Reflections on 15 Years of Marriage. | Le Hoarder
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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reflections on 15 Years of Marriage.

Friday was my 15th wedding anniversary. That means I've known my husband for about 17 years  - which is almost all of my adult life. Crazy. I almost feel like it's not fair that social media (even Facebook) did not exist back then. All my kids' cute baby pics were before blogging really even existed. So now, I'm evening the score by taking a trip down memory lane with you. And this is for all of you who think I look like I'm still in my late 20s - this is what 28 actually looked like for me.




We got married at the now defunct Huntington Townhouse in Huntington Long Island. One of my best friends actually got married there a few years before so I knew it was huge and gorgeous. My husband and I are both one of seven kids, which I took as a sign on our first date that I was supposed to marry him. We had tons of family to invite and ended up with over 550 people on our combined guest lists. I was limited to finding a wedding hall large enough to accommodate our guests - and in budget.  I still have guests who like to complain that I made them drive from NJ all the way out to Long Island but there was no other location that gave me the crazy deal that I negotiated. They were also pretty mad that I made them go outside for my Chupah ceremony in cooler October weather but one look at that gazebo and I knew it was meant to be.




My dress was a $20,000 beaded lace Badgley Mishka that I scored at their sample sale for about $1,000. My mother didn't think it was modest enough so I paid for it myself. The girl ahead of me in line at the sale took my size 6 so I had to pay about $500 in alterations to take it in (mine was a bridal 8, which is about a 4/6) because I was teeny tiny back in the day. My waist was so small my husband could span it with his hands - you can actually almost see it in the last picture below. I did buy an extra yard of fabric from Badgley Mischka to build up the front which I kind of regret. The seamstress reshaped the neckline in the process and it never looked quite right to me. And my mom still thought it wasn't covered enough so I probably shouldn't have bothered anyway.

My veil was custom off eBay for about $50 - maybe less? My jewelry and hairpins were all inexpensive sample sale finds for $5-10 each. I don't remember the brand of my shoes but they too were sample sale scores for less than $50. They had a lower heel and blue soles. Maybe they were Nicole Miller? I lent them to a friend who got married after me and never got them back. That was back in the day before I really had an appreciation for designer shoes and if I were to do it again I probably would wear a similar dress, but I would totally redo my heel situation.


My Family


The men were easy - I bought everyone $50 tuxedos at Moe Ginsburg when it went out of business. Cheaper than renting. My colors were pinks and purples - I actually purchased extra fabric at the Badgley Mishka sale and gave it to my bridesmaids with a sketch for a cocktail dress individually designed for each girl. I also found them a local seamstress who only charged $100 per dress so they wouldn't have to spend a fortune on something they might not wear again. I wish I had a picture of all the flower girls in their pink dresses - there were probably about a dozen nieces all decked out in the same (rented) dress.  I'd like to think I wasn't Bridezilla (you're gonna have to ask my family and friends about that one) but I was just trying to do the best I could with a limited budget. I didn't grow up with money and even though my father had reached some level of success by the time I got married, I refused to break the bank for just one day. Looking back I'm pretty impressed with myself that I was able to pull it off.




Weddings are supposed to be the happiest day in your life but I have to be honest and say I don't think mine was. I've had many happier days both before and after that day. I remember feeling terrified. Cold feet maybe? I just pretended I was an actress and played the role of bride - and that's how I made it through the day. Once it was in motion there was no going back. I put on a smile and went on with the show.




I also feel bittersweet looking at these photos. This was one of the very few times in my life that I really felt thin and beautiful. Probably because the weeks before the wedding were so stressful that my dress ended up hanging on me. I think the straw that broke the camels back was when my Mother-in-law told me that I wouldn't have a wedding until my daughter got married. And as horrified as I was when I heard those words come out of her mouth, she wasn't entirely wrong. Weddings are about family. They're not just about you. But where she went wrong is that they are not about the mother of the groom.

A major life lesson I learned is that you can't tell anyone how to spend their money. I asked for a budget from both families contributing (we paid for some stuff ourselves too) so we could make our own choices. I was a 28 year old independent woman. At 23 I moved out of my parent's home into my cute NYC apartment and supported myself from that day forward. But we were lucky to have parents to help us, and I was lucky that my parents respected my right to make my own decisions. I scrimped and saved on areas that were not as important to me so I could have details that I really wanted. My flowers were minimal, I chose a hall that didn't need any additional decoration and had an inexpensive in-house caterer, had a limited bar, used the band that was somehow related to my husband's family, used an online printer for invitations, did my own makeup, let everyone choose their own outfits, etc. While my In-laws appreciated my thriftiness, and all the money that I saved, they refused to hire the photographer I loved and insisted we use the cheaper one they used a few years before. I remember offering to pay the difference myself and being shot down. And it honestly wasn't much more. And now 15 years later, I'm still disappointed. I'm disappointed that I didn't get the shots and creativity I wanted. I'm disappointed that I didn't fight harder for something that was so important to me. And I'm disappointed that I still don't have any wedding portraits because that unprofessional photographer would pretend to not be home every time we called or showed up at his house to collect. I'm honestly lucky to even have an album. It took me over three years to get it. He never gave us the digital images (and we're not gonna talk about how terrible my video was) so I'll probably never have any other wedding photos other than these. I just hope to remember whose wedding it is when my children get married.

I've always had an eye for photography so I made the best of a bad situation when I put this album together. At the time I was working in publishing so I had seen the magic an art director could do. I had a vision. I had it printed in a square format. I had some prints done in black and white. I chose the moments that told a story - not just the bland portraits of people posing for the camera. Not every photographer can do more than just take pictures. I had to be my own editor and in the end chose the story I wanted to tell.







Marriage is a choice, just like happiness is a choice. You have to choose to be happy and choose to stay married every single day. I got married because I did what I thought I was supposed to do. But I was pretty lucky and married a really nice guy - and we have three beautiful kids together. I'm still not sure how much we have in common (we are polar opposites in so many ways) but over the years he became one of my best friends. I know the way his brain works and often what he's gonna say before he says it. And who's to say that I wouldn't still be single if I didn't marry him? I have friends who are still single in their 40s. I choose to stay a part of this family we created together.

After 15+ years together, I can honestly say that marriage probably isn't for everyone. So many people sugarcoat it and you just don't know what to expect as a newlywed. For the first year of marriage my husband and I kept our separate apartments - and didn't see each other every night. It's a HUGE adjustment. There is a reason celebrities probably get divorced so easily every few years. If you have the means, and don't need anything from anyone, it's so easy to give up at the first sign of adversity. My advice to anyone single is decide what you really need (not just what you want) and that's what you should look for in a potential mate. And always remember to choose happiness.

XO
Michelle





















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47 comments

  1. Such a bummer about not being able to get the photographer you wanted and that you just weren't heard at all. You look gorgeous though.

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    1. Thanks Shira. I'm a fighter but I was just too worn down to keep fighting. It's 15 years later and still drives me crazy.

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  2. You looked beautiful and I enjoyed reading your article. You are very well spoken. I am amazed at the deals you find! $1000 for a $20,000 dress is amazing!

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    1. Awww thank you. And that was a pretty epic find :)

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  3. Happy Anniversary Michelle! what a beautiful wedding you had just by looking at your pictures. I get really happy to read about marriages that last for a long time and forever. You are very blessed to have such a beautiful familly! Mazal tov!! xx. Gina

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  4. I think your wedding album came out really beautiful! I can't believe what a huge wedding you had. It's a bummer that you couldn't have your dress the exact way you wanted it or the photographer you wanted. Like you, I never imagined that my wedding day would feel the best day of my life, and didn't want to have to deal with the preferences of parents, so I chose to elope instead.

    xx freshfizzle

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    1. LOL lucky you. I never wanted to elope but I did want a small beach wedding LOL. Sometimes with family you gotta compromise.

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  5. Ohhh This post was Amazing and Happy Anniversary Michelle:)
    The Photos looks just Amazing, I really loved all:)
    And your Dress... Can't Believe for how much you got:) You are the Best with Shopping Deals:)
    It was nice to read your Honest Opinions and Experience:)
    I loved that you shared with us this:)
    Wish you and your Hubby the Best and more 80 Years together:)
    Love Kisses
    Karina

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  6. Ok, where do I begin? That's quite natural I guess, I'll go with my sincerest and warmest congratulations on your 15th anniversary with your husband! Then it gets harder, but already back then you were an expert on thrifting and as much as I'd want to write about how amazing you looked (and still do) there's a sorrow to this post regarding so many things. It's also as honest and naked as it gets. You say you chose to be married and you choose to stay married every day. You talk about negative comments from various family members and you say your husband grew to be one of your best friends. Maybe I'm just sensitive, or then I'm the type that doesn't do marriage. I am grateful you hopefully shatter some of those unrealistic bridezillas out there with what marriage truly is. It is about compromising and giving up on a lot of other things. I can relate to not having any pictures from your wedding as all my pictures of me from the age of 12 to 25 were destroyed in my fire. My entire teen years and early adulthood is gone and those pictures are not coming back from anywhere, as that was before digital cameras were introduced. My comment might seem gloomy, but quite the contrary, I applaud you for telling us how life is. Wonderful at times and more of a struggle at times.
    Thomas xx

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    1. Thanks Thomas. That's so sad that you lost your photos. I had a bunch on an external drive that melted down that I lost from when my kids were little so I hear you. I feel there are enough people who fake how great their lives are on social media - the one thing I can do is be truthful and authentic. Life is hard. Once you accept that, then you can try to be happy :)

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  7. Wow that is incredible! You guys have been together for such a long time and still sounds like you're so happy!! It's so incredibly rare to find these days and myself included have been in a short-lived marriage and lost confidence so its really amazing to see and read about your journey together as a couple!

    PS. You looked stunning on your wedding day!!

    Helen xx
    https://helenchik.com/colours-of-italy

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    1. I'm happy because I choose to be. Most people don't get that it's a choice. And thank you Helen :)

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  8. Thanks so much for your honest post and beautiful reflection of your wedding day and marriage. Not every day in marriage is amazing and adding kids to the mix can only make it crazier sometimes. It takes work each day to connect and commit to another person.

    PS: SO glad you got this dress because it's GORGEOUS.

    alyson
    www.themodernsavvy.com

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    1. Thanks Alyson. People always write about the good stuff - or fake it for social media. I just wanted to share what was going on behind those pictures - and what it's really like to be married for 15 years.

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  9. Happy Anniversary my dear! Wow, looks like a long marriage. I am at my 5th anniversary right now and can't believe how fast time flew. You looked so beautiful on your photos, I love black and white pictures, something special in them. I can't believe that some of your relatives complain about driving from NJ to Long Island. My husband's family flew from other cities to Seattle and my family flew from other country to see us on our wedding. We had very small wedding for 50 people and it was so fun. I love your beautiful dress, I can't believe that you scored even your dress.;)

    http://www.queenhorsfall.com/

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    1. It does feel like forever LOL. Time does fly. And yeah - they seriously still complain about the long drive and the cold weather. Good grief.

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  10. This was such a beautiful post friend! I loved that you walked us though your wedding and congratulations on your 15th year of marriage. That is definitely something to celebrate. It's cool to see that even when your family was just starting out that you were still into fashion and scored your beautiful dress for that price. I think, even if you go through pre-marital counseling, many (I'd say most) don't have a true understanding of what it's going to be like being married. It's not butterflies and rainbows all the time. It's work. For me, I'm happy (most days) to do that work but it's definitely is a conscious choice and I love that you discussed that ! I'm sorry you didn't get the images you wanted however, the ones that you do have are incredible and I feel like really capture the emotion of the day! Thanks for sharing this beautiful moment and your gorgeous self with us!

    Manda | http://EvocativleyChosen.com

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    1. Thanks Manda. I think I was born with the fashion & bargain gene LOL. But yeah, as long as your happy days outnumber the bad ones I think you're ahead of the game :)

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  11. I love this post so much! My husband and I actually just celebrated our 15 year anniversary too. I love how you tell the story about your wedding and intertwine the lessons learned. I too hope that one day when my kids get married that I learn to stay out of their way and make it about them and not me. Your photos look beautiful and despite not getting the photographer you wanted, I think the photos still tell a story and the special moments were definitely captured. You look so stunning and thanks for sharing this with us. xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

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    1. Awww happy anniversary to you guys too! And me too! Weddings are about family but let's make it about the bride and groom first!

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  12. Happy Anniversary dear!
    This post is amazing and this photos are gorgeous!
    www.recklessdiary.ru

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  13. Happy Anniversary! You were such a stunning bride!!


    xo, Jennifer
    www.publicistinpearls.com

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  14. What a fabulous post! I love how openly honest you are and not just sugar coating everything to do with marriage. I have been married for almost 2years now and already understand how much sacrifice needs to be made to ensure it all works. I wouldn't change it for the world though - and when you meet the right person, it' just always 'works'.

    You look stunning in your dress! & the photos are gorgeous.

    Thanks for sharing!

    J. x

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    1. Thank you. I'm not sure it just works - but you decide to make it work.

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  15. Thanks for sharing such a sweet and honest post!! You wedding dress is insanely beautiful! Such a beautiful wedding!!! 15 years of married life is quite a milestone. It takes a lot of compromised, caring, sharing and communication to build a strong marriage. I'm so happy for you to have such a strong relationship. Oh,, btw you look like you haven't aged at all from 15 years ago!!!

    xx, Jessie
    http://4evajessie.com/inspo-diner-en-blanc/

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  16. Congrats on 15 years of marriage! It is so special that you have shared so much of your life with one person. You have a beautiful family, and your wedding ceremony seemed like a fairytale! Also, you literally have not aged at all since your wedding!!! Still gorgeous.


    ~xo Sheree
    PoshClassyMom.com

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  17. Happy 15th Anniversary to you and your husband! I think my husband and I were really lucky to pretty much do whatever we wanted, but still within rationality. We decided on the things that were most important to us and ranked everything else and photography was a huge deal. We didn't care about hiring a videographer. We did spend quite a bit for photography, but even then, I feel like that day wasn't captured as well I as I thought it should've been. Marriage can be difficult for a lot of people because of the unwillingness to choose to place someone else's desires above our own and I think that's why divorces happen so much. I totally agree that marriage isn't for anyone and I don't think anyone should ever rush into marriage. It's supposed to be a lifetime commitment and I think people often times forget that.

    xoxo,
    Maggie S.
    ❤Clothestomidnight.com

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    1. Thanks! You're so lucky to get what you wanted on your special day. And yeah, compromise is hard. And most people don't get how serious it is when you get married - it's so wrong to go in thinking you can just get out. But when you're young and naive nobody tells you like it really is and then so many people just get stuck. You really have to be a fighter to tough it out day to day - even in the happiest of marriages.

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  18. Hey gorgeous,
    How are you? This is such a beautiful post. First off I want to congratulate you for 15 years! That's amazing. My 19th anniversary with my husband was actually a couple of days ago as well. This post really touched me. And I've always thought the same way. Marriage is for sure not for everyone and I'm sure lots of people could agree. Nowadays marriages are spliting up constantly and I belive when you first make the commitment of spending the rest of your life with someone you have to be sure that that's what you want. My weding day was very nerve-racking. But I think it ended up being one of the best days of my life. Even though I feared breaking in laughter I got through it and in the end, it was worth it. You looked like a stunning princess and you still do. I can certainly relate because when I look back at my pictures I don't feel as beautiful as I used to be. But again, aging is something no one can prevent so we just gotta learn to embrace our age. Thank you so much for sharing babe. You are such a beautiful girl inside and outside!

    xoxo, vanessa

    http://thefashionstatement.net

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    1. Thank you Vanessa. And happy anniversary to you! You do not look old enough to be married 19 years!

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  19. I still can't believe you're any older than in your 20s. The way you dress and carry yourself on social media speaks otherwise! Being married for 15+ years speaks volumes! It's so rare nowadays that marriages last that long. I am not one bit shocked that you scored such an expensive wedding dress for only $1000. Hopefully I'm that lucky!

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    1. LOL thanks Candace. I bet you can get someone to sponsor your dress - otherwise come to NY and I can help you hunt one down on the cheap :)

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  20. Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane you look so gorgeous and I'm not surprised that you scored such a bargain on your wedding dress amazing!
    Yes marriage is definitely hard I've been with my partner for 18 years and it's definitely about giving and taking.
    I especially love the black-and-white shots they look so glamorous and add an extra touch of sophistication
    Xo
    Natalia k
    http://melbourneyum.com/florals-spring-outfits/

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    1. Thanks and wow - 18 years is impressive! And yeah, black and white makes everything more elegant :)

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  21. This is so beautiful, i love the photos they have a sort of old school hollywood feel to it. 15 years of marriage, that's something to truly celebrate about.
    my jaws literally dropped when you said you copped a $20,000 at the sample sale for only $1000!? That's SO lucky! I mean even with $500 in alternation thats a serious STEAL. Not to mention your $50 veil from eBay you are so thrifty!!
    looking back can always be bittersweet to see the years go by, but it's so amazing to be able to realize the journey you went through with your husband all these years as well!

    Wanderlustts

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    1. Thanks - that was exactly the vibe I was going for. And yeah, back in the day sample sales were epic. Some are still okay but nothing like the good ole days.

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  22. When I first scrolled through the pictures, I was like, wow, that great photos, they have such a lovely vintage feel to them! Then I read the whole piece and realised you did this all by yourself because a photographer screwed you over (I'm so sorry about that. How can someone do that to a couple on their wedding them?!) I would be devastated if that happened to me and I don't think I would ever forgive them too. The pictures you do have you've done a wonderful job of though, so I'm glad you at least have them. And thanks for shedding the light on marriage - so many people believe marriages fix problems but sometimes, it just exacerbates them. I love the last point - always choose happiness. Wise words!

    xx thelollychase.com

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    1. Thanks! I was going for a 1940's retro vibe :) And yeah, I've learned to get past a lot of hurt over the years by focusing on all the good - but this one always stuck with me.

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  23. First of all, Mazal Tov on your anniversary! What a true blessing it is to have a family! May love, health, happiness and all beautiful things surround you and your family always. I love the feel to your beautiful photos and you look so happy!

    xoxo

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    1. Thanks Jadassah! I'm glad I looked happy - I was one great actress that day :)

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  24. Oh, it was so interesting for me to read this amazing story! Marriage is not for everyone - can't agree more. Marriage is hard everyday work, where you can't be selfish and prideful. It is all about compromises.
    I really enjoyed watching your wedding pictures, that is so sad that you couldn't hire the photographer you want, but I really love all the pictures. They are full of emotions!

    http://lanaluu.com

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