Written & photographed by Allison of This Lovely Light
I remember moving into a new apartment in a new city with no one but my new husband just days after our wedding. We made the decision we wanted to start our new married life together in a new place. You know — make all new friends, start all new jobs, all at once, just as people do. We were young, in love, and totally crazy. We had spent the last year and a half planning one day of our lives, and that day was over. It was time to get this newly wedded life figured out.
Fast forward nearly a decade to just last night. As we watched our baby playing with her new Christmas toys, my husband looked at me and said, “Remember that little apartment in Pittsburgh? That was nice.”
And nice it was.
I look back on those days so fondly. We were completely broke with cars that, on a good day, got us to work and back safely. We came home to just 700 square feet and a Netflix subscription, and ate dinner on our coffee table while The Office played on repeat.
Now, we’re homeowners and parents (who are still watching The Office on repeat.) We have cars that run every day, and we even have our own dining room table. Some days it feels like everything has changed. But those first months in a new place as a married couple really shaped who we’ve become as partners and teammates. We made tough decisions about our careers and our futures there. We made lifelong friendships and fell in love with our now favorite weekend getaway city. That time shaped us like nothing else could have.
Not everyone is lucky (crazy) enough to experience their first few years of marriage the way we did. Most of the couples I work with come back to the same home they had been living in together and jobs they had been working, so it’s easy to feel like nothing has changed. But I believe that a wedding changes everything. It’s the most beautiful, sacred promise you can make to another human being and it deserves to be recognized. A marriage is the ultimate level up.
I care so much about my clients’ weddings being everything they’ve dreamt of, but I care more about using that day as a catalyst for successful days and years to come.
These are some easy ways that you can set each other up for success long after the dance floor closes.
1.Don’t go into debt for your wedding.
Pretty basic, right? Wedding expenses can add up quicker than you think. First, you’re pricing out champagne bottles for the toast and next thing you know, the champagne fountain will be here Tuesday. Learning how to be married comes with a whole new set of challenges that, chances are, neither of you have experienced before. Financial strain caused by your wedding shouldn’t have to be one of those.
If you’d rather have an intimate wedding with stunning photos in your favorite location than a big party with 200 of your closest friends, first of all, call me, and second — do it! You’ll save some money and have a story to tell your kids one day. If including all the people you love is more your style, but you can’t afford a plated dinner for everyone, opt for a brunch wedding! Less expensive, just as wonderful.
Make decisions that make sense for your finances, and at the risk of skipping ahead here, invest your money in things that last - photos, video, and anything that creates a moment you won’t forget.
2. Use planning decisions as practice for your marriage.
A proposal can feel like the starting pistol to what can only be described as a marathon of decision-making. From the fundamentals like date and venue, to the subtleties like cake flavor and signature cocktails, the options never end. As a glass half full kind of girl, I like to think of this as the dress rehearsal for a lifetime of cooperative and collaborative decision-making.
The season surrounding your wedding is filled with more opinions from more directions than any other time in your life. Guests will have thoughts on menu choices, at least one of your bridesmaids will complain about the dress color you’ve chosen, and mom will have opinions about all of it.
Don’t let the weight of these decisions cloud the reason you’re making them.
Prioritize your spouse and his or her wishes every step of the way.
Does your husband-to-be really love Salmon even if it’s not a crowd favorite? Put it on the menu! The soon to be Mrs. loves the color yellow? Tell those girls to put on that sunshine dress and smile about it because it’s YOUR day. (Or my favorite option, just ditch the bridal party altogether!)
Every decision made for your wedding is an opportunity to show your partner that you value them. Although at a much slower pace, your future together will be full of choices - from the city you live in, to the house you buy, to the way you raise your children together. By showing your partner that their input matters to you more than anyone else’s, you’re setting yourselves up for a lifetime of healthy decision making.
3. Focus on your Future.
My husband and I had been dating for about 4 years when he proposed to me. I don’t remember many of the things he said that day because I was a nervous, excited wreck, but I do remember that as he pulled out the most beautiful ring, he asked if I was ready to start our Chapter 2.
A wedding isn’t just the end of an engagement. It’s the very beginning of a whole new life together. It’s the first warm day with the windows rolled down, the opening note to your favorite song, and your first taste of grandma’s banana cream pie. It’s a life filled with higher highs and lower lows than you’ve ever experienced together before. It’s the starting point to what’s next.
I love when my couples choose to incorporate pieces of their dating relationship into their wedding, but I love it even more when their carefully curated details look towards the future. One of my favorite “guest books” I’ve seen was a gorgeous cookbook from the restaurant where they had their first date. They asked all their guests to sign pages of the cookbook so as they made the recipes together, they could read what their guests had written. This was both an homage to their first date (past) and a look towards their future.
There are so many ways to incorporate your marriage into your wedding. I’ve seen couples ask guests to write down anniversary date ideas and each year they choose a suggestion from those cards. Guests have signed a wine bottle that they’ll open on their first anniversary, or ask their grandparents to say a word about successful marriage. Your loved ones want you to succeed and, in my experience, they’re always happy to hop on board the supportive train.
Your wedding day is a comparatively small investment into the lifetime of marriage you’re about to embark on. Let every decision you make together point towards the future you want to create.
About This Lovely Light
I’m Allison. A tea drinker & a documentary watcher. A homebody & a comfy clothes wearer. A storyteller & a lover of change. I share my house with my handsome husband, Stephen and our baby girl, Freya. We’ve always got music playing, candles burning, and if you stay too long we'll invite you to play board games. I’m a wedding photographer for the ones who care more about their marriage than their wedding, photographing real people just being themselves, because I believe that's the most beautiful thing there is.