We all had hopes that 2018 would be better than 2017, that it couldn’t possibly get uglier than last year. But today is July 5th, and the world still lacks love. Family separations, racism, violence, and a whole host of other atrocities greet us every morning. Hate and ugliness often starts many of our days.

      Friends, that shouldn’t be.

      I know how many of us sit helplessly watching things and feeling powerless to affect change. I feel the loss of love every day.

      Someone I’ve come to regard as the wedding and marriage grinch, once suggested that to photograph weddings for a living was extravagant and fed into some kind of idealizing of the state of marriage. Nothing is farther from the truth to me.

      Marriage is a beacon of hope in a dark world. We need more of it, frankly, not less.

      If you’ve been lucky enough to love and be loved and you and your partner are taking the ultimate plunge into marriage, you’re taking a bold and beautiful step to share love with another person.  But your wedding also shares love with the people you invite to celebrate with you. I regularly watch wedding guests cry at ceremonies as they think of a time where they lived great hope and love.

      Marriage isn’t all sunshine and cupcakes all the time. It’s a lot of hard work. But if you live in a marriage where commitment and selflessness rule the day, your marriage is grace to other people who see you being selfless in your public life. So if you live with great love, and your marriage is strong, you’re the fortunate one. When you sit and stare at the news, developing neck damage from shaking your head so much and feeling despair take a step back. Step back to the intangibles you’ve been given- love and hope and time and selflessness.

      If we live with hope and love, we can make our surroundings and the people around us better. It takes almost no effort, even on the bad days, to put a hand on someone’s arm and wish them well, tell your neighbor you’re thinking of them, to give a struggling person a hug, or just sit with them and say, “This is hard, and I’m sorry.” The acting of being and acknowledging the being of another person brings hope and shares from the well of stability you’ve been gifted and makes us all a little stronger.

      I have to stop now because my word count has exceeded my original goal. But if you’re struggling because you’ve been planning this wedding and wondering what the what it all matters, just know that it does. Your wedding matters, and your marriage definitely matters. They both point to something larger than you or something more profound than you might have originally anticipated.

      Love, hope and selflessness are our best bets for countering the worst of what happens around us. Love well in the second half of the year.