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“You must have a lot of ideas about what you want your wedding to be like.”

“You’ve been to so many weddings, I bet you’ve already got the whole thing planned in your head.”

“WHO is going to be YOUR photographer?”

These are just a few of the many popular questions I was asked on the regular after I got engaged. What they were really asking is: “What happens when a wedding photographer gets married?”And after spending the bulk of my college career making the 90-minute drive from Athens to Atlanta, foregoing Friday night keggers, football Saturdays, and lazy Sundays on the couch to spend evenings simultaneously evading drunk groomsmen and documenting the most important day of two people’s lives, I’d be hard-pressed to say I didn’t have some wedding planning ideas of my own. But being in the driver’s seat was a whole different story, now I was faced with the year-long sprint of crafting, coordinating and peace-keeping known as wedding planning.

I was prepared for the logistical facets of event planning. I quickly procured the perfect vendors (and thank God for all of them), honed the guest list down to a meager 20 participants, and on what Jordan describes as an ill-chosen date of Masters Sunday, procured the perfect variety of kitchen gidgets and widgets for our registry. But what no amount of wedding attendance or industry experience could prep me for was the emotional ebb and flow that crept up after he put a ring on it. Before I knew it, I was having flashbacks from childhood on a daily basis, pondering how time can seemingly pass so quickly and playing Stop This Train on repeat during my morning commute.

Let the records show, I never doubted what I was doing, or who I was doing it with, I was just in awe of it all.

I was working full time, attempting to run and grow my own business, taking on what felt like a third career in event planning, and trying to wrap my head around what it means to be a wife. All the while attempting to process a huge life change that was looming on the horizon. The wedding became unfun really quickly. It was a duty, and I was paying due diligence. I was falling into the same trap almost every bride I’d ever worked with fell victim to: getting overwhelmed with the process and getting lost in the details.

It all began to turn around when my dad (who performed our wedding ceremony) shared his ceremony script with us. Buried amongst the typical vows and ring exchange was this line:

“May you never take each other’s love for granted, but always experience that wonder that exclaims “Out of all the people in this world, you have chosen me to spend the rest of your life with!”

This line stopped me in my tracks. I began to wonder what would happen if we all started thinking about the important people in our life that way. What if instead focusing on their shortcomings, their mistakes, their what-can-you-do-for-me’s, we focused on being thankful they deemed us worthy enough to bring their light in our lives?

What the wedding industry has taught me is just how fleeting the formalities of a wedding can be.  While it’s the most important day of your life, it’s just another day in the office for the florist. Your wedding venue is sacred ground in your mind, but next weekend someone else will get married there, and again the weekend after. After the clock has struck midnight, and the big day passes, you’re really only left with a few tokens (photos being one, cough cough) of this milestone in your life. But the grandest of these tokens is having someone who can bear the burdens of life for you and with you. Many people talk about emotions of joy, love, perhaps nostalgia when talking about weddings, but I’d say perhaps the most important emotion a bride and groom could have toward one another is gratitude.  I’d daresay it’s pretty easy to be nice to each other, to get along with one another, but to live a life of utter gratitude toward your spouse? That sounds like the stuff real marriages are made of.

When I stopped focusing on the nuances of event planning, and started being grateful for what was in front of me, and what would have been in front of me regardless of what how grandiose wedding budget was, how big my dress was or how delicious our plated dinner was, the whole process became simple. The idea of a “wedding” melted away, and the day became a celebration of gratitude toward each other and toward the lovely people that we were kind enough to have traveled the distance to be a part of our celebration.

So what happens when a wedding photographer gets married? The same thing that happens to any other bride. Apparently industry peeps aren’t above the poor me’s, holy craps, and OMGs of wedding planning, at least I wasn’t . But every week when we attended premarital counseling, I was reminded by our counselors of Galations 6:2: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” I was gaining not just a spouse, but a partner, and a really great one that that. There he was with open arms waiting with a crutch to lean on when life got sticky. Neither of us knows what life will bring, but if this wedding taught me nothing else, it taught me that we’ve got some killer cheerleaders on our sidelines, ready to support us on our journey. We’re married now. The cake is all gone, and yes we do have amazing pictures. But more importantly, we are doing this life thing together, and together what once felt like the weight of the world feels like nothing.

Images from the big day by Ben Sasso.

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A huge huge thanks to our family and friends who helped make our very-DIY wedding spectacular, and to Ben Sasso for the visual reminders of our big day : )