Celebrating anniversaries has always been a priority for my husband and I. In the past, we’ve gone to San Francisco, Seattle and had a Milwaukee and Madison staycation. Each one was incredible; but this year was extra special. To celebrate our five-year anniversary we took ourselves back to the places where it all started and re-lived a tiny slice of our wedding day.
Pulling into the parking lot of the Golden Mast Inn where we had our reception, my stomach turned over. Catching a glimpse of the front door that once carried a sign saying “Schwerm-Larsen reception” I was instantly transported back to November 12, 2011. I couldn’t help but get smiley and giddy as I was overtaken by memories. “Ooh babe, remember this spot? We took pictures here! Remember how warm the weather was? Remember when we stood on the pier and I tried not to dip my wedding dress in the water?”
I love reminiscing, there is something incredibly powerful about it, but I also find it overwhelmingly emotional. Typically, as soon as I begin to feel the emotion of the memory, I find the need to cut it off, to change the subject. Something about the longing to re-live the moment makes it bittersweet and too much for me to handle. So, to be quite honest, each anniversary leading up to today, I allowed myself to reminisce, but only to a point. But this time was different. This time, celebrating five years, I felt ready and excited to let my mind wander fully and freely through the memories of our wedding day.
Walking to the familiar spot on the pier behind the Golden Mast, Chris and I held hands, danced, and canoodled like newlyweds as my new friend and talented photographer, Alex Good, snapped photos to commemorate our anniversary. (Talk about God’s perfect timing for this one – Alex reached out on Facebook for couples to photograph the week before our anniversary and everything magically fell into place!) It felt so surreal to be celebrating 5 years, when it seemed a mere moment ago that we stood in this very spot with our wedding photographer capturing our newlywed glow. Finishing our mini-shoot, and making our way inside for dinner, tender memories gushed over me like the heat warming my ice-cold fingers.
Together we recalled favorite moments from our wedding day, laughed thinking about our infamous best man’s speech, and shared kisses at the bar as we waited for our reservation. Inching my chair closer to his, I was pleasantly surprised when Chris asked me to share highlights of our past five years. This came easily for me as I had just been brainstorming these a few days prior. Year 1 - the year we never saw each other because Chris worked 90+ hours a week. Year 2 - God provided a new job for Chris, and we finally got to be newlyweds. We saw each other before 2 am, cuddled on the couch, and ate dinner together during the week! We also bought our house! Year 3 – we became kitty parents. Year 4 – I was affirmed in my role as housewife, and embraced my call to be a writer. Each year of our marriage has been monumental in different ways, but year 5 has been my favorite; Year 5 is the year we really became best friends.
One warm night this past summer, we were driving home from a dinner date in Chris’ pearl white pick-up truck with the windows down and the music blaring. Taking turns blasting our favorite tunes, we belted the lyrics, threw fist pumps in the air and glided our hands out the window. In that moment, something clicked. Turning the music down, with emotion in my throat, I exclaimed, “Chris, you are my best friend!” Marrying my husband 5 years ago, I knew he was one of my besties, but it wasn’t until this silly, teenage best friends type of moment, that I finally allowed him to fill every corner of that role.
As much as I’d like to go back and re-live my wedding day all over again, today is much sweeter – because 5 years after saying our I do’s, I’m even more joyful, more thankful, and more obsessed with the man who stands by my side.
Finishing off our delicious meal at the Golden Mast with a rich, smooth decadent chocolate torte we left with full bellies and made our way to another memory-filled space, the Iron Horse Hotel. Walking in to the exact same room we stayed in on our wedding night to find a note in chalk on the floor saying, “Have a happy 5th anniversary in a familiar room!” and a few goodies from the hotel and my loving sis and brother-in-law, joyful tears bubbled up in my eyes. Anniversaries have always been special for us, but on this one, I felt overwhelmingly blessed and celebrated not just by my husband, but also by the support system who loves us and encourages us in our marriage.
If you’re questioning celebrating an anniversary or a milestone in your life, don’t second-guess it. Do it. Pop some champagne, eat some cake, and maybe even ask Alex to capture it. Mull over every memorable moment and rejoice in what the Lord has given you.