It all started when my grandma came home from Rome a few summers ago. She said, “Oh Honey! There were all these couples in their wedding attire meeting the Pope. You should find out how you get to do that.”
So, I started to Google. At that time, my husband and I were newly dating. Pretty early into our relationship, we started to talk about marriage. I told him, “All I want is to meet the Pope in my wedding dress.” He smiled and said, “Okay.”
We got engaged on October 22, 2017. You have up to a year (according to the Sisters at the NAC, even though the site says two months) to get to the Vatican to meet the Holy Father. So book those flights and get to the Vatican!
Forget Pinterest, I Wanted the Vatican!
The day after engagement, most girls are on Pinterest looking up dresses, decor, and all the wedding things. But before I could get to that, I started to send emails to the NAC (Pontifical North American College) to get tickets to meet Papa. We set a wedding date for the middle of summer, which is prime vacation time.
How to Get a Marriage Blessing in Rome in Your Wedding Dress
If you’re engaged or soon-to-be engaged and want to meet the Holy Father in your wedding attire, here are a few tips.
Check the Pope’s calendar to find out the dates of his Wednesday Papal audiences.
Also check the dates in reference with the liturgical calendar. They celebrate feast days much more than we do in the States (We happened to be in Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, so the Basilica was closed. A Bishop was being made a Cardinal, too, so parts of the Vatican was closed that day.).
Email the NAC and request tickets.
Follow the link to their site above to ensure that you send the correct info in your request email.
Wait for their approval.
It took what felt like forever for them to respond. Tt was truly a few weeks, and once we got the confirmation for the date, we requested we booked our flights and the remainder of the details.
Read the email…
…to be sure that you pack what they ask you to provide (and tell someone in your bridal party what you will need, like a copy of your Marriage License and Certificate after the wedding).
You can wear your wedding dress, but you don’t have to.
You can wear your wedding dress (I did, and it was so fun to put it on another time and get all the feels again!). But you don’t have to. You do need to wear a nice white dress that is modest. The men don’t have to be in a suit, but shirt and tie with slacks is a must.
Take the sisters’ advice.
The sisters at the NAC will give you tips from what they have been hearing from couples. Don’t take them with a grain of salt. The sisters said, “hH’s only meeting a few couples, so stay toward the back.” Be ready to have to throw a few elbows and fight for your way to the front of the line.
On the day of, bring:
Pack a backpack with snacks, water, and sunscreen. I highly suggest a handheld fan, a sun hat, and umbrella. You will be in the sun for a long time. That morning, it felt like an eternity.
Don’t worry about getting pictures.
The Vatican has photographers that will get professional photos for you, so don’t stress. But, don’t forget to get the info for their website. You can also go later on that day to their storefront to order the pictures. It is behind St. Anne’s gate and their paper with their info has the address. The prints are not expensive, which was such a gift.
How We Met the Pope
We arrived at the entrance to the Vatican at 7 a.m. and waited for them to open the gates at 730. As soon as the gates opened, everyone started to shove and get a little crazy. So I locked arms with Mike and pushed my way through.
We showed our tickets, went to a Swiss guard, showed our marriage certificate a few times, and off we went to the altar. Italian Men in blue uniforms seated us, but we were in the middle. Mike looked at me and said, “The sisters said the back.”
So eventually, we moved to the back and were good to go… so we thought.
While Mike’s Spanish got us pretty far in Italy, it didn’t get us far when we were trying to meet Pope Francis. We sat in our chairs, I listened, watched everyone’s every move, and as soon as people started to move and form what looked like a line, I looked at Mike and said, “We have to get in that line!”
Eventually, the guards started letting one couple at a time through the barricade, and then the gate flew open. I looked at Mike and said, “Run!” (I was in heels, I would catch up.)
It felt like every movement was orchestrated by God.
Mike got to the barricade and stretched his arms out. I made my way to him, Zuccheto in hand, and we waited. We had heard that the Holy Father spent a lot of time with visitors who spoke Spanish. Pressure’s on, Mike, don’t forget your Spanish!
Pope Francis soon was close enough, and I just reached my hand out. He grabbed my hand and I pulled him to me. I said, “Hola Papa,” in what Mike will say is the best Spanish he’s ever heard come out of my mouth.
And we just talked, it felt like so long, but it wasn’t. He grabbed the Zuccheto out of the box, put it on, blessed it, blessed each of us on the head, and said, “Pray for me.”
We had the chance to tell him that we were married by one of the Bishops he called up in LA. And since we knew the nickname he had for him, he laughed.
Mike started to tear up and almost lost his Spanish. My heart was racing. Afterward, the guards ushered us out and off we went to our hotel room to cool off and sleep (because who can sleep the night before you meet the Pope?).
Now don’t forget to go get a Papal Blessing as well as pickup some prints of those pictures!A Marriage Blessing #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Written by Teresa Monette