On October 14th, 2015 I sent Todd an email. It said:
My sweetest friend,
I won't text you because I don't want to wake you but I can't seem to stop myself from sharing something with you in this very moment in time. I am so madly in love with you Todd Maki. I can't focus, can't concentrate, can't keep my mind on anything else other than you. I know I should be enjoying my last days here (in Italy), but it just seems to empty without you. So dull and unfulfilling unless I have your voice in my ear and your arm on my shoulder. I don't ever want to be without you.
I came across that email early in our trip. During a jet-lag induced sleepless night pouring over old photos and emails. I paused when I read it remembering the longing; the trepidation and uncertainty in our situation.
Then a smile crept over my face. Sleeping next to me was the love of my life. And in an instant that resurfacing anguish evaporated, vanished my from mind. Replaced only with the warm comfort that I would never have to be without him again.
And while it could hardly be considered his choice or mine, our paths converged. When that happened it became clear a beautiful space existed between us. A space filled with love, time and a feeling we had been here before - together. Even when we fought to deny it, our love was bigger and stronger than both of us. It was patient and it was kind. And when we did finally open our eyes it was the only thing standing in front of us.
That night, I thought about how grateful I was. For him. For the way he loves - so fiercely, selflessly and pure. For our life. And how perfect it felt in that very moment. I became so intensely overcome with emotion I had to fight for my next breath, and eventually laughed out loud. Trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, not to wake him. There is something ridiculous about catching yourself so emotionally aware. To realize you are so happy, you can't do anything other than laugh at the miraculous idea of it all.
When he awoke the following morning, I whispered in his ear that I didn't want to wait. He didn't either. We began planning and were married less than two weeks later in the South of France.
Historically an elopement meant running away secretly with the intention of getting married. And while that meaning still stands, there was definitely no parental or governmental objection to the exchanging of our vows. Rather, we wanted to merely escape. Escape the chaos, the expectations, and the frustration planning a wedding can, and too often, brings.
It seems to me that weddings have become an event with clear expectations. Diamond rings, bridal parties, long guest lists, and over-priced white dresses. All of which put extreme amounts of pressure on two people who just want to declare their love for one another. Is it possible to press the reset button and redefine what a wedding "should be"? How do we shift the focus in the right direction again?
For us, we wanted to start our lives together, truly together, just the two of us. Make our commitment to one another in the most intimate way possible. To say the things meant only for each other's ears. Without shifting our focus to seating charts, expensive decor and lofty expectations from family members about what our wedding should be.
And while we also decided to have a bigger celebration with friends and family, planning as husband and wife has lifted the stress associated with it. Our wedding is no longer a highly anticipated milestone, but a mere party to celebrate our love, and the support of our friends and family throughout our journey to finding it.
Photos by the lovely, talented Elodie Winter.