As the busy, summer wedding season rolls around I can’t help but think about all of the couples celebrating their weddings from this time last year, two years ago, or 20 years ago! Being a wedding photographer, I understand the importance of documenting people’s wedding day and the significance behind that day. Pledging their lives to one another in front of all their closest friends, family, and God – promising to put each other first and love each other like Christ loved the church. It’s such a beautiful day – but it’s not the most beautiful day. I think the most beautiful days come when a couple is knee deep in marriage, struggling with selfishness they didn’t know was so rooted inside them and choosing. Choosing to die to themselves in order to put their spouse first. Choosing to love their spouse when the feeling might not be there. Choosing their spouse. Their needs. Their desires. Their joy and their sadness. Their good and their bad. Every day choosing that this person is the person they’re going to be with forever and always. When all the butterflies disappear and it’s just a normal Tuesday living life with their favorite person in the world, and it’s beautiful. A beautiful, normal Tuesday.
They say the first year of marriage is the hardest. It’s not for lack of love, I’ll tell you that much. I think it’s hardest because you’re learning how to become We instead of Me. And that’s a way more difficult process than the movies paint it out to be! We’re sinful by nature – selfish, proud, jealous, you name it, and overcoming that is difficult. It’s hard to see that you actually have all those ugly things inside you – but that’s where it gets beautiful friends. When you love your spouse unconditionally despite those flaws, and they do they same for you. And in that undeserving unconditional love, we paint a picture of Christ’s love for our spouse through our actions. And that undeserving love drives a desire for change. We’ll never be perfect, but the slow, small changes we make – to choose selfless over selfish, humility over pride – that’s where we truly show our spouse we love them. Being willing to change our ugly habits for the sake of our spouse and our marriage – that’s choosing to love. Love’s not a feeling, it’s a verb.
And that’s why I love anniversary sessions. These are couples that have laughed through the good times and wiped tears through the bad times, hand in hand, through it all, and never let go. Forty to fifty percent of marriages in America end in divorce. FORTY TO FIFTY PERCENT. I think it’s worthwhile to celebrate the marriages that kick that statistic in the butt and fight to be in the percentage that stays together. And honestly, marriage is a journey, not a day. I think it’s the norm to get engagement photos, wedding photos, and then not get your pictures taken again until you’re pregnant or new parents. What about all those years in between?! What about year one – we made it, our first anniversary, I still remember our wedding like it was yesterday – year one? Or year three, where you guys bought a house and have big dreams? Random year three is worth celebrating too! Or normal seven, where you didn’t make any big purchases, didn’t have a new baby, still in your wonderful, steady job year seven? You’re still living life with your favorite person in the whole wide world and choosing love for seven years is worth celebrating and documenting! And so is choosing love for eight years, nine years, twenty-seven years, forty-two years… It’s all worth it. Your love story is worth telling, whether you’re still in chapter one or you’re well into the middle of it. It’s always worth telling.
Please don’t put off getting in front of the camera. Don’t let your year three blend into your year four and five. They’re all special, they’re all important, they all have their own unique story to tell and remember. And know that each year you make it, is a year worth celebrating. Raise your hands high in victory, because you’re doing it – you’re beating statistics and you’re love is so so so worth celebrating and documenting.
I offer my Kylie Noelle Brides 25% off of their one year anniversary session because I want them to have this documentation of their marriage journey. I’m a wedding photographer, but I’m far more invested in marriages. Your marriage far outweighs your wedding to me. I love weddings and think they’re such a beautiful beginning, but they’re just that – a beginning. What you do with those vows and how you walk in love afterwards – that’s the most beautiful part. Let’s choose selflessness, humility, and love and let’s celebrate it when we do.
“You don’t fall into love, you commit to it. Love is saying ‘I will be there no matter what.'” – Tim Keller