My brain goes a little fuzzy for me as I wrap my mind around Jon and I being married for one year this month. Last year the month of the wedding was a whirlwind of excitement and a fair amount of "CAN WE JUST BE MARRIED ALREADY?!"
In this series "When the wedding photographer goes bride" I wanted to highlight aspects of Jon and I's wedding planning to help brides-to-be know it's ok to follow the beat of your own drum...or budget. If you missed part one where we talked about 10 details of our wedding click here. And if you missed part two on wedding traditions we did or didn't do click here.
Closing this series up I'd like to take you through what life looks like a year into marriage and some 20/20 hindsight on our beginning. In no particular order:
1. When all is said and done, most of your wedding decorations are more than likely going to end up in a Rubbermaid container in the garage...next to your Christmas decorations.
At least ours is ha. This is not necessarily a bad thing! I was able to decorate Jon and I's room with some of the decor I purchased for our wedding, but to be totally honest most of it is in our garage. Since our wedding I used the serving dishes and some of the decor to host a baby shower for a friend :) As long as everything is easily accessible why get rid of it after the wedding when you can re-purpose it?
2. You aren't going to care about why you were so stressed out, when that one thing happened while you were getting ready, and the ceremony was behind 15 minutes and...stuff.
No, but seriously. Jon and I are relatively chill people, Jon being more so of the two of us. But even Jon had a moment, bless his heart, where he got a little "testy" before the wedding over who even remembers why. Something about worrying about table settings. Big deal in the moment? Sure. After a year of marriage? Nope. It makes me think whatever happens, don't let yourself get trapped assassinating your own wedding day with being upset. When I look at our wedding photos a year later I see two goofs, that is Jon & I, who had a great time and only stressed out a little bit, and thank God that wasn't photographed. If our wedding photographer is reading this we love you ;) The same goes for any other day in marriage, I can't tell you how many pointless things we have disagreed over to only realize the day was over and we wasted most of it being upset.
3. Let's talk about discrepancies between those listed on the reception seating chart and those actually seated.
This is something I think about now, when you're missing it really shows! I think an entire table wasn't able to make it/some people left after the ceremony. In a lot of ways a year later I wish we could have invited more people to make up for those who day of didn't show. It is/was the biggest family and friend gathering Jon and I have ever had in our lives though. That in itself makes weddings the best. Thank anyone extra who flew to make it to your wedding, they deserve a medal. We recently lost a family member that we had met for the first time at our wedding. I cherish the thought that weddings really do bring family and friends together as we would have never met her had it not been for our wedding.
4. changing your last name...and checks.
Don't get me wrong, I loved changing my last name to Rutherford. It's just the whole process is kind of tedious. Order of operations for last name changing: head to city hall for your marriage certificate, then to social security, DMV for your new ID, wait for new ID to come in, then to the bank. We had been gifted money in the form of checks from our amazing family and friends...to my married last name. Presenting all the documents to the bank took time (as it had to be done last in the order of operations) so I'm glad none of our relatives were upset with those checks being cashed much later than expected!
5. I still don't regret making my own wedding dress, having no ceremony traditions, and no "real" flowers.
I have to reiterate this: Jon and I's wedding attire is in our closet, where it has been for the last year. My dress lives on in photographs, but I don't really have the desire to wear it again. The opportunity just hasn't presented itself. My flowers are in my office (since origami flowers do not wilt.) We decided to forego traditions because we are super chill and didn't really need it. I'm thankful my dress didn't cost the price of a used vehicle. Yes it's important to feel beautiful, and if the dress makes you feel beautiful then awesome. But after a year of marriage I realize: the look my husband gave me when I walked down the aisle, is the same if not better a year later.
6. The first few months have the most potential for socially awkward conversations.
Person: Heyyyy how's married life going?!
Newly married us: um...good thanks!
Newly married us: Yep.
This conversation x 100.
Honestly this is the type of question that is easy to ask, but complicated to answer. A month in and I was just happy to be married to my best friend. I didn't really know how to respond. Now if asked I could say "I really enjoy married life. It's like being in my favorite class, with my favorite teacher. However, every class (even those you really like) has challenges. Sometimes I'm the student learning about Jon, and sometimes it's the other way around. Regardless I'm learning everyday about this amazing subject we call marriage. " As time progresses and real life starts to set in this question becomes easier to answer. Just prepare yourself for the barrage of folks you barely know asking this question.
7. And maybe throw in some questions on when we're gonna have kids.
While you're at it, prepare yourself for this question too. This is kind of comical, and affects Jon much less. But probably for the rest of our married life if I, Amy, get sick someone is going to ask me if I'm pregnant. And if they don't ask me, internally something inside says to me "I bet they are thinking it." The same goes for Jon if he tells his coworkers I'm sick: their immediate response is to ask if "she's pregnant." I laugh because it's not that we do not want to have kids, the opposite entirely! When anyone asks if we are going to start a family we just smile politely and say "We would love to, it just hasn't happened yet."
8. You won't need to spend so much time together.
This is not to say we don't need to spend time together, rather so much time with emphasis also on "need." I remember when we were dating/engaged longing to spend time with Jon. If for whatever reason he couldn't make it with me somewhere my heart felt like it would burst with despair. Yeah...I'm dramatic but this is true. I hated leaving to be in separate locations after a get together. This didn't change overnight, but it did change within our first year. Marriage is a really interesting thing. The first three months (as embarrassing as this is to admit) I cried when he went off to work like a little kid. Emotions are a weird thing for your spouse to deal with. I realized I was making myself miserable, and making my husband feel like he was a failure at providing by leaving to work his Monday-Friday. Somewhere in the sweet spot of 6 months that emotion just dissipated. We communicated, assurance of familiarity set in, routines were established. I'd spend time with my girlfriends, and he'd spend time with his guy friends. We'd be on opposite sides of the same room talking to folks, but we didn't need to be near each other.
9. Thriving instead of just surviving and striving through our first year of marriage.
Jon and I both grew up in households with levels of dysfunction. Premarital counseling helped stomp many preconceived notions on how we viewed marriage would fix that. It gave us a good foundation, although we still didn't know what living a married life would actually look like till we were in it. I think part of the glue that holds us together is love in action and not just feeling. That sounds rather poetic and lofty so let's break it down in what that meant for us practically.
Here are a few things that helped our first year stay strong:
Be willing to give a little
Jon loves me despite my lack of laundry propriety and incessant need to change my outfit 5 times. Does that mean I get to leave my clothes on the ground and never do a load of laundry? No, because that would make Jon a survivor of marriage with me. It means when I change my outfit because I don't like how the first one fit I remember to just put it away. When the laundry is full I pop it in before starting dinner. None of that is striving because I'm not changing my habits to make him love me more. I'm just re-programming 26 years of single minded habits and flaws that formed. And because we love each other, we want to work to make life better together. Be willing to let go of the little things if it makes your spouse happier in the long run.
Be intentional to connect
At the end of the day when we are heading for bed Jon will always stop to make sure we pray and thank God for our day. It's a simple act, but it's something I have come to love and look forward to. We will watch movies together, but I love going through a good book with Jon. I love to read books that are practical, inspiring, and encouraging. The books listed are ones we have read this past year. Togetherness by Wil Lake; and Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Be a part of a community
If I ever did get a tattoo it would be of a bulls eye. Not because we love Target (which we totally do), but because it's a constant reminder to prioritize and be near our friends and family in the inner circle. Be near those who bring fun and energy into your life. Even if you're not an extrovert life is best with people to rejoice when you're rejoicing and mourn when you're mourning. And on the flip side offer trusted advice when you're in an utter funk and can't see the next step. I like having friends behind me, beside me, and in front of me. It's a constant reminder that we are all at different stages of life, and to keep shaking things up.
Be mindful of the future
This one is huge. When we think of our marriage it's good to have vision. We have to lead ourselves well before we can steward others well. We want to have a family, and God willing we will. It humbles me to know that having children means for the rest of their childhood till their marriages we will be stewarding them and training them up in the way they should go. What a responsibility! How much more should Jon and I be practicing habits that will set them up for success now? Every now and then, and at the least once a month, Jon and I will ask each other "What can I do to love you more?" "How can I be a better spouse?" "What are our personal goals for our marriage?" "What makes you in love today?" These questions have lead us to deep meaningful talks about our present, and vision casting for our future. We want to put the work in to make sure that when the tough times come, we know without a doubt we have a deep reservoir of love for each other that can weather it out. And if we ask these questions often enough we can nip division in the bud real quick.
10. and finally: The wedding doesn't make the marriage perfect.
Imagine every time Jon and I had a hard discussion and I looked at our wedding photos and said "our wedding was perfect...why is this happening?" Only focusing on wedding planning instead of life after marriage planning is a bit like that. We can't rest on our laurels, and we can't compare our wedding to real wedded life. This first year has taught us so much. And I'm sure by the time babies and children are intro'd into the mix we will have a new set of learning curves to tackle.
I'll end here with this:
It's not the wedding that makes a perfect marriage, it's the foundation that makes a perfect beginning to a wonderful wedded story.
xo Jon & Amy