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Marriage and Christmas Trees

I sat there and stared at the tree the whole time he was talking. As a whole it was gorgeous but when you looked from a certain angle, there was a spot that was dark and looked empty, and I couldn’t stand it. We had decorated the Christmas tree the day before and thought it looked perfect, until I saw this spot and couldn’t stop thinking about how changing one ornament would fix the whole thing. I waited until everyone’s attention was onto something else, and then I quickly ran over and switched the red snowflake for the gold ball. Whew! Much better.

 

You see, this pre-lit tree had been around for ages, and every year more and more lights decide they just won’t shine. So my husband wrapped a new string of lights around it, and he dispersed it quite well. In fact, we didn’t see this particular dark spot the whole time we were decorating it. We hung ornaments for at least an hour and never noticed it. But when the lights got low and we stepped away to look from a different perspective, the darkness was glaring.

 

With all the ornaments already in place, we wouldn’t be able to restring the lights, so I kept looking at the dark spot, knowing it needed something light. Yes, there was an ornament there filling the “hole” but it blended in too well and didn’t accentuate the lights around it, so from afar it still looked empty.  A simple change to a gold ball was all that was needed to reflect the light to make that area brighter.

 

Ever notice when you’re decorating the tree (or working on anything detailed anything for that matter: a drawing, painting a wall, or arranging a room) how many times you have to take several steps back and look from a new angle. Ever have that shocking moment of “Ew, what was I thinking?” when you see it from afar? Sometimes, you have to start from scratch and often a simple switch will do. Maybe I’m too picky, but I tend to fixate on a bare spot or a jumbled spot – or maybe it’s two ornaments of the same color too close to each other.

 

Changing your perspective helps you to see things you wouldn’t see otherwise.

From afar you will see the whole picture, while close up you begin to see the details better. Which limb to hang the ornament on where it will rest into the perfect spot. Or a crack in an ornament that leads you to replace it or fix it. But from afar, those bare spots truly do stand out, don’t they?

 

The Christmas tree taught me a lot about marriage that day. It taught me how important perspective is. While getting close allows you to place the ornaments just so, sometimes when you step back you realize you need to change some of the ones you placed. Maybe taking some away, switching them for different colors, or adding some into bare spots.

Because of this, I’m encouraged to take a step back and evaluate my marriage. What areas are my husband and I too busy in? What areas are we lacking? Are we too fixated on one thing so that we can’t see a dark area? If I do see a dark spot, can I add light in? So this all leads me to ask of my marriage: how can we diversify, use and place the giftings we’ve each been given so that our marriage is beautiful from every angle?

 

Maybe our schedule is too filled with work and needs more fun. Maybe we are too enveloped in our phones and need to have conversations with each other instead. Is it possible I haven’t shown appreciation for all he does and there’s a dark spot that needs a gold ball? Or there’s a hurt that is still cracked and needs to be glued so it doesn’t shatter?  

 

Friends, as silly as it sounds to say: marriage IS like a Christmas tree. Marriage can be inspiringly beautiful. It can remind us of the best in us. It can be reflective of who you are, and it can let God shine through it. But marriage also requires regular attention. Intentional attention. It needs daily maintenance for the small things, like a string of lights or a broken ornament. And it needs a look from another angle to evaluate every so often and ensure there are no dark spots. You might get the opinion of a trusted godly friend or counselor to see if it’s lopsided and about to fall.

 

Remember, just as no two Christmas trees are exactly alike, no two marriages are exactly alike. What worked for your friends may not work just the same for you. You have your own tree (that you’ve had for years or that you cut yourself fresh each year). You have your own lights (colorful or bright white). And your very own ornaments that fit you and only you.

 

You and your spouse have to build and decorate together, and you have to evaluate it together. Get close. Talk to each other. And always get a fresh look by stepping back and looking through love, and then you can work together to address the needs you see. Don’t just notice the dark spots and point them out, find some light to add in. Just like a glowing tree, I bet it’ll end up being its own kind of beautiful.

 

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Caitlyn & Ben – Rustic and Elegant Fall Wedding in the Heart of Cookeville, Tennessee

A girl from Tennessee and a boy from South Carolina met in Colorado. She was a nurse, he was in the military. It must have been fate, because they’re a truly perfect match. Their wedding day wasn’t like all the rest. Sure, it followed the routine of a normal wedding day, but what this one had sprinkled all throughout, was personality. Caitlyn and her family are fun-loving and very close knit. Ben and his groomsmen were all military special forces, so you’d think there would be little emotion…and you’d be wrong. This couple and their families and friends shed more tears than we’ve seen all year, and we loved how special their day was.

The day started at the bride’s home in the middle of downtown Cookeville, where all the girls helped her get ready – including her pup. After the giggles of the dress going on, we walked downstairs to an emotional father-daughter first look. Though they use humor and silliness to fight the tears, it was clear this daddy/daughter duo is tight. We saw the emotions yet again when Caitlyn walked down the aisle to Ben. He was overwhelmed at the sight of his gorgeous bride who was already fighting to keep her composure during the walk down the stairs at the beautiful and special Dogwood Park. Their ceremony was packed with meaning and we love that they pulled in the Colorado feel with aspens and fall color on this chilly and perfect October day.

The reception was one of the most fun we’ve seen, and because everyone who was invited was such close friends of the family, everyone got their groove on and hung out with these guys until nearly midnight – dancing, eating and celebrating. A light-saber tunnel and vintage car exit were all that was left to wrap the day up with just the right amount of fun and elegance. Even as I write this I know my words will never compare to the feelings of this very special day, so hopefully the photos will portray the love the way it deserves. Enjoy…

 

Burying the bourbon is a tradition not widely recognized in the south, but it was fun to see Ben dig it up and share a toast with the bridal party

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Stacie & Trey – Stylish and Romantic Fall Wedding at the Saltbox in Cookeville Tennessee

Stacie and Trey had the epitome of a perfect wedding day. They are both so incredibly kind and friendly. We felt connected from the first time we met them and it made the wedding day that much better. These two had friends and family travel from several states away just to see them say “I Do.”

A fall wedding at the Saltbox Inn and Stables in Cookeville is a wonderful occasion. The trees like to show off with color and the grounds are pretty everywhere you go. With elegance stepped up a notch, Stacie paired lace and roses with chandeliers and the Rolls Royce. Trey could do no wrong, and the first look was precious as well. Bridal party? You guessed it – perfection. And the vendors were all familiar which is always a welcome sight for a photographer. Not to mention a perfect forecast!

This day truly couldn’t have gone better, and there’s not a more deserving couple than these two adorable souls. Of course, my words can never encompass the joy and beauty quite like photographs can, so here are the highlights from the day. When you get to the dancefloor, go ahead and turn some music on, because I feel like you’ll want to dance along. (If you’re not sure what to play, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” is always a good go-to!

This first dance was one for the record books. So romantic!

Stop right here…

Look at the tears streaming down her  grandfather’s face while dancing with her grandmother. If you’re on your phone, ZOOM IN…

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

(photo credit = Brandon)

They didn’t want the party to end, but the sparklers beckoned!

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Katie & Josh – Cozy Rainy Fall Engagement Session in Gainesboro, Tennessee

It was time to leave for the session, but we were on the phone with our clients who we should be meeting in only 45 minutes. The weather had tricked us and turned into rain at the last minute. As we each looked at our calendars to reschedule, suddenly, she said “If it won’t hurt your cameras, let’s just do them in the rain!”  Our cameras are weather sealed, we had a clear umbrella, and so we put our boots on and out we went, in the dreary, cool fall weather that decided to arrive just a day too soon. I’ll admit, there are less options when it’s raining but the forecast was just uncertain enough that we thought we just MIGHT be ok, so off we went to the cutest state park in Gainesboro, Tennessee. This was a special spot for Katie and Josh, and though we had never seen it, we trusted that it had plenty to work with, especially since we didn’t have to contend with bright sun (*the best of times, the worst of times*).

Katie and Josh met at Tennessee Tech and joined the swing dance club where they have danced together ever since. Now over 6 years later, they’re dancing into forever with a wedding next May. Their engagement session proved to us a few things: 1) that they were people of their word, 2) that they can make the best of any situation as long as they’re together (i.e. they don’t complain), and 3) that they love to have fun and be silly!

This session was perfect (even if I had a crisis in my head about a possible downpour) and we used trees to cover us so that even when it did sprinkle, it didn’t flatten Katie’s nice hairdo. You’ll note some subtle rain in the background several images – raindrops were even visible in the lake). We avoided most of the sprinkles until the end when we broke out the trusty clear umbrella, which made for lovely intimate photos as well.

We truly loved our time with this couple and hated for it to come to an end, but we’ll have another whole day with them on their wedding day, and we truly can’t wait for what is in store for them!

Josh designed this ring (as well as the box he used to carry it to the proposal.) How amazing!

“We wish the leaves had changed so it looks more like fall.” – them

“Oh girl, believe us, this will still look like fall.” – us

Can’t get over this ring design. Way to go Josh!

Check out our instagram for the BTS of me laying on the concrete dock for this shot…You know we just had to end by “Dancing in the Rain” – for real though…

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Anna & Blake – Sweet Family Farm Fall Wedding in Carthage, Tennessee

Anna and Blake’s wedding day was one of the smoothest, most laid back we’ve ever seen. As you can imagine, this made some people very happy (photographers included). Because Anna has known us for several years, she completely trusted us, and Blake had no hesitations either – even if photos aren’t his thing :) We had a perfect day with the leaves just thinking about changing, and the overcast sky brought a low wind which cooled things down to remind us it was fall. Brandon and I joked that we each had the easier of the groups, but truth be told both the groomsmen and the bridesmaids were phenomenal to work with. We are so happy that Anna had the wedding of her dreams and that Blake got his bride. They both smiled more on this day than we’ve ever seen them smile before, because the day was finally here when they publicly and proudly declared their love to each other for the rest of their lives.

All of the details were lovely and well thought out. There were family heirlooms and special touches all around, and these two stripped the fluff to focus on what was most important – family, friends, and their commitment to each other. Here are a few of our favorite memories from this beautiful  day.

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