Valley Falls siblings plan for three church weddings in one year
by Kara Hansen
VALLEY FALLS — When their daughter Hallee announced her engagement last May, Dan and Marietta Heinen were understandably ecstatic.
The Immaculate Conception parishioners were no less excited when son Nathan announced his engagement just a few months later, on Aug. 4.
And then again, when daughter Misty called home to announce her engagement on Aug. 5.
“After we got over the shock, we were thrilled,” said Dan. “They are each marrying great kids.
“This is going to be a busy year for us, but my wife is loving the planning and we’re having a great time.”
Dan and Marietta’s two oldest children, Doug and Wendy, are already married, with families of their own. The couple expected their three younger children to settle down at some point — they just never expected it would be all at once.
“All of us had our own relationships and had been dating . . . for varying amounts of time,” explained Misty, “so it wasn’t like we planned for it to happen. It just did!”
While it is no doubt unusual for three siblings to get engaged in the same year and married in the following year, it is rarer still for all three young adults to be active Catholics — and marrying the same.
“We have three practicing Catholic kids marrying three practicing Catholics,” said Dan. “We feel really blessed in this day and age.”
The wedding dates will be staggered, explained Hallee, to give the family some “breathing room” in between each wedding.
“It is especially fun because each of us is getting married in a different season of the year,” said Hallee.
Misty, who is a campus minister at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, is scheduled to marry fiancé Jacob Prater on Feb. 14 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Ames. She met Jacob through the Catholic campus center there.
“Jacob and I met at church, and church has been an important part of the development of our relationship,” said Misty.
Hallee and her fiancé Bradley Edwards plan to marry at Corpus Christi Church in Lawrence on July 11. The couple plans to live in Hiawatha following their wedding.
Nathan will marry his fiancée, Jami Kramer, on Sept. 19 at Immaculate Conception Church in Valley Falls.
“Our faith plays a big role actually — from praying together to getting married in our hometown church and raising our children in the Catholic church and community there,” said Jami.
Dan said he was grateful for the role models and examples of faith provided for his family through their parish.
“Our kids were part of the Catholic community here growing up, and they have always had that community behind them. They are each carrying a strong background of faith into their marriages,” said Dan.
Since the Heinen family is making three times the usual number of wedding plans, all are nothing if not busy. But that has not kept them from enjoying the uniqueness of their situation along the way.
Misty, Nathan and Hallee have stayed connected throughout their engagements — comparing notes and sharing developments.
The marriage preparation classes, in particular, said Hallee, made for some lively discussions, since all three couples attended different marriage prep programs.
And with each of the siblings participating in one another’s weddings as well, it’s been great being able “to share it together and understand how exciting this time is,” said Misty.
But wedding plans aside, each of the Heinen youngsters is proud to carry a strong model of marriage into their own relationship.
“Mom and Dad have given us a beautiful example of marriage, and so it is only appropriate that we would want to follow in their footsteps and be married in the church,” said Misty.