“our life is unexpectedly unconventional. my husband & i first met and become friends in college. it wasn’t until a few years later when i went back to get my master’s that we started dating. our college was a little rodeo town in washington anchored on the outskirts of the cascade mountains. our idea of time well spent was meandering through mountains, passing through ponderosa pine groves, & watching waterfalls.” “shortly after he graduated with a business degree, my future husband decided to join the military. all throughout his basic training, he waited to get a dear john letter. the majority of the girlfriends his buddies had going into the military decided a long-distance relationship with a soldier was just too difficult. i knew what kind of man i had, so i held on.” “halfway through his training, & two years after we started dating, we got married in a justice of the peace ceremony in fayetteville, NC. now before people think that sounds cute & elope-y, it was rather monumentally ghetto. we had to pass through metal detectors, & we took our witnesses (one of whom was dressed in a cutoff teeshirt, basketball shorts, and flip-flops) out for lunch, and they order beer towers. that weekend we stayed at a KOA cabin at myrtle beach where large carpenter ants fell on us all night. a vision of my wedding i had dreamt about as a child it was not.” “we had planned to have a reception back in washington the following summer to celebrate with our family, but uncle sam had other ideas. instead of moving to colorado, we had orders to move to Germany for three years. we put our plans of a reception aside and packed our bags for deutschland. after my husband’s first deployment, we went on an amazing trip to spain and portugal. we dubbed that trip our honeymoon.” “we wanted an outdoor ceremony without all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional affair because my husband and i always found our god in the mountains and not the pews. we decided to have an early morning vow-renewal ceremony at garden of the gods. a little over 30 family members and close friends flew in for the weekend festivities. i found a wonderful man and a direct descended from black elk of the saginaw chippewa indian tribe who would preform a ceremony that incorporated the aspects of native american culture we admired. our ceremony included traditional indian flute music, a sage smudging, a ribbon tying ceremony in lieu of vows, & a hopi prayer. with the garden of the gods as the setting, saying the ceremony was beyond my expectations is a massive understatement.”   “five years after getting married, we found ourselves in colorado (definitely a contender for the best state in the union) living in a log house that bumps up to the end of the rocky mountains. it’s the closest thing to heaven you can buy without being warren buffett. because we were approaching our 5th anniversary, i wanted to have a little vow-renewal ceremony that preceded the party.” “after our morning ceremony, we had the sit-down last Supper style dinner i had always wanted. we ate and drank and danced and played and laughed all night.”  “military members, their spouses, & their families make sacrifices. those sacrifices are memories never made. they’re birthdays missed, holidays missed, months & years of life missed. i have given up birthdays & holidays & memories, but i refused to never make the memory of a wedding. it may have taken us five years, but we now have this quintessential memory of our love story. & it was worth every damn day it took us to get here.”

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