Some people say you choose your profession based on what you want to learn more about in your own life. Psychologists, for example, often enter the field in order to learn how to heal themselves. In some ways I think this is true. I am a wedding photographer. I am mystified by love. I have chosen a career that surrounds me with the beauty of love on a regular basis, and yet, I remain completely bewildered by how to find it. What makes it real? How do you know? How do you keep it alive?
Luckily, my on-the-job-training allows me to share in some touching insights with my couples. During the rare quiet moments on a wedding day, I often stand back and watch the newlyweds together, in awe of how they found each other...how they kept each other. It is in that sacred moment when they recite their vows to one another that I am able to learn the most. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the vows I have witnessed:
"I choose you." :
We often forget that our partner is not required to love us. Love is a choice. The person you choose to share your life with is your choice. Down the road in a marriage, a person will be tested repeatedly. It is up to them to choose their partner through everything that comes their way. I think that knowing my partner is choosing me as opposed to me feeling entitled to their love makes it even more valuable.
"I love you in your perfection...and your imperfection." :
The beginning of a relationship is always so deliciously exciting. There is nothing about your lover that you don't adore. Even the annoying things they do are cute...until they're not anymore. At some point in every relationship, reality kicks in and we are forced to face the person we have fallen in love with and decide whether or not we can accept their imperfections. To love someone is to see them in all their weakness and accept them as they are. I think Colin Firth said it best.
"You make me want to be a better man/woman.":
When you love someone, you want to give them everything...including the best version of yourself. This is not to say that you feel you need to change yourself to be with them, but rather that you are comfortable with who you are and confident with where you are in your life. You are constantly striving to be your best self so you and your partner feel worthy of each other.
"I felt compelled.":
A few years ago, I asked my best friend's boyfriend at the time to tell me the story of how they met. They were at the same party and, fresh out of a break up, he wanted nothing to do with dating again. But then he saw her across the room and, against all reason, he had to talk to her. He said bluntly, "I was compelled." I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard.
One of the most common things I hear in wedding vows is the story of how the other felt when they met. They often describe this sort of unseen connection that draws them to the other person. This could definitely be physical attraction, but I choose to believe it is something much bigger. Something that pulls you outside of your normal behavior and draws you to them. Some people might think this is "woo woo" stuff. I think it's a good ol' fashioned "meet cute" moment.
"You are my teammate."
Life friggen sucks sometimes. While you will have your moments of rainbows and butterflies, you are mostly going to have to figure out how to solve problems. Every. Single. Day. They don't call the person you love your "partner" for nothing. You want to be with someone you know is on your team. Someone who is going to go on this crazy ride called life with you and high five you at the end of the day. They support you, they encourage you, they push you, they console you, they amuse you, they love you.