Bringing Symbolism to the Wedding of a Catholic-Baptist Polish-Southern Teacher-Marine Couple


Ahh, the engagement ring. You’ve waited for (in my case, four) years for it to be slipped onto your finger. And when it (finally!) arrives, you give yourself a day to enjoy the moment. Then … let the whirlwind of emotions, scattered wedding ideas, and overwhelming requirements kick in. Does it need to be that way? Or is it possible to be in complete emotional control over the entire planning process?


The bride and the groom with the student's choir.

Aleksandra and Andrew with their counseling priest, pastor, and her students who served as altar boys in their ceremony.


Being courted by a military man who was frequently called to duty, did not make it easy to move a serious relationship forward. More than that was the difference in our religious backgrounds. This would be, and remains, our biggest challenge. Marriage-prep classes, counseling sessions, personality tests, retreats, books read until our eyes bled, fertility talks, and hours-upon-hours of lengthy long-night phone calls all to better understand the expectations of this vocation we felt called to. I knew after a year that he was the man I was going to marry. He, however, the son of a Baptist preacher (cue Dusty Springfield’s song, “Son of a Preacher Man”) felt strongly that we had to determine what religion we would raise any children we were blessed with before an engagement could take place.

Having a solid religious foundation on which to base our marriage was our primary focus. But, when he didn’t understand or agree with my Catholic principles, and I felt that his faith was missing the full picture, it made for some pretty frustrating times. We were in love, but we knew the “in-love” state would end quickly. We learned about the meaning of love and that it had to be strong to carry us through all the hellish moments that we were not naïve to that would come. We believed it took three to get married – and without God bringing the relationship together, without us individually having our own relationship with Him, we knew it wouldn’t work. There had to be a reason neither of us wanted to let go. So we carried on, talking through points, learning how to respect each other, and working to understand one another’s thoughts, feelings, and viewpoints. And isn’t that what marriage is? Ultimate respect for another human being that has been called into your life. You don’t know why they’re there and what you’re supposed to do with them. But you learn that the one thing you need to have most in common is the deep love for Jesus.

Fast forward to December 30, 2017. A breakup takes place. He won’t propose. This is going on long enough. On your way out of his place, holding a box of books you left there, he sits down and goes into a complete transformation right before your eyes. You’re not sure if you should tiptoe quietly out the door and leave him muttering to himself, but you stay to watch because you’ve never seen anything like it and you’re a little entertained. He suddenly looks up acknowledging your presence and bursts out with, “do you just want to get married?” You respond, “Yes! What do you think this whole thing has been about?” He goes to the kitchen to retrieve the engagement ring he hid on top of the cabinets (Blasted! The one place you didn’t scope out anytime you went searching for the ring you knew he had). He returns with a 2.22 karat crystal clear, the red-rose banded symbol of love and commitment.

So now what? We agreed to walk through life together. I finally “got” the ring I practically begged for. He looked completely relaxed, like the weight of the world had just been lifted. I felt the stress transfer over to me. The man I had just broken up with was now my fiancé. I wanted to just keep it normal, so he took me on a date to see a new movie like we enjoyed doing, to see “Churchill”. Nothing like a British flick to keep us sane (one of our commonalities). 

We started off the New Year in historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the town that brought us together. Then the announcement calls were made. Then the questions entered:

  •         Where and when would we get married?
  •         Who would we invite?
  •         What would we eat?
  •         How would we decorate?
  •         What would everyone wear?
  •         What traditions would we include?
  •         Who, if anyone, would help us?
  •         Where would we honeymoon?
  •         Who’s going to pay for all this?
  •         Being military, how would we accommodate out-of-town guests?
  •         Did we actually settle on what religion our children would be raised in?


The bride and the groom with their Ladies and Men of Honor.

Aleksandra and Andrew with their Ladies of Honor (sibling sisters and sisters-in-Christ) and Men of Honor (military brothers).



We decided not to let any of this take over why we chose to make a life-long commitment to one another. None of this mattered when we were aware that real challenges exist, and hardships would be faced after the wedding. That’s why we planned with blinders on, remaining focused on laying down a solid foundation for our marriage, and less attention to the wedding details during the engagement. We knew marriage wasn’t meant to be glamorous, but instead, a positively soul-enriching life that we both craved. The parts of our wedding were all put together during much immense praying time – symbolic and purposeful.



Why, the Church, of course! How pretty it would be to be married in a garden, overlooking the ocean, with a beautiful landscape in the background for photos. But the Church is just so sacred and encompassing. We were firm on wanting to preserve the dignity of marriage by giving honor and respect to He who established it in His house. Sure, nature and barns have their own feeling of His creation, but those were made for us, and we were made for Him.

We were blessed to make our vows in a beautifully designed church, simple white roses were gifted by them, but it was the meaning of that church community that meant the most. It was where I attended as a single woman, praying that God would lead me to the right man. I later taught at its school. And who knew my students, who had become such an instrumental part of my walk towards married life, would be in the procession, offering roses to our mothers that would be put together as a spiritual bouquet in remembrance of our grandparents?

The church’s reception hall served as a simple, yet elegant locale for receiving our guests after the ceremony.

A bed-and-breakfast estate in the heart of Virginia’s horse country provided the feel of living in the elegance of pre-Civil War times. We were Lord and Lady of the property for a weekend! There was space for lodging, the rehearsal dinner, our wedding dinner, and entertainment (the bride and kids loved the horses roaming around the property, and Polka dancers need space to leap!). The memories still feel like a home away from home.



Selecting our party was simple. We wanted to thank and honor our friends and family who guided us to this point and made the most impact on our lives. Andrew and his military friends, his Men of Honor, were adorned in Marine Corps uniforms. Two additional Marines stood guard at the door, opening them for me when I appeared as if I were the Queen of England.

My Ladies of Honor, best friends, and sisters were dressed elegantly and topped with fascinators. This party of twelve was the most supportive group of friends two people could ask for and kept us on a straight path. We had no bachelor or bachelorette parties. Only a simple ladies’ tea party and gentlemen’s cigar chats.

Andrew’s favorite color is a combination of dark blue and white, the colors of his alma mater. Since he’s a Marine, we chose marine blue for the occasion. Though I love all pinks, a sophisticated hint of it appeared as coral in our faux, floral bouquets, handmade by my mother, and the floral design on the invites and wedding website. A light green and brown were accents.

Our brothers and fathers looked handsome in morning suits with coral ties as they gave blessings, presented the bride to the groom, and read from the Bible. Andrew’s brother carried the wedding bands that would symbolize devotion, fidelity, and respect for the bond of unity, while his three-year-old daughter walked down a long aisle, carrying flowers, wearing a dress to match the bride and Ladies of Honor. My sister, also a reader, wore a stylish, navy pant jumpsuit.

My Oleg Cassini lace dress was elegantly modest and so comfortable I didn’t want to ever step out of it. It was the first dress I tried on – a near-perfect match to the picture I brought in. I wore a blusher veil in addition to a lace cathedral veil (that caught on the carpet. Consider that!) For the dinner and entertainment part of our program, I changed into lace heels with a strap and a simple satin dress that would allow my polka dancing and leaping with my father to shine through.

My students wore their Catholic school uniforms – dark blue and green – you couldn’t plan that any better.


The groom and his Men of Honor at the wedding reception

Major Andrew Geer with his brothers of the United States Marine Corps and British Army.



Church organ to honor Andrew’s mother who played one in church. There aren’t many organ players anymore so to have one was so authentic. The sound just stirs up all sorts of wonderful emotions inside.

A trumpet because, what better way to announce to the church that a bride has arrived?

Children’s choir. My students had the most angelic voices, and singing one of my favorite songs literally brought me to the floor in a state of overwhelming joy and humbleness.

Southern voices from our sweet Bible-group friends. Their harmonizing will make anything stop in its track and listen. We were so blessed to have met them just a couple of years before, and loved them so much that we knew they had to be a part of our wedding. Hearing “How Great Thou Art” couldn’t be sung better by anyone on earth.

Cultural entertainment from a Polish dance troupe at our dinner had all our guests mesmerized and in awe by our heritage. Dressed in traditional Polish costumes, they showcased ancient Polish dances, then invited our guests to join in. Our father-daughter dance was an incredibly spirited polka! My father leaped and threw me into the air – I’m amazed by the skill he brought from his younger years when he danced with my mom (I was a little Polish dancer in my kid years too!)

Jazz music made for a relaxed evening, and was the bride and groom’s first dance.


The bride and her dad dancing polish music.

The bride danced with her father to the rhythm of Polish polka music.



Andrew’s parents and our sister-in-law put together a perfect country rustic southern BBQ – our favorite! Homemade flower arrangements and cute signs for food and southern lemonade and sweet tea made our families feel so cozy.

My parents hosted a Polish wedding bread and salt reception after the ceremony in the church hall. They offered a public blessing over us along with homemade bread with exquisite detail symbolizing the hope that we would never experience hunger or be in need. We took it with salt, a reminder that we must learn to cope with life’s struggles when confronted with difficulties. Tiny tea sandwiches, pastries, and heavenly tiny bundt cakes were elegantly presented by my godmother.

Our formal buffet-style dinner was a ticketed event (included with the invitation) and allowed out-of-town guests to mingle with close friends and family. We still joke about how Andrew ate entire sampling platters at our taste testing! The food was just that good. We still hear from our guests that it was the best wedding food they’ve ever had!

Breakfasts for our wedding party were homemade by our Inn. On the wedding day, the groom’s party had a special breakfast in the dining room, followed by a separate bride’s breakfast. The morning after the wedding was the first breakfast as husband and wife with the bridal party, which I wouldn’t recommend. Nothing like being asked if the marriage had been consummated over eggs and crepes.

Surprise! We had a dry wedding. There was no consideration given to having alcohol. In fact, we were adamant about not having it. Easy reasons why:

1)   Andrew being a teetotaler

2)  We wanted to heavily respect mental health and sobriety

3)  One of the highest costs of a wedding is drinks

4)  We had a ton of fun dating without alcohol and the adrenaline rush and excitement of the wedding were enough. Our guests still remark that they never knew they could have so much fun without it. And, the owner of the property was impressed that we could all be so high energy without it (not to mention her property stayed intact and they didn’t find members of the wedding party passed out)

5)  We wanted everyone to remember what they witnessed

Our precious, tiered cake had our initials in marine blue. Andrew’s HERSHEY chocolate-shaped cake was a huge surprise for him! We had a traditional Marine Corps cake cutting using his sword – a memorable winner for our littlest guests. Our cake tasting experience was clever and original. We were joined by three of my students who won it as a school auction item. Our cake flavors were selected by them! (They secretly knew about my surprise chocolate groom cake and picked that too!) We loved this bakery’s tea room and owner so much that we went back to her for our son’s christening cake!



I wish we had this printed, but it was only on our website because I was in a “green” mode, so I wanted to share it here for anyone needing a sample that I wish I had. It was just so beautiful and I missed a portion of it having to wait my turn to walk the aisle and then leaving the church first. I completely regret not hiring the videographer two weeks before the wedding. I’d watch it over and over again but will have to carry as many memories as I can hold.

I chose to walk down the aisle by myself. I’m a pretty independent woman who had conquered life single-handedly, and I wanted to symbolically show I was leaving my single life at the altar. My father stepped out of the pew just before I reached the altar, symbolic that much of what I did alone was 90% accomplished. I’ve always needed someone, mainly my father, to push me to the final steps. He showed his approval of the man chosen for me and offered my hand to him. And from that point on, it’s been me, Andrew, and Jesus.


Spring by Vivaldi on pipe organ

Seating of the Mothers

Air from Water Music by Handel on pipe organ

Entrance of the Altar Servers, Priest, Men on Honor, and Groom

Trumpet Tune and Air by Henry Purcell on pipe organ

Thank you to the bride’s past students for serving.

Entrance of the Flower Girl followed by the bride’s fourth-grade students and her Ladies of Honor

Canon in D by Pachelbel on pipe organ

The arrival of the Bride

(Please Stand)

Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremiah Clarke



Old Testament: Genesis 2: 18-24

Read by the bride’s brother

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 103: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman sung by the cantor

New Testament: Ephesians 5: 25-33

Read by the bride’s youngest sister


Gospel (Please Stand)

Homily (Our officiant taught the bride as a teenager and has been instrumental in counseling and preparing the couple for matrimony)



Exchange of Vows

Blessing of Rings

Prayers of the Faithful

Offered by the brother and sister of the bride



Presentation of the Gifts

Be Thou Vision sung by the cantor

Our Father

Jesus taught us how to pray to Our Lord. The same words, in any language. Today, this prayer is sung in the bride’s native tongue – Polish. We welcome you to pray with us in the words we are all familiar with.


How Great Thou Art sung by Bible-study friends of the newly married couple

Those who do not wish to receive or who are not accustomed to regularly receiving Holy Eucharist at a Catholic Mass may either remain seated during the Eucharist procession or may join in and cross their arms to indicate they would like to receive a blessing.

In Remembrance

Blessed One by Aaron Thompson sung by the bride’s fourth-grade students

The bride wishes to present a bouquet of roses out of honor and respect for Our Lord’s mother, Mary, with a special prayer for guidance and strength as she takes on her new vocation as a wife. The couple also wishes to remember those who have gone before us as role models of faith, love, and commitment in marriage: Bride’s maternal grandmother and grandfather; Bride’s material great-aunt; Bride’s fraternal grandfather

Final Blessing


Rondeau by Jean-Joseph Mouret on pipe organ

Traditional Marine Corps Sword Arch

Please proceed outside after the wedding party.



Andrew had already planned for this USMC tradition to take place outside of the church after the ceremony and had gathered his men for it. Because of my research in planning, I stumbled upon it and asked him about it. He said he had it under control and not to worry about it. It sounded dignified and regal, plus walking with my husband under an arch of protection symbolizing the Marine Corps’ fidelity to us as a newly married couple sounded so sweet. Until I discovered the ending part of this tradition. I enquired of it to my fiancé and insisted it not be done. I completely forgot about it until that moment – when one of the officers officially welcomed me into the Marine Corps family and the shock on my face made it to everyone’s favorite wedding memory photo.



The church provided spectacular white rose arrangements for the altar. It tickled us to see them on the altar week after week after our ceremony. The gift that kept on giving!

The Inn, separate ballroom, stable house, and fields were kept-up to its historic décor and needed no additional. They were a delicate reminder of history (the inn was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers).

I did make my own chalkboard guest seating list and purchased two vintage suitcases to have open and on display at the card table (symbolizing filling our suitcases for traveling to our honeymoon destination and moving into a home. Later, our son’s nursery theme would be Paddington Bear, who carried a suitcase with a tag of “please look after this bear” so the suitcases are used in his room.

We had no guest book since we requested prayers and cards. Each card was opened in a grateful manner, one at a time, and we read each message together and prayed for the gift bearer. It took months to go through each card, but the meaning we felt for each guest at our wedding (and those who could not attend), will forever hold dear to our hearts. Next to the suitcases, we had old photographs of our parents and grandparents’ weddings with an old-fashioned typewriter, signifying letter writing. 

Our favorite hobby as a couple is touring historic homes, gardens, and even battlefields and cemeteries. I kept a list of all the houses we toured while dating across many states, including dates. As a variation to table numbers, I instead named each table at our wedding dinner after a historic home we toured. Each table had a framed engagement photo, a card with a picture of a home we toured with the name of the house and dates we toured it on the back, and a decorative chalkboard sign with the name of that house in a script for easy locating. It’s one of our and our guests’ most memorable decorative touches – so personal to our journey together from past to present and an excellent talking piece.


Decoration of the wedding party tables.

Each table had a different engagement photo displayed with a historic home the couple toured while courting printed on a card. The name of each house and the date(s) they toured it were on the back, and a decorative chalkboard sign with the name of each house in the bride’s handwritten script sat atop a pile of books from their library. Chocolate kisses in a mason jar for their guests to enjoy “sealed” the centerpiece displays.



Most important to us for our picture memories was having engagement photos as a reminder and celebration of the hard work we had already put into our relationship before getting married. We had fallen in love, and that love for each other and a common love for Jesus kept us together, pushing through the frustrations, heartaches, and long-distance dates. We agreed that even if we weren’t meant to be married, we certainly learned a great deal about love, marriage, and its purpose and would be open to whoever our soulmate was. We had a great deal of love and respect for the strong friendship we had developed. Our photographer captured these feelings immensely and looking at these photos always stirs up these emotional reminders.

Although we never saw her at the wedding until we pulled her in for a group hug when she walked up to us, her photographs went beyond. She felt like a sister and everyone loved her – and her work! I wished for her to be in our wedding party photos! I never knew it was possible to love photography art so much, much less the person with the exceptional eye behind the lens. We’re still in the arduous task of saving photos and determining how and where we’re going to use and store them. We’re tired of looking at pictures on a screen and want to cherish them in a book, but they’re just SO good and she organized them SO well that it’s difficult to make these decisions! We’re grateful for the Christmas ornament she sent us our first year displaying black and white wedding photography.



1) Not having a video to watch on a repeat of the moment Andrew saw me when the church doors opened, of my students and friends singing in the choir loft, of my niece leaving flowers on the aisle after she had practiced for months at the age of 2, of me walking towards my forever future and of all the events with our favorite people. Hire the videographer.

2) Not having my bridal party walk behind me as I kept asking for. My cathedral veil kept sticking to the carpet and I wanted their help carrying it. I wanted to mimic Queen Victoria of England who had her Ladies in Waiting do that behind her. My ladies were such incredible women and I knew I could always count on them for support if I had fallen in my life – and here at the church! Plus, if I suddenly wanted to run away I’d need six of them to stop me! If something is meaningful to you, don’t be talked out of it.

3) Not having a horse and carriage ride to the dinner from the church. The driving distance alone was 45 minutes! But, the golf cart driven by the owner of the property was a fun surprise for us. And, we did have horses. Plus, Andrew promised me a horse and carriage ride in our favorite historic town. Bonus! Our son now takes riding lessons. Everything works out the way it does for a reason!

4) We invited those still in town to a special Mass the morning after our wedding. We were so slow enjoying breakfast and packing up the car that we missed our own Mass and regret not being there with our friends and family. Don’t overbook yourselves at your wedding and events surrounding the ceremony.

5) Storing our guest list on a career email account contact list server. When I left the job, the names went with it. The written guest list was lost in on house move. It took years to rebuild the list, and personal thank you notes will finally be able to be written and mailed out. Due to the world health crisis, we weren’t even able to meet up with our friends to personally thank them as we had planned. It’s the worst feeling to hear of so many life changes and lives lost by the people who attended our wedding four years ago, and for us to not have been in touch with them through it. Don’t wait for perfection. Things won’t go as planned even after the wedding. Let life happen. Just make sure you stay connected to those who have supported you.



I created and managed a meticulous wedding budget in a simple Excel spreadsheet. Andrew and I spent the exact same amount on the wedding – and the spreadsheet shows it to the cent! We figured that we were old enough to have careers, make the decision to marry, and be open to children so we were old enough to pay for our wedding as a meaningful thank-you to our friends and family for their unconditional love and support. We didn’t have any unnecessary add-ons, minuscule details that carried no meaning or that didn’t support our purpose for marriage. We wanted to show that a couple can take on challenges and put their heads together to financially plan for their future. We wanted to break the tradition of the bride’s parents being responsible for the cost of a wedding and show that families can come together to support their children and their future through this merger.



The greatest gift we received was the friendships and outpouring of love and support that was truly heartfelt. We included a separate card with the invitation regarding gifts. We had no gift registry. We both had already purchased houses on our own and had anything we needed. We humbly accepted contributions to our honeymoon, future home, and the blessing of any children.



We postponed our trip until Christmas since school would be on break for two weeks. Spending the holiday in London, England was an incredible experience. The city is a favorite of my groom who had traveled there on numerous occasions and wanted to gift me with a trip there, and one I wanted to revisit and see my godfather. We spent Christmas at a high-tea looking directly at Buckingham Palace. How amazing it was to share the city – and announce our pregnancy to our family over the holidays!



The grand winner? Prayerfully, Ba-tholic!™ We concluded that both denominations made us the faithful, loving people we are and we weren’t going to convert or abandon them for the sake of another human being. Our relationship with God is ever-growing stronger, starting from our courtship through our engagement because we made a concerted effort to bring Him into it.  Now, in our marriage, we are thrilled to witness each other’s spiritual growth, pass along our sacred traditions to our child and share why we believe strongly in what and who we do. We worked hard to have these represented in our sacramental wedding as a testimony to our firm beliefs.


The bride and the groom receiving the Holy Communion.

Aleksandra and Andrew receive a Polish wedding blessing from the bride’s parents over traditional Polish wedding bread.



Reception Cakes by Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Wedding Cake by Gateau Bakery, Warrenton, Virginia.

Website, Invitations & Thank You Cards by Minted.

Photography (engagement & wedding) by Tori Watson.



Marriage is for Keeps, Wedding Edition, by John F. Kippley.

For Better…Forever by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak.

Marriage 911 by Greg and Julie Alexander.

Your Love Story by William Turrentine.

Theology of the Body Made Simple by Anthony Percy.

Christ on Your Guest List by Mark and Melanie Cameron.



The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

S.H.A.P.E. by Rick Warren.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.


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by John F. Kippley
by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak
by Greg and Julie Alexander
by William Turrentine
by Anthony Percy
by Rick Warren
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