Vienna students sing at teachers’ wedding

First slide

As she walked down the aisle, the music teacher at St. Mark School was serenaded by her students. The groom, a seventh-grade English teacher, waited at the altar as family, friends, teachers, students and parents looked on.

Sean Prince grew up attending St. Theresa Church in Ashburn and his now wife, Elena, at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale. But they were married at St. Mark Church Feb. 9.

“We tossed around a couple ideas, but mainly came to the conclusion this is where we met and it was special to us,” said Elena, whose maiden name is Nickel.

LR WEDDING

Sean and Elena Prince were married in front of friends, family and students at St. Mark School in Vienna Feb. 9. Courtesy BGB Photography, LLC

Sean first asked out Elena after the staff Christmas party in 2014. He proposed March 11, 2017, on her parent's front lawn before they headed off to watch her little brother’s state championship basketball game in Richmond. The team won, and the basketball game “kind of overshadowed the engagement,” joked Sean.

As with many teachers, the couple planned to get married in the summer — August 2018. But before the 2017-18 school year, they changed their minds. While driving back from the Opening Mass for diocesan teachers at All Saints Church in Manassas, “We said, why are we waiting for another year to get married?” recalled Elena.

So they talked to the office manager at St. Mark Church to find a new date and then to Father Patrick Holroyd, pastor. “He said, you know, you should ask (Principal Darcie Girmus) if you can make it a half day for the kids,” said Elena. So they did. “We thought it would be the shortest meeting of all time,” said Sean.

Though she took a few days to think about it, Girmus agreed. The students would have a half day, and if accompanied by their parents, could attend the wedding ceremony.

“A marriage is a sacrament and in this era of expensive weddings, it’s rare for children to be able to observe the sacrament,” Girmus wrote to the parents. “And what a great Christian witness it sets for our students.” The Princes are the third teacher-couple at St. Mark to get married in recent years.

Elena asked the school choir to perform at the wedding and taught them classics such as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and Pachelbel’s Canon as well as more contemporary numbers such as Matt Maher’s “Lord I Need You.” During the wedding, Colleen Steare, Elena’s former music teacher from Holy Spirit and a longtime St. Mark parishioner, directed the choir.

“It was so special seeing them and having them sing for us — it just meant so much,” said Elena. “I've heard them sing for five years and they’ve only gotten better as a group.”

“They were the talk of the reception,” added Sean.

Catholic schools have been a part of the couples’ lives since their early school years, and they continue to maintain those connections. Sean graduated from Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington and now is the assistant coach for their varsity baseball team. His twin cousins work at St. Mark with him. Elena’s sister teaches music at St. Timothy School in Chantilly. One of her bridesmaids, a friend from Holy Spirit, now works at St. Mark. So it only made sense to bring their love of Catholic schools with them down the aisle.

“(St. Mark) is a special community. As a teacher, students are part of your lives. And these are good students. We’re very lucky,” said Sean.

“It’s like a family,” said Elena. “When we figured out that we could invite them, we were like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@ZoeyMaraistACH