Success Stories, YAG Weddings

20th YAG Wedding!

Mr. & Mrs. Collin Branigan

Collin Branigan (Michigan) and Christina Eldracher’s (Michigan) story actually began at YAG Wedding #11 back in 2021, but they didn’t know it yet! The bride’s older sister Colleen, who also happens to be the YAGermeister, was in attendance and, in the slight lull between the ceremony at St. Joseph’s in Wayne, Michigan, and the reception, she went down to the basement gathering room of the church.

There, she and her plus-one started talking with a young man who had been sitting directly in front of them, who introduced himself as Collin Branigan. The YAGermeister immediately recognized the name – HE had signed up for the 2021 YAG only 2 days before, so she knew how old he was, where he lived, that St. Joseph’s was his home parish, etc. The small group immediately started talking about the upcoming YAG and who else at the wedding was planning to come.

Well, after only about 5 minutes, Colleen was already thinking, “Christina needs to meet this guy.”

Later that evening, she texted her to that effect, and told her to make sure SHE came to the YAG that year as well (something Christina wasn’t always able to do due to her work schedule as a pastry chef designing, among other things, pro-level wedding cakes). Christina was very non-committal.

Her big sister continued to pester her about it.

The 2021 YAG arrived. Collin was there, Christina was there. The YAGermeister made a point of making sure her sister knew which one was Collin – that one over there being mobbed by girls! Christina was like, “I’m not going to chase him.”

The weekend moved along. Saturday came – Christina and Collin talked here and there, but there didn’t seem to be any special connection. The square dance came and went – they both danced with other people.

But then, when the YAGermeister came out of the barn after making a final sweep for lost belongings, whom did she find standing outside waiting to give her a ride back to the dorm halfway across campus but Christina and Collin, talking away at 11 o’clock at night!

They pretty much never did stop talking, after that.

On Sunday they were inseparable, ending the day with their first two “real” dates one after the other – a trip to St. Stephen’s Cemetery in Hamilton to say the Rosary at Fr. Cekada’s grave, and then dinner with a bunch of other YAGers at a local restaurant. Christina and Colleen arrived late due to a scheduled video call with their sister in the convent, and when Collin, who had saved a seat for his date as a matter of course, ALSO got up to get a chair for the YAGermeister, she decided, “Yep, I have NO objections to having this guy as a brother-in-law!”

And that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since!

Rather unusually for a YAG couple, Collin and Christina only lived 2 hours apart from each other back up in Michigan, with her home parish of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs conveniently situated halfway between them, so they squeezed in weekend dates around Collin’s law school schedule and were able to spend time with both sides of the family pretty regularly.

They attended the 2022 YAG as a couple, and Collin proposed on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, in 2023 at the site of their first Michigan date, the waterfront park under the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. His twin brother Pearse, also a YAGer, snuck along to take pictures, surprising Christina, who thought he was a homeless person!

There was a slight problem, though, when it came to planning the wedding: Christina had been both the organist AND the choir director at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs for several years! And the choir was made up almost entirely of her immediate family and their spouses.

Enter: Friends.

Andrew Richesson of St. Gertrude’s fame was recruited to play the two organs (one of which was disassembled in Maine, hauled to Michigan in a truck, and then re-assembled by the bride’s dad and brothers, mainly Justin the computer wizard), and friends from 4 different parishes (St. Gertrude the Great, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, St. Joseph’s in Wayne, and St. Dominic’s in Highland) came together to make for a massive choir of 34 voices.

The couple were married on May 13th, 2023, at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Fraser, Michigan. The YAGermeister was the maid of honor, Pearse was the best man, and two other YAGers helped make up the bridal party of six. Three other YAG couples attended the wedding.

After the reception, the couple invited their guests to join them for the first of the annual Fatima Rosary processions, making for an impressive and moving sight. The statue of Our Lady was carried by the groomsmen in their tuxedo tailcoats!

Collin graduated from law school in Lansing the day before the wedding (and only 3 hours before the wedding rehearsal back in Fraser), so the couple will live in Lansing until he takes the bar exam.