(Takes a deep breath before even beginning this introduction…..)
Sometimes lovelies your wedding day will not go exactly as you anticipated. That’s not to say you will regret at any point saying “I Do”, just that for some there will be certain aspects that you don’t look back on with complete affection.
Rock My Wedding reader Ariel doesn’t look back on her W-day photo’s with complete affection, and I know if you’re anything like me, reading that is pretty heart-breaking.
However this is not a sad story, this is a brave, honest and beautifully written account of finding peace with the past and heading towards a bright and optimistic future with the one you love.
Reflecting The Compromise
Ariel: Over the past year I tried, numerous times, to look back at our wedding with a wistful sigh. These attempts usually left me in tears. Not the good kind. Most of what I remember from our wedding is jet lag and stress. As our first wedding anniversary approached, Pete and I began to get a bit testy about how we should celebrate. Our friends started making and broadcasting their plans for first anniversary celebrations and we extended congratulations and looked in dread at the calendar as our anniversary crept closer and closer. Not because we were dreading the occasion, but because we knew we would feel pressure to go back and reminisce over our wedding photos and video and eat that top layer of cake, etc.
We haven’t looked at our wedding photos and video for about 10 months. Our wedding was beautiful, but it wasn’t really wonderful. In the photos we are fully smiling, eye crinkle and all, but if you look a little closer, they are a reflection of all the compromises we made and the pressure we gave into which resulted in a wedding that I barely remember and photos of people we don’t recognise.
Finally Getting There
We decided that on our first anniversary we were going to do exactly what we wanted and not what we thought we should do or what everyone expected us to do. We also decided to celebrate our marriage instead of our wedding. The wedding reflected where we came from and our journey together to that point. And it was a long one involving four continents, countless international flights, 18 months apart, at least three visas, two job changes and flats, and an advanced degree. The wedding had a lot of references to our individual and family histories but not so much to our joint present.
Where we are now, geographically and figuratively, is SO much better. To celebrate how far we had come, together, since the wedding, we marked our anniversary with a photo shoot in our favourite place, and our current home, Greenwich.
And, if I’m totally honest, I really wanted some pretty pictures of us, that could stand in for wedding photos.
A Special Surprise
Again, if I’m being honest. The photo shoot was my idea and a surprise for my husband. We did celebrate our anniversary in a way that was uniquely us, but this was something a little extra. We picked out our favourite bits of our wedding costumes (minus my fabulous fascinator which is still back in the US and Pete’s pocket watch which is still in NZ) and a blanket from our time in Africa (where we met) and headed out to meet our photographer in downtown Greenwich.
It was one of the hottest days of the summer thus far and Greenwich was teeming with people. We headed down to the river first to avoid the crowds and catch low tide. Walking along the Thames is a recently new activity for us and increasingly one of our favourites. We went about as far as we could before the tide cut us off from returning. From there we wandered through the place we continually wish we had gotten married. We wandered and enjoyed the place we have been building our little family and reminding ourselves why we joined together in the first place.
For me, the shoot was still like the wedding shoot in some ways; I was constantly concerned that my fringe had gone stringy and greasy, that my make-up (which I did myself *risky*) was sliding off my face, that my dress kept shifting (note, fabric tape doesn’t hold when your bra is sweat-soaked) and I wasn’t sure what my face was actually doing when I was attempting to make it serene and blissful. But this day, unlike the entire wedding experience, really brought home some lessons of the year for me.
We are better individuals, together. We make each other the best versions of ourselves and that is what we should aim for daily. If you are uncomfortable on the inside, it will show on the outside, no matter how well cut the trousers. It is not possible to do everything we want right now, but it is a long life, there is time and instant gratification is frequently teamed with buyer’s remorse. We can prepare and plan but that will only take us so far and the best moments are unplanned, unscripted and unforgettable.
In the latter half of our first married year we have begun to have the confidence to focus more on our family expectations, putting our extended families desires on a shelf for a bit. These photos and this anniversary weekend were about setting the tone for the years to come and celebrating this shift in our focus. The people in these photos may not look so different to those in the wedding photos, but to us, they look a lot happier and even more in love, if that’s possible.
Doing It The Right Way
It took a few days to fall upon Dasha’s website Exhibit Emotions. As soon as I read her story about how she met her husband, I knew she would understand our international wedding plight. Plus her photos were beautiful and she had done an Art Deco-inspired shoot I could stare at for hours. When I contacted her and presented my idea, she immediately responded that she would love to do an “I do, re-do” shoot. I loved that. It was exactly what we were thinking, without the actual “I do” renewal (or the big white dress). She went out of her way to meet with me a few days before the shoot and spent, like, five hours in the blazing sun with us, waiting for the light to get ‘just right.’ Obviously, she nailed it! She made us feel very comfortable, although we don’t have too much trouble hamming it up. And to top it off, she saved the day. When I realized I was too late to buy a bouquet and a bit upset, she spotted a gorgeous lavender bush and, after taking some great shots with it in the foreground, picked a bunch of it for me. Perfect.
When we got the photos from her (an unbelievable week later) she had managed to make it look like we had Greenwich all to ourselves. There were hundreds of people roaming the streets and green spaces but in these photos it is just us two celebrating each other and our marriage. In that way, I guess it was an “I do” renewal, or maybe just a reminder.
Dasha From Exhibit Emotions: When Ariel got in touch with me about her idea of wedding anniversary shoot, I jumped at the chance! First, she found me through Rock My Wedding, so I knew in advance they would be a great couple. Second, she was so enthusiastic about it, it was contagious! Ariel also wrote the story about how she and Pete met, and it was in many ways similar to how I met my husband. I instantly felt the connection and took on the shoot, despite the busy season. Doing this shoot for Ariel and Pete made me want to have one with my hubby, maybe for our 5th anniversary.
Photography – Dasha at Exhibit Emotions
I just wanted to say a personal thanks to Ariel, my circumstances are not similar with regards to my own wedding day memories but I have always shied away from any kind of anniversary shoot, although a lovely idea, I just didn’t think it was important enough.
And now I want to capture every moment. A year on, two years on, when we are eighty-five and probably have no teeth…..
So. That’s what I am going to do.
Ariel, you are an inspiration.
Big Doing It The Right Way Love