I'm sure you've already heard all about vanlife through the popularity it's gained on instagram and the intriguing New Yorker article, but have you ever been curious of how couples actually do it? I mean, what is it really like living together in that tiny space? I (Lilia) and am all for the trend and Olivia is not so sure!
We got to chat with Willa, one half of the instagram @viathevan where she and her husband moved into vanlife one year after getting married. Read below for all things marriage and #vanlife related...who knows, maybe you'll be inspired and try van life out for yourself! xx
What was the hardest part of planning your wedding?
Knowing whether we were making the very best decision. You don’t think you’ll be the couple that frets over whether your dinner napkins should be ivory or off-white but once things really start to come together, you don’t want anything to be out of place. People are always saying that guests won’t notice those little missteps but truthfully, it’s not about what your friends and family do or don’t notice, it’s about knowing you and your partner created something magical, something as close to whatever you deem ‘perfect’ as humanly possible.
What was it like doing vanlife after getting married?
It was like getting thrown into the marital gauntlet. We were married for exactly one year before moving into the van- our first night in the van was the day after our anniversary- and while we had spent a lot of time together over the course of our first seven years, van life was something new entirely. Luke and I share the same moral compass, spiritual beliefs and life goals but as far as the day-to-day, we’re opposites. We quickly found that in order to live happily together in such a tiny space, we had to make sure we weren’t compromising on our desires. We would often take turns picking the day’s activity or would take quick jaunts on our own. In the end, we fought a lot (typical) but became better communicators and learned what each of us needs to be our best partner selves.
What was the best part of being engaged?
Telling our engagement story! Luke was so proud of the ring he snagged me and the location of our proposal that both of us just lit up when someone asked about how it happened. Montana has become our favorite state as a couple and jump at any opportunity to return.
What shifted for you since getting married?
Honestly not too much. I think the first year we were both just so high on life. All we wanted to do was scurry home and snuggle. We were living in the same apartment as we always had been but now it felt even more like home- there was a family inside that had so much potential for growth and change. Not that it wasn’t there before but we’d talked about getting married since year 1 so it was wild to realize that big life checkbox had been accomplished.
What would you tell other brides-to-be right now?
Ooph, such a tricky question! You start to get advice from so many angles that sometimes your eyes begin to glaze over #guilty. If I could travel back in time and tell my earlier planning self one tip it would be this, listen to your little gut, don’t settle, find exactly what you’re looking for because it’s out there and you’ll be so so incredibly happy that you did. I spent every one of the 365 days of planning looking for very specific pieces; flatware, florals, garlands, runners etc and the entire time I kept asking myself if it was going to be worth it. For me the answer was yes. All the time I dedicated to eBay that I will never get back made sitting next to my husband, smiling at not only all of our friends and family but out at the party I put together, that much greater! So maybe more universal, find out that thing that’s really really important to you and don’t give up on making it a reality. You got this.
What was the biggest surprise you had while planning your wedding?
How many people accepted our invitation! You go into your numbers with the assumption anywhere between 15-30% will decline but I think we had just a handful of people who weren’t able to make it. Our venue was sent down from wedding gods and didn’t have a cap so it was definitely the more the merrier!
How have your perceptions on marriage shifted since being married?
Will Smith was quoted recently talking about marriage in a way we don’t often hear but we feel is an important part of finding your life partner, “[Jada’s] happiness was her responsibility and my happiness was my responsibility and we decided that we were going to find our individual internal, private joy and then we were going to present ourselves to the relationship and to each other, already happy. Not coming to each other, begging with our empty cups demanding that she fill my cup and demanding that she meet my needs. It’s unfair and it’s kind of unrealistic and can be destructive to place the responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself.” We dig that. Less pressure on your partner to complete you but rather to accompany you down life’s path. We’re two different people who decided to link up, and essentially come to all future decisions as a unit- something inherently difficult to accomplish. We’re going into our third year knowing that everyday we choose one another and this life we’ve created.