One thing that Gabe and I are very passionate about is marriage. If you’ve explored the website at all, you’ve probably seen the page that says exactly that…word for word. I love going to bed each night next to him and seeing his sleepy face in the morning. I love how we both value our health and appreciate how he cleans up my messes in the kitchen after I’ve made us a meal. I love how he looks at me and it feels like he sees into my soul. We really enjoy living life together, being on the same team, supporting each other in our dreams, and serving the people around us. However, on the same note, we know that marriage is no easy feat. It is the one relationship that can bring the most joy but also the most heart ache. It takes time, commitment, sacrifice, and sadly a lot of people give up on it. I know this in a unique way because I have been through the heartache of divorce.
There was a time (well, multiple times) when I asked myself, “Why in the world would someone want a photographer who has been divorced to photograph their wedding?” It was a simple thought. It was a whisper in my ear from the enemy. At the time, it was a fresh pain in my own life. I guess I felt like a fraud. There I was, supporting and celebrating someone’s covenant bond before God, when my own marriage had crumbled around me in what seemed like a matter of minutes. Over time I understood that I was not defined by someone else’s choices. As far as I had known, we had a happy, healthy marriage. We helped lead the worship team at church. We enjoyed our time together. We constantly had friends over for dinner or movie nights. We had our bumps, and things that we would constantly discuss and re-discuss, but as far as I knew, overall things were good. Then came the day when he told me he’d been dishonest. He wanted change in his life and the things he was willing to give up was God and marriage. The few months that followed were a living nightmare. I had to ask questions that I never thought I’d have to ask and quite honestly I didn’t even want to know the answers to. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He wouldn’t come home at night. In all of it, I knew that I needed to be loving and forgiving because I loved him and I didn’t want things to end. I also knew that responding in anger would only make him feel better about his decisions and I needed to be above reproach in word and action. Long story short, he left. I was married for 4.5 years and found myself at age 24 with my whole world in pieces around me.
For quite a while after that I was not interested in marriage, or dating, or even contemplating the thought of all the time and energy that goes into such a relationship. However, as God began healing me I set a few goals to help focus on others and grow in areas I was interested in. I began writing a letter once a week and putting it in the mail. Friends who had moved away were receiving random treasure in their mailboxes! I invited someone over for dinner once a week so that I could spend quality time with someone in the form of hospitality and service. I was determined to try cooking a new recipe each week to expand my skills in the kitchen. I also spent a lot of time reminding myself that after working a long day I did not need to come right home and do laundry or wash dishes. Relaxation and rest was more important at the end of a long day than getting things done, which was something the enemy had once whispered to me as laziness, and I believed the lie. I spent lots of time cuddling and loving my dog, and started doing obstacle course races ( Spartan Beast, and Tough Mudder) with friends just for fun! I took the time to rediscover myself, what I valued, what I enjoyed, and what my needs were. While I knew I desired to be married again someday, I was content to be alone with God than with the wrong person.
So how could I possibly photograph a wedding when I knew the truth about the other side of the bliss?
Well… for exactly that reason. I KNOW both sides intimately.
While I would never wish such a thing on anyone, that time helped me get to know myself, experience the truth of Gods word and experience the beauty of his character while deepening my own convictions. In getting to know couples who are ready to start the commitment of forever, I know what is waiting for them! I know the excitement and joy right along with the challenge and sacrifice. I know that they are in positions of unfathomable power in each others lives and that they each have the ability to make the other soar above the clouds or wallow in the depths of despair. I also know that the times in which they decide to stop sacrificing for the other will be the times where they experience the most relational pain. I know the beauty of a covenant relationship vowed before God and men.
As a now 29 year old, who is happily married, I know how happiness can be a by product of marriage, but that ultimately it is something that allows me to know God in a deeper way. I know that Gabe plays a huge role in helping refine my character, and I in his. I know what it is to love someone unconditionally. I know what it is like to be supported in my dreams by someone in a way I’ve never experienced or expected. I know that I will disappoint sometimes but that humility and forgiveness will be right there waiting. I know how God can take what was broken and make it stronger and more radiant than ever before
When I photograph a wedding I no longer feel like a fraud. I never was one. As I stand there, supporting and celebrating someone’s covenant bond before God, I see a bride radiating with beauty. I see a man and a woman committed and ready to walk hand in hand into the unknown together. I see a grand adventure. The kind that legendary tales are made of… epic battles, comraderie, beauty, freedom, tenderness, whimsy and all.
I look forward to celebrating the beginning of your legendary tale