Love Stories

I have had the honor of photographing and telling hundreds of love stories as a wedding photographer in Chattanooga.  Please take a look around for ideas and inspiration for telling yours.

Lessons from A Divorced Wedding Photographer

Divorce.  That’s not something you would expect the hear from a wedding photographer.  This blog should be sunshine and roses and nothing ever goes wrong in marriage right?  Nope.  That’s not real.  That’s not authentic and that’s not my story.

I want to tell you my story because I want to be honest.  My divorce had a huge effect on who I am.  It shaped the way I see the world, marriage, relationships, and myself.  So, if this blog is supposed to share more about me….you definitely need to know about it.

Our story started out like a lot love stories.

I met my ex-husband when I was 15, at Riverbend, an infamous music festival in Chattanooga.  That should have been my first clue, haha.  We had a normal teenage relationship at first.  Then he went to college in Atlanta at the end of the summer. While I had feelings for him, I was 15 and didn’t think it would really go anywhere. Well, it did go somewhere and he ended up moving back home at the end of the semester.

The next 4 years were full of me not feeling adequate while he felt frustrated.  So we decided to get married, we were adults now right?  We were going to grad school together, it was time to get married and start our lives as real adults.  In my mind I knew I cried too much, but all I knew was I loved him and that’s all I needed right?  Love?  The rest would work itself out. Nope.

We went off to pharmacy school together and everything fell apart soon after graduation (you can read more about my first career here).  Both of us felt held back.  We were frustrated with each other and neither of us had what the other needed.  Looking back now I can see it was inevitable.  At the time I was completely floored when he told me he didn’t love me anymore.  Shocked. I couldn’t believe it and I was pathetically desperate to fix it.  I CAN’T be divorced.  That’s not who I am.  I am not this person that gets divorced because I’m not a quitter.

This was not how my life was supposed to be.

I’m supposed be a  modern Mom.  I’m supposed to work at Walgreen’s as a pharmacist and pay off our student loans. Then we will have some children, I’ll go part-time and be a full time Mom and wife. I’ll be PTA president at the imaginary kids school and listen to the sermon at church every Sunday with a smile on my face and a baby in my lap.  Also, my devoted husband’s arm will be around me as we look at each other in contentment and happiness. THAT IS THE PLAN! And all this before my 30th birthday!

Nope. Nope. Double Nope.

This experience told me planning a life like this is ridiculous.  You never know what is around the corner and you have no control over the feelings of another human being.  It wasn’t all bad, we had a lot of good times together.  We traveled together.  We experienced a lot of firsts together.  However, we were never right for each other and I was completely blinded to it.  ONE HUNDRED PERCENT IN THE DARK.

So do I wish I could go back and fix that marriage? Do I wish I could get in a Delorean or Phone booth and go back in time to forbid myself from marrying him? No, to either.  I would not be who I am today without him or my divorce.  I am stronger, wiser, happier, and I know exactly who I am.  There is a Brandi Carlisle lyric I heard the other day that felt right to me.  It was something like “I wish I could thank you”.

So Richard, if you ever find this blog.  Thank you.  You had the courage to tell me how you felt.  You had the courage to file for divorce when I was so depressed I couldn’t move and free me from myself.  I would have never met and married the love of my life if every piece of my life hadn’t lined up the way it did.  So thank you.

“By the way, I forgive you
After all, maybe I should thank you
For giving me what I’ve found”

-Brandi Carlile

So how am I different?  I have more compassion and understanding than I used to and I recognize that I am not in control of anyone else but me.  I now know what I want from a partner and what my partner can expect from me.  My expectations are more realistic,  I know myself better, and  I know what a healthy relationship should look like and what it shouldn’t.  I realize my independence is important to me.  I love myself more and  I recognize that I am responsible for my own feelings and I shouldn’t need anyone to make me feel good about myself.

I hope this has given you a better idea of who I am and what it’s like to have your entire worldview shifted.   The whole experience of a bad relationship and divorce set me up so that I was in the right mental place at the right time to meet my husband Josh.  Our relationship is as good as it is because we both had a lot of life experiences we have learned from.  Wisdom definitely comes with age and experience! I hope this post was more of an encouragement than a bummer for you.  Let me know in the comments!

I’ll end this with some thoughts about my happy ending.  I obviously still believe in a forever kind of love.  I believe in marriage, romance, and real love.  I believe in promising the person you love you will do the best you can to be true to, love, and support them.   “Happily Ever After” is always possible, no matter what your past looks like!

Here are some favorite photos from when I married the love my life last May.


comments +

  1. Hetal says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Your story sounds very much like mine. I went through a very similar situation in my life as well. Very uplifting to see that you are able to write about it- definitely very encouraging!

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