They both admit that they have always known they were meant to be together. Christian said, “I think deep down I always knew. When you meet somebody as young as we were [in high school], you tend to go through growing pains…and we had ours. Through a few break-ups though, I realized I had never been in love or loved anyone like I do Cortney. That never changed.” She added, “I knew when we first started dating in high school for sure! I knew because he was so much more than my boyfriend. Christian was my best friend even before we started dating.”
Their friendship is so evident when I met up with them last week for their Kent Park engagement session. A relationship founded on friendship is so solid it’s hard to miss.
I asked them about their first date and Christian said, “Where does any 16-year-old take somebody? Panchero’s! I picked her up in my sweet station wagon and she was wearing a white skirt, pink top, and pink shoes. The meal was going great until my burrito fell apart and my friends crashed our date. I was just stoked though to be taking her out.”
I’ll never forget the first time I heard about their engagement. It involves a mullet and I’ll just go ahead and let them tell you:
Christian: “We had been to Hand’s to look at rings and fortunately had the same taste. I ordered the ring without letting her know. At the time, I had long hair and wanted to do something fun with it, like a mullet. She had one stipulation about my proposal; I couldn’t have a mullet. So while the ring was being put together, guess what I did? I got a mullet. Imagine her surprise!
Cortney: “I was so mad. He is known for growing out his strawberry blonde mustache to ridiculous lengths, wearing inappropriately short jean shorts, and doing anything to make himself and other laugh. [When he told me he wanted to have a mullet], I told him to do whatever he wanted, but I wouldn’t say yes to a mullet. When I came home from work and he had a mullet, I was so mad. Maybe bummed is a better description because to me that meant we weren’t getting engaged anytime soon. And the mullet stayed…for an entire month.”
Christian: “After a month, I had the ring in my possession and was ready to get rid of the mullet.”
Cortney: “I came home from work and he said he was getting kind of sick of the mullet and asked if I would buzz his head. I, of course, said yes, but told him I thought we should get photos capturing the mullet in appropriate attire–his jorts and a wonderful purple t-shirt with a wolf on the front. He seemed reluctant to my photo shoot idea, which was strange because, again, he normally lives for that kind of stuff! After taking several photos, we went downstairs to the bathroom and I proceeded to joyfully get rid of the mullet. As I was almost finished, I left a rat tail and asked if he wanted to wear that style for a little bit. He said no and, again, I was surprised because he normally would’ve loved that. I finished buzzing his head and he asked me to trim up his neck. He said the trimmer was in the drawer. I opened the drawer and saw the ring box. I think my exact words were, ‘What that?’ I was so shocked! He got on one knee and said he knows that he changes things about himself all the time, but the one thing that has never changed in him is that he has always loved me and would I marry him?”
Christian: “She said yes and I finished my laundry (there was hair everywhere!). What a Tuesday.”
Christian and Cortney navigated several breakups through the years, but I love this: “I kept a ‘Chris box’ for years after high school with photos, notes he wrote me, cards he gave me, even some dried rose petals. I even took it with me to college and brought it back to Iowa City after I graduated. But about a year after college I finally got up the courage to throw it away. We had broken up and gotten back together so many times and I finally said, ‘I need to get rid of this and move on.’ Which clearly I could never really do, but nevertheless, I was convinced I was going to and the first step was to throw the box away. This is probably my biggest regret because I’ll never be able to replace the items in that box. Recently though, Christian’s mom gave us some photos from when we dated in high school (prom photos, birthday pictures, etc.) and they mean so much to me!”
We got the most stunning light for their session and I just love how sun-drenched these photos are!