with anyone who wants to talk to me about my services or you know about their wedding is always asking them if they’ve picked a patron saint for their engagement. That’s always something that I suggest just because engagement is a stressful time especially if you are playing bigger receptions, especially right now with our current environment with the virus, with things changing every day. So I always suggest that my clients pick a patron saint, whether it’s for their marriage, or just for their engagement. Sometimes people will choose whatever saint. Whoever saves feast day is their wedding day, or just someone that they both, you know, felt connected to together over the years, or maybe someone new that they really want to get to know and haven’t ever had, you know, the excuse to dive into, but definitely that one for sure. Also working aspects of the faith into the details of the day, not just the sacrament itself but you know if you’re going to do that tradition, something old something new something borrowed, something blue. I usually suggest you know to buy a blue miraculous metal and have that put into your dress. You know, something like that, making a religious article incorporate it into the favours into your bouquet into the centerpieces just something that, you know, as you’re going through the details kind of like that. More monotonous season that’s planning things out and you know making these decisions. you’re being reminded at every turn, of what you know what you’re what we’re doing here, and on your wedding day. You know everywhere we look we want to subtly remind ourselves of the greater picture. And then, I’m a huge fan of doing a consecration together, especially you know the 33 days leading up to the wedding day itself. My husband and I did the 33 days to my glory consecration and we did it with the 33rd day being our rehearsal dinner night, so that we could sign our consecration right after our rehearsal, and our, our priest was I witnessed for the signing of the consecration, and we went into our wedding day. Newly. But I’ve had brides that will do that one or they’ll do the Louie demontfort more intense version. Or they haven’t done like St. Joseph consecration that they kind of been remember on their wedding day by, you know, going and praying in front of the Mary statue or the St. Joseph statue and presenting flowers, that sort of thing. but it is a really nice reminder, those 33 days before, just because if you don’t actively focus on something it’s so easy to get distracted by a bunch of other things that lead up to a wedding day. Sort of a newer thing that I’ve been starting to suggest to people, just because I really like the love languages. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them. Are you familiar with the Five Love Languages okay yeah so taking whatever time is left in engagement and sort of dividing that time by five and focusing on each one of each of the love languages for those five sections, And specifically, you know, talking to your future husband about like how do we see Jesus, showing us, loving us in this particular way, you know like, how do we see Jesus loving us through, you know, words of affirmation that maybe for you guys you feel loved by the Lord through words of affirmation by reading scripture and so then for that period of time then like, maybe that’s what you focus on with each other and while also learning how to communicate love to each other using words of affirmation. And you know, that sort of thing just to sort of help you get closer to each other get closer to the Lord, and do it together.

Ann Losinski 16:52
I love that. For our listeners that don’t know the five love languages, could you just briefly, like just list them out for them.

Gina 17:00
Yeah, sure. So,I think I know them all so it’s words of affirmation physical touch quality time. What are the other two. I’m forgetting in the moment,

Ann Losinski 17:16
acts of service. And gift giving yes, yes. Yep.

Gina 17:21
Okay. You can probably imagine that those two are not mine. minutes. Yeah, so they’re, they’re really great and whenever I. Whenever my husband and I focus on those. It’s been really powerful. We were long distance for a little while, as well, and found that to be really cool to focus on. Especially if you’re having like a long distance engagement or something like that.

Ann Losinski 17:47
I really liked how you said to divide your time by five and then focus on them. Like, individually, because then at that point you can also start to learn, like yourself in what ways you like to be loved, but also the ways that your spouse or your future spouse likes to be loved, as well. And I think that’s a super cool like way to do that, yeah.

Gina 18:06
Oh yeah, definitely. Do you have you guys thought about the love languages you and your husband. Mm hmm.

Ann Losinski 18:13
Yep. So we talked about oh yeah we talked about them a lot. And as part of our marriage prep our priests that we did our marriage prep with recommended for us to read the book so we read the book before marriage and then kind of talked about it and just kind of shared which ones kind of resonated with us. And so we try to like practice them, and into into integrate them into our life as well as knowing okay like it’s super helpful just to know, like which ways will help other person feel loved more because right for each, we’re different. So, we need to be loved in different ways and helping us to, like, fill our love tanks.

Gina 18:55
Right. Exactly.

Ann Losinski 18:59
Awesome. So what do you think is the most stressful part for people when they’re planning their weddings and what are your tips to minimize that stress.

Gina 19:08
Okay, so I would say that that really depends on the person. For some people, the details of the planning process doesn’t bother them at all because they’re super organized and they have, you know, two years to plan their wedding. Like that sort of thing but maybe it’s their family that really stresses them out, or the family they’re marrying and you know sometimes we have you know some drama in the wedding party, you know, that sort of thing. But whatever it is, I think it’s really important at the very beginning, and I always ask my clients, this at the very beginning, you know what, what do they anticipate being the most stressful thing for them. And then, you know, trying to figure out how we can minimize that stress ahead of time. And for some people you know it’s that they want the day to be perfect. And as a planner I want to promise them that it’s going to be perfect, but sometimes it is necessary to sort of help people maintain realistic expectations. You know, and help them understand, you know like, this is going to be the most beautiful day that we can make it and it’s going to be the most beautiful day ever in your lives because this day you’re going to marry the person that you love. But sometimes, you know, especially right now with. It feels for some Brides, especially during 2020, and most likely 2021 at every turn. The government is, you know, closing this or restricting that and that sort of thing it can start to get really stressful, no matter what it is that you particularly were concerned about. So sometimes it is really important to sort of take a step back and remember that perfection is not what we’re after here. The most important piece of the puzzle is that you walk away from this day married. And as long as that happens. And we can you know agree that that was a successful day if you walk away in a hurry, at the end of the day, then you know that kind of helps to just reorient our minds and reorient our priorities. So I’d say that that’s my number one tip for reducing stress is just remembering why we’re doing this, remembering what if nothing else, is not going to happen on this day is that you are going to walk away with, you know, your husband with your wife, married, and ready to start your life together, which is kind of the whole point. And then beyond that. Just practically I’d say, you know, taking steps like you know if you can’t afford to hire a planner or a wedding manager that’s kind of what I prefer to call it because no one can really come in on the day of and know everything that’s going on. But, you know, hire someone bring someone in to take care of his details for you so that you’re not the one who has to deal with it so that you don’t want your maid of honor, super stressed out all day because they’re the one that ends up having to take care of all of it, or your mom, or you know whoever, even if it’s a family member, but just like make sure that it’s like an appointed person, so that it doesn’t just fault. You know, end up on anyone’s shoulders. I think that that goes a long way, especially on the actual day as far as preparing for the day. I mean, source out the talent in your wedding party in your friend group in your family. I mean, don’t be afraid to suggest to them that you know if you have like a beautiful organist in the family or something like that, ask them if they would be willing to play the organ for your wedding as their gift if they if you know it’s the baker in the family would be willing to bake, you know, cupcakes for you as their gift or something like that. Everything that you can sort of take off your plate and ask somebody else to manage for you is definitely going to bring down that stress level, for sure. But I’d say I mean really I keep coming back to wedding planners are kind of the most professional solution to to minimize stress. But again it goes back to really, what is it that you’re stressed about if you’re stressed about family matters than a wedding planner is probably not your solution but if you’re stressed about the details and the logistics and making sure you’re doing everything on time, then yes, probably a wedding planner is your best solution in that situation. If you’re stressed about your budget. I mean, plan accordingly. There are ways to get exactly what you’re looking for at the budget that you have, people say, you know, rather than worrying that it can’t be done but I can promise you, I’ve never not seen it done when a bride sets out to do it so. But yeah, it really it kind of depends on what it is you’re stressed about and then walking it back in and trying to figure out how to relieve that that stress.

Ann Losinski 24:03
Yeah that’s super good, because I know, it’s good to remember too that your day might go not go look perfect in the way that you have it in your mind, but it’ll still be the perfect day, like you said, t shirts you’re marrying you’re marrying your best friend. Yeah, that’s so true. So, yeah. Um, I think this kind of ties in a little bit but what is the, is there a difference between like the wedding coordinator that you might get from your church, and the like a wedding planner like you are and what’s the difference what are the benefits of using one or the other.

Gina 24:40
Yeah sure so okay so as far as like any venue coordinator. I’ve worked with so many of them and they most of the time, are rockstars like usually they know what’s going on they know how to help you, they know you know maybe what you need before you even ask, they are usually really good at their jobs. At the end of the day, they do work for someone else though they don’t work for the breath. So at the end of the day your venue coordinator has to act in the venue’s best interest. You know, they I mean if there’s like a vendor that the venue has a relationship with their going to work to preserve that relationship over preserving, you know, what you are the vendor for, for example, a wedding planner. On the other hand, is someone that works for you specifically as a bride. And who is going to prioritize you on your day over, you know any of those other relationships or any of those other you know things going on. As far as, you know, deciding between a day of coordinator, and a planner most most planners will offer both, and you can hire them to come in for just the day of. I caution against hiring anyone just for the day of just because usually it’s almost more work for the bride to hire someone to come in, just for the day, because you have to educate them on everything that’s going on. Usually if the planner doesn’t offer you like at least like a month long package as their quote unquote day of package I would say skip it. But anyway, but usually they’ll offer you at least a month I offer three months as part of my quote unquote day of. And what that kind of looks like. Is someone coming in, after you’ve hired all your vendors after you’ve designed everything. After you’ve done all the work. And a few months before they take it all off your plate. They organize all of it, they make sure that everyone’s on the same page. You only have to communicate with them and they can make it with your vendors for you so you don’t have like 100 emails coming at you that week for your wedding. And, I mean, the biggest things really that come with a day of coordinator, so to speak, day, usually months, is that they’ll make you a timeline for the day. I mean I make a timeline for the bride once with the groom once with the vendors. Once the photographer once with the DJ, you know all separate but all overlapping and, you know, jobs and stuff, so that everyone knows exactly what’s going on and exactly what’s expected of them and when they have to be where, and then also usually your layout comes with your day of coordinator versus a planner, a planner is someone that is with you from the get go, 12, months, maybe more. They’re the ones that are going to do the work. As far as hiring your vendors they are going to do their research, they’ll find out what the what the costs are, they’ll manage your budget for you, they will, you know, bring in just like the two top. You know bakeries, that meet your vision and your budget and those are the only ones you have to decide from you don’t have to spend hours on online, you know, comparing reviews getting quotes all that stuff, they will do that for you. They also have in design and decor, so they’ll, you know, help you create you know they have to do is to you know come to them with. I really like vintage or I really am obsessed with this like 1920s speakeasy vibe or I’m getting married outside, but I really want it to feel like a ballroom you know like that sort of thing. And then that’s on the planner to sort of help your vision come to life. But that’s not something that a day of coordinator would do for example that’s, that would be on the bride and then you would just tell them what you want, or like what that’s going to look like. But yeah, so those are kind of just probably the biggest differences between the two and the investment is going to be different as well. But I’d say. I mean, I would say definitely to hire one or the other, for a wedding. I always say every wedding demands a coordinator. And if you don’t hire a professional, someone is just going to by default.

Ann Losinski 28:57
So one other question I have that I asked all of my guests, that’s not related to any of this is what is your favorite Bible verse or passage and why.

Gina 30:52
Yeah, so that’s a really great question. I’m really glad that you let me know about this question beforehand because there’s a lot I think that are hard to choose from, but I really think that it really comes down to, for me, for whatever reason, I always come back to. I think it’s Matthew chapter five. The let your Yes, be yes and your no me No, and I know that this doesn’t really have anything to do with weddings, or planning, or maybe it does. I’m not sure, but something about that versus just always resonated with me because especially as a woman, sometimes I feel like we. I don’t know, we, when we say no to things two commitments things, you know that we feel OSHA we have to justify it or we say yes to things because we feel like we can’t say no or things like that and I feel like this is literally Jesus giving me permission to just, you know, say yes I want to do that and I don’t have to justify it. Or no, I can’t put this on my plate right now and I don’t have to justify it. It’s just you know that he’s like giving me his blessing to be in charge my own schedule and in charge of my own life and not have to constantly be justifying what I’m doing, because if I’m not careful I am totally one of those people that falls into that category.

Ann Losinski 32:10
Hmm, that’s beautiful.

Gina 32:12
You know from, you know, my job to my personal lives my personal decisions all kinds of things but if I could, one quote that I love that does have something to do with weddings is from john paul the second, and it’s authentic love is pure and always leads others to the source of love, which is God Himself. And I just thought that for sure i think is super relevant to this conversation. Not a Bible verse But, but still maybe a little bit more relevant than, yes and no.

Ann Losinski 32:49
JPII is always awesome so always relevant.

Gina 32:54
Exactly, exactly, especially when we’re talking about love and marriage and anything remotely related to the theology of bodies. I figured I’d throw that one in there.

Ann Losinski 33:08
Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on the show Gina, if people want to get ahold of you, how can they best do that.

Gina 33:16
Yeah, so I’m on Instagram, and I have a website. My website is WWE by Gina Marie calm and my Instagram is by underscore Gina Marie, and my email is all over both of those sites, so I do it but I feel like it might be easier to just look up the website and find it there. And I also have. I have just a like contact form on the site where you can fill out you know your information and things like that. And I would like to mention, if it’s okay with you that, you know, all my consultations, the first conversation is always free. If, whether that’s you know you’re looking for a planner or you just need to talk to a professional for 30 minutes because you just can’t figure out where you’re going wrong with X Y or Z, in your planning process. They’re usually about 45 minutes long, and we could talk about, you know, whatever questions you have for free. So I’d love to hear from any from anyone who has it on their heart or mind that, you know, they would like to chat about their wedding, whether or not they’re interested in hiring a planner.

Ann Losinski 34:24
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today Tina, this has been a great conversation, thanks so much for having me. And

Gina 34:31
thank you so much.

Ann Losinski 34:33
And thank you everybody for tuning in, and I will see you in the next episode. God bless you.

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