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I’m about to get a little sappy, friends, and I’m not even ashamed of it.

No matter how many photos I’ve seen of anniversary sessions, I will literally never tire of them.

That’s because one of the most cherished dreams of my life is reaching old age with my husband, because that means we will have had the opportunity to live all of those years alongside each other – something that not everyone is so lucky to do.

If I am granted those years, I can’t help but think that I’ll look at the age spots on both of our hands with tenderness instead of regret or disgust (reactions which seem so common in our youth-obsessed culture). Those age spots will mean we’re still by each other’s side, holding each other’s hands. And in a world where it seems so easy for things to go wrong even for people who do everything right, that is nothing short of a miracle.

Friends, please enjoy these anniversary photos of Judi and Dave, by their friend, photographer Hannah Forsberg. And don’t miss the thoughts from all three of them, sprinkled throughout!

From Hannah: In a culture that often treats love and marriage as disposable, Judi and Dave are a couple that have a beautiful and rare story of just the opposite. Not only are they such a joy to be around and wonderful mentors, but they are also dear friends. I’ve had the privilege of watching their marriage for years and the way they love each other unconditionally is an inspiration and testament to the popular verse that is so often recited during weddings — “love never fails.”

While getting coffee with Judi and hearing her advice on love and marriage, I realized that I needed to share their story with the world. During the wedding planning process, it is so easy in this visually-driven society we live in to become caught up in the things that will pass away – forgetting that your marriage is what matters most and that it is hard work. Love goes beyond the wedding day. You only have your venue for a few hours, your flowers will fade, your wedding dress will go into storage, and your wedding album will be sitting on your living room table. But your marriage? That is what matters most and that is what will have the lasting effect. I hope that these images serve as a reminder that love is a commitment – a commitment of humility, patience, and forgiveness.

From Dave: Judi and I met in Cheyenne, Wyoming where I was serving in the Air Force and Judi was attending stewardess training for United Airlines. It was a short four and a half weeks of getting to know one another, but in that short time, we fell in love and promised to marry each other. The only obstacle was I had an overseas commitment left in my tour of duty. I was sent to Puerto Rico, and we began writing letters to each other every day for the next two years until I finished my tour of duty. After I was able to obtain leave of service, we became engaged over a New Year’s weekend on January 1st, 1963 at 12:01am. We married that same year in September after I was discharged.

What was important to both of us was to be together after waiting and being separated by distance for almost two years. We had hardly any money, so our wedding day was very simple. We loved each other, and that is what mattered. Our wedding was one bridesmaid, a borrowed wedding dress, and one best man in a church in Judi’s home town of Downers Grove, Illinois.

My favorite thing about Judi is that she loves learning and is very diligent in her pursuits. She makes wise choices with her gift of creativity, which is shown in every room in our home. She is always industrious, and I love telling others how much of a Proverbs 31 woman she has become in our almost 55 years of marriage. She works hard, plans ahead, respects me greatly, is a wise counselor, and is a wonderful model of a Godly woman.

From Judi: What I love about Dave is that he is a patient man, asks good questions, and is not a rash decision maker. I have learned a lot from him. He is conservative by nature, orderly and thorough at everything he does. I trust him implicitly. He is kind and generous and has given me a lot of freedom to develop my interests without demanding anything from me. Of course, this causes me to want to serve and love him more. The most honest thing that I can say about love is that love is learned behavior. It can be romantic, but often it is just living and serving each other, working together toward healthy living with family, children, parents, in-laws, etc. The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years and give as advice to other couples is to accept each other and don’t try to change the person. Pray for your spouse, ask God to make changes in YOU, and let God move your spouse’s heart.

Photographer: Hannah Forsberg | Film Lab: The Find Lab | Florist: Ginger Rose | Hair stylist and makeup artist: Erin Ryser | Calligraphy: Morphosis Studio | Cake: Gingerspice Bakery | Lace Top: BHLDN

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    What a sweet couple! They are indeed lucky to have had each other for such a great period of time. My husband and I were high school sweethearts who went our separate ways but came back together and blended 2 families. We knew we not might see 25 years but we are praying for 20 as he battles cancer. To all the sweet, young brides I say follow Judi’s wisdom and be thankful for every day since we are only promised today.

  2. avatar Sara Dunn reply

    Oh my gosh! What gorgeous photos. Don’t apologize for getting sappy, this is so beautiful. I hope my husband and I can do this 43 years from now ;)

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For our tenth anniversary issue, we chose to do something we’d never done before: stage and shoot an editorial themed around an anniversary instead of a wedding day. Though we’d never done it before, few things could be closer to our heart: after all, we’re always reminding you that planning for a wedding is about more than just planning to walk down the aisle, and that the best is yet to come!

For this piece, we imagined a couple gathering their nearest and dearest to celebrate ten years of growing together. Our friend Rhiannon Bosse, a consummate celebrator, was the perfect person to pull the details together and infuse them with heart. She also wrote a short essay for the magazine sharing why celebrations of all stripes are important, so do pick up a copy to read that!

Thanks to Jake + Heather for capturing this evening to perfection, and to all of the vendors who brought this look to life!

Stunning in its simplicity, this suite by A Fine Press is one of my favorites we’ve ever featured in the magazine. I love how the X design subtly references ten years!

Maybe you’d wear your wedding dress again in a heartbeat, or maybe you’re confused why you ever chose it — either way, an anniversary celebration is another happy opportunity to wear a white dress, if you’d like! Rock a poufy tulle skirt if that’s your style, or opt for a sleek, chic lace number like this Watters dress.

Isn’t this pocket square boutonniere stunning? I’d never seen one before this shoot! That Rhi — always innovating :)

While a city location is different from our usual fare at Southern Weddings, cities are a part of the South’s landscape, too! I love that we were able to show off the beautiful skyline of Raleigh with this celebration.

Yep, that’s our beautiful Editor-in-Chief Kristin and her sweet husband Kyle! We couldn’t think of anyone better to stand in for our couple celebrating many happy years of marriage :)

Y’all, the food at this shoot. SO GOOD. Belle’s Catering blew us (and our guests!) away with their modern interpretations of Southern classics. The menu included Dixie Poutine and Sriracha fried chicken and pickle biscuit sliders to start, pickled shrimp salad, and plates of braised short ribs, chicken and waffle skewers, and hoppin’ John blackeyed pea cakes to pass family style.

This is one of my favorite ideas we featured, for an anniversary party or any other special sit-down meal. Lead your guests to their seats with personal notes enclosed in glassine envelopes. Use it as an opportunity to tell them how much they mean to you — you can never hear or say those words enough!

Totally dreamy!

In honor of ten years, Ashley Cakes whipped up ten petite cakes, each with a different white-on-white look. We displayed them beautifully on a piece from Cottage Luxe, whose aesthetic is a perfect fit for this editorial!

See more from this editorial in Southern Weddings 10, in our shop and on newsstands now!

Planner, Stylist, and Florals: Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations | Photography: Jake + Heather | Film Processing: PhotoVision | Venue: SkyHouse Raleigh | Stationery: A Fine Press | Caterer: Belle’s Catering | Cakes: Ashley Cakes | Rentals: Cottage Luxe | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Hair and Makeup: LULA Hair + Makeup | Bride’s Dress: “Lenora” by Watters | Clutch and Shoes: BHLDN | Jewelry: Bailey Banks & Biddle | Groom’s Attire: Bonobos

Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations, Ashley Cakes, Cottage Luxe, and LULA Hair + Makeup are lovely members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
9 Comments
  1. avatar Rhiannon reply

    It was an absolute honor and pleasure spearheading this project with you, Emily and team SW! What a beautiful end result, and perfect way to celebrate a gorgeous 10th anniversary issue!

    • avatar Catherine reply

      We couldn’t love your work more, Rhi! Thanks for being an SW gal with us. :)

  2. avatar On Cloud Ten :: Rhiannon Bosse reply

    […] concept behind our efforts? A tenth year anniversary vow renewal with a couple that more than anything values marriage, tradition, celebration, and legacy. The […]

  3. avatar Shana Adams reply

    This is incredible!! Bravo Southern Weddings!

  4. avatar Stephanie Shaul reply

    What a breath of fresh air this editorial is! The celebration of marriage is simply beautiful, and I adore all of the subtle nods incorporated throughout. You can tell each and every detail is so thoughtfully curated and meaningfully chosen… and what really shines through is the JOY and focus on love + community. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!

    • avatar Catherine reply

      Thank you so much, Stephanie! This is beautifully articulated. This is what we aim to achieve in everything we do! We’re so thankful to have you in the SW family. :)

  5. avatar Au Revoir 2017 :: Rhiannon Bosse reply

    […] brought the release of the 10th issue of Southern Weddings Magazine! And I was very honored to have our editorial featured in a special back of the book piece […]

  6. avatar 9 Reflections on The Royal Wedding :: Rhiannon Bosse reply

    […] the photos shown here are obviously not from the Royal wedding but instead are from this Southern Weddings editorial I had the pleasure of planning and designing in 2017. The bouquet I created entirely out of lily of […]

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Friends, today is my fifth wedding anniversary! You may have caught my ongoing Instagram stories party, where I’ve been sharing some of my favorite photos from different parts of our celebration (if not, you can always see the full feature here and here!). I love celebrating an anniversary because not only does it give me an excuse to pull out my wedding album, watch our wedding film, and go out to dinner with my best friend (yum!), it’s an opportunity to stop and reflect.

An anniversary is the perfect time to cheer yourselves on (something I think is so important!), to remind yourselves of everything you love about the person you married, and to give thanks for all the ways your life is better for having your partner in it.

Like a new year, an anniversary is also a time to consider ways you might be able to improve. John and I are far from perfect, but we have done a few things right in our first five years of marriage. Today I wanted to share five, in the hopes that they might be an encouragement to you!

1. We draw strength from something outside of ourselves. One of the most beautiful things about marriage is that it’s a place where your ugly can show, and you’ll be loved, unconditionally, despite it. That being said, I know I’d be a much more selfish, unforgiving, ungracious, record-keeping wife without a Father who is continually calling me to die to myself and love others as I’ve been loved. We would not have the marriage we do without our faith.

2. We’re willing to change. When I think of the couples I know who have gotten divorced, it’s very rarely because of something dramatic and awful. Usually, the answer is something along the lines of “we drifted apart” or “he’s not the same person I married.” This seems kind of strange to me, because wouldn’t you expect someone to change over time?! Stanley Hauerwas, quoted in Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage, says it well: “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing that it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered into it.”

When change comes, John and I have committed to growing towards each other. Towards each other, not away from each other, and not side by side. We expect each other to change (as high school sweethearts, it was inevitable!), and when we do we (imperfectly) seek to understand it and grow along with it.

3. We trust in our relationship without reservation. This is a hallmark of our particular marriage. We’ve never given each other a reason to doubt it, and so we’ve never been tempted to do so. We don’t treat our love for each other like it’s conditional, or could be threatened to be taken away, or withheld as a bargaining chip. Even if we are angry or frustrated, at bedrock, we both know without a doubt that we are acting from a place of unshakeable love.

4. We don’t ask the other to fulfill needs they can’t. This one can be so hard, friends! While my and John’s lives are deeply, inextricably entwined, we try to take responsibility for our own happiness first instead of looking to the other to fulfill every emotional need. Practically speaking, for us, that means building an inner confidence, maintaining equilibrium through each other’s bad days (you have to put on your own oxygen mask first!), and again, going to God to be reminded of our true worth.

5. We enjoy each other. You know that saying, find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life? I like to switch it up a bit: marry your best friend, and you’ll never work a day in your marriage. That, of course, is not entirely true — even the best marriages have harder days and easier days — but if you truly LIKE your partner, and love spending time with him or her more than anyone else, everything else seems to fall into place. One of our favorite ways to be reminded of how much we like each other is going on evening walks together – we are totally on T.J.’s bandwagon!

Whether you’re celebrating your first or fiftieth anniversary, know I’m cheering you on, friends! And if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear something you’ve done right in your marriage in the comments :)

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Mike reply

    Love these wedding photographs! The bride looks so happy.

  2. avatar Jessie W reply

    Love #1 <3

  3. avatar Geoff reply

    What a great concept to write about a couple’s advice looking back over the years.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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