remembering our wedding day with instathis

It was a Thursday.

As I got ready the morning of my wedding in a quaint little hotel room overlooking Ballard Ave, I chatted endlessly with the photographer, videographer and makeup artist... all friends of mine, but this day, they were my family. I kept my iPhone close by, expecting my actual family members a few hundred miles away to call every few minutes, but it was strangely quiet. Everyone assumed I was busy, that I had other things to attend to; today I was the bride, after all. I remember desperately wishing my best friends and family members were there to see me pop out of the bathroom, dress on, for the big reveal. It was one of the most anticlimactic moments of my life. No one said anything. It wasn't their job to tell me I was beautiful. As Benj and Janssen geeked out over lighting and lenses, Janae double checked my hair. I felt strangely alone. Something about it didn't sit quite right. I had my media team snap some photos of me that I texted to a few people, and felt a little better when I immediately got the responses I was looking for: "OH MY GOSH! HE IS GOING TO LOVE YOUR DRESS!" and "Laura, you look so beautiful."

It's amazing  no matter how hard us females work to be strong and independent, inwardly we still desperately need to hear we are lovely.

As I rode along with the videographer Janssen to the mountain where we would meet Nick for the wedding, the weather outside changed from the typical overcast Seattle May day we had been expecting to blazing sunshine. I began to sweat. In the 45 minute car ride, I read my typed vows over and over and tried to pray, all the while having to continually adjust the gel cups affixed to my boobs which had begun to make an unfortunate bid for freedom due to the sweat dripping down my chest. Where the hell was all this sunshine coming from?! I glanced over at Janssen who appeared slightly terrified at having the no small task of transporting the bride on her wedding day.

Finally, we arrived at Rattlesnake Mountain. I was instructed to wait at the bottom of the trail so everyone could get set up for the first look before Nick and I exchanged vows, and I found myself alone for about twenty minutes. I composed myself and began to pray. I felt like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Finally it was time. I walked towards Nick in the forest, keenly aware of Janssen's eager second shooter practically dogging my steps in order to get the perfect shot, my heart beating out of my chest. The clouds had finally rolled back in, and the forest was still. A few hikers passed by me on the trail and almost jumped at the sight of me. One said I looked like a ghost. I didn't know how to respond. The next said I looked like a goddess, which made me feel better.

When Nick saw me, he burst into tears. He was stunned, literally speechless. The first words to come out were how divine I looked, how incredible my dress was, how absolutely enraptured he was in my beauty. Everything else melted away.

Then we got married, and hiked up and down the mountain together.

No matter how you choose to get married, you are giving up something. In our case, eloping meant sacrificing having loved ones present, supporting us and sharing in our marital bliss. On our wedding day, it was truly just us and God. As I scampered up the mountain with my new husband, not caring how much mud got on my dress, I knew I had made the right decision. The very moment we reached the breathtaking view at the top of Rattlesnake Ridge, a thunderstorm broke out. It was as if the mountains surrounding us had erupted in a standing ovation; like God Himself was applauded our union. It was the most stunning moment of my entire life.

Our wedding day was intimate, a memory only we share. Since then, a few of the photos from the day have spread all over Tumblr and Pinterest like wildfire. It's a bit ironic. Even our parents weren't invited to our wedding day, but somehow the whole Internet showed up. We didn't plan for our elopement to go viral (I didn't promote the wedding at all, other than a few Instagram shots like any bride would do), although we're both certainly grateful for the inspiration it has lauded. All that to say, I am grateful that the most intimate, precious moments from our wedding day are still private between the two of us: sharing jokes and laughing hysterically as we hiked... the embraces, the whispered promises of an eternal devotion... the magnificent thunderstorm... the moment we showed up for our wedding dinner at Canlis that evening — one of the nicest restaurants in Seattle — completely soaked, the other restaurant patrons glancing over disapprovingly.

That was almost a year ago now. The first year of marriage has changed me beyond recognition; has stretched my faith farther than I thought possible. Marriage is by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever known.

The most important day of marriage isn't the first day; it's the last day. Where will you go in your lives together? How will you stand by one another when life gets the best of you? How will you parent children together? Where will you go? Who will you be? While our wedding day was only Day 1 of an everlasting adventure between my beloved and I, we'll carry with us the inspiration and adventurous whimsy it fostered until the Last Day. It's important to remember; to keep our hearts young and alive for one another and for God.

Over the past few months, I have been thinking how best to display a few of our wedding photos in our bedroom. I recently ordered large aluminum prints from InstaThis, a company that prints your Instagram or regular photos on wood or aluminum; they even make coasters. After a friend's strong recommendation, I ordered a set of six gorgeous prints. Last night in our pajamas Nick and I worked together to hang them. The result is stunning. They have turned our bedroom into an art gallery. We spent the rest of night lounging in bed, staring at the photos, remembering. I snapped a photo this morning of the prints before we left for a weekend trip to Portland. Forgive the photo quality — we don't get the best light in our bedroom!

I am proud to partner with InstaThis to offer 20% off your order with code LLCONT20. I am not getting paid to endorse these guys — their customer service and product quality simply blew me away and I had to share! There is something incredibly special and profound about hanging a photo story — it makes the memories come alive again.

I will cherish these prints, along with my wedding day memories, for the rest of my life.

I was stunned when I learned our elopement was rated the #1 Wedding of 2013 on Green Wedding Shoes. If you haven't seen them already, check out our photos from the day, and wedding video: