giving with meaning: our first anniversary

Today, I'm excited to share with you the third post in a new series: Giving with Meaning! Finding meaningful gifts is something I truly love to do. However, budgets, timing, and distance often impact how I celebrate those I love. In this new series I'm going to share how I've kept each of those things in mind as I assemble meaningful gifts for my friends and family. You can read more posts from this series here!


Last month on October 18, Kurt and I celebrated our first anniversary! In following the traditional anniversary gift suggestions, we decided our gifts to one another should be paper-based. I've shared in the earlier posts in this series how much I love to celebrate my relationships by giving gifts but giving this gift in particular made me just the tiniest bit nervous! I wanted it to represent not just the happiness of the first year of our marriage, but to remind us of the wedding day itself. 

I thought about a few different options, did plenty of research on Pinterest and Etsy, and in the end decided on something that would memorialize the beauty of our wedding day.  

  This piece truly depicts the beauty of our wedding day. From the colors of the leaves and the little bit of snow on the ground to the reflections of the pond, I love the memories that come back when I look upon this piece. 

This piece truly depicts the beauty of our wedding day. From the colors of the leaves and the little bit of snow on the ground to the reflections of the pond, I love the memories that come back when I look upon this piece. 

I worked with a lovely woman I found on Etsy to recreate the scene of our ceremony in this beautiful watercolor painting! The process was relatively simple - I sent here a few of my favorite pictures of the space, she shared a draft drawing, and a couple of weeks later this beautiful piece was in my hands! If you're looking for a unique piece to commemorate a significant event, I'd absolutely recommend her. See more of her work here

  I purchased  this frame  from Pottery Barn to match some of the other frames we have in our bedroom!

I purchased this frame from Pottery Barn to match some of the other frames we have in our bedroom!

Kurt took a more hands-on approach with his gift for me, building an illuminated pop-up book depicting some of the milestones in our relationship. Yes, you read that correctly - he learned how to create pop-up book pages, he bound those pages together, and he embedded lights into each page.

I should say too that Kurt has this way of pulling off what others might deem impossible. From surprising me on the day we got engaged to presenting me with this beautiful, thoughtful pop-up book, there have many times throughout our relationship when Kurt did what I thought couldn't be done. By now, I've come to expect that he will succeed, even when the tallest of obstacles might be in his way! 

  The cover of the book - a night sky with the words "This Is Our Story" illuminated.   

The cover of the book - a night sky with the words "This Is Our Story" illuminated.  

In this book there are four pages, each with a different event from our relationship: our early days of emailing back and forth through our Match.com profiles, our first vacation together to New Orleans, getting engaged and then married, and a final page about all that is to come. I've shared photos of each page below!

  Kurt and I met on Match.com in December 2012. We exchanged emails for about a week before our first date!  

Kurt and I met on Match.com in December 2012. We exchanged emails for about a week before our first date! 

  We took our first vacation together the March after we met, spending about a week in New Orleans. On the front and back ends of that trip, we also visited Illinois and Pennsylvania to introduce each other to our families!

We took our first vacation together the March after we met, spending about a week in New Orleans. On the front and back ends of that trip, we also visited Illinois and Pennsylvania to introduce each other to our families!

  The day we got engaged, Kurt surprised me with a hand-drawn map and set of rhyming directions that led me to a secret garden at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He was waiting there with roses and an engagement ring!  

The day we got engaged, Kurt surprised me with a hand-drawn map and set of rhyming directions that led me to a secret garden at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He was waiting there with roses and an engagement ring! 

  A scene from our wedding day. I love that Kurt included both of our parents in this image too! 

A scene from our wedding day. I love that Kurt included both of our parents in this image too! 

  The final page with scenes from adventures we've had - the mountains of Austria - and those to come - we are traveling to London and Paris in between Christmas and New Years this year!

The final page with scenes from adventures we've had - the mountains of Austria - and those to come - we are traveling to London and Paris in between Christmas and New Years this year!

When Kurt assembled the book, he did so in a way that allows him to add new pages so he can continue to document our story in the years to come. I love that this gift can be expanded as our life continues, and that we will be able to document some of our favorite moments together in a creative way. 


When I think about this first year of marriage that we celebrated last month, I come back to some of the words I spoke in my vows to Kurt on our wedding day. Here is part of what I said to him:

"As we prepare for this next chapter, I promise to learn from you, believe in you, care for you, and do my best to understand you even when I might struggle to do so.

I promise to be curious and not defensive, to love, respect and trust you, and give you the best of myself. Because together, we will be able to build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone."

Since our wedding day thirteen months ago, we have taken the first intentional steps in creating this better life together. I love how our gifts to one another celebrate that life by remembering the milestones we've shared and looking forward to the ones that are still to come. To my Kurt, I'm glad to be your wife and to share this life with you! 


I'd love to know - how have you approached gifts for those milestones in your relationships? Share your favorites in the comments! 


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