These are my next door neighbors Jon and Leslie. And yes, they really do look this gorgeous




even on a 5:30 a.m. run or after working in the yard for several hours. Their home is elegant and immaculate, their yard could be featured in a magazine and their four children resemble J Crew models.

But last week, Jon and Leslie held a celebration of not being perfect. And it was beautiful.

After nearly a year of planning, they gathered a hundred friends, a caterer, a DJ, a bartender, a videographer and photographer (moi) and publicly recommitted themselves to their marriage and their family. It was a bold move—ceremonies like this are as rare in Utah as an elephant walking down main street. But the words they spoke were even more courageous.

Jon spoke of the first time he saw his wife and her beauty and work ethic and vivacious personality. And then he acknowledged becoming overwhelmed with work and obsessed with sports and losing focus of the family he loved more than life. And Leslie– elegant, strong Leslie– read one of her first love letters to Jon and then tearfully disclosed a year of growing apart and of her emotional collapse that led to this reawakening.

Their words were honest and human and true. Marriage is hard; life is hard. We travel through life bumping and bruising each other often not even recognizing the effects of our actions. But ultimately, we all want to love and be loved.

I admire people who speak the truth. If we concentrate on “keeping up appearances” or making small talk we can’t help each other. And Jon and Leslie help every person they meet. They described the rebuilding of their relationship, of sacrifices (Leslie quit her job; Jon threw away his bike racing jersey) and of new habits.

We nod and smile at anniversaries: 10 years, 15, 20. But the value of preserving a family, of finding new ways to love, can’t be measured.

And my divorced friends will forgive me today, because they would have done the same, they would have made any sacrifice, if only they had a spouse who wanted it too.

I could go on, and wax eloquent about Jon and Leslie’s vivid, palpable renewed love, but I’ll let the photos speak their thousand words.

I call this Jon’s ‘happiest man in the world’ look.

August 20, 2009



  1. Selwyn

    August 18, 2009

    They are beautiful.

    “And my divorced friends will forgive me today, because they would have done the same, they would have made any sacrifice, if only they had a spouse who wanted it too.”

    What’s to forgive? Besides, I agree, wholeheartedly!

  2. lawdy

    August 18, 2009

    So nice to visit your blog yesterday and today. I enjoy your writing and especially liked hearing about your mother. Beautiful photos too. I hope someday you can take some picts. of my kids.

  3. Tracy

    August 19, 2009

    What a lovely couple and story. You know so many incredibly hot people. 😉

  4. martha corinna

    August 19, 2009

    So beautiful. I like to hear the stories about how people work at it, because heaven knows I really don’t need to hear another fairy tale.

    Your photos are so incredible and lovely.

  5. Denise

    August 19, 2009

    I want her arms.

  6. Christie

    August 19, 2009

    I second what Denise said. Those arms are amazing.

    Beautiful light, as always. You really captured two people in love there.

  7. Chelle

    August 19, 2009

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    So beautiful and so perfect.

  8. Chelle

    August 19, 2009

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    So beautiful and so perfect.

  9. Chelle

    August 19, 2009

    I didn’t mean to post the same comment twice, but your pictures are THAT amazing, so I’m leaving it. 😀

  10. Jodie

    August 19, 2009

    Beautiful photos. You’ve really captured their emotions well.

  11. Claudia

    August 19, 2009

    Take notes Blue Lily, this gal Michelle has it going ON!

    Loved everything about these. Jon and Leslie are so fortunate to have such an awesome neighbor capture them so exquisitely. Just beautiful.

  12. old school

    August 20, 2009

    Thanks for your kind words. It was a pleasure having you at our Celebration. Thank you so much for taking such beautiful photos; you memorialized a wonderful experience for us. We could not be more pleased with your work–it’s fantastic.


  13. Kelly

    August 20, 2009

    I see this beautiful couple and appreciate their story but all the time I can’t help but think how lucky they are to have you as a neighbor and friend. You documented, not only their beauty in photos…but their story is printed beautifly forever and shared with so many to enjoy and learn from!

    No matter your personal struggles Michelle, you never fail to see the good things around you.

    Thanks for sharing them….you are so lovely!!!!


  14. Blue

    August 20, 2009

    i’ve kind of half-planned to renew our vows and have a big party with people we actually love someday. ours was kind of a flop the first time, wrought with all kinds of mishap. it got the deed done, but that was about the extent of it.

    tuesday’s our 19th anniversary, so doc will graduate from med school right before our 20th. only problem is we’ll be flat broke, and parties aren’t free.

    maybe 30?!

    i loved this story for many reasons that you, michelle, may understand. i always love your eye for photography, but i love the story even more in this case. ♥

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