I sat in the living room of my parent's house with my eyes glued to my computer screen. It was late, but sleeping was a struggle and a better use of my time than crying seemed to be editing. So I sat in a big comfy chair and I set my eyes on the young couple in front of me - giddy, full of life, excited for the future, and passionately in love.
In that moment, I knew that I had to make a decision.
See, I had seen life trample over love. I had seen burnout leave gaping holes in marriages and families. I had experienced crisis and grief and betrayal. My heart was disillusioned and disappointed. Honestly, I wasn't quite sure if I even believed in love, marriage, and meaningful relationships.
But in the moment of looking into the faces of young love, I had a choice to make. I could become bitter and angry and give up on it all. It was a very real option. However, that would leave me as a really lousy wedding and couple photographer. Faking my views on love and marriage would leave me making fake work, something that I've never wanted to do.
I knew that night that I needed to make the choice to believe in marriage. To believe in love. To believe that two people can come together and actually be better because of their union. To have hope that yeah, it's going to happen to me too and it's going to be beautiful and wild and so worth the risk.
The decision that I made in that moment would determine my future in both my personal life and career. In the months to come, wedding inquiries found their way to my inbox and dates filled up on my calendar. I wound up neck deep in weddings. Seniors and families have taken the backseat as my Saturdays have been filled with road trips, dance floors, and a whole lot of tears.
And it all made me laugh.
I kept talking to God about it and telling Him that He must think He's really funny. Sure, take the girl who has struggled to believe in romantic love and put her in charge of preserving ooey-gooey-googly-eyed-couples' special days... nothing could go wrong with that. But I took it one wedding at a time as I cried my way through almost every single one of the ceremonies I was a witness to. I found my heart getting healed a little bit more with each couple who showed me their story.
Weddings, marriage, and love are not just flighty fancy little things: they are a big.freaking.deal. Two people choosing to keep choosing each other every single day for the rest of their lives is huge. This wedding day, it's a promise and it's forever. That's really crazy, but really beautiful.
In the last year, I've gained an appreciation of marriage and weddings that is very different than most young, single photographers. There are still areas I do not understand because I have not yet lived it (and being a single wedding photographer is it's whole own struggle...), but I've come to see that what I do is not just take photos and a wedding is not just an event.
My calling is to see you loved and blessed on your day. I get to celebrate and cry and put my whole heart into what's going on and the weighty significance of it all. I pray like crazy over every single couple I work with and whether or not you believe in God, know that I'm speaking blessings over your life and your marriage. I pray that none of my couples ever taste the sting of divorce in a world that treats marriage as temporary.
As I approach planning out 2016 weddings and looking ahead to what the future holds for LIV Photography and myself, I am reminded that this wedding photography thing is not just a job, an industry, or a business: it's a ministry, a choice, and a calling.