Like so many I am excited for and anticipating the day I, too, can experience the joys that come with marriage!…
…Of course there will be hard times that come with the good times. There are unique challenges, triumphs, trials, laughter, tears, and a deep, intimate love relationship that can only be shared in the sanctity of marriage. (Ask anyone who’s been married even a few months and they’ll tell you that!) There are so many married couples in my life that I look up to and that have a special place in my heart. These are godly men and women who understand what is at the heart of marriage and the covenant they made with one another on that first day of the rest of their lives. Some are dear friends, some are mentors, some I’ve known for years and some for just a little while. They understand that marriage isn’t just about the ceremony on that big day (although it can be a ton of fun and a GREAT time of celebration!), but it’s a life-commitment to one another… for better or worse. They are not just the subjects of these photo shoots, but the inspiration behind them also.
As a wedding photographer, I am so blessed to get to help my clients up until and all throughout their wedding day, but rarely do I get to hear how their relationship is years down the road! Through these anniversary sessions, I hope you will see the love these couples have for each other and be inspired by their stories! I am asking them to share details from their wedding day and, more importantly, from their marriage since then. I want to know what it’s like on the other side of ever after. I want to know what gets easier? What gets harder? What they’ve learned from each other? About themselves? What is married life really like after 3 years? 10 years? 30 years?
I like to think of this 10th Anniversary Shoot as the first in a series of many styled shoots to come! Inspired by and thoughtfully designed around the traditional wedding anniversary gifts and flowers for each milestone year of marriage, this series is very personal and dear to my heart and I am VERY excited to finally share this session with you!
Setting the Scene: The Lord blessed us with an absolutely perfect March afternoon for a photo shoot. We set up in an open field in San Juan Capistrano dotted with orange trees. Old farmhouse style furniture, vintage tins, yellow glass and rustic accents from Archive Vintage Rentals really set the scene and felt ‘at home’ in our Orange County venue. The girls at Sugar Branch Events created some GORGEOUS floral arrangements (I wasn’t surprised… this is typical for them.) for tin containers of all shapes and sizes as well as a lovely bouquet and boutonniere for Frank and Karen! We started with natural, neutral colors and added pops of cheerful yellow to tie everything back to our featured flowers (daffodils) and maintain the old world-rustic feel for the shoot. Andie of Ditzie Cakes did an absolutely fabulous job with the Daffodil-inspired cakes (that’s right… there were two!), treats, and the styling of the entire dessert tablescape. Lots of galvanized old tin pieces, antique wooden crates, white serveware and wire baskets complimented the myriad of white and yellow home-made goodies beautifully.
(How perfect are those yellow cut-glass goblets, by the way!? And now for the stars of this post! …drum roll, please!)
Frank and Karen are the most generous couple I know. They give all of their time, love, and resources to help others for God’s glory… and they LOVE blessing people! God has given them sweet, giving hearts and playful, loving spirits. They have taught me a LOT about what it means to be an member of the body of Christ and how to use what I’ve been given to bless those around me. There is so much I could say about Frank and Karen and all of the wonderful ways God has used them in my life and the lives of others! But today, I want to know more about them.
After the shoot, I got to sit down with Frank and Karen and talk with them about their wedding and marriage…
Frank told me the whole story. Frank had been divorced for several years and had 2 young girls from his previous marriage. After a while, he began longing for a wife again. Over a period of two to three years, he kept asking the Lord anytime he met someone if it was the woman he was to marry. The Lord kept saying ‘no’ and to wait. Then, finally, in the fall of 2000, he met Karen at church (although they’d been going to the same church for about a year by then but had never met before).
He remembered seeing Karen alone there with her little girl and wondered if she was married and her husband just didn’t come to church… or if she wasn’t with her husband but was working things out with him… or if she was no longer with her husband at all… and if this was the woman God had for him? He found out through their pastor that Karen was available.
Frank: It was finally around New Years that I got up the courage to deliver a card to her. The Lord had put the scripture “God is in your midst and you shall not be moved” (Psalm 46:5) on my heart for her many many times, and I put it in that card.
And that verse was just what Karen needed at that time.
Through a long series of very intricately orchestrated events– including Children’s Ministry at church, Bible Study and getting to know each other better through that, Shannon (Karen’s daughter)’s birthday, LOTS of prayer, a verse, and completely surrendering Karen to the Lord–the Lord finally revealed to Frank that Karen was going to be his wife.
Frank: We were both going through similar things in life. We had both had come from marriages to unbelieving spouses, we both were trying to raise our kids as single parents, and we were both trying to seek the Lord and trust Him with our future… Karen and Shannon were both baptized at my house one day in late August of 2001 and I remember praying even then, “Lord, if it isn’t your will, if you would take this wonderful woman away from me and if she is not to be my bride, that I would submit to your will.” Well, it was about a week after that we started courting, and another week later I told her that I loved her…
Karen: …and after dinner, after he dropped me off at home, I told him I loved him, too. (she smiles)
Frank: We started marriage counseling with our pastor a couple of weeks after that.
Karen: And then at our December counseling session, our pastor said he couldn’t marry us before February of 2002! A little surprised (we were just expecting to schedule our next counseling appointment), I flipped through my planner past February and asked, “How about March 2nd?” Frank said it worked for him and our pastor said that would work for him too… so we started calling friends and family! (she laughs) Everyone was available, so we went forward with wedding plans. 3 Months… seriously! We had a 3 month engagement.
So Karen, we already know that Frank was head-over-heels for you when he saw you at church back in 2000. What was the main thing that you would say attracted you to Frank?
Karen: You know, it really was Christ in him. I don’t think I realized that at the time… it was just the characteristics that he was displaying to me in his care for me and how he wanted to minister to me as a single mom… the Lord just showed His love for me through Frank. When Frank first asked me to court him and I said ‘no,’ (that was in April 2001) it was just way too soon for me to be thinking about entering into another relationship. The Lord hadn’t done that work in my heart to prepare me for it yet. But between April and August, the Lord worked on my heart and, you know… our whole relationship from friendship to courting to engagement to marriage was just over a year.
Tell me about the wedding!
Frank: Well, we did the whole thing ourselves (planning, etc.) for about 325 people, over 125 of which were kids…it was a big wedding and a huge blessing.
Karen: …it wouldn’t have been our wedding if there weren’t kids around! Our kids were ages 7, 9, and 11 at the time. The wedding took place at Dove Canyon… it was beautiful.
What was the most memorable moment of your wedding day and/or something you could pick out of the day that made your wedding uniquely yous?
Karen: With my detail-oriented husband, there were a LOT of those things! (she laughs) …One of the sweetest moments was the look in his eyes when he saw me for the first time. We had pictured taken together before the wedding. I came up behind him and put my hands over his eyes until he was turned around and we were fully facing each other. When I took my hands away from his eyes, I could just see the love he had for me and just how excited he was for this day.
And I think as far as something very ‘us’ about the wedding that stands out in particular was our cake. It was one of the most amazing depictions of our life. It was created by It’s All About the Cake… (They still have the sample of it up in their shoppe!) …and had several different scenes displayed inside cut-outs in the layers of the cake, with cute little mice characters representing us and our 3 girls (Karen had one daughter and Frank had two from previous marriages). They incorporated our likes and hobbies and came up with an incredible piece! In the top layer on one side was a little groom mousey kneeling and praying with his bible open on his bed in his room, blue letter bible on his computer screen, and a cardinals banner on the wall. The other side had a bride mousey in a rocking chair reading an open bible on her lap, ice skates hanging on the wall, a bowling pin on the mantle, a Giants-Packers football game on TV (Giants winning, of course.)… I mean, it was just such a neat representation of our lives and our family.
What has been one of the hardest things for you since marriage?
Karen: The hardest thing has definitely been the submission. I was always more independent in the past and I think it’s our human nature to want to do things our way, especially as women. I think it’s part of the curse from ‘the fall’ in Genesis where the Lord says, “your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” When we would have a disagreement (or, dare I say, a fight) we would both say things that weren’t very kind, and I would leave the room with no intention of coming back to apologize… and if I did come back to apologize, Frank could tell I was reluctant and that my attitude wasn’t right.
But my submission to my husband actually turned into one of the best things in our marriage when I started listening to the Lord. It became the biggest blessing.
One example would be when, after a while, the Lord reminded me that Frank likes Earl Grey Tea. So when we had other disagreements, I started to going to the kitchen to make him a cup of tea. I wouldn’t say anything, but just bring it to him after our fight, like a little olive branch, you know, putting it out there as that balm that could ease some of the pain that my words had caused. That way, he could receive it and know that the Lord had showed me my own voice and my attitude… and that I knew I was in the wrong. We were able to talk things through much better after that and I could see more clearly that Frank had my best interest in mind. The Lord has helped me be able to joyfully submit to my husband.
(They are just so playful and fun with each other… I love that!)
Karen: One fun thing that I enjoy about Frank is that he incorporates movie lines into our marriage… into our everyday lives! It’s more old movies, like, Jane Austen and movies of that nature… well, and “What About Bob?”…I don’t know how those come together… (she laughs) but having so many aspects of our lives parallel those movie moments is fun… it’s enjoyable and we have fun with it.
(And that adorable little tin banner on the cake?! That was hand-crafted by the talented Andie of Ditzie Cakes, as well!)
(never knew desserts could look so good on a table!)
(Frank and Karen LOVE old books and antiques, so we incorporated a good deal of them into their shoot. We even got a photograph of them from their wedding day and put it in an old tin ceiling tile frame!)
(I kind of love stripey straws…)
(Ah! These are a couple of my favorites… Karen looks like an angel!)
(They are so PRECIOUS!!)
What would you say ‘marriage’ is or means to the two of you?
Karen: Basically, it’s an example of Christ’s love for the church. And at the time, I never really thought about that before. But I remember hearing Frank minister to a young man about whether or not to go into a more focused, serious relationship with this young lady, and his encouragement to him was to wait on the Lord and to be sure it’s what the Lord has for them. He said one of the most important ministries for a man is to be the leader of a family and making sure that his marriage, the way he loves his wife, follows the example of Christ’s love for the church.
What would you say to or what advice would you give to a couple either engaged or preparing for marriage?
Karen: No matter what stage they are in, without Jesus Christ, it’s going to be impossible to have joy all the time. Frank and I aren’t ‘happy’ all the time, but we are able to have joy all the time, even when we’re not happy, because we know the Lord did it. He put us together. And everything He does is good. I would tell them to seek after the Lord before entering into marriage to see if the Lord has them for each other. When you don’t have the Lord at the center of your marriage and you get into a severe argument or something, it would be easy to say ‘well, why did we even get married in the first place?’ Some may even start to think of divorce. But if you have Christ, that’s not even an option. You know that He brought you both together… A perfect God brought two sinners together and with that in our minds and hearts, we can work through and overcome anything… anything.
(Karen’s cape was actually part of her original wedding attire on their wedding day!)
Frank and Karen… thank you so much for listening to the Lord and letting Him use you both in big ways for His kingdom. I know you and your marriage to each other has blessed my life in countless ways and I look forward to looking to you both as examples of how I want my marriage to be… Christ-centered, godly, loving, and joyful even in the midst of pain and trials. Love you both soooo much!!
HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY, FRANK AND KAREN!!!!
Also, a BIG “Thank You” to the vendors involved, making this shoot a stylish success: Ditzie Cakes (dessert table, treats, styling, and overall collaboration), Sugar Branch Events (floral arrangements, fresh daffodils, bouquet, and boutonniere), Archive Vintage Rentals (furniture, rentals, accessories, plates, glassware, tins and books), Nordstrom (Karen’s Dress), Megan Tracy (personal assistant)