Why marriage (not weddings) deserves to be celebrated

Our vow renewal was recently featured in Paducah Life's The Wedding Book and, as we approach wedding season, I thought I'd share the reflections I shared in the magazine.

Ten years ago I was a blushing bride. A young girl who knew a lot about weddings and receptions and bridal gowns - but very little about marriage. I spent months on Save the Date cards and out-of-town guest baskets and floral arrangements. I obsessed over song selection and reading selection and appetizer selection.

Ten years later, as my husband and I discussed how to celebrate a decade of marriage, I knew my bridal days were over. Now, instead of a wedding to plan, I had a family to run. Two boys. Two careers. A home. I wanted to skip the obsessing and stress and expectations that had overtaken my life ten years ago.

Still, we wanted a celebration - not another wedding, but a chance to gather with the people we loved in a space that was special to us.

On Saturday, July 13, we came together with our friends and family in our front yard for a sunset vow renewal. We kept all the parts of our original ceremony that were important to us. James Michael Baker, a dear friend from college who had performed at our wedding, sang “When you wish upon a star” as we walked out our front door with our two boys. 

We stood under the maple tree, which had been transformed with blooms by Sara Falder of Flower + Furbish, and recited vows we wrote for one another - more meaningful and emotional than our original vows ten years ago. Annie Kratzsch, my best friend and the most talented writer I know, wrote a poem to commemorate the day just as she had a decade earlier.

After a short ceremony, we led our guests to our backyard which was strung with lights and filled with more flowers. Of course, no party is complete without food. We had asked a few family members and friends to bake their favorite pie and we had a dessert table filled with the most delicious treats baked with love just for us.

We’d also placed all our photo albums from our wedding out for guests to enjoy and it was such a treat to hear memories of that day shared for the first time in years.

As I look back now, I realize our wedding ten years ago was a celebration of what was to come. As I look at photos of my husband and myself dressed like cake-toppers at the front of the church, the emotion I can still feel most strongly is excitement. I was excited to be getting married. I was excited to marrying him. I was excited to be the bride and all that represented.

Ten years later, I was still excited to be facing life with this man by my side but more than anything I felt gratitude. Gratitude for ten years of adventures and triumphs and lessons learned. Gratitude for the two beautiful boys we had created and were raising together. Gratitude for our home and the community that we loved. Gratitude for the commitment we’d made a decade earlier when I was a blushing bride who had no way of knowing that weddings are a wonderful beginning but what comes next is the real celebration.