We sometimes surprise ourselves with how long we’ve been shooting weddings, especially when some weddings seem like they were just yesterday (or close to it). Such was with Heather & Brad’s wedding back in Northern Virginia. We’ve kept in touch over the years, done some family portraits (read: Day in the Life sessions) for their two adorable girls, and generally felt incredibly lucky to have gotten to know them. And of course to see them again at their friends’ Andrew & Julie’s wedding at the National Cathedral.
After over ten years of marriage, we thought it would be amusing and instructive to hear how their relationship has grown and changed with time. But first, a recent selfie of them now, with Rosalie & Opal.
What challenges have you both faced, and how did you handle them or learn from them?
Going into marriage, we knew that we would probably have difficulty getting pregnant. We were right. We investigated adoption, and also looked into fertility treatments. Those treatments led to absurd expenses, batteries of injections, and several medical procedures. Nevertheless, the costs proved small in the end, because from all of that came our first child, Opal. Three years later, we took what was likely our last chance at a second child, a chance our doctor estimated as being maybe a one-in-ten shot. We won big, and got our Rosie.
From this, we learned a great deal about how we handle heavy emotional stress and how we come together to make major decisions. We complement each other pretty well.
Have you had any unexpected joys?
Maybe this will sound strange, but no. We had a good idea of what to expect from and with one another, and our marriage has played out largely as expected. This is a fine thing.
Where has life found you since your wedding day? (Career, home, location, family status, etc.)
The large life markers haven’t changed. We live in the same house, which we bought just before the wedding. We remain on the same basic career trajectories we had then, though farther along.
Despite this, everything feels quite different, because our two children upended our lives in the way children always do. Priorities shift, expectations change, privacy and money evaporate.
(At this point we feel compelled to include one of our favorite moments from a recent Day in the Life session, ’cause we like it.)
Aside from the girls, the most significant change to our family status is that we lost both of our fathers. Brad’s father died of ALS in 2009, Heather’s father of a stroke in 2011.
What do you remember most about your wedding day when you look at your photos?
Heather: The strongest memory is that I wasn’t nervous during the wedding. I was nervous before, of course, but not during. The way we set up our wedding, I didn’t feel like on display. I wasn’t a center of attention and centerpiece for a big event, but instead surrounded by loved ones. That made it fun. I remember it being a lot of fun.
Brad: What I remember most was how it felt to have so many relatives and friends together, which was both satisfying and very difficult to pull off. Also, I remember how it felt less like a ritual and more like a celebration, which is exactly what we wanted. We had a great time, and the guests we spoke to all said the same. Oh, and the giant blond afro wigs. I remember those. We still have four or five of them.
Have the kids seen the wedding photos, and if so, what do they say about them?
They have, and they have one question and two observations. The question is “who’s that?” A lot of the people from the wedding are people we don’t see frequently anymore, so the kids have no idea who they are. One of their observations was how pretty Heather’s dress was, a non-standard wedding dress. She refused to “look like a meringue” and instead wore a custom dress in her favorite colors. Their other observation was how tiny their cousin is in the pictures. They know him as a thirteen year old who stands well over six feet tall, so they’re always amused to see him as a three year old.
Happy anniversary, you two!
This is the collage we created from their wedding…