Christy & James

*Christy, Wedding Photographer & James, Student/Wedding Photographer*

Whether or not I’d like to admit it—since long ago—in the back of my mind I had a vision of the man I thought I’d marry: college educated, non-smoker, never been married, comes from a middle-class family, and we’d meet in college (like my parents had—obviously). I had a vision of the life we would live… we’d date through college, get engaged in our senior year, get good jobs after school, buy a house, get married, and a year or so later we’d start having kids. This was the life I pictured. I prayed for it even when I was dating guys I thought were “the one” and things weren’t going so well.

Instead, I met the man I would some day marry (we’ll call him James… since that’s his name) when I was least expecting it and definitely not looking for it. I was 25, and contrary to my long-held hope—I was not yet married, I did not have a house, and I did not have any kids on the way. Instead, I had just broken up with the guy that I thought for a long time I would eventually marry (you know the one: we met in college, non-smoker, college educated, middle-class family… see above). I was done with the drama of relationships, and wasn’t looking for anything from anyone. For the first time in my life I wanted to be alone for a bit. I was lost, and I was trying to figure out my life. I was finishing up my second degree, this time in photography, and wanted to focus on me.

Right at that point in my life (and a similar “I’m done with all of it” point in James’ own life), we met. And we did not hit it off. He was an overly confident guy that took it upon himself to play a one-sided version of twenty questions within minutes of introducing himself to me. Somewhere in the middle of quizzing me on my life, background, and age (I had to be 25, he didn’t date girls younger than that “because their brains aren’t fully developed yet.” Yes he said that to me within minutes of meeting me!!), I came to find out that he was recently divorced, a smoker, never graduated from college after completing two years of studies, and was raised by a single mother. This guy was not the guy I had pictured in my head my entire life. And certainly in that moment I did not think he was the guy for me either. But for some reason—by the end of that night—something about him had intrigued me enough that I wanted to know more. He was so different than anyone I knew, and while we had so many differences in our upbringings and backgrounds—it turned out we had a lot in common when it came to our mindsets, beliefs, and priorities in life.

To make an already long story shorter, we began dating that day, and a little over a year after meeting—we were engaged to be married.

At this same point, most of my friends from my hometown (a small town in Wisconsin) and college were married or getting married within the year. They were all buying nice houses before doing so, and saddling up for the life I had always pictured in my head. But not James and me. I was struggling to pay the bills, clawing my way out of some serious credit card debt from college, and starting my photography business while working a full-time job at a law firm downtown. I found myself constantly comparing my life to theirs—comparing what they had achieved to what I had not yet achieved. And I always felt inadequate.

But never the-less, I pushed forward and planned what we thought was the perfect wedding for us: a Memorial Day weekend celebration on a beautiful lake in Wisconsin, with all our friends and family there. We found a venue that was perfect for us (a destination wedding feel—but in Wisconsin) at the top of our budget, but I figured we could manage to do the rest on a tight budget—and we did. I didn’t read wedding blogs back then, there was no Pinterest, I wasn’t yet a wedding photographer, and I (sadly) did not know A Practical Wedding existed. So I planned a wedding (with the help of my older sister and mom) based on things I liked and lots of DIY projects (mostly out of Martha Stewart’s wedding magazines).

It has been almost three years since our wedding now, and the memory of that day has faded a bit for me, because you see, we’ve made lots of memories since. We’ve been through some hard times and some amazing times. We’ve laughed, and we’ve cried—and we’ve moved on. I remember before and after our wedding being obsessed with it. I constantly looked at pictures. I talked about it with anybody who would listen. My world revolved around it. Then at some point—life moved on. And now, three years later, it is a somewhat distant memory. I find it interesting all these years later to think of the things I remember most. They certainly aren’t the things I spent the most time on (like the invitations, programs, and decorations). No. They are the things that happened that weekend that were unexpected, that surprised me, that stick with me to this day—and I believe they will stick with me my entire life.

I remember picking lilacs from my parents’ backyard for hours the day before the wedding, running back and forth from the lilac bush to boxes filled with $0.25 Goodwill vases, building the arrangements for each table, and setting some aside for our bouquets. I remember getting pulled over by a cop on the way from my parents’ house to the wedding venue for the rehearsal with James driving and his mom in the passenger seat. I pleaded with the officer from the back seat, telling him that we were on our way to our rehearsal dinner and getting married the next day. Amazingly, he let us go without even a warning. He said he didn’t want to start our wedding weekend on a bad note and wished us well.

I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I kissed James outside of my room the night before our wedding… not planning to see each other again until I walked down the aisle. I remember the gloomy, drizzly day I woke up to early that morning, with my sister laying next to me in the queen sized bed we shared. I remember sleepily walking to the kitchenette and finding my bridesmaids eating breakfast, all happy, glowing, and ready for the day. I remember panicking when the day-of planner came to my room two hours before the ceremony to ask me if we wanted to move it indoors, since it was still raining. When I couldn’t think straight—I remember my bridesmaids suggesting I call James to see what he thought. I remember my hand shaking as I dialed, and the instant calm I felt, when I heard him answer with a smile in his voice. He told me “We’re having it outside. You spent all this time planning for a wedding on the water, we’re having a wedding on the water. It’ll all be okay. Even if it is pouring rain, all that matters is that we’re married.” And he was right. And what do you know—it even stopped raining in time for the ceremony.

I remember the reception hall smelling of fresh cut lilacs as we walked into cocktail hour. I remember the speech James gave at the reception that left me in tears. I remember looking around the room to find almost everybody else, including my parents, godparents, and grandma wiping their eyes as well. I remember dancing until the sweat was pouring down me, and my dress was sticking to me. (Including a terrible rendition of a hip hop routine my girls and I had learned at my bachelorette party.) I remember dancing with James to songs we’d chosen just for us. I remember the overwhelming feeling of joy, love, and happiness—as I looked around the room and saw all the people we loved in one room for probably the only time ever in our lives.

I remember saying “screw it” to my original plans to go right to our room when the reception was over, and instead stayed out until almost three am—squeezing out every last minute we could have with our friends and family that had traveled from all over the country to share the day with us.

I remember all those things more than any of the parts I thought I would remember. I loved our wedding day, and I thought it was perfect for us.

But then somewhere around our one-year anniversary, when I transitioned from being a commercial photographer to being a wedding photographer, my life became immersed in all things wedding. I discovered wedding blogs, and Pinterest, and attended a LOT of weddings. And suddenly the memories of our day became tainted for me, because all those other things got in my brain and somehow convinced me (again) that my life, my wedding, my everything—wasn’t good enough—that I needed more. I no longer had just my brain telling me that we should own a home, have solid careers, and kids on the way… but now I had the internet telling me the same thing about not only my life, but about my wedding. I didn’t have enough details. I didn’t have vintage charm and adorable little favors. I didn’t have cute wedding shoes. And for quite a while after that point I wished I could redo it. And I hated that I felt that way.

But then recently there came a turning point. I was enjoying a lunch break in our kitchen with James—when I realized how beautiful our day-to-day life is—how wonderful all the time we are blessed to be able to spend together is—when I finally, finally realized that our life doesn’t have to be what everyone else’s is. We don’t have to own a home to be married. We don’t have to have a ton of savings in the bank if we can’t manage it right now. We don’t have to have a picket fence, live in the suburbs, and have 2.5 kids.

No—I can live the life that is in front of me, that is mine, that I’m proud of—regardless of whether or not I have those things I thought I needed. Because while I don’t have a house, or kids, or a ton of money in the bank—I know that I most certainly do have things that I never even fathomed I would. I didn’t envision being unbelievably happy and still getting butterflies from a man I met five years ago. I didn’t picture getting to spend every day at home with him while he finishes his college degree, and we run a business together that is able to support our little family. (This still blows my mind!) I didn’t think I’d live in a big city (at least certainly not for this long)—but here we are in Chicago five years later and we love it—even if it means we can’t buy a home until many years down the road.

Somewhere in there—when I finally accepted that my life is my life… when I finally accepted that we each have unique experiences, and that we don’t have to live the life our 10-year-old self thought we would live (thank goodness!)—I was able to accept my wedding for what it was too. (Which, I believe finally allowed me to write this post, all these years later.)

I’m so happy I was able to finally accept my life and let the rest go. Because now I can look back on my wedding and instead of thinking, “I should have decorated the tables differently,” I think, “What a beautiful, joyful day—that was uniquely and perfectly us,” which segues perfectly into life after the wedding… To a place where I can be at peace with living a life that is beautiful, joyful, and uniquely and perfectly us as well.

The Info—Photography: Jon Hamblin & Patrick Sablan (& Disposable Cameras on Tables) / Venue: Heidel House Resort & Spa / Dress: Watters Vera’s Bridals in Madison, WI (it’s from the 2008/2009 collection, we found a similar version from!)

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  • PA

    Personally, I think your wedding was STUNNING. It’s simple, elegant, beautiful, picturesque… I could go on and on. It’s really lovely!

    I’m also very inspired by your revelation that you do indeed have the life you want, that you successfully built that for yourself and your baby family – it just did not look like the life you were expecting to want! It’s a revelation that I struggle with over and over in ALL areas of my life.

    I wish you the best as you go along your less-charted-than-previously-suspected path!

    P.S. The lilac bouquet is gorgeous!

    • Thank you so much PA! I was nervous about putting it all out there like this – but your kind words help to remind me that I’m not alone in feeling that way about my life at times. xo!

      • PA

        CERTAINLY not alone! I don’t know why, but it takes consistent effort to separate out the things I truly want from the things I want to want. (I hope that makes sense…)


        • Totally makes sense and I do the same thing! :)

  • Kristy

    I love this! Congratulations on coming to peace with your life as it is and your wedding as it was. Personally, I think your life sounds pretty fabulous and your wedding fantastic. :)

  • This is so lovely, Christy, and you look absolutely beautiful and utterly joyful.

  • Ceebee

    When you are unbelievably happy, and nothing makes you so happy and calm, except that one person – that’s how you know you’re with The One.
    And your wedding is fabulous – nothing makes a wedding except a very happy couple and all that warm love gathered in one place

  • Class of 1980

    I thought your wedding was STUNNING also. In fact, when the first photo came up, I thought it belonged on one of the big wedding style sites!

    With such a gorgeous natural setting, less is more. And with Lilacs everywhere, who needs extra details?

    I’m glad you are embracing your own life; otherwise you’d be so distracted you’d miss it all. ;)

  • I’m fascinated by how people’s expectations are so driven by their parents’ experiences. I never thought I’d meet my husband in college, since my parents met in grad school. And the very idea that we would be from such similar backgrounds? Unheard of!

    I also can’t imagine the pressure being a wedding photographer puts on your memories of the day. Kudos to you for taking the time to re-develop your thoughts about it. This was beautifully written and introspective while still being applicable to the rest of us. Thank you.

    • Caitlin that is SO TRUE. I had a very serious boyfriend that I started dating senior year of high school and remember thinking when we first got serious, “This can’t be! I’m supposed to meet my future husband in college like my parents!” Why do we do that? It is SO strange, isn’t it? Anyway – it’s good that I finally acknowledged it and let my life run its own course – thank goodness! :)

      • I thought the same thing! My husband HAD to be college-educated, the whole nine yards…

        And when I finally met my husband at 26, he was none of those things. But he was a good man and a good partner, and after growing up I knew that was what really mattered. :)

        • Exactly… that is what truly matters. :) I’m so happy I finally forgot about that silly ‘list’ when I met James!

    • Not Sarah

      I have always thought I wouldn’t get married until I am 31, since that’s how old my parents were when they got married. And they met at around 28-29, so I don’t really feel much pressure to get married or have kids anytime soon, which is awesome!

      (I’m 23 and single, which, right now, is absolutely perfect for me.)

  • Bethany

    Thank you so much for this post! I was nodding my head the whole way through. I also had a “vision” for my life (pretty similar to yours, really) that is so totally different from the life I actually have. But you know what? The life I have is pretty sweet!

    And that last picture of you two is just beautiful.

  • Faith

    lilacs, lilacs, lilacs. that’s all i need to know:)

  • Aww yay! Christy I love this. I am so happy for you and James!! AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HOT YOUR DRESS IS?!!!! XXOO

    • meg


  • Caitlin L

    It also was a little gloomy at our wedding, a few sprinkles but as soon as I stepped outside the rain stopped (which I didnt know till later that night, which was probably ok since I was already a bit nervous lol) and then during our first dance approximately 3 rain drops and at the end the sun came out as we were winding down, it was perfect. They say rain is good luck for a wedding. What a beautiful wedding you had!!!

  • Moz

    This is *exactly* what I needed to read today, thank you, thank you!

    Meg, thanks for hassling Christy into doing this.

    • So happy to hear that! Thank YOU for reading! :)

      • Moz

        Christy, you get extra points for being so nice and replying.

        • Love it! Because here I thought I was being a bit of a creep replying to everybody… ;-) haha!

  • Catherine B

    Yay Christy! I love how this post is a grad post & a graduate return post in one. So much of it rings true to me, but mostly I loved the pure joy on both of your faces. Can’t wait for you to photograph our wedding!

    • Thank you hon! And you know I can’t wait either Catherine!! YAY! :) <3

  • Your story about meeting your husband could be mine, everything from the expectations to the reality. And every day I thank God that my expectations did not become my reality.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Isn’t that the truth! Thank goodness!!! :)

  • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

    First of all-Christy and James, you had such a beautiful wedding!!!
    Secondly: ” we don’t have to live the life our 10-year-old self thought we would live” RIGHT. ON.

    I can’t wait to see the discussions that this week’s posts bring.

  • First of all, your wedding was stunning- and holy cow, that dress! As a fellow wedding photographer (who started shooting weddings AFTER my own), I do understand what you mean about having weddings on the brain all the time and having that influence your memories of your own day. But, seriously, it was beautiful– and you got MARRIED. To the man you love. That is 100% the most important thing.

    It sounds like you’ve come to a good place about how you view how your life should be vs. how others view it vs. how it actually is. I’m happy for you. And I wish you both the best!

    • Thank you Helen! And yes – the wedding photographer thing really threw a wrench in my thoughts for a while, but I’ve happily come out the other side and now love our wedding for what it was – US! :)

    • It’s comforting to hear that I’m not the only “wedding professional” that had these feelings. That being said, I am DYING over your photos, and those lilacs. So, so, so beautiful!

  • clampers

    I totally hear you on the whole hating-your-wedding-after-the-fact thing…well, I don’t hate mine but there are elements that I wish I would have done differently. For a long time I was so disappointed in my dress. But now I am OK with everything again and love every little thing we did. :)

    Oh and we also got pulled over on the way to the rehearsal dinner and the cop let us go too!

    • I’m so glad you’ve come to terms with and now love your wedding! Also – thank goodness for nice cops! ;-) haha

  • “I’m so happy I was able to finally accept my life and let the rest go. Because now I can look back on my wedding and instead of thinking, “I should have decorated the tables differently,” I think, “What a beautiful, joyful day—that was uniquely and perfectly us,” which segues perfectly into life after the wedding… To a place where I can be at peace with living a life that is beautiful, joyful, and uniquely and perfectly us as well.”

    Yes yes yes!!

    Christy, I absolutely adore you!!

  • This is beautiful, Christy. Thank you for writing about how wedding blogs/Pinterest can make you feel inadequate. It’s something I struggle with. And that dress! Yowza! I’m so jealous that you had bunches of lilacs at your wedding. The smell of lilacs is probably my favorite smell in the world.

    • Definitely my favorite smell in the world, by far. And ignore that darn Pinterest board, will you?! So happy that didn’t exist when I was planning my wedding. Whew!

      • …I LOVE having Pinterest :)

        This makes me think of a postcard meme going around: “I’m really looking forward to your non-existent wedding you’re planning on Pinterest!”

        But I can see how it could foster feelings of inadequecy (I mean really, who HASN’T been there at one point or another??). Much like other Big Wedding Sites that feed into the WIC, most of the wedding boards have dresses that cost more than a year of college tuition, and engagement rings with diamonds as big as my thumb nail. I definitely don’t use it much for finding ideas; I use it to store and organize all the fab ideas I get from smart, sassy ladies here and over at Offbeat Bride.

        There is definitely something to be said for the perspective gained from sites like APW and the women (and men?) who aren’t afraid to do things differently, not because they want to be different, but because it’s what works for them. It’s much easier to relinquish all of those ingrained expectations when you are the only one doing so :)

        • Good point there! I guess I forgot that you can pin things that inspire you and intrigue you rather than just look at things that make you feel inadequate! haha :)

          And yes – we are so blessed to have this community!! :) xo

  • Christy, the honesty you bring to your writing astounds me. Your ability to unpack complex feelings and gently examine them is a great gift to those of us lucky enough to read what you have to say.

    That aside, this is one of those graduate posts I sort of want to cocoon myself with in the lead up to the wedding. It makes me happy and focuses on those really important pieces of the wedding.

    • Please do cocoon yourself in it if you must! ;) Just enjoy the day and let your expectations fall by the wayside. You’ll be happy you did. xo.

  • Christyyyyyyyyy!! This was so worth the wait, thanks for FINALLY submitting a grad post. ;) As expected, you’ve managed to share something very personal but at the same time relatable for so many others. I love the message to enjoy life as it is rather than pining for some future fulfillment. And what a life you’ve built for yourself already! You’re an inspiration to us all, I hope you know.

    also: DRESS OMG.

    • You’re going to make me cry now! Stop it! :)

  • Shiri

    Oh my god, you’re amazing. And brave, and gorgeous, and, most of all, so right. So very very right. Thank you for this.

    • Thank you for reading! And being much, much, much too kind! <3

  • As someone who has had the pleasure of meeting and communicating with Christy over the years, I have to echo Meg here in saying that she *is* a great person and you all should be so lucky to know her.

    That being said, Christy, I think today’s post can also apply to those of us who have already married but still find themselves lamenting they aren’t where they are in their career, for example. To make a long story short, it’s a great reminder and a great read.

    • Thank you Tori! Yes… a great reminder for wedding and life in general. Enjoy today, each day… and try not to constantly worry about where you *wish* you were, or where you thought you’d be by now… xo.

  • What a great post. This mentality also applies to anyone living the life they never expected when they were ten. Just like me! Be strong and happy where you are, right?? It’s where we were meant to be!

  • Allison

    So lovely. As someone who is struggling to accept a life that is nothing like what I had pictured for myself, this was very helpful to read right now.

    • This was so me about a year ago. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but it is so liberating to finally be able to let go of the life you thought (or were told) you should have, and embrace the life you’re leading.

      I have never been happier :)

      Good luck to you!

    • Exactly what Skittle said! If you can allow yourself to accept your life as it is each day – you will be so much happier and freer because of it. I hope you get to that point soon Allison, because it is amazing what a difference it will make! xoxo

  • Beautiful Christy. & holy wow did you look amazing in that dress. & you’re such a good writer & business woman. I think you should be very proud.

  • Such a wise post! As a wedding planner, I’m constantly trolling wedding blogs for inspiration for my clients. I have compared our wedding to those on wedding blogs & those on Pinterest more times than I care to admit. Usually, our wedding seems to fall short because we went the very simple route. & used carnations!!! But when I really think of our wedding- getting married to the love of my life surrounded by our family & friends- it’s just perfect. Thank you for the important reminder!

    • So nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with these feelings (I was kind of ashamed to admit them…), and glad you were able to realize your wedding was just perfect for you too!!

  • pixie_moxie

    Your dress is amazing as is the love in your faces in the pictures. :) Thank you so much for sharing. My husband and I are at a point when friends are starting to ask us “sooooo when are you going to…?” to fit the mold of their lives. It was refreshing to hear your perspective about happiness living life perhaps not in the perceived status quot. All the best to you doing what you love with whom you love!

    • What’s funny is that sometimes those very friends wish they had YOUR life! Which is just so crazy and ironic to me. I was home recently chatting with a dear friend who is building a new home, has two adorable kids, and all the things I thought I should have by now… and she was asking about our life in Chicago. Thinking we must go out a lot, have so much fun, be so social, do ‘big city’ things… and kind of wishing she could have the same for her life. So silly that we both want what the other has – when really our lives are just perfect for each of us the way they are!

      • pixie_moxie

        Right! So true.

      • meg

        So interesting!!! And I will say that sometime in my late 20’s I just totally stopped comparing lives. It happened totally naturally, but it has freed up a tremendous amount of brain space and joy. I feel like it’s part of the awesomeness of your 30’s? Maybe?

        • Totally true Meg! And that has been my experience too! Yay 30’s!! :)

        • Class of 1980

          No. Some people even compare lives until their death.

          Congrats for maturing early enough to enjoy the rest of your life. ;)

  • Thank you for this1 I continue to be a bit undecided about how I feel about our wedding, and I think I’m just getting a little detached from it now while other things in life pick up and are busy. For the first few months immediately after, I was really quite down about it and definitely had a lot of what-ifs and if-onlys. The thing I’m really taking away from your post is that sometimes it might just take a longer while to really understand how I feel about it all, and that’s valuable. (and then I can think about a wedding grad post, once I have some insights! Definitely don’t feel like I have any at present)

    Also, the dress! That first picture is SO striking.

    • It (obviously) took me some time to process our wedding, and it kind of went in phases… happy, sad, what-ifs, if-only’s.. all of it. Until I’ve finally come to a place of acceptance and love for it. I hope you get there too someday! But there is no need to rush it… just let yourself process it and enjoy your new married life in the meantime!! <3

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I found that I was alternately nodding along while reading, and shaking my head (yes yes YES I so get what she’s saying! – no, no, her wedding pictures are SO striking, the emotion each one evokes is so pure and raw and joyous, how could she be disappointed???) and it’s just, oh, just so nice to embrace the fact that it is OK to embrace reality in lieu of expectations.

    I have a nearly identical story as you, in terms of meeting the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. In my case, it was a bit more extreme because I was *dating* the man I *thought* I was going to spend the rest of my life with at them.

    Fate, thank you for your wrenches. I don’t think we’d get on so well through life without some kind of interference; silly humans, thinking we know what we want ;)

    • Right?! Thank goodness things don’t turn out how we expected or give us what we thought we wanted! THANK GOODNESS. :) Also – thank you so much for your sweet words. <3 And I'm so happy you found joy with the man you didn't expect, but who is perfect for you! :)

      (Also, the way we met is a much more interesting story than the sum-up I gave in this post… haha! Complete with my ex-boyfriend showing up at my door the next morning with cinnamon rolls while J sat in the other room! More of a comedy of sorts – really. haha ;) I wrote the whole thing on my blog if you're ever in need of a good laugh.) ;)

  • angela

    this is exactly what i needed to read today, as i just spent my entire lunch hour finding/buying rain boots for my troupe of bridesmaids for our wedding this weekend… it’s looking like rain :]

    • It rained all morning of our wedding and we had light drizzle throughout our outdoor ceremony (so much so that the string quartet took off before the recessional to preserve their instruments) – but you’d never know it! No worries – your day will be perfect no matter what happens! Happy wedding week hon!

      • angela

        just saw this – thanks so much! i’m holding out for some good rainy photos :]

  • Most people look happy in their wedding photos, but it has always blown me away in the few I had seen of yours that you and James look SO HAPPY.

    So much about these events only exists in ours minds, about how we feel about them. Its nice to know too that in time I might feel better and better about how things went.

    Night before our wedding, hubs got us kicked out of a bar for casually kicking me in the butt. The manager stormed over , demanded to know if I knew this guy, and then kicked us out in spite of my tears and pleading that we were getting married the next day. Oh well!

    • Jenn – That story is crazy!! Some people just act ridiculous no matter how much you plead with them to act rationally. :-\

      Also – I hope that time does make you feel better and better about your day until you can fully accept it for what it was and embrace the YOUness of it all! <3

  • Liz

    Just when I think you can’t get more gorgeous, you go and post photos of yourself in that wedding dress?! Jeez, lady!

    Based on the little glimpses of your and James’ life that I get to see, it’s remarkable to me to read that it didn’t turn out as planned. (I’m a Virgo. I do that whole planning bit, too). It’s wonderful that so much joy can come from such happy accidents.

    • Ahhh yes… to be a Virgo. Glad to know I’m not the only crazy Virgo planner who should probably just stop trying to plan things because they go better on their own most of the time! ;-) Also – thanks for your insanely sweet words… seriously. If I had showered and changed out of my pajamas to work today I might be more likely to believe you… ;-) haha!

      • So it’s a Virgo thing to be a crazy planner??? Hm. Maybe I’ll have to pay more attention to astrology from now on…

        • Yeah, I’m pretty much a spot-on match for all the descriptions I’ve ever read of Virgos…

  • What a great post, this reminder is so needed and important for people heading into planning or for those of us years after our wedding. I loved all of this, so much of it resonated with me (I had an “idea” of who I would spend my life with too and believe me if you told me that he would be a Republican who would agree with me on fundamental values but disagree with me on everything else for the past decade I would have keeled over laughing…such is life). Beautifully written, stunning photos, amazing message. No need to compare to anything else, you guys have got it right.

    • Caitlin – haha! I love your comment about the surprise with who you ended up with! :) Too funny. :) Also – thank you so much for reading and for your kind words! xo!

  • I’m pretty sure that I just might have cried while sitting here at my desk.

    Your pictures are nothing but raw emotion of real people being happy. Seriously, I want wedding pictures like yours! :)

    And your story is amazing! So beautifully written and such a reminder that maybe we don’t exactly know what makes us happy – until it happens to us.

    • Aww – I love that! “Maybe we don’t know exactly what makes us happy – until it happens to us.” <3

  • MDBethann

    Christy, thank you. My wedding is in less than 3 weeks and even though I am not on Pintrest (it holds no interest for me, thank goodness) and I limit my visits to to dealing with my online seating chart, I’ve caught myself doing a few “should haves” in my head already and then I catch myself and tamp them down. We made the choices we did for very valid reasons that still exist now and it is silly to second guess them. WIC be darned!

    More importantly, I liked what you said about your life not looking the way you always thought it would. Last week, I went to the annual reception for my major at my alma mater, which is up the road from my house. The guest speaker was a young woman who graduated 4 years ago, went to grad school & is already doing work with NGOs monitoring land mines and overseeing budgets and traveling to exotic but dangerous places like Ghana and Iraq. I graduated 11 years ago, did grad school and have been working for the gov’t ever since – good steady work, nothing flashy. I started to actually feel a bit like I had failed, thinking I hadn’t lived the exciting life that I had wanted for myself or done anything world changing. And then I went home and saw my fiance, our lovely home, and our furbabies and realized that maybe my life didn’t look like I thought it would after college, but it has been a GOOD life so far and some things have taken longer to happen (I too thought I’d meet the man of my dreams in college, get married, and have kids after grad school but met him online at the age of 30), but I LOVE my life and am happy in it. It is right for me and I am proud of the good work I’ve done, though it may not be splashy and exciting.

    Comparing ourselves to anyone for any reason – career, wedding, children, etc. – is just a way to set ourselves up for what ifs and thinking that the grass is greener along the road we didn’t take. But if we had taken that other road, might we now look at someone with the life we do have and say “I wish I had that life?” I think there is something in human nature that makes us reach out (occasionally) and yearn for what we don’t have, that it looks better or easier somehow. But more than likely, it’s not the right life for us – the life we have is the right one.

    • I love this and you are absolutely right! I think no matter what – people tend to look at a lives different than theirs and think that they would be amazing and wonderful to live – and sometimes thing, “why can’t that be me?!” But in reality, we are living the life that is right for us, I truly believe. And as soon as we can release ourselves from those comparisons and focus on living a happy life day-to-day (whatever that may be for us) – we will all be better for it! (And thanks for sharing your story! xo)

  • This is fantastic Christy!! I just love your honesty and humility. I had a DIY wedding as well on a serious budget. We made our own invites, did our own flowers. I struggled with what people would think and I still struggle with it. Mike and I rent, and are no where near being able to purchase a home, while all of our friends are in big, gorgeous homes and starting families. But I’m really starting to take your approach and just accept and be thankful for everything I have – the things that matter most (being married to my best friend who makes me laugh everyday, good health, a loving family). Just trying to live in the present more :)

    • Sounds like we had very similar weddings!! :) And regarding being thankful for what you have – those are fabulous things to have Ester!! Nothing beats health & happiness – truly. There’s no shame in living a life that is right for you two and taking things are your own pace. :) (I’m working on living in the present as well… maybe we can keep each other in check with that!) ;) xo!

  • Christy you are just the best. Loves!

  • Amerika

    You’ve got it made. May the smiles on your faces that are captured in these photographs remain with you always. And on days when it rains (figuratively and in reality), may you remember the very wise words of your husband “It’ll all be okay. Even if it is pouring rain, all that matters is that we’re married.” All that matters is that you have each other, and THAT is where you are at home.

    Many many happy years to both of you!

    • Wow. What a sweet comment! Thank you Amerika! xo!

  • This post and the comments reminded me of something a friend once said. He said that when he turned 40, he decided to evaluate his life. He finally realized that he had two choices…either he could continue to become bitter with life and the things that had not gone as he had imagined, or he could accept his life and age with grace and joy in how things actually were. That stuck with me. I think what this post underlines is the same choice….and a good reminder that adjustments in perspective can happen at any age, and over and over again. :)

  • You are one smart lady, Christy!

    And yowza, you in that dress!!! No wonder James looks so freakin’ proud in every picture!

  • DKR

    Another perfectly-timed post, Meg. “Change of Plans” has been the theme of my life over the last few years – career change that’s been a four-year proces, during which I lost my dad, found my husband-to-be, and finally have a handle on what I want to do with my life. Christy’s story resonated with me so much-I had A Plan, and where I am isn’t where I thought I’d be, but definitely where I need to be. Thanks for sharing your story, Christy, you’re a wise and beautiful lady.

    • DKR

      I forgot to mention that the planning (both for the wedding and career) has been very much in the forefrOnt for me as late-YESTERDAY I had a conversation on career goals/planning with my fiancé.

    • Thank you for reading DKR! Wishing you all the best with the recent changes in your life and glad you know that you’re where you need to be, even if it isn’t where you thought you’d be. <3

  • DKR

    Thanks for your kind words, Christy! Neither of us have the life we thought we “should” have, or the partner we thought we’d have it with, but we have the lives that work best for us and we’re happy- that’s awesome. All the best to you!

  • Finally catching up on blog reading after my trip, and I was SO excited to see this in my reader!!!

    It is so funny to read about how James wasn’t the type of person you imagined you’d end up with. I feel the exact same way about John. I think that’s just kind of an amazing thing… how someone can come along so unexpectedly and be everything you want, but never knew you wanted.

    And I am swooning over your photos. They are unbelievable. You two are ridiculously gorgeous people. xo

  • brenda

    christy and james, what a gorgeous wedding and kudos to you for doing it your way! The photos are spectacular and it is such a great reminder to enjoy our blessed lives daily…….it’s so easy to feel inadequate with what society tells us our lives should be. I am marrying again in October at the age of 55 with two teenaged sons to a man who is not who I thought I needed but so much more than I needed. He doesn’t make enough for me to be a stay-at-home mom which was my dream after working a high-stress career all these years but maybe someday…… life is so blessed with him in it. We are doing out wedding our way too!