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.”
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.”
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.
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!
Friday weddings are my favorite. There’s something magical about getting married on a Friday; like the rest of the world is carrying on and you’ve carved out a little nook all your own. So when Diana & Lee hired me for their Friday wedding, I was excited not only because it was a Friday, but because some of my favorite vendors would be there, their color scheme and design style was going to be stunning, and Diana & Lee themselves are so sweet and I knew they’d be so fun to work with.
Their engagement session just a few months ago was hot and humid (and buggy!), but their wedding was a gorgeous fall day with perfect weather. The day started out overcast (which was beautiful for photos!), but the sun came beaming right during their ceremony and cast it’s glorious warm light all over them as they vowed their love to each other.
When Lee proposed to Diana and they started looking for a wedding date, Lee suggested a wedding this fall, which in wedding terms would be a quick engagement season, but he had a point when he told Diana that he loves her and wants to marry her and, well, why wait? They quickly pulled Jennifer of Harper Hadley Events into the planning equation and she took the reins on helping them bring their vision to life. Diana wanted lots of rich, fall colors, but she also wanted to pull in some food elements into the design. Shelly of Shelly Sarver Designs was the perfect choice to make this happen and the incorporation of grapes and pomegranates and pears and apples made each centerpiece a beautiful creation!
They first met in high school. They were in gym class together–she was a freshman, he was a junior–and also in band. They started dating in February 2008 so, do the math, they’ve been together for over 10 years now! Because of their two-year grade difference, they ended up going to 4 proms together and are now prepping for the best dance ever: as husband and wife next year!
I asked them both when they knew the other was “the one”. Jake put it quite simply, “When she put up with all my downsides and pushed me to enjoy things I wanted to do.” And Tarrah easily added, “The day I couldn’t get rid of him because he put up with all my quirks.”
I had so much fun with these two for their session. We basically made sarcastic jokes and laughed the whole time. They get me. We also had the most amazing weather for their session, which was such a joy considering all the cold, windy, rainy days we’ve had this month!
Tarrah will forever give Jacob a hard time about the proposal, but, in his defense, I learned that she had given him a deadline. So he brought the ring with him to her parent’s house. “I walked into the bathroom and Jacob was talking to my parents. He proposed after I walked out of the bathroom and then left for a whole day. So essentially, he proposed and then ran away.” Jacob defends himself, “I had to leave! She will never stop bringing this up.”
When asked what the admire most about the other, Jacob says he admires her passion for her job and for doing the things she loves. He also says her sense of humor is one of the qualities he loves, which is one of the things she also says about him. She also says she admires his patience with her, which he had said would be what she’d say. They are funny and caring and it’s such a joy to witness.
Tarrah & Jake, I’m so excited to celebrate with you next year!! If your engagement session was any indication, we are going to have such a fun day!
They met back in the spring of 2012 in college through her best friend. “It was basically a handshake,” she says. It wasn’t until later that year, in the fall semester of college, that they met again. “When I returned for the fall semester,” Derek says, “A friend of mine–and now ours–convinced me to go out on a Tuesday night the first week of classes. I was very reluctant to go but apparently it was meant to be.” As he approached the bar, he saw Kira standing outside and “my stomach instantly filled with butterflies.”
They had their first date the end of August and, as memorable as that one was for both of them, they both recall date number two being the “big date”, the date they knew they would someday marry one another. “As crazy as it sounds, we were literally the complete complement to each other. Our second date was an eye-opening experience to what I was truly missing,” Derek says.
Derek proposed the day before Christmas Eve last year. “We were planning to wake up early, pack the car, and take the 2-hour drive to my parent’s house,” Kira explains. “There had been some crazy snow the day before so we knew we needed to leave some extra time for the drive. In typical Derek fashion, he told me that he had my gift ready and we needed to run up to the farm before we left to take a look at it.
“Normally my internal private investigator instinct would kick in and I’d get to the bottom of it before he could surprise me, but I had so much to do to get ready for Christmas so I figured I’d let him have his surprise this time. I did my hair, got dressed, and finished up my list of to-dos. Derek had run out for a few minutes and just got back into the house. … We hopped in his car, and turned the opposite direction of the farm so instantly I was rolling me eyes thinking, ‘This couldn’t wait until after Christmas?’
“We pulled up to the corn crib, which sits about 1/2 mile from our house. Derek unveiled my present, a large–no, huge–rock that came from the foundation of the farmhouse in Alburnett, one of his family’s first farm homes. I was so happy that he took the time, don’t get me wrong, but I was getting ready to say, ‘This could have waited two more days, Derek.’
“But I looked at him and caught the flash of a red box being pulled from his pocket and had instant tears. It’s still surreal. We had been dating for so long and I wasn’t prepared for him to finally propose. He kept his proposal speech short and sweet, just ‘Kira Leigh, will you marry me?’ And, of course, I said yes!”
Derek knows they dated a long time before proposing, but he adds, “Everyone asks why I have waited so long to get engaged. Truthfully, time has flown together. the last six years have been so surreal that it doesn’t even seem like that long. Every day that passes just reaffirms that Kira is the one.”
For the ending of their session, we went back to the corn crib where Derek proposed and also the spot where they had that second date. “Trying to impress Kira I pulled out some tricks up my sleeve. It was a Wednesday night and we went out to dinner where we oddly ordered the exact same thing. After dinner I asked Kira if she would like to go out for drinks. Knowing that it was a little early to head to campus town, I took her to a partially combined cornfield, which I had scouted out earlier that day, outside of town. It was secluded from the road and we had a plain view of the stars as the sun was quickly setting. I pulled out a blanket and a bottle of her favorite wine and we sat and talked while the music from the radio played in the background. It may or may not have been in my plan but I convinced Kira to dance with me and I taught her to swing dance. After a couple of hours dancing and stargazing we headed back into town and spent the rest of the evening with our friends. That night was one that I don’t think either one of us will forget. I think it is mostly my favorite date because it seems to be the one that set the ball in motion for where we are now.”
Kira adds, “He pulled into a cornfield that had recently been picked and parked his truck. I am a total rule follower so I thought we were definitely going to get in trouble for trespassing, but Derek insisted I get out of the truck, he had plans. He flipped on a CD of music, opened the tailgate to his pickup, and laid out a blanket. Then he pulled out a bottle of wine. I was impressed he bought a wine I drank frequently and later found out he asked my roommate (that bestie that introduced us, Laura) what kind to buy. After a little while he asked if I wanted to dance…under the star light on a September night in a cornfield. Of course! So we danced. I felt like I was in love at that moment. I’d always wanted to know how to swing dance, so he taught me that night under the stars. It was so so so early in our relationship but he had swept me off my feet.”