I get paid to take wedding photos. The wedding day is where it’s at. Your dress, the cake, flowers, flowers everywhere. All of it points to that day. And I get it. Weddings are important. Your wedding day is a big deal. But can I be honest for a minute? My favorite weddings, my favorite couples, are the ones that understand that the wedding day is the beginning of the journey, not the destination.

Today my Bride and I have been married 15 years. We knew we didn’t have a fat clue what marriage was about when we got married, but man, looking back on it now. We really did NOT have a fat clue was marriage is about. :) For us, so much of staying married has been about navigating the changing seasons of life. So take a little trip with me if you will… and let’s see what the past 15 years has thrown at us. (To all you newlyweds out there, this could be you by the year 2032.)

2002: Finally. After 4 years of begging and trickery and shenanigans, I tricked Danielle in to marrying me.

2003: This moment perfectly captures what this year was about.
So many things:
1. We have a kid. (What up, Joseph?)
2. That is our $10 dollar Christmas tree that he pulled down on himself. (We could not afford the $25 one. We still own that tree.)
3. VCR!!

2004: This is when we officially became a family.  When we were photographed on a beach in khakis and white.

2005: Another kid. True story.  I was FURIOUS that Sara would not look at the camera.  I ended up photoshopping her face to make the picture good.  Ever since then, this has been our favorite photo from that day.

2006: Snake Attack Day.  We bonded as a family and it was the beginning of so many inside jokes that continue to this day.

2007: Well it’s been 2 years, so here comes another baby. (Hi, Luke.)

2008: This is when the things started to get easier for us. (How could more kids make life easier?)  Well it started with Danielle and I both learning to trust each other more and lean into each other’s strengths.  Little by little, we had been figuring out how to parent and be married and run a business.  These are the days of costumes and laughter and kids putting their shoes on the wrong feet.

2009: Introducing Eli (Left) Like clockwork. (Hello, vasectomy.)

2010: We finally started to travel a bit and see the states.  Our trip out to Atlanta was one of our favorite vacations ever.  Little by little we were building a family history and it was pretty great.

2011: When you have a house full of humans, life is not always tidy and full of vacations.  Sometimes it’s just day after day after day of endless people, talking and needing and crying and watching tv, while the couch cushions come off. With changes of clothes on the floor, and promotional wedding products leaning against the wall. (You really should go check out Angela & Spencer’s wedding.)

2012: 10 years. (Just getting started.)

2013: Our favorite thing about having a pile of kids is they have friends and that leads to more kids.  Having 10-13 kids over on any given day is not uncommon, and those days fill our hearts.  They are exhausting and draining. But even now as some of those kids are driving and working and “growing up”, we already miss the lightsaber battles and nerf gun fights, the water balloon contests, and messy games that we’ve had over the years.

2014: Enough is enough. Our house was a great starter house, but we needed more space. (1,500 sq ft. fills up fast.) Time to pack up and move. So we did. We packed it all up and put our house on the market and started looking. We found all kinds of houses. Big houses with pools. Bigger houses with creeks. Medium houses with upstairs and downstairs. Houses with a bedroom for each kid. The possibilities were endless. And through it all we learned something. We didn’t need a bigger house. We liked only having 10 years left on our note. We moved back into our house and have never looked back. (Best decision we have ever made, and I’ll gladly talk your ear off about it if you are interested.)

2015: We were chosen as Family of the Day at the Magic Kingdom.  Mickey asked up to help him open the park. (I may hold this day in higher regard than our wedding day.)

2016: My favorite part of our kids is watching them grow up.  Seeing their personalities evolve and their opinions form.  We have loved getting to show them how beautiful and sad and messy and hopeful the world is at times.  Trips to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, stories of refugees on YouTube, art galleries in Washington D.C.  Stretching their little minds has been the best part of parenting.

2017: Through all that chaos and life that you’ve just seen, think about this… Danielle has been homeschooling our kids.  Year after year after year after year after year after year with NO END IN SIGHT.  Seriously.  She’s got another TEN years to go before she is finished.  (And that’s assuming the 2009 procedure worked.)  Just like I’ve loved seeing my kids grow and stretch, my most favorite thing of all has been seeing my Bride grow and stretch over the years.

Weight, that sounds bad. Oh no… I mean… Anyway, you get the idea.

There is no way in the world back in 2002 I could have known who she was going to be today.

She gives when I think there is nothing in her left to give.
She teaches in a way that makes them curious to learn more.
She dreams big and pulls us all along for the ride.
She loves with a full heart that knows no limits.

I’m honored that she calls me her’s.
I’m amazed that she still chooses me.
I can’t imagine a better partner for this journey of marriage that we are on together.

Till death do us part.

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