Sheila and TJ met on the first day of college and were friends for nearly 20 years before they decided their relationship should evolve into something more. Theirs was a blended family from the beginning, as Sheila became a loving stepmother to TJ’s two lovely girls, and I wanted to capture their unique love story with the imagery in this wedding reading. They were married at the edge of a lake, where guests had been invited to spend the weekend canoeing, swimming and enjoying the scenery, so I was able to incorporate the informal theme of the event as well.
Simply stated, there are two kinds of love.
One is passive, like sitting on the beach savoring the view. It’s the kind of love you allow to wash over you. It’s enjoying the warmth of the sand under your feet, the comfort of the lulling waves, and the daydreams of adventures on the water.
It is easy to love on the beach.
It is harder to love on the water. That kind of love takes action, endurance, purpose. It’s the kind of love you choose, again and again, with each stroke of the paddle. It’s exciting, challenging and affecting.
It’s also the love that gets you somewhere you’ve never been before.
For nearly 20 years you woke up every morning and loved each other without thinking about it. You loved the warmth of the friendship, the comfort of the camaraderie, and the daydreams of memories made.
And then one day you realized that the beach was lovely but the water…
The water. Together.
You saw it then, right there in front of you the whole time, not as a pretty picture but as an opportunity. A destination. A destiny. You picked up your paddles and you waded in.
Yours is perhaps the best kind: Passive love evolved into active love. It’s a blend of “Right here is where I want to be” and “Let’s go somewhere, together.”
It’s the conscious decision not to walk along the shoreline but to turn and head for where you can no longer touch the ground and walk away.
It’s a decision you made because you know that hard work is the obvious choice. Because you know the horizon is a mirage.
Because a life together doesn’t begin “once upon a time,” it begins a million times, over and over, in quiet whispers before bed and in moments after distressing news. It begins with every kiss and every curse. It begins again every time the paddle comes up for air and you choose to plunge it back under.
To love on the water is to cherish your partner and to honor love itself. Because “happily ever after” isn’t someday, it’s every day. “Happily ever after” is this conversation. It’s that compromise. It’s this decision to have and to hold, in this moment. And the next. And the next.
In the water, love is given the freedom to float, to feel every ripple, for better or worse. It is buoyant, and it is breathtaking.
The direction of your life together will follow the curve of your paddles. But the swirling water from every stroke is a reminder: You’ve already reached your destination.