Last month my little brother got married. We were so excited to invite Amy into our family and we were really looking forward to the wedding and festivities at Maysara Winery in McMinville, Oregon. Chad and Amy moved to Portland, Oregon about 2 years ago for work. They made some new friends, but most of their wedding guests were flying in from all over the country. And everyone was excited for a long weekend of wedding bliss and Fourth of July celebrations. Have you seen the firework display over the Columbia river? It’s one of the best I have ever seen!
Since all of their closest friends and family lived out of state, Amy’s sister-in-law, Kristy, decided it would be best to have the bridal shower the Thursday before the wedding creating a 3-day celebration for the closest family and friends. All of the ladies gathered at the rental house for food, drinks, conversation and gifts. Games were kept to a minimum, but Kristy did want to leave her sister with a book of heartfelt congrats and marriage advice. Pages were filled by women of all ages and all walks of life. Some were married 50 years, some recently married. Some with children gave great advice for parenting, and other friends were yet to be married, offering their blessings and advice from observations of successful marriages around them. Finally, it was my turn to write. Now, I had only been married for 2 months at this point, so I didn’t have a lot of hard-learned lessons and advice. But, as wedding photographers, we have listened to countless toasts bestowing advice onto newly-wed couples and received much advice during our own engagement. Moreover, Luke and I have spent an extensive amount of time with mentors, doing biblical studies and marriage devotionals, and we actually began pre-marital counseling a year before getting engaged. It might seem a bit excessive to some, but we truly value marriage and wanted to make sure we were as prepared as we could be before entering a lifelong commitment to one another. So I knew right away what I wanted to share with Amy (and Chad). I filled a page with 2 of the most important lessons I learned from our year-and-a-half study on marriage.
- “God created marriage to make us holy, not happy.” This was the tag line to the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. It completely rocked my perspective on marriage. God created man and woman with unique and perfectly-paired strengths and weakness so that we would learn to work together, to grow together, and to be in community with each other. Through the marriage relationship, we learn to love graciously, to serve and put someone else’s desires before your own. God knew that this model of relationship and commitment would draw our focus to Him—hopefully daily—in praise, in respect, and in seeking help. The common, worldly perspective on love and marriage is fleeting because its first focus is on one’s own happiness, but that is nowhere close to the core of what marriage was created for. It’s about more than happiness—it’s about becoming people of deeper character through the crucible of marriage. Love is hard and love is a choice. Marriage is a commitment to choose the same person every single moment of the day, no matter how they treat you or what your circumstance is. There is no giving up! There is only turning to God for help.
- “Fight Naked!” Yep! My second piece of great advice comes from Karen Kropf, founder of Positively Waiting!, an organization specializing in promoting healthy sex and relationships. If you and your marriage partner find yourselves heading towards an argument, don’t just take the gloves off… take everything off! It’s hard to take each other too seriously when you are both naked. It breaks down pride in the conversation and opens up a sense of vulnerability. Pride and callousness are two things that often keep people from listening to one another, apologizing sooner, and coming to a resolution. And on the flip side, we’ve all heard that make-up sex is the best.
As I finished my two cents of advice, I flipped the page and turned to my 76 year old quiet grandmother sitting next to me and asked what advice she would like to offer Chad and Amy. A woman of few words, she only needed two to say as much as any other piece of advice could. “Stay Married.” I wrote it down, signed ‘Love, Grandma Yount’ and passed the book along.
The advice game did not have any clear rules, but we wanted to know who won. Kristy flipped through the pages, searching for the best advice. After gifts were opened, she asked loud enough for all to hear. “Where’s grandma Yount? Love your advice! ‘Fight Naked’ is the best thing I’ve heard in a long time!” Grandma’s eyes got so big! She started stammering over her words and shaking her head. “I didn’t say that!”… I guess I ran out of space and forgot to sign my name below my advice before flipping the page and writing Grandma’s advice. Oops! I let everyone believe Grandma really had written that advice for a while before signing my name in the book much later. Way to go Grandma—get frisky!
Another helpful tidbit of advice given to us when we were recently engaged was to designate a ‘Right-Hand Man’ for each of us (aka be our b!*¢#) for the wedding day. Single out someone you trust who is not part of the wedding party or family. Luke and I volunteered in this capacity for Chad and Amy, as well as functioning as day-of coordinators (though I was also a bridesmaid, so no ceremony pictures, sorry!). And even though we only brought 1 lens and no lighting, we also found ourselves as unofficial second photographers in addition to the one they had hired for the wedding day. As right-hand assistants, we helped run the rehearsal and decorate the day before. On the wedding day we brought food for the wedding party, set vendors in the right places, and ensured everything was set out how Amy wanted it. We kept everyone on schedule, in line to start the ceremony, moved chairs during cocktail hour, and kept Amy and Chad happy and hydrated. We love them and we love weddings! We couldn’t have been happier helping them get the wedding they wanted!
The rest of the weekend was full of many laughs, recalled memories, tears of joy, and family and friends reconnecting after months or even years apart. The ceremony was sweet and lovely and the reception was fun. They made it their own which is how every wedding should be. It was officiated by a friend of theirs in front of a breathtaking vineyard view. They had a Chad and Amy trivia game to release tables for the buffet dinner. They added a battle of the sexes couples game that brought many laughs. It was great to see all of the Chad’s fraternity brothers again after we hadn’t seen them much in the 9 years since his graduation. The toasts brought back memories of their free-spirited college years, but also highlighted how devoted and responsible they are, and respected by peers and superiors alike. I held it together all weekend long, but to my own surprise, I started crying during the mother-son dance. My mom invited Amy to join them half-way through. Oh my, the water-works didn’t end!
Congratulations Chad & Amy! I’m so glad to have a sister.
(check out their engagement session here)
Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Golden Valley Brewery
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Maysara Winery
Hair & Makeup: Powder Inc Beauty
Flowers: Blooming Bouquets
Catering: Haagenson Catering
Photography: George Street Photography
Rental: Barlcay Event Rentals
DJ/Band: Bust A Move DJ
Bakery: Nicky B Cakes
Guest Transportation: The Trolley Girl
Wedding Night Accommodations: McMenamins Hotel Oregon