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August 14, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

These high school sweethearts met all the way back in their sophomore and junior years. She was a grade ahead of him, but was a transfer student, having just moved to the area. She describes herself as being “the shy new girl” and was introduced to Brandan in the hallway on the way to class within the first couple weeks of school. “He instantly caught my eye, but, of course, I kept quiet.” It was later in the winter when they both showed up at open gym for soccer that they finally connected and then, as luck would have it, they took a couple of classes together in the spring semester.

“Our first date was at Pancheros sometime in the fall of 2014,” Brandan says. “I had been trying to talk to her for a long time and wasn’t nervous at all because I have always been able to be myself around her.”

Fossil_Gorge_Engagement_emilycrall_photo_0509.jpgEmma says she thinks she always kind of knew that Brandan was the one for her. “I kept him in the ‘friend-zone’ for about 7 months just to make sure he was actually serious about wanting to date me, but even then I knew he was someone I couldn’t lose. I think I really knew our first Christmas together. I know I was in high school, but my instincts were there. We were sitting in my room in our sweats after a long day of family interactions, relaxing, and watching movies and I just remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t mind doing this forever.”

Brandan agrees. “I knew Emma was the one not long after we started dating because we always make each other laugh and are very comfortable with each other about anything.”

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Brandan proposed just before Christmas this past year when they were on vacation with her family in Punta Cana. “My mom had planned family photos on the beach, which wasn’t out of the ordinary because we haven’t taken family photos in a while. So, we got all dressed up and I remember feeling bad because Brandan isn’t the biggest fan of photos and he had mentioned a few times that day that his stomach was hurting (turns out, it was the nerves). We went out around the resort and to the beach and Brandan was cracking jokes left and right, which isn’t like him during pictures (again, nerves). Once we got to the beach, Brandan got down on one knee and asked the question with my mom’s old wedding band that I have been obsessed with since I was 10 years old! It was all the emotions at once and so so beautiful! I love that our experience was so unique and special.”

“I was very nervous all day,” Brandan says. “Even though I didn’t think I would be, but I was starting to get a little jittery when we were going through the photo shoot with her parents. But then once we got out to the beach, I was not nervous and knew what I wanted to say.”
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June 18, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

They first met at the College of Dentistry. They are in the same class, but had never hung out until they were randomly assigned as partners that first year of dental school. Being paired up meant they were each other’s first patient. Malachi says “the rest is history”, but I doubt it’s as easy as doing a dental cleaning and then falling in love. They started dating the summer following that first year of dental school and are now planning their wedding following their graduation, on the gorgeous lawn of the dental college!

Now, as you can imagine by their story so far, their relationship has evolved throughout their career path to becoming dentists so it really only makes sense that the proposal would bring everything full circle. “It was literally the most perfect, planned out day. I had no idea,” Olivia says. “A year ago, the College did a story on Malachi and he told me they were doing a follow up story. The school even emailed me asking to be his mock patient for the interview as a photographer would be there. They added that we could pick any unit, and so we, of course, picked the unit 10 where we first met. We met the photographer, had the unit all set up, and then after a few staged pictures, he sat me up in the chair and was holding the most beautiful engagement ring, telling me, ‘You know how I told that the first person I say “I love you” to, I am going to marry?’ And (that is when I knew) he looked at me and said, ‘Liv, I love you. Will you marry me?'”

Malachi had been planning the proposal for 4 months. No one knew and he designed the ring himself and wanted it to be a complete surprise. “I just kept telling her we would wait until May of our 4th year.” (Which is now when they will actually be getting married instead of engaged!) Olivia laughs, “Honestly, I couldn’t pay Malachi any amount of money to use a planner, or even follow a weekly schedule, but he outdid himself planning the engagement.”

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Olivia and Malachi share so much picture-perfect laughter together (I mean, come on, Olivia has the perfect laugh!), but they also are so sweet and genuine. Olivia hates (“hate hate hate hate HATE”) winter and Malachi says he knew she was the one when he realized what he was willing to do for her happiness and her endless battle with the cold. “I got her a Canada goose coat; the poor thing is always cold.” He also adds that she is incredibly selfless and nurturing. “She puts everyone else before herself.” And, because discovering your partner is going to be yours forever doesn’t always have to be a huge moment (in fact, it’s almost always the small moments that make you aware), Olivia says she knew a few weeks before they even officially started dating. “I was talking to him in the car and told him I had just arrived at his place, but it was pouring rain so I was going to wait for it to stop. He said, ‘Okay, sounds good! See you soon!’ And then two minutes later, he was outside with an umbrella to walk me from the car to his apartment.” From the very beginning of their relationship, “he takes such great care of me. He is always Team Olivia, no matter what. He wants me to be happy and does everything with my best interest in mind.”

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May 21, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

They met in downtown Iowa City in a group of mutual friends. “To be honest I don’t think I took her one a real date for a long time after we started hanging out in the very beginning,” Kile said. But it wasn’t for lack of feelings; it was just that it kept happening that they were always together with their friends! “So I don’t remember the exact first date. I do, however, remember the first time we made plans to ‘group hang’ with a couple of her friends and a couple of my friends.” He recalled, “That day I had to drive to Illinois for my dad to pick up a four-wheeler motor. Kaylee had texted me, I think, about trying to meet up at Sports Column in downtown Iowa City. I was obviously excited for that, but knew that I probably wasn’t even going to get back to Iowa until 9 PM. But I told her I could meet up with her at 7 PM or something. Anyways, I was driving back like a madman trying to get back as quickly as possible. I was dressed in my grubby, gross work clothes. When I finally made it there, I met my buddies and we walked into the bar, which was pretty much empty except for a couple other tables. My buddies and I walked in and I saw that Kaylee was actually at another table with some other guys I had never seen before so immediately I’m a little irritated and mad I got there late. One thing led to another, Kaylee came over and talked to me. I just remember being so nervous and not knowing what to say to this pretty young girl (who I knew had a crush on me because her friend told me).”

Fast-forward to last May, years after that first time hanging out in the bar, and Kaylee got home from a horrible day at work. “I cried most of the way home,” she said. “I called my mom to vent and she told me to quit crying because it was going to be a good Friday (it was actually Good Friday that day!). I got home and relaxed on the couch. Kile got home and immediately put music on our speaker. It was annoying and I asked him to turn it off and he wouldn’t. Then he went outside! I was so annoyed that he left the music on inside knowing that I didn’t want to hear it. When he came inside, he put on ‘I Can Love You Like That’ by John Michael Montgomery. He sang it in my ear from behind the couch and when the line ‘you don’t have to wait anymore’ was sung, he came around the couch and got on one knee.” And indeed, in every sense, her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, was instantly turned into an extra good Good Friday.

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I asked them both when they knew, in those early dating years, that the other was one. Kaylee said she knew he was the one when she could be herself and not hide anything. “I remember a day at my parents house that I had on no makeup and I could just feel Kile staring at me. I felt so beautiful.” (swoon) Kile said he thinks he always knew. “I always felt like she made me a better person and I always thought I have been her rock. Her passion for children has always been a big deal to me because I think she will be a great mother someday. But, to answer the question directly, it was probably a little after we moved in together, after the first couple of months getting used to living with someone else and seeing that we could do it and not kill each other, hah.”

Kaylee is gorgeous and strong and, as many women know, it can take years to become fully confident in who you are, but I love that Kaylee told me, “I finally feel confident about my personality. I know my truth and I live it each day.” (I know Kile agrees because he told me that what he most admires about her is passion, kindness, and intelligence. “She’s very passionate about everything in her life. She works very hard to be the best teacher she can be. She loves her parents and her family.”) Kaylee described Kile as being kind, understanding, and funny. “He works for what he has. He doesn’t take shortcuts and accepts if he fails.”

I just loved spending time with them in Iowa City for their engagement session! It’s one thing to see a couple’s love written on paper, but it’s ten thousand times better to witness it firsthand while also being able to photograph it! On the day of their engagement session, it had rained all morning, but the skies cleared to overcast in the late afternoon and we made the call to go ahead. We were battling lots of pedestrian traffic (it was the university graduation weekend and high school prom night) and the obvious street parking everywhere, but it made me think extra hard for every shot and I’m so so proud of how their images came out! (I’m also especially proud of this blossoming tree because I knew Kaylee wanted photos with a blooming tree and we made this one work, even getting a little help from a passerby!)
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April 30, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

They met within the first couple of days of college and, due to some mutual friends, instantly ended up in the same friend group. First semester ended and Christmas break happened and it wasn’t until they reconvened back at school for second semester that they sensed a shift in their feelings. “I knew I wanted to ask her on a date and I was pretty confident she would say yes, but I was still pretty nervous,” Bryce said, with Kristin adding, “I remember being pretty nervous, but because we had been friends within the big friend group for a while, we did know each other already so that was nice!”

I asked them both when they knew the other was their one. Kristin responded, “For me, there wasn’t necessarily one exact moment when I knew Bryce was the one. It was more the fact I simply loved spending every second with him that I could, that he treated (and still treats) me respectfully and as I should be treated, and he is someone I became totally and utterly comfortable with very quickly. I just knew that I didn’t want to let him go. Our relationship also began as just friends in a great group and flourished into one where we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and I think getting to know each other one way and then another way helped us both to see that we fit really well together.”

Bryce agreed in that there wasn’t a specific moment of epiphany. “It just slowly grew from ‘I like hanging out with this cute girl’ to ‘I could see Kristin being the one’ to finally ‘I can’t imagine my life without her.’ She was supportive of me. She was encouraging. She was a Hawkeye fan. She liked sports. She liked tacos. She was liked ice cream. She checked a lot of boxes!”

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Bryce said the day he proposed was the best day of his life so far. “I had had the engagement ring for about four months and was just waiting for the right time. I knew we were going back to Luther for homecoming and figured that would be the perfect time; the place where we started our journey together seemed like the right place to begin forever together. It was one of those situations where I knew she was going to say yes, but I was still incredibly nervous.

“We went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants in Decorah for a nice brunch. I wasn’t hungry as my nerves had the best of me. Then Kristin suggested we get mimosas, and, not wanting to come off as something being up with me, I agreed. I had to really work to get that down along with my whole breakfast because I didn’t want to tip off that something was going on. I had the ring in my pocket (it was in it’s box) of my coat the whole time and I purposefully had that pocket away from Kristin the whole time so she couldn’t see it.

“As we left the restaurant and were driving home, I suggested we go to Phelps Park to a lookout area that we had gone to lots of times to have life conversations while eating ice cream; it was one of our favorite spots in Decorah. I figured we had spent enough time in that spot that it should be where we also got engaged. I kept conversation going for a little bit and it was some of the lamest topics ever, but I was nervous and wanted to ease into what I was going to say.

“A lot of times, we took a picture when we were up there, so I suggested we do that. But this time I turned on my video camera and set it up and began talking about all the things that being back at Luther had reminded me of, and one of those was falling in love with her. That’s when I got down on one knee and asked Kristin to marry me. I got her whole reaction on video!”

“Of course I said yes,” Kristin added. “Only getting a tad emotional, mainly just like omg-omg-omg and so excited inside I didn’t really cry.”

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January 18, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was Memorial Day weekend several years ago. They both happened to go to the same local restaurant to hang out on the outdoor patio and enjoy the spring air. They were each there with their own groups of friends, but, as luck would have it, there were mutual connections in their separate groups and it wasn’t long before they all combined into one big group. Catie & Justin immediately connected after being introduced since they are both teachers and had both decided to take a year off. “Our conversation quickly turned to our love of languages and our love of travel. Fate would make it that both just so happened to be taking a sabbatical from our teaching careers and were going to travel for a year. I was going to California and Catie was going to France. We shared our excitement but also our fears about moving away from home and living somewhere new.” 

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Their first date was about a week later. Since school was out, they were in a unique situation of having an entire summer free before packing and moving away. “Normally that is not ideal circumstances to start dating someone new who will end up being the love of your life,” Justin says. “But it worked out great for us! I knew Catie was the one sometime that first summer. We clicked immediately. I wanted to spend all of my time with her. I had initially planned to move to California in August, but decided to stay and wait until Catie left for France. I wanted to shorten the time we were going to be apart. When I decided to move to California, I didn’t know when I would come back to Iowa. However, I remember late July that summer I decided I was coming back to Iowa when Catie came back.”

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December 31, 2018

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was just two weeks after they first met that Austin says he knew Maria was the one. “I knew I loved her after a week. And when she sticks around after that, I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. Every day after that, she has shown me more and more how she’s the best person for me and we are meant to be together.”

As for Maria, she doesn’t pinpoint a date, but says it was a lot of little things that added up. “How he’d pack my lunches and leave little notes insides. How well we agreed on big things like our values and how we would want to raise kids. How well he supported me when I was upset. A big thing for us is how well we communicate; so I think how well we work through disagreements or difficult times in our relationship has made us both very confident that we’ve each found the one.”

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Austin proposed nearly two years to the day after their first date. He was planning on proposing while they were Texas, but Maria had absolutely no clue. He had told her, “I’m not going to do it in Texas” and, because he’s so practical and she figured he’d worry about losing the ring during traveling, she definitely believed him. About that, she was right. “I was a nervous wreck,” Austin says.

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