How We Display Keepsakes from Our Wedding

Five years into marriage, I still love to look at pictures and items from our wedding and reminisce on the little details off our special day. When we got married, I knew that I wanted a way to display some of the decor from our wedding in our home. Looking at those keepsakes often and remembering the details of that day seemed like a better idea to me than putting everything in a box with the rest of my treasures and storing them in a closet somewhere. I've had fun finding the perfect place in our house to display each of our items!

The biggest display of wedding mementos is the shadow box frame that hangs in our bedroom. It was one of the first craft projects that I tackled after we got married and one of the first things that we hang up after every move. I used a shadow box the same size and similar to this one and it was perfect!

Shadowbox with wedding keepsakes

In the top corner of the box is a tiny fortune, the one that Joe made and put in my fortune cookie when he proposed to me. I was keeping it in my wallet, but when I started collecting items to put in this shadow box, I knew that it needed to be part of the group. It's kind of a random little piece of the collage, but I think it's perfect!

In our religious culture, because of the way our wedding ceremonies are conducted, it's tradition to have a wedding luncheon between the ceremony and the reception, rather than having a rehearsal dinner, since there is no rehearsal. And in Joe's family, it is tradition for his aunts to write lyrics about the happy couple and put them to music, usually a popular tune. They perform the song at the wedding luncheon and it's always a highlight of the celebration. We have a video of their performance at our luncheon, but I also managed to snag a copy of the lyrics that they wrote and added them, with a few embellishments, to the collage.

What do people do with the utensils that they use to cut and serve their wedding cake? I'm genuinely curious about this, so please share what you did with yours in the comments below! We had a cupcake cake and served other cupcakes at our reception, so the only thing that our knife and server were used for were for Joe and I to follow the tradition of cutting cake and shoving it in each other's faces. (You can see the videos here. We literally had the discussion about whether we were going to be respectful or childish with our cake as we were cutting the cupcake in half.) To be honest, I don't think we even used the spatula part of the set. Rather than storing them in a box or using them in our own home (which just barely occurred to me as an option), I mounted them inside the shadow box as one of my finishing touches.

In addition to displaying each side of our wedding announcement and the announcement that ran in our local paper, I printed a picture of our entire wedding party and added it to the shadow box. It's a fun reminder of everyone who was there to support us and how little our nieces and nephew were at the time.

We have quite a few purple and blue napkins, just hanging out in a box with the cards from our wedding and extra announcements. I should probably pull them out and use them at some point, since they're not doing a lot of good in the box. I decided to put a couple of them in the shadow box and added the fun initials, to tie in with our initials that are on the back of our wedding announcement.

One of the only pieces of decor that I purchased for the wedding with the plan of displaying it in our house in the future was our cake topper. I had it customized with our last initial and wedding date. In each of our apartments, I've had a hard time figuring out where to put it, but when we moved into our house and I started decorating our front room, I knew exactly where I wanted it to go! Instead of hanging out in our room with the rest of our wedding keepsakes, it's displayed on top of the piano where everyone can see it! I really love it, and it's acrylic so it's not something that the kids can break in the future if they're playing with it.

I also still have my dried bouquet, but it's not on display right now and may be retiring to the trash soon, sadly. I didn't preserve it correctly after my wedding, I just kind of let it dry up, and in both of our apartments, it got knocked on the floor multiple times while we were cleaning, or when Joe was throwing toys to Howie. Right now, it's fairly safe in our office and I had plans to put it on my desk, but I may continue to display it on the bookshelf in the office because it's a rarely used room, especially by kids, so it's not at risk for being knocked on the floor as often. It's a little dusty and missing a few pieces, but it's hard to part with. If you have any great suggestions for storing and displaying it, I'd love to hear them!

Are any keepsakes from your wedding on display in your home? If so, what, where and why?

How Involved in Each Other's Finances Should You Get Before Marriage?

Earlier this year, I wrote a post sharing my one tip for success with financial goals that you set in your marriage. In the comments of that post, Bailey (from Becoming Bailey) and I started having a conversation about how she and her fiance (now husband) had been setting financial goals together. That conversation got us talking about the extent that they've been involved in each other's finances and when Joe and I combined our finances and bank accounts. It got me thinking about how involved a couple should be in each other's financial decisions before marriage and how soon you start those discussions and get involved.

Looking back, I think Joe and I had our first official money discussion a little less than two months after we started dating, right around the time when we started talking about the future of our relationship. I'm sure money came up in our conversations before that point and we probably talked about our opinions on debt, credit cards, spending, etc. because that's just the type of people we are, but our first real, serious discussion came when we started to talk about how finances would affect our marriage timeline. We talked about Joe's lawn care business that he planned on starting, my school tuition, our current employment situations, and everything else that would affect our income, savings and financial stability if we were to get married. That discussion led to us deciding that it made the most sense logically to get married in the fall, but obviously that timeline changed a bit, since we ended up getting married in June.

I wouldn't suggest combining your bank accounts or finances before you've tied the knot, but I do suggest that you make finances and money a part of your conversations together as soon as you know that your relationship is headed for marriage, and possibly even before that. I've shared my thoughts on what financial discussions you should have before you get married here on the blog before, but I'd like to add these to the list!

Any current debt and your plan to get rid of it

I've heard often that you shouldn't get married to someone who has debt, and I'm not sure that I agree with that. Joe and I both had debt going into our marriage, but we'd talked about it and we knew how we wanted to handle that debt. I owed money on the car I bought the summer before and Joe took out a couple of loans to start his lawn care business just a few months before we got married. The amount that we each owed and for what was no secret, we were open and honest about it from the beginning. But we were determined to pay it off quickly and remain debt free after we had. Because we'd discussed it early in our relationship and continued to discuss it often, we were able to tackle our combined debt as a team and pay it off within a year and a half of getting married.

Your future budget

When Joe and I first discussed our money, it was to look at our income and what expenses we would have after we got married and what we needed to do to be able to afford our budget. I think this is an important thing to do together, especially after you're engaged! Because we walked through a potential budget together, we were able to boost our income and get married in the timeline we wanted. We also were able to put together a plan to pay off our debts quickly. By putting together a plan and a budget, we knew how much we could afford for rent, how many classes I should take a semester, and how much money we'd be putting into savings each month after all of our other expenses. It may not be a final budget, budgets tend to change month-to-month anyway, but having a basic idea will make a big difference when you are married and combine your finances.

Any big financial goals that you have

Money and finances are a constant in life and there are always new challenges to tackle. Joe and I knew, going into marriage, that we had a few goals for the future of our money. We wanted to put me through school without student loans, we wanted to be debt free with the exception of our house and we knew that we wanted to get a 15-year on our home. One of our other big goals was to follow Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps. The big goals that we've both had for our finances have dictated all of the little money decisions that we made and given us direction for our budget and given us something to work toward together from the beginning. We just recently sat down and set goals for the next five years of our marriage and two of those involve a couple of our biggest financial goals. 

Big purchases you make

Even though we didn't combine our finances until after we were married, after we started talking marriage, we started discussing all big purchases that we made. Joe talked to me about the details of each of the purchases that he was making for his new business, and he always asked for my approval as well. I remember that I even gave Joe a heads up before I replaced my cracked windshield. I knew that Joe was working hard to save for my ring and we were both saving for our future together and all of the adult expenses that we were about to take on. So even though our money was our own to do with as we pleased, it felt wrong not to discuss any big purchases before we made them, no matter what they were.

The biggest thing about your financial involvement before marriage is that you should talk about your money! Disagreements surrounding the topic are one of the most noted reasons for divorce among couples. The more comfortable you are talking about and being involved in your finances together, the better off your marriage will be! No matter what you decide to do with your money while you are dating, engaged and leading up to the wedding, make sure that you do everything you can to make sure you are on the same page!

Is there anything else you would add to the list or that you talked about together before marriage?

Paddle Boats are More Fun When You're Younger... and not pregnant...

One of our date night bucket list items last year and this year was to go paddle boating in a park downtown. The last time I went paddle boating was when I was twelve and I remember wanting to spend all afternoon pedaling around the lake! Joe and I have tried to make this date night happen for a year now, and I was determined to make it part of our anniversary celebration a couple of weeks ago. There is a park in Downtown Salt Lake with some rides and a small lake where you can paddle boat and canoe. It cost us $10 for 20 minutes of paddle boating and I kind of wish that we'd gotten at least half an hour for that price, but we still enjoyed it!

Paddle boating at Liberty Park

I will say that this activity was a lot more fun when I was younger and probably would have been more enjoyable without my baby bump as well. Pedaling is great exercise and you can go as fast or as slow as you want (as long as both of you can agree on a speed), but it is a little more difficult when you're pregnant. Add to that the heat and you have not as romantic of a date activity as I'd thought, but it was still fun.

We were a bit flustered by the time we got to the boats. We'd missed our first activity of the afternoon and had to stop and replace my car battery before we could get the fun started. When we got to the park, we found out that there was a festival that day (there was another festival by The Melting Pot when we went to dinner later, obviously I didn't do my research) so parking was rough. We picked the first parking spot that we could find, so we had to hike into the lake and were worn out by the time we got there. Joe was really hungry, so we grabbed churros at the concession stand when we purchased our ticket for the boat. Once we were on the water, it was nice to enjoy each other's company and the view and relax for a bit. 

If we'd had more time after our boat ride, I would have liked to ride the Ferris Wheel and explore the park a little bit more, but we had reservations for a romantic anniversary dinner experience, so we headed back to the car after we were done. I would love to go back again next year, maybe later on a fall afternoon when it's cool and there isn't so much going on at the park. Then we could really enjoy our time in the park, pedaling hopefully won't be as difficult when I'm not pregnant and maybe we'll try canoeing while we're out there as well.

If you're looking for something different to do this summer, find somewhere near you that rents out paddle boats. It's a fun, simple date night or afternoon activity! You could pack a picnic to enjoy after you've finished pedaling.

P.S. In case you missed it, we extended the $50 Datelivery gift card giveaway through the end of today!!! Don't miss out on your chance to enter using the Rafflecopter below. If you've already entered, make sure you use the retweet a message option to earn more entries each day! 

For the month of June, in celebration of our anniversary, you can use the code prioritized10 to receive 10% off any Datelivery order or prioritized20 for 20% off any order over $45. Codes do not apply to gift bundles. Coupon code is subject to deactivation without notice.

Enter to win the $50 Datelivery gift card using the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway will run from 6/10/2016 at 12:00am MT to 6/24/2016 at 11:59am MT. The winner will be notified via e-mail and have 48 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States, Canada and the UK. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Our Families and Marriages Aren't Disposable

In the most recent semi-annual conference for our church, one of my favorite leaders and speakers, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, aka "the silver fox", gave a talk titled 'In Praise of Those Who Save'. There were a lot of great talks given during conference, but I'd have to say that this one was by far my favorite. While the talk centers on a lot of the beliefs that we as Latter-Day Saints have in regards to marriage and family, the overall message of his talk is very applicable to couples, families and individuals no matter their faith. I'd encourage you to read the entire thing when you have some time, but I've picked out a few of my favorite quotes and shared them with my thoughts below.

President Uchtdorf starts his talk by telling a story of an elderly couple that he once noticed. They were holding hands and obviously cared for each other deeply. I think a lot of us can relate to an observation like his. I hear people admiring couples who have been married for years and are still outwardly showing signs of affection and love. It's hard to see an older couple out and about, interacting with each other in such a loving way without smiling and admiring them. President Uchtdorf then notes that although he's not sure why exactly he was so affected by this couple, there are a few things that may have contributed to his feelings. He notes that "the sweetness and love these two people shared for one another....[is] a compelling symbol of perseverance and commitment" which, in today's world, where so many societies are treating objects and even relationships as disposable, is becoming more and more rare.

Do you treat your marriage and family relationships as important fixtures in your life?

"Strong marriage and family relationships do not [just happen]...they require constant, intentional work... [We must be inspired to] dedicate our best efforts to saving and enriching our marriages and families."

Can you see why this talk was my favorite?! Making your marriage, your spouse and your family a priority is something that I'm extremely passionate about. There are so many reasons why these relationships should be at the top of your list and so many simple things you can do to make them that way. This talk laid it all out better than I ever think that I could. Those in society who think that beta-marriages are the way to go, or who go into marriage assuming that it will end at some point, are far and few between, I would hope, but their casual attitude toward such an important relationship is discouraging. We need more people with a strong dedication to their marriages and families!

Read: Why You NEED to Make Your Spouse a Priority Every Day

"We are not so much looking for someone perfect, but for a person with whom, throughout a lifetime, we can join efforts to create a loving, lasting and more perfect relationship. That is the goal."

No person is perfect and I'm willing to be that there isn't someone out there who has all of the qualities, talents, looks and abilities that we might have put on our list of things that we were looking for in a future spouse when we were younger. I know that Joe far from meets my teenage self's idea of who the perfect man was for me, but he is more perfect for me than I ever could have planned or hoped for.

Through everything that we have gone through in our five years of marriage and will go through in future years, we have a goal to conquer challenges and grow together rather than letting the obstacles we face push us apart. Those things that we've experienced together already have made us the couple that we are today and strengthened our relationship in so many ways!

This year, since we were celebrating five years of marriage, Joe and I thought that it might be a good idea to set some goals for the things that we want to accomplish over the next five years. We'll review our list each year and make plans that will help us reach those milestones we've set for 2021! It's a very practical anniversary tradition but one that I really love. Along with the goals that we've set as a couple, we have our own personal goals, but in a way, they are joint goals as well. They are things that we want to accomplish individually, but because we have made each other a priority, we have also made each other's endeavors a priority as well. Our goal in life is to create a happy home and provide an environment that helps build a happy family relationship which will result in happy children, a happy marriage and happy individuals.

Read: The Secret to Successful Goal Setting as a Couple

"Great marriages are built brick by brick, day after day, over a lifetime."

Your relationship isn't instantaneously finished and perfect the day that you get married. Saying, 'I do' doesn't change the state of the strength of your marriage, it only changes the nature of your relationship and your titles. Just like you worked hard to build your relationship while you were dating, you have to continue to work hard to build your relationship while you are married. It will ebb and flow and there will be ups and downs, but over time, if you are putting forth effort every single day, you will look back and see that you have been on a gradual incline and have come so far from where you started. I look back on the beginning of our relationship, and it was good, but it has grown and matured and gotten even better over time because we have been constantly working on it. Strong marriages don't just happen because you have been together for a number of years. Strong marriages happen over time, but they require constant, consistent and intentional effort in order to become great.

"No matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow."

There you go, right there, a list of all of the things that you can be working on daily to help you become a better person and contribute to creating a better relationship! Yes, marriage is a team sport and family relationships take more than one person to make them work, but if you aren't doing the above things on your own, as an individual in those relationships, you aren't doing everything you can to make them work.

I feel like selflessness and sacrifice go hand in hand. If you are willing to make a personal sacrifice for the good of your relationship, you are most likely being selfless. And you have to set aside your selfish desires in order to be willing to make those sacrifices. The last couple of years have required Joe and I to make many personal sacrifices, and some joint sacrifices in order to help each other accomplish something or to achieve a goal that we'd set as a couple. Sacrificing hasn't always been easy, especially when it has required one of us to carry more weight in the relationship or make a great personal sacrifice when compared to the other. We have to keep the end goal in mind, recognizing the ways that the current situation will benefit us as a whole in the end.

Really, all six types of "pebbles" go together. no person will be perfect at them, but making a concerted effort every day is what really matters and what will make the difference in your relationship.  

"If we look for imperfections in our spouse or irritations in our marriage, we will certainly find them, because everyone has some. On the other hand, if we look for the good, we will surely find it, because everyone has many good qualities too."

It's like I said in my grounds for marriage post on Monday, if you are looking for things to hold against your spouse, those will be the only things that we notice. But if we start to look for the things that make us love our spouse and want to remain married to them, those annoyances will seem insignificant and we will have a harder time dwelling on them.

Joe has been putting a lot of time into his lawn care business this summer, in addition to working full time at his day job. A lot of nights, he doesn't get home until I'm almost ready to go to bed and almost every night, he's home after Bensen is asleep. There was a week earlier this month when I took time off work to be a stay-at-home mom and wife for a bit, but I joked with Joe that I really just felt like a single, stay-at-home mom because he had so many emergency projects and was gone every night until after bedtime, so I was taking care of all of the parenting duties on my own. I loved spending so much time with my little guy, but it was exhausting! The last couple of months, but that week especially, have helped me recognize and appreciate everything that Joe does in our home, for our family and in our marriage. I knew that he'd done a lot to support me while I was in school, but I appreciated it even more once the roles were reversed and I was taking on more so that he could get caught up on the things he'd been neglecting so that I could achieve my goal.

I'm not perfect, and I still find myself getting irritated with Joe for leaving a mess in the kitchen that I worked so hard to clean or some little thing that he's done that has annoyed me. I'm working really hard to be better about this though and I know that focusing on more positive things has made me more aware of them on a daily basis.

"Remember why you fell in love. Work each day to make your marriage stronger and happier."

One of my favorite things to do is read my old journal entries, the love story here on the blog, or the many posts that I've written that tell our whole story in detail. I love thinking back on the early stages of our relationship, how giddy we were and why I fell for Joe as quickly as I did. I also think about all of the reasons that he is the perfect man for me and the qualities he has that I never thought I wanted or needed in a husband.

Thinking back on the beginning of our relationship and all of the moments that went into us falling in love makes me more determined to make my marriage a priority and keep those feelings of love alive! And the best part is, the more that we work on our relationship, the better it gets, so we're really more in love and happier than we were when we first fell in love and got married!

Read: Our Love Story

President Uchtdorf goes on to talk about making your family a priority and like I said, the entire talk is amazing. These are just a few parts that really stood out to me, especially as it relates to prioritizing your marriage relationship and the things that I talk about here on the blog. I'd encourage you to read the rest of it, whether you are a member of our faith or not!

What can you do today to make sure you're not treating your marriage relationship as if it's disposable?

Look for Grounds for Marriage in Your Relationship

When I was a teenager, I collected quotes. I had a word file that I would update every time I found a new quote that I liked, and at one point, I even printed them all and kept them in a binder. I got rid of my quote collection a long time ago, but I'm still a big fan of them. Every room in my house ends up decorated with at least one quote and I have never been able to pick a favorite. Recently though, I think I've found one of my very favorite marriage quotes. The first time I read it, I thought it was good but the more than I ran across it, the more I liked it.

Find grounds for marriage in your life

Last year I wrote a post sharing my "anti-divorce list", all of the reasons that I would never divorce Joe. Most of them were more joking than serious, like "he knows all of my secrets, I have to keep him close", etc. But ever since I heard this quote, I've been thinking about that list a little bit more seriously. All of the things on my anti-divorce list are still true, but I've started searching for those little things that Joe does each day that provide me with "grounds for marriage".

The more that you focus on the positive, the more you notice the positive. If you are looking for reasons to be upset with your spouse, you are going to find them. If instead, you look for more reasons to love your spouse, you will find more and more reasons to love each other on a daily basis. Your marriage will grow stronger the more that you search for those grounds for marriage.

Instead of creating a list of reasons to get divorced, keep a list of reasons to stay married.

Below are just a few of the things that I've added to my "grounds for marriage list" recently.

Joe cares about my personal endeavors so much that he made big sacrifices and took on a lot of extra responsibilities over the last year so that I could accomplish the goals that I'd set.

Joe knows me and thought of a goal-setting date night activity recently that he knew I'd love because it had meaning for our relationship and involved planning.

Joe keeps me grounded and helps me to think things through rationally rather than over-analyzing them.

Joe knows how to break the tension when I'm upset or frustrated.

Joe is ambitious and a hard worker. When he tackles a project, he doesn't do anything halfway and works until the project is complete.

Joe is the greatest daddy to our little Bensen and I know will be a great daddy to our little girl when she arrives this fall.

This week, start creating a "grounds for marriage" list! Make note of every thing your spouse does that makes you love them more. Remember, the more you seek out the positive, the more you will find it! Share your list during the spouse portion of your weekly family meetings or the next time you have companion inventory.

What are some of the things that you would add to your list right now?