Shalyn Nelson’s grandparents, Joe Ray and Billie Wanda Johnson, have been married for 65 years.
A couple of years ago, the 30-year-old photographer asked her Papaw, 86, and Mamaw, 83, to indulge her by participating in an adorable photo shoot. Now, the heartwarming photos are going viral.
This wasn’t just your typical dress-up, stand-and-smile routine, either it was a fun and playful shoot. Shalyn had her grandparents re-create today’s most popular wedding photos (any Pinterest board about wedding-day poses will quickly confirm this), and the results were adorable.
Shalyn grew up next-door to her grandparents. She didn’t have much of a father figure around, but she says Papaw and Mamaw filled that void throughout her life with their love and endless support.
“They have taught me the true meaning of marriage,” Shalyn says. “No marriage is perfect, and my grandparents will be the first to tell you that. But they never gave up.”
Mamaw and Papaw met when she was in high school and he was in college.
Their families knew each other. He asked to drive her home one day, and then asked to take her out. Young and in love, they got engaged in 1950 after just two years of dating while he finished college and got a job.
Papaw planted a rose bush outside the couple’s window when they built their house on Hidden Lake Ranch in Jewett, Texas. “Billie Wanda is the rose of my life … but it does have a few thorns here and there,” Papaw said, laughing.
Here are 21 beautiful pics celebrating Papaw and Mamaw’s life together that will make you believe in love.
1. Just look at these two. That’s amor!
2. Papaw gets playful with the “I caught the bouquet” pose.
3. Isn’t a kiss on the forehead always the sweetest?
4. “Walking through life together, but the trail’s getting short,” Papaw tells Shalyn.
5. You gotta have a shot of the radiant bride in her full, beautiful splendor.
6. A glimpse of a touching love letter Papaw wrote to his bride.
7. Can’t you just feel the love between these two?
8. This “almost-kiss” shot is a must for every wedding photographer.
9. The happy couple posing with the letters they wrote to each other.
10. An homage to Billie Wanda, the rose of his life.
11. The blushing bride is simply gorgeous.
12. How cute is this pose right before the bride and groom see each other for the first time?
14. You can’t argue with that nuzzling.
15. And the veil-over-the-heads shot is also a must on any wedding photographer’s list. Nailed it.
16. You can’t forget a close-up photo of the couple’s hands wearing their wedding bands. The wrinkles add character.
17. As giddy as they must have been on their actual wedding day.
18. We now pronounce you man and wife, still after 65 years.
19. You may now kiss the bride … again!
20. May you continue to only have eyes for each other.
21. And live happily ever after.
Marriage is tough. Celebrating 65 years together is an amazing milestone.
While marriage isn’t for everyone, Mamaw and Papaw are wonderful role models for those who do choose to walk down the aisle with their eyes and their hearts wide open.
They’re a great example of the beautiful things that can happen if you choose to embark on that crazy roller coaster ride filled with ups and downs and twists and turns that marriage guarantees.
“Everybody can’t always have their own way. There has to be a little give and take,” Mamaw advises. “Just have good common sense.”