Welcome to the :: Real Love Stories :: section of my blog. One of my favorite parts of being a wedding photographer is hearing and learning about your love stories. Every couple has a unique love story that deserves to be told which is why I’d like to dedicate this section to celebrating your love and sharing your unique story with the world. Whether you consider yourself a traditional or non-traditional couple, your story has a place here and I would be honored to be the one to share it. To initiate this section, I’d like to share a unique love story that is extra special to me. It is the story of how I met my wonderful husband, Erik. Like many great romantic tales, ours starts off with some less than harmonious moments, so bear with me for a moment
In my early twenties, I had a plan for everything (don’t we all), so of course, marriage (and love) was one of them! Because of this plan, and my intense need to “win at the game of life” (insert forehead smack here), I pushed myself into a relationship that was more based on my “plan” for what comes next in life and less on the authentic nature of the love we had for one another. This past story of my first marriage and its formal ballroom wedding (which I still think was beautiful and I will forever remember fondly) is not the love story I am sharing today, but it is what led me to the amazing relationship I have now with my soulmate, Erik. Not only did my first marriage help me learn to never push things together that are not meant to be, but it taught me to pay attention to, and most importantly love, myself more. I learned you can do your best to plan for life’s events, but at the end of the day you must be ok with letting go a bit and trusting your heart’s desire.
When Erik and I first met we shared an instant connection to one another. Neither of us were looking for a serious relationship because we both had ended important long term ones, but when I arrived at a card game night at a friend’s house, we were strongly drawn to each other. I still remember walking into the house and seeing this handsome guy with a white backward hat just sitting there- seemingly meant for me. Now let’s be honest, I may have been drawn to him right away for his looks, but after chatting with him most the night, I soon found he was smart, charming, and funny. And although I was really only looking for a companion during the game of cards to help take my mind off the anxieties of my new “unplanned” life, I was beside myself when he followed me out the door to ask for my phone number. My phone number!? Believe it or not, I had not been asked for my phone number by anyone before! Seriously. Most of my relationships in the past had begun by chatting through AIM ( that stands for “AOL instant messenger” for you young ones out there) or Facebook private messages with someone I had met prior. Real romantic right. I hardly ever gave out my phone number because most of the time I already knew the person before we started dating. So now, rather than Facebook-stalking each other first, this guy was already making a move. It was such an ‘adult’ thing to do- I was shocked and intrigued. Hilariously, there wasn’t much of a love connection during our second date (sorry Erik!?!) The date he planned for us was very simple and sweet (totally my style) with an afternoon spent chatting on a patio with a view of the beautiful White Mountains, BUT his charm and everything I had fallen for during the night we played cards seemed to be missing and I remember leaving him that day thinking it was the most boring date EVER (we still laugh about this!) Luckily for him, AND me, I agreed to give him another chance, and thank goodness, the next few times together he was back to his normal charming self.
As our relationship grew and things became more serious it occurred to me that our biggest strength as a couple was our openness with each other. Because we had both been through a long and painful breakup prior to meeting, and neither of us was consciously looking for another long term relationship, it had actually caused us to be more honest with who we were with each other, but also with ourselves. We were self-reflecting and rebuilding our individual selves without even realizing we were doing it. Our dual self-discovery pushed us to become closer, which ended up leading us to take more risks together.
After less than a year of dating, Erik and I made plans to pack up and move west to Wyoming, 2,303 miles from our home! (After I had secured a teaching position in Cowley, WY, of course. I still had to have some type of a life-plan!) We rented our first home in the bustling rodeo city of Cody, just a mere hour drive away from my new job (which is actually a short commute for WY standards). We were exhilarated about what our lives had in store for us! BUT before we started our trek west, Erik had an AMAZING surprise instore for me. I’ll never forget this day. About a month before we were scheduled to move west, Erik surprised me with a couple’s spa day at the Mountain View Grand Tower Spa, in Whitefield, New Hampshire. So romantic, right?! This relaxing day together was just what we needed before our big journey, but then Erik suggested we take a long look out the panoramic windows at the rainy grounds of the resort, and I spotted an army of waitstaff on the grounds below holding posters that spelled out, “Kate, will you marry me?” Seriously?! I had no idea! I quickly turned in confusion towards Erik and found him bent down on one knee with a beautiful solitary diamond glittering in the private candle-filled room. “Yes!” I cried (and then, of course, we both started crying and engaging in those sloppy tear-filled ugly kisses that most people cringe at when watching from afar.)
We were so deeply in love in that moment. And to be honest, even more so now. And of course, we have our lows, our arguments, our drama, etc. (Not to mention, this relationship was much quicker and much less planned out than any other relationship I had ever been a part of.) But for some reason, it was working! It just felt right!
I later learned how Erik secretly visited my parents in Northern New York (3 hrs from where we lived) to ask for my hand in marriage (perhaps archaic to some, but I loved that traditional piece of his planning), and how he had spoken to my sisters about my engagement ring, drove two hours to purchase a specific diamond and then had a local jeweler create the actual ring. Knowing this, made me realize just how long he had been planning this event and it gave me great comfort to know this was so important to him.
From our engagement on, things started to escalate quickly with our wedding planning and our future plans together. We had relocated to Wyoming and being alone together completely away from all family we had to depend on each other for everything. There was nowhere to run to if we had a fight, wanted to get away for a bit, or have a relaxing night at home with others besides just the two of us. There were many stressors that made us question our plan, but by December of our first winter in Wyoming, Erik and I decided we had become so close that we just couldn’t wait any longer to be married. And so, two weeks later, on December 23rd, 2014 we went to our favorite spot near Cody, a private little pond surrounded by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and we eloped! We could finally call each other husband and wife!
But wait there’s more! Because we love our family and friends and wanted to include them all in our commitment to each other, we also planned an elegant farm wedding back home at my parents’ 400-acre farm in upstate Northern New York the following summer. The early elopement helped us save money by filing taxes together and combining health insurances. But the best part is, we actually have two-anniversary dates, one “legal” and one “spiritual” as we like to call them. We acknowledge the December 2014 date with each other, but we celebrate and exchange gifts on the August 2015 date.
Since our elopement in Wyoming, and then our memorable wedding celebration in Northern New York with our family and friends, we have continued to expand our love story that now includes our two beautiful children and the establishment of our lives together in Central Vermont.
It has been such a pleasure recalling all of the events that created my unique love story with my husband, but now it is time for me to share and celebrate your love story! Let me capture the beauty of your relationship (no matter how traditional, or not!) and allow me to present the incredible story of your engagement and wedding through my lens. And as the fierce and worldly Dr. Maya Angelou says so beautifully within her poem,
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
and suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.
Now, let’s go forth and tell our love stories, they deserve to be heard.
Oh, but before you go... I need to give my shout out to this weeks guest copy editor, my very talented sister Abbie Butler. Check out her chilling blog, The Haunted Me, if you like the spooky things in life.
*Proposal photos via my cellphone
**Engagement photos and formal wedding portrait + details courtesy of my tripod and shutter remote.
*** Elopement ceremony images captured by Chris Townsend (Chris and her husband Wes were our witnesses for the event <3 )
****Wedding ceremony images captured by Kori Dickinson *****Family portrait courtesy of my tripod and shutter remote.