I was at a wedding recently where the minister said something rather odd.
The ceremony had been smooth, no one tripped and despite their self doubt, the ring bearers made it down the aisle just fine. The bride and groom were center stage, eyes locked and hearts fixed on every word being shared. The minister was wrapping up the ceremony and offered advice I had never heard at a wedding before. He looked at the couple and in all seriousness said, “I hope today is the worst day of your marriage.”
As you can imagine, the room got mega quiet.
He continued, “I hope it’s the worst day of your life because I hope every day forward is the best day of your life.”
He added something profound about how when you sign up for forever with someone, it would stink that the first day of your marriage is the best and the rest just go downhill.
I think there’s a truth in that; truth a bride-to-be can often overlook.
Reflecting on the other side of my own wedding day, one year later, I can’t help but feel overwhelming nostalgia about the whole affair. My heart wants to relive the day over and over again. Yet, staying stuck in the past does a great disservice to the present — it makes each day pail in comparison to the wedding day. And I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t vow to marriage just so each day could go downhill. Quite the opposite, actually.
So when my husband and I reflected on our first year of marriage, we wanted to celebrate our anniversary with gratitude for the day that sealed the deal, and excitement for the “better” days ahead.
We came up with lots of ideas. Our friends did too. With only so much time in a day, we chose a few things from the list — but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the list with anyone looking to commemorate their love.
Whether you’re marking 1 year, 1 decade, or 1 lifetime of marriage, here are 7 ideas to celebrate your anniversary.
01 / VOW RENEWAL
Hear me out: vow renewals don’t have to be reserved for large milestones. They also don’t have to be in a venue, or follow any sort of agenda. Your love will deepen as the years go by, and the things you vowed on your wedding day to deserve to be remembered.
My husband and I decided to escape to the woods for our one year vow renewal. We packed up our camper van, woke up at sunrise and made bacon and coffee around a bonfire. We wrote reflections looking back on the past year of marriage, and promises to guide our year ahead. We hired a photographer and exchanged sentiments in the trees. It was intimate, sacred, lovely.
We intend to do a vow renewal of sorts every year from here on out; forming a unique celebration for each year passed. We hope to make some of them open to guests, perhaps a dinner party, or brunch, other years might look like whispers in pj’s over a candle in the living room. Either way, love deserves to be celebrated. We would highly recommend jumping at the idea every chance you get.
02 / WEDDING MUNCHIES
If you are more the “way to my heart is through my stomach” kinda person, then this might just be the perfect option for you. Consider calling up your caterer to see if they would be willing to whip up your wedding meal for two. If it was from a restaurant, even better! Book a romantic night out and sample your wedding meal all over again.
If that feels like too much, why not a slice or two of that wedding cake? Put in a special order in with your baker or spend an evening recreating your dessert table together. This option hits the nostalgia hard with a tasty stroll down memory lane—what could be sweeter?
03 / YES DAY
Imagine one day where you only say yes — and it’s all for love.
Your partner asks for breakfast in bed: yes!
You ask for a foot massage: yup!
Wanna watch this movie? Sure thing.
A makeout sesh? You betcha.
For some of you, this might look like a normal date night. But for the indecisive partner (me!) it could be an intentional way to give one another the reins on decision making, and practice selflessly bouncing back and forth the activities the whole day.
04 / RELIVE THE DAY
Now this might be an obvious one, but as a wedding photographer myself I can’t tell you how much this one means to me. Something sparks in the heart when you pull up your wedding photos and take them in again, one at a time.
For us, we noticed moments we had completely forgotten about! It prompted us to call our loved ones and thank them once more for being a part of our marriage. It also made us all kinds of teary-eyed. You’ve been warned.
One idea is to order prints a few weeks before the anniversary, then do some old fashioned scrapbooking together. Another is to screen your wedding film.
This is the perfect time prep a charcuterie board and rewatch your ceremony or highlight video. What was a big deal then that you giggle at now? What do you notice this time? Who was there that you miss? Give them a call, give your lover a squeeze, and feel the joy of that day all over again.
05 / PHOTO TRADITIONS
Some friends of ours recreate a photo from their wedding day, every year. Yeah, sounds like a bit of work, but oh, is it worth it!
They make it a date, grabbing new outfits that reflect their year together, some balloons that represent the number of years marked, and set their camera up on a tripod. The results? An adorable visual to hold onto and pass on.
06 / GO ON AN ADVENTURE
I get it, this one’s a no brainer. However, it often gets overlooked due to money or lack of time. The beauty of adventuring, however, is that you get to decide how big or small you want to go.
If you are near a city, why not plan a day downtown? Maybe set up a scavenger hunt for your partner, or create a passport of things neither of you have tried yet. Limited by budget? Try escaping to a state or metro park for a picnic, some light reading, or a slow dance to your wedding song. You could go as big as an Alaskan cruise, or as small and intimate like backyard stargazing. The goal is to get out in nature and reconnect with the love of your life. The rest is up to you.
07 / PAMPER YOUR PERSON
Now this might sound backwards, but what if you spent your anniversary apart? For some, that’s a no go, but for others, a little you-time TLC can be the most relaxing way to reflect on this year of marriage. Maybe you both plan a relaxing hour for the other, giving them the time and space to refresh on their own. That could look like booking a massage for your spouse, a round of golf, a nail appointment, a bourbon tasting, etc. This could be a surprise for your person or you could do it together! Whatever you choose, putting your person first is sure to brighten up their day a little extra.
One crisp evening that feels like yesterday, I was surrounded by half-finished wedding decor, a scribbled out to-do list and shoveling honeymoon outfits into a suitcase.
Today, over one year later, I popped some champagne with my husband to celebrate one year of marriage. The lists were gone, the wedding day whirlwind had faded, and all that was present was this real life commitment sipping bubbly in front of me.
With every moment in marriage we have a choice. We hope to choose love, choose each other, and choose celebration at every turn. We have the choice every day to make it the best day ever, and to one day look back at our wedding day and go “that was the worst day of our marriage!”
Here’s to your today, the best day yet.
This blog post was originally published in Season's Journal.
Photographs by Shadowed Images.