Engagement Anniversary - One Year

Exactly one year ago today, Mark and I were packing up a few things and heading to Jasper for the day to spend some time together before Mark started his final year of University. Little did I know, as we drove towards Jasper together, that Mark had my gold + black engagement ring nestled safely in his backpack. **If you're fairly new here and weren't around 12 months ago, I'll leave our engagement post here for you to peruse.kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_0235kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_0240kaihla_tonai_intimate_wedding_elopement_photographer_0233

This morning while Mark was making us both coffee, he realized that today was September 21st, and both of us were almost taken aback thinking "wow, we have done so so much in the last 12 months". It's unbelievable to think all that we've accomplished, both apart and together in the last year; from travelling, to moving, to graduating University, to crossing off so many goals that once seemed so far out of reach, it's almost unfathomable. I thought I'd take a minute this morning to reflect on all (or most, since I know I'll forget lots!) that we've done since this day last year.

  • We chose our wedding venue + photographer + planned a wedding that took place 10 months after getting engaged
  • We drove to Vancouver on a 5 day weekend to spend time with friends, travel around the island, and have our engagement photos taken
  • I photographed a 10 page spread for an online Australian-based publication
  • I was fortunate enough to photograph a feature with Melanie Laurene for DOTE here in Calgary
  • Spent an incredible-weather fall Thanksgiving weekend in Cold Lake
  • Started really settling into my Free Spirit sessions and shot two of my favourite FSSs to date.
  • Visited our wedding venue for the first time in the dead of winter
  • Mark's business "Made in House" was created and the bottle openers (+more!) was developed
  • Mark was part of the U of A's Pop up Shop
  • Went back to Cold Lake for the first half of our Christmas vacation
  • Left Cold Lake to fly to Florida for the second half of our Christmas vacation
  • Started the wedding season off earlier than usual with three winter weddings (one Jan, one Feb, and one March)
  • I flew to Kauai in January and spent a week there
  • Had my first article published on The Free Woman
  • Spent Valentine's day weekend in Cold Lake
  • Took on two NAIT students for work experience
  • Travelled to Calgary to sign the lease for our new apartment
  • Held my first-ever mentoring session in Edmonton
  • Went to Calgary with Teresa for some photo sessions
  • Celebrated Mark at his U of A graduate design show
  • Went to MEXICO with Chelsey for Annette + Brad's wedding!!!
  • Packed up our place and MOVED to Calgary!!!
  • Had lots of out-of-town friend visits
  • Went to MEXICO (again!!!!!) with Mark for his brothers wedding!
  • Mom + dad visited our place for the first time
  • My wedding dress came in the mail!!!!
  • Held multiple full-day mentoring sessions
  • Mark started his full time design job
  • Photographed 17 weddings
  • Travelled to Saskatchewan two weekends in a row for sessions + weddings
  • Got legally married in June!
  • Spent the weekend together at our wedding venue pre-wedding
  • Flew to Rhode Island by myself for a SURPISE wedding
  • Mark's bottle openers got taken into MULTIPLE stores in both Calgary + Edmonton to be sold
  • WE GOT MARRIED in GOLDEN surrounded by 34 of our closest family + friends!
  • Drove 2000+ miles down, over, and around the Oregon Coast in our Westy
  • Shot some of my favourite weddings to date
  • Met some UNBELIEVABLE people
  • Planned a FREE SPIRIT RETREAT with Kori Leigh
  • Learned a LOT about ourselves


Wow, it's honestly hard to put these past twelve months into words. We are so incredibly fortunate to have the means + support to both be able to accomplish so so much. I think it's important to remember, that no matter how mundane life may seem from day-to-day, that when you look back you won't believe how far you've come. If I would have told myself last September, that in a year from now I would accomplish everything on the above list and more, there's probably no way that I would have believed it. There are no words to express how much gratitude that I feel for the life that Mark and I have cultivated together; for the joy, the accomplishments, the friends, the family. Yes, there's also been a lot of stress, some misunderstandings, a lot of fear, and even some pain, but those points above make all of that so incredibly worth it.


Also, if you feel like crying alongside of me while I watch this video for the 100th time, click play on the link above ;)