Weddings

Photo Series Captures The Beauty In Being Married A Long, Long Time

A reminder that love really can last a lifetime.
02/25/2016 07:49pm ET

As long as she can remember, photographer Stephanie Jarstad has always been intrigued by a good love story.

"My mother recalls that even as a small child, I would ask her multiple times to share stories of how she met my father and about their wedding day," the Seattle-based wedding photog told The Huffington Post.

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With her "To Grow Old With You" photo project, Jarstad hopes to show younger generations, who might be skeptical of marriage, that lifelong love is possible.

That fascination has carried over into her adult life. Four years ago, Jarstad embarked on a photo series called "To Grow Old With You," in which she photographs and interviews older married couples about how they met, how they keep their relationship strong and what advice they would give to the younger generation.

"As a wedding photographer I hear about all the firsts. The first date. The first kiss. The first time they said 'I love you," Jarstad said. "I wanted to document love from the other end of the timeline -- years down the road, and thousands of dates, kisses and 'I love yous' later."

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“We dated eight years. We broke up and got back together six times. We just couldn’t communicate. But the stars kept bringing us back together. We are still working on that communication thing, but our love grows deeper every day.” - Doug & Fran, married 55 years at the time of the interview

Jarstad didn't know any of the couples beforehand -- she approached them on the street, asked about their love story and snapped some photos. Others she spent a few hours with at their homes.

"We laughed together, sometimes cried together and became dear friends," she wrote in a blog post.

<a href="http://www.stephaniejarstad.com/">Stephanie Jarstad Photography </a>
“Ray was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. To this day, no matter what happens to him, if you ask him what he would like to do, he always responds, with, 'Whatever Tess wants to do' That is the one thing he never seems to forget!” - Tess & Ray, married 54 years at the time of the interview

While working on the project, Jarstad said she realized that how a relationship begins is far less important than how it endures over time.

"Some couples knew they found 'the one' in an instant, others struggled and toiled, and some didn't like each other at all in the beginning," she told HuffPost. "A common thread among all the couples was respect and a determination to care for the other."

<a href="http://www.stephaniejarstad.com/">Stephanie Jarstad Photography </a>
“We went on a hike up Mt. Timpanogos in the summer of 1944. Six months later we were engaged. We’ve worked hard together to raise our thirteen children.”
- Chauncey & Bertha, married 71 years at the time of the interview

Jarstad plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign so that she can publish a coffee table book featuring these couples and others of more diverse backgrounds.

Through the 20 couples she's interviewed so far, Jarstad has gleaned some valuable words of relationship wisdom including: "People who fall out of love are like people who fall out of bed. They just weren’t in far enough.”

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"We met in an economics class. I was just studying the young lady in the class. Life is so uncertain. You need to have faith. When we got married, we did not have a lot. We just jumped in with both feet and started working. It will always take effort. We are closer now than we have ever been in our entire lives!”
- Mervin & Carolyn, married 56 years at the time of the interview

"These couples retained a gleam in their eye when they talk about their partner and how they met," Jarstad said. "May we all roll up our sleeves and work hard to polish and preserve our own love stories."

Check out more sweet stories below:

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“We met on a blind date. My niece set us up and we went to Chuck-A-Rama. She didn’t like me at all and I didn’t like her dog."
- Robert & Patricia, married 23 years at the time of the interview
<a href="http://www.stephaniejarstad.com/">Stephanie Jarstad Photography </a>
"She sat across from me in our English class and I had to answer all her questions, or maybe it was the other way around. We got married right out of high school when we were 17. I tell people we were teenagers. I say she was 19 and I was 13. Laughter is important in our marriage. I let her have her sewing room. I stay out of there and she stays out of my glass cutting room.”
- Richard & Jan, 65 years of marriage at the time of the interview
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“He has a twin brother and I have a twin brother, and we rode the school bus together. I was in the third grade and he was in the sixth grade. We fell in love riding on the school bus and going to baseball games together." 
Helen & Lloyd, married 64 years at the time of the interview
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“We met when I was working at a women’s dress shop in California, and he was working next door at a men’s clothing store. Every morning we’d both go out to sweep the sidewalk. One day our brooms met, and we fell in love on that sidewalk in front of those stores. We talked everyday and he swept me off my feet!"
Andrew & Norma, married 57 years at the time of the interview

Have a couple you'd like to nominate? Email studio@stephaniejarstad.com for more information.

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