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.”
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 wascoming back to Iowa when Catie came back.”
We scheduled this session months ago, knowing the it would be after the crash of wedding season and closer to Cortney’s due date. So there was no way of knowing what the weather would be like. We’ve had finicky weather all year (brutally hot when it is normally mild and really cold when it’s normally not), but Saturday morning we woke up to the first snow of the season and it was perfect given that Cortney’s due date is Christmas day!
We had a few locations in mind and went around and around on what to choose, but we finally landed on Kent Park. In part because we knew it would be mostly untouched, fresh snow out there, but also because that’s where I photographed their engagement session! It felt special to go back to the same place to photograph them now, just weeks before holding their daughter in their arms. (I also photographed a night session downtown and their wedding day!)
Going along on couples’ journeys from engagement to marriage is always a beautiful honor, but it’s even more amazing to see them beyond that…to now becoming parents! Cortney and Christian, thank you for letting me be part of your story in my own invisible, behind-the-lens way. I am so so so excited for you to welcome your baby girl and see you guys embrace parenthood!
They first met in Des Moines last August, when Lindsay and one of her friends were in town for their annual tradition of going to the state fair on Monday. He was a friend of Lindsay’s friend and met up with her (and also Lindsay) for a drink. Lindsay admits that she knew right away he was her one. “I saved his contact info in my phone as ‘Future Husband’ from the very beginning,” she says.
On her birthday, almost a year to the date that they first met, he proposed. Lindsay doesn’t like a lot of attention so Allan, smartly, kept it low-key. He gave her a card that ended with, “to the person I want to spend the rest of my life with” and then he offered up a gorgeous diamond ring and the promise of forever.
We lucked out with a glorious afternoon and bright sunshine!
In high school, she got a part-time job at Fareway, a grocery store. He was working there full-time, on the path to becoming a store manager. They became quick friends and ended up working a lot of shifts together. One Saturday morning in November, she walked back to clock in to start her shift and she saw Ted dropping off an invoice near the time clock. She told him good morning, clocked in, then asked him what he was doing that night. He said he didn’t have anything planned so she asked if he wanted to go out to eat pizza with her family. He had a big grin on his face as he replied, “Yes!” Later that day, he drove over to her apartment and they went to her parent’s home. From there, they drove to meet her aunt, uncle, and cousins for dinner. “He was meeting the whole family on our first date,” she recalls. “He fit right in and those two little boys [cousins] wanted to draw with Ted the whole night.”
Ted is an artist and, in fact, Shannon says the best gift she’s ever been given was a large pencil portrait of Walt Disney and her favorite Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, that Ted drew for her for Christmas a few years ago. “It was so thoughtful and perfect, I cried when I saw it. The drawing has been hung up since and we get to look at it every day.”
Disney has played a big part in their love story as Ted proposed when they were at Disney World last fall! “We had planned our trip to Disney World with my parents before Ted and I moved to Kansas City in October,” Shannon says. “I was at work on Thursday and Ted had some flowers delivered with Disney elements in them saying how excited he was for our trip the next day. Our plane landed Friday evening and when Ted and I got to our room there was a beautiful bouquet of roses with a poem about making wishes come true. I was just so excited to be in magical Disney World I didn’t think anything of it!
“We got up early on Saturday morning since we had breakfast reservations with Winnie the Pooh and friends at Crystal Palace before the park opened so we could get in and take some pictures on Main Street, USA before the crowds showed up. I was so excited to be at Disney that once we got in the gates, I just wanted to make it to the castle. The anxiety was building because we had to wait for my mom to get through security since she brought her purse. [Side note: her mom, unknown to Shannon, was carrying the ring into the park for Ted.] Once we were ready to go, I made a break for the castle. Behind me, Ted and my parents were telling me to pick out spots for pictures. We stopped for a few photographs before making it to the statue of Walt and Mickey right in front of the castle. As we made our way to where the Disney photographer told us stand, Ted asked, ‘Is this a dream come true, sweetheart?’ I nodded, smiling, getting ready for a picture. Then, as he got down on one knee, he said, ‘How about now?’
“I don’t remember what he said, but he pulled out the cutest little wooden box with Mickey on it and when he opened it, I saw the most beautiful, sparkly ring I have ever seen with the question ‘Marry Me?’ on the inside of the box. It all felt like a dream! The day was so magical and I was on cloud nine.”
It was the first date, that family pizza dinner, that solidified everything for Shannon. “I remember Ted leaving my apartment that night and I couldn’t wait to see him again. The way he was with my family and how well he interacted with everyone melted my heart. We had been friends for a while before our first date and so we new a lot about each other and enjoyed every minute we were together. The Monday after that first date, one of my friends texted me and asked how it went. I told her, ‘I think I found my soul mate.’ I still can’t believe how accurate that statement is.”
Shannon & Ted live in Kansas City now, but they were back in town for a busy weekend and we got lucky with some amazing weather for their session!
Shannon says that one of the things she most admires about Ted is that he’s always himself, no matter what they are doing or who they are with. He can always make people around him laugh. And Ted says that he loves Shannon’s love for animals and how important family is to her.
Last year was the first year I offered mini sessions, mostly because I had a lot of past bridal couples who were begging for family photos now that they had gotten married and were starting families of their own. Fall snuck up on me this year and the weather was slightly trickier; it went from summer-hot to winter-cold without much of a mild autumn in between. We had to reschedule some sessions due to the weather, but I was so glad to be able to photograph these lovely families!
They first met in Ames while she was attending Iowa State University, though technically, she says, they met in Iowa City a few years prior, but never really talked at that time. He was visiting with mutual friends and they hung out briefly for the two days that he was in town and then continued texting until they went on their first date a few weeks later.
“I wouldn’t say I remember a specific date or time that I knew he was the one,” Anna says. “Over the first year, I could tell our relationship was real and completely different than any other that I had ever been in. After my first year of optometry school (we would have been together around 2 years at that point), I knew that if we could make it through that, we could make it through anything. [That] first year was so trying on our relationship because of my school schedule. We managed to see each other about twice a month and text/FaceTime when we could. He was (is) my biggest cheerleader and continually supported and motivated me throughout my schooling when I doubted myself. I’m sure he repeated the same speech multiple times a week and he did so without complaining. During my first year, we found our relationship getting stronger while most of my friends at school were breaking up with their long-distance significant others. I know many people would not have held on and made long distance work for five years.”
Travis proposed last Christmas Eve. “She was getting close to graduation from optometry school. She was either going to come home to work or do a residency outside the state. I knew I wanted to propose but wasn’t exactly sure when or how. I went to look at rings for fun and little did I know I would spend 3 hours in the store deciding between rings. After picking a ring, I needed to decide how to do it. The first thing I did was ask permission from her parents and brother (they said yes, of course) and then I needed a plan. Annie was coming home 3 days after I bought the ring and I decided I would propose while she was home for the holidays. Her parents and I came up with the idea to ice skate at her family pond/cabin (she had wanted to ice skate together for some time now). I organized a photographer to be there, who was set up in an ice hut on the pond (with a heater). I also informed close family and friends to gather at a local bar to celebrate afterwards. The day came and I was able to convince her to ice skate and that we should try on the pond, and she somehow agreed despite the light sleet. We ice skated for a little bit and then I got on a knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes and we proceeded to have dinner with our families and then celebrate at the bar with everyone.”
We had to reschedule this session once due to nasty weather and, even though it ended up being cold for this too, the sun brought us the most magical light and we found some shelter from the wind. I’m so glad we were able to find some color left in the trees (look at that orange and red!) and this couple brought all the love in the world for me to photograph! I have way too many favorites from this session, but I consider that a wonderful problem to have!
I always ask the couple a few questions before their session, including what they love most about themselves (e.g. eyes, hair, smile) so that I can make sure to highlight that in their images. Travis’ response to that question was simply, “Annie.” But with her eyes, cheekbones, and smile, you can see why he’d say that!