40 Years Blessed
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
-Psalm 145: 3-7
This summer, we got to celebrate my in-laws' 40th anniversary with a surprise party! The entire family was together in Michigan so it was the perfect opportunity. With Doug's parents in Chicago, sister/brother-in-law/kiddos in Wisconsin, brother/sister-in-law/more kiddos in Idaho, and us here in Michigan, it's extra special to be together.
Research for a space had us coming up empty handed. Nothing wowed us or felt like it represented the two of them in the way we wanted to. It wasn't until I met with the lovely staff at Venue 3 Two that I felt we had found the right one. This restored mansion from the 1920s was the perfect backdrop for our celebration. Their staff went above and beyond to accomodate our surprise and ensure that it was a meaningful experience for our whole family.
To commemorate a legacy of 40 years together, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about this part of my family. I am humbled at the fact that has God blessed me with two families that are full of loving, supportive, kind people. It doesn't escape me that this isn't always the case so I don't take it for granted.
Mom & Dad
The guests of honor! Dad is a funny, supportive person who gets excited about the little things in life (and dreaming about the big things). He’s at home when we are taking a sun-filled boat ride around Gun Lake or anytime we are all together. We all value his insight on topics from business to home improvement. Seeing his work ethic in action has taught me a lot about what it means to dedicate yourself to your business and what it can do for the community you’re investing in. Our Mom is a kind, giving person who makes you feel comfortable the minute you meet her. She is wildly creative and a talented artist. To me, Christmas is one of the spaces where all of these attributes come together and create a visual display of who she is. The house is decorated in the most Hallmark-esque way, she has baked and prepped for weeks, and every detail is covered to ensure everyone feels special and loved. For all that they do for us, we were so excited to be able to surprise them and their 40 years of love. They are “don’t make a fuss over us” kind of people so we loved being able to make them feel extra treasured.
Greg & Pam | Grayson, Ava, Brayden
Greg is Doug's older brother (as you could probably tell...they look a bit alike). Greg is one of those people that’s just easy to be around; fun to chat with, good listener, and has great stories from biking to business. Our sister-in-law Pam is smart, comical, and adventurous. The first time I met the whole family was to celebrate her birthday. She was so welcoming to me even though it was her special day. She has the best smile and is the gal you need for advice on a good book to read or a Bachelor viewing party ;) Their oldest Grayson was the first grandchild/nephew in the fam. He is a spirited guy who does everything in life full force. We used to babysit him when we were in college so there are still times I can’t believe he is 9 years old! Their daughter Ava is the lone gal among all the kids, but holds her own. She is sweet but tough and loves princesses, baby animals, and playing outside with the boys. It’s been so fun to bond with our only niece with all things girly. Their youngest, Brayden is a little doll with a great laugh…everyone says that he reminds them of when Doug was a baby with his blonde hair and big brown eyes (yes Dougie used to be a blondie)! So thankful that they were able to come to from Idaho to Michigan this summer for the party and some good lake time.
Sam & Katie | Grant, Nolan, Dane, Harrison
You can always count on my brother-in-law Sam for a steady perspective and a good pun (or as his wife now calls them, bad dad jokes). He is a pediatrician which becomes clear not just in his intellect but in the caring, calm way he approaches all situations. Katie has the sweetest most sincere spirit which you see in her interactions with anyone from strangers to her kids. She is deeply caring, thoughtful, organized, and always up for a good outing. They have their hands busy with four little guys. Their oldest, Grant is a dear. This handsome gentleman thinks analytically and if you have any interest in/questions about trains, he would be a great resource for you. I love when we are together and I hear a knock on our door in the morning because he has something he would like to share. Next in line is Nolan who has the best smile around. He’s constantly on the go, loves the color red, and is crazy about dinosaurs (he beat Doug in naming different dinos last weekend). He also has the sweetest voice-hopefully it sounds like that forever ;) Next in line is Mr. Dane who is comical, entertaining, and full of the cutest mannerisms. He often has grand stories to tell or insightful questions to ask, and phrases things in his own little way. Harrison rounds out their beautiful family. He smiles easily, is content to jump in his bouncy seat, and has sparkling eyes. Life is good when you’re a cute baby with sweet parents and three older brothers!
Doug & Ashley
You know us. Just your run of the mill Paisley-loving, documentary watching, dance party having, Michigan obsessed duo. In all seriousness, Doug is the most wonderful human being who makes me feel seen and special everyday. To be so loved just for being who you are is profound. When I married this gent I got his family too so I’m clearly the lucky one.
To the people who helped make this a memorable night for our family: my heart is forever grateful.
VENUE: Website: Venue 3 Two | Instagram: @venue3two
Truly, the most customer-focused, hospitable group of people run this venue. They did everything to make sure that we had a positive experience. Thanks to their organization and spirit of service, the event was seamless. The heart of their mission to help community non-profits (specifically human trafficking) is such a profound aspect of who they are.
We kept it fairly simple with the decorations. I found the gold candlesticks that lined the gathering table on Craiglist. The sweetest lady had them left over from her daughter’s wedding-we had a nice chat in the parking lot of Target when I picked them up. We went with mostly greens (from Horrocks Market) and simple stems in a collection of antique glass bottles that Katie had.
CATERING: KJ Catering | Instagram: @kjcateringco
I can't say enough about Kevin and his staff. They were great throughout the entire process, accommodated our requests, and delivered some of the best food I have had. Their customer service was above and beyond which makes a huge difference for events like this. It's a gift to bring people around a table and their food was the perfect centerpiece of this event.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Avery Phillips | Instagram: @averyphillips_
Not only is Avery a talented photog, she is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. In chatting with her you can just feel that she lives heart first (my kind of gal). She is real, brave, funny, and has killer style. Our family treasures the gift of these photos. Especially with all of us living across the country, it means the world that she so truly captured these moments. Grateful to have her in this creative community and to call her a dear friend.
It almost feels like not enough to simply write a blog post about a journey that started 40 years ago. A journey that has been rooted in love, deepened by difficult events, and made more rich with children and then grandchildren. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad-we all love you so.
*I partnered with my favorite ladies at Venue 3 Two on this post but all content, opinions, and cute nephews/niece are my own ;)