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Instead of wedding bells, one soon-to-wed couple heard coffee percolating inside their meaningful wedding venue – Artful Cup. Van and Catherine dressed for the occasion, she was wearing a navy-blue dress, and he wore a matching navy suitcoat.

Van and Catherine met at the Mending Hearts grief group that meets every Thursday in Artful Cup. Van was attending a grief group after losing his first wife, and Catherine was mourning the loss of her father.

In the Mending Hearts grief group, Van learned how important open conversations are to heal. He believed this openness was well-directed by HopeWest Chaplain, Jef Ray, who led the group.

“Jef would share his personal experiences during group,” said Van. “He showed us it was okay to be vulnerable and set the tone.”

After seeing each other in Mending Hearts Van and Catherine ran into each other again and learned they lived in the same neighborhood. The rest was history.

After asking Catherine to marry him, Van and Catherine asked Jef to officiate their wedding because of the impression he made on them.

“We wanted to get married somewhere meaningful,” said Catherine. “We picked the Artful Cup because it almost seems like a church because of all the praying and work we’ve done here.”

Reflecting on the short and sweet ceremony witnessed by their two closest friends, Van and Catherine were beaming with smiles and full of emotion.

“It’s amazing and hard to put into words,” said Catherine.
When considering how they wanted their ceremony to go, the couple wanted it to feel like “them.” And that it did.

“I like that Jef acknowledged the love between us is possible because of the love we had before,” said Catherine.

During the ceremony Jef said: 
The love that you shared is a continuance. A gift they [your loved ones] have bestowed upon you that is to be nurtured and cared for lovingly. Let their presence be a comfort and guide as you move forward in your lives together.

While grief is never really gone, Van and Catherine were grateful to share their experience remembering loved ones while looking forward to a happy marriage.