I still do. | Our 7th Wedding Anniversary

Eight years ago, after one of the sweetest, most memorable weeks of my life, Chad got down on one knee on the icy, snowy shore of Lake Michigan and asked me to be his wife. Seven years ago today, we were married in Kenosha, WI, surrounded by people we loved—with snow up to our knees.

In today's mainstream American culture, we seem to be saturated with wedding dreams, wedding plans, wedding decorations, wedding Pin boards, and wedding expectations. Trust me—we're wedding photographers—we've seen it! We think weddings are absolutely beautiful, but they pale in comparison to the beauty and importance of the days that follow the wedding day: the marriage.

Chad and I will be the first to confess that our marriage—regardless of what it looks like on the outside—is not always beautiful. I'm not proud of the nights I've spent on the couch, the occasional "silent treatment," outbursts of nasty words, or the days that we downright annoy one another. We have our fair share of disagreements, ups and downs. Because we work from home together, full-time, sometimes those seem to be amplified. As a team, we work really hard to make sure that we communicate (calmly), find new ways to encourage and love one another, and strive for our ups to outnumber our downs. 

Did you know that currently, 40 to 50% of all marriages end in divorce? When Chad and I wrote our wedding vows together, it was the most important part of our wedding planning process. Because we believed our wedding was for both of us equally, we actually planned every detail TOGETHER, but the writing of our vows was the pinnacle. Every anniversary we refer back to those promises that we had memorized and agreed to, publicly. They are a covenant between us; a promise to remain in that 50 to 60% of couples who stay married.

Recently, Kel & Mel, good friends of ours who are wedding photographers in Nebraska, started the I Still Do Project. "It's a celebration of oneness and intentionality in living our vows every single day. A commitment to making our moments into something meaningful, even when the going gets tough. An understanding that it's not always going to feel this good. But through striving comes growth. 'I still do' because it may not always be glamorous, but it's real... I am blessed beyond measure to have you by my side." How cool is that?!? We each got little "I still do" cards to leave as sweet surprises for each other in random places at random times as reminders that we're still striving to live out our vows on a daily basis, no matter how hard it may get. One time we said, "I do" with surrounding witnesses, and now, we remind each other that those public promises are still valid today. "I still do."

In celebration of our seventh anniversary, we thought it would be special to re-share our wedding vows publicly. I hope you enjoy these image highlights from our wedding—a little blast from the past—plus a fun, blingy bonus I can't wait to show off!

Blingy side note:

You know that little emoticon with the hearts as eyes? Well, that's how I feel every time I've looked down at my hand since Christmas. Before we moved from Wisconsin, we had the most amazing opportunity to work with custom jewelry designer Christopher Sklba of Art Metals Studio (Racine, WI) to redesign my wedding ring. When Chad originally picked out my engagement ring and wedding band on his own from a common jewelry store, he did a wonderful job. I loved it so much! At the time, neither of us knew anything about jewelry (or weddings OR marriage!), and so although it was pretty, we later realized there were lots of rings out there that were just like it. We've now understand that there is no other marriage on the planet that is identical to ours, that has been through the same adventures as ours, or that has the same memories as ours. We wanted something that would symbolically represent OUR marriage to one another, while also embracing our creative natures. We went custom!

It was such a fun and easy process to work with Christopher. I provided him with some pictures of ring styles I liked, he came up with some sketches of proposed designs, and Chad and I modified them together so that Christopher could cast a wax mold of a ring that I could actually put on my finger. Once he revised the wax a bit for our approval, I handed off my ring and he took it apart and melted it down, transforming it into the beautiful, artful piece it is today.

We love the symbolism:

  • The same pieces the ring was originally made of were used to transform into something new and even more beautiful. ...Our marriage today is new and even more beautiful than it was seven years ago because of how we've grown and what we've learned. 
  • It's custom! There isn't another ring on the planet that looks just like it. ...Our marriage is one-of-a-kind, unlike any one else's. It can't be replicated and no one else will value it as much as we do.
  • It was crafted by Christopher, so it will forever link us to Wisconsin and to him and his amazing family who became so close to us over the years. ...Our marriage would not be what it is today if we hadn't met, married, and lived life in WI for the last 11 years (4 years of dating + 7 years of marriage).
  • Its creative design reminds us of our own creativity and the fact that we were created, ourselves, by THE Creator who's love is the only reason we have love at all.

Blast from the past: