Love Intentionally

IMG_9474Thursday, October 8, 2015 my husband, Nathan, and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  We said our vows in beautiful Enger Park during the peak autumn season in Duluth, MN. The temperature was a crisp 70 degrees and the leaves were in full color. I vividly remember the feeling of my aching cheeks because of the smile plastered across my face.

I spent most of our anniversary day reminiscing on the months previous to our wedding day and the details of planning. I recall moments in our planning process where I would beam with delight upon realizing my husband-to-be was on a similar brain wave. Our discussions circled around our ideal wedding and what we liked or perhaps didn’t like about particular traditions. We both felt a dance was a common tradition but just not something that appealed to us. train rideI can distinctly remember Nathan saying, “I do not want to be a in a room, sitting at a table or on a dance floor while everyone stares at me.” I would always chuckle when he said this, but it could not have been more true as he is not one to crave the spotlight. His one request was to plan a reception where we were not the center of attention…aka…the table in the center of the room. I got to work on ideas and then we came together again to discuss and decide. Throughout this process we had one thing in mind; to provide an atmosphere where guests would be entertained, feel IMG_9413comfortable, loved and appreciated. We wanted them all to enjoy this day and leave knowing it meant the world to us that they were a part of our lives and our celebration of marriage. Nathan and I got to work putting together my idea of a train ride up the North Shore for our reception. This would alleviate the table in the center of the room and the dance floor which were two particular traditions we cared to bypass. We pictured a beautiful fall day eating our favorite meal (breakfast, of course) and enjoying a train ride where our guests could roam about, or sit and stare out the window. We kept things in mind such as the variety of guests we would have at our wedding; from children to elders.  We pictured the single adult sitting alone at a round table with no date and the awkward, “How’s the weather” small talk (mostly because we had both been there before) and we didn’t want that scenario for our single guest. We also imagined the parents with their small children, trying to quiet them in the corner, or jetting out early because of the stress of keeping them entertained for an extended length of time, and again this was not the scene we wanted for our guests with small children. The idea of trapping our guests on a train to enjoy a ride up the north shore of Lake Superior was just what we imagined, and would bring us the most happiness.

During the season of wedding planning I often had people tell me to do what you want in your wedding because it’s your day and it’s all about you. While this statement is true in some aspects, it was not the tone we wanted to begin our marriage. Let me explain further – Nathan and I had in-depth conversations of the type of people we were as individuals and who we wanted to be as a couple. IMG_9276We certainly are not void of failure and our pride gets the better of us quite often, but it was important for us to have something that we could focus on when we stumbled; something that would unite us.  We decided early on that we wanted to be a couple who intentionally loved people. We wanted to notice people and in some small way make them feel they mattered. We had personally been impacted by a special group of people during our time of engagement who intentionally loved us IMG_9251and we wanted that same tone to begin to unfold in the way we celebrated our union.

When I look back at our wedding there are many beautiful moments that come to mind, but the one thing I am most thankful for is the decision we made to unite as two individuals and begin our lives by intentionally loving people. We have gone through many things in our marriage and it certainly has had its rough spots. Marriage has been the hardest thing I have ever committed to in my life. It has taken an immense amount of work to love intentionally. I am thankful we have a focus that unites us and brings meaning to our union. It has been of help to have a focus to go back to when times gets tough.



Do you have a story to share about your wedding or wedding planning? What particular things do you place in high value in the way you want to live your life? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.



Much Love to You on Your Journey,


(Featured photo credit goes to Bri Marie Photography)

(All photos in blog post were taken by our friend Craig Strubel)

Thank you both!


  1. Jennifer October 12, 2015 / 10:09 AM

    I agree, love is a choice. Often times love, and thus marriage, is portrayed as fairy tale. Marriage can be a wonderful, but to make it wonderful, it takes work and intention. My “go to” marriage advice to new couples is to remember, that above everyone else, put your spouse first. In my opinion this applies to everything (except God), other things and people come and go (even kiddos grow up and leave home), but your spouse should remain. So, at the end of the day intentionally choose them, intentionally love them, intentionally prioritize them. It’s worth it.

    P.s. my marriage isn’t perfect either…go figure….. 😉

    • Joanna October 13, 2015 / 12:01 PM

      You are not perfect, but you are real and that is worth so much! To have gone through struggles and felt the ever long list of emotions throughout is the gift of living. Much love to you, my friend, as you continue to love intentionally.

  2. Aisha October 12, 2015 / 8:50 PM

    On point with everything you said, Joanna!!! So beautifully written!! <3 Happy Anniversary, you two! 🙂

    • Joanna October 13, 2015 / 9:29 AM

      Thank you Aisha.

  3. Shara January 27, 2016 / 2:39 PM

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Beautifully honest.

    • Joanna January 28, 2016 / 7:48 AM

      Thank you Shara.

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