Today I want to tell you a story, a beautiful love story. A story about how God has a plan, and how amazing His timing is!!! Some of you may remember a blog post that I shared, with a couple getting engaged in Tower Grove Park, and I was trying to find them to get them the images. So, that is where this story begins for my side of it. I was in Tower Grove taking photos of a beautiful little girl when her mom looked up and saw a sweet couple getting engaged right there in front of us, just 50 yards or so away! This is where God inserted me into this couple's life and them into mine. I felt compelled to take photos of this intensely private and beautiful moment because I knew how much I treasured my own pictures of my husband's proposal. But I have to admit that I still felt like I had intruded and I prayed that they wouldn't be upset. Fast forward to over two months later, and I finally blogged about it and shared it on Facebook and asked for people to share it so that I could find them. And my, how vast and crazy the Facebook world is! It took only FOUR hours to find them, but there were over 300 shares and over 60,000 people saw the posts!! This is complete craziness to me that so many people would see something I posted. But, all along I knew that God had a plan. After finding out their names, I messaged Deborah to get her the pictures and I was thrilled to know they were happy I had taken the photos! (Even though they actually had a friend hiding and taking pictures for them!) We exchanged several messages back and forth and Deborah told me they hadn't hired a photographer for their wedding that was less than two months away. I was thrilled to learn that the weekend of their wedding was a weekend that I hadn't yet scheduled any other sessions, so I didn't even have to rearrange in order to be their photographer. We met a little while later to actually meet and talk about the wedding and so I could get to know this couple that I believe was sent into my life to help me realize my passion and dream of furthering my career in photography! I can honestly tell you that just sitting in the Starbucks talking with them made me feel blessed and so excited to share in their love for each other and their love for Jesus. It radiates from them and is an inspiration to me to live out my faith more transparently. Which is why I am writing this blog, as well as to share their story. So here it goes...
They met at Jubilee Church, which is just down the road from Tower Grove Park, in October of 2013. They were friends for over a year, and in December of 2014 Ryan told Deborah he had feelings for her. Deborah wanted to remain friends and Ryan respected that. So he waited. It was during a walk in Tower Grove Park in May of 2016 that Deborah told him that she had feelings for Ryan. They started officially dating in August of 2016. In July of 2016, on Deborah's birthday, they started a journal where they write back and forth to each other about their feelings and special memories. They were reading this journal together on a bench in Tower Grove Park on May 13 of 2017 when Deborah skipped ahead and saw the proposal! (This skipping ahead was something Ryan had chided her for in the past, so she tried to pretend she hadn't...imagine how hard it was for her to wait and pretend she hadn't seen those words!) And just after he got down on one knee to give her the beautiful Emerald engagement ring was when I entered into their love story for my small part.
Throughout their story, you can see a lot of waiting. Waiting for her to like him, waiting until they were really ready to date, then she was waiting for him to propose...I waited to write the blog post and try to find them...they waited to hire a photographer. All of this waiting I believe is really just God's timing. Sometimes we pray for things and we want them to happen immediately because that is our world...we get instant gratification with so many things in this digital age. This couple gave me a beautiful reminder that the good things in life are worth waiting for!!
Fast forward (although you may be thinking that this hasn't been fast!) to the wedding day. It was absolutely beautiful! They got ready at their church where the reception would take place, and Deborah had a note from Ryan hanging on the mirror the whole time. I drove Deborah over to the park where we would meet Ryan for the first look in the exact spot where he proposed. It was quite funny when we pulled up to park right behind him and I had to hand her my car's sunshade to make sure he didn't see her!! Their first look was lovely although the bench and the greenery were gone, making it look a lot different from the day of the proposal. I have to tell you that I teared up a bit, so thankful to be a part of this day! Seeing the love pouring out from them was enough to keep me smiling all day!!! Just before the ceremony, the pastor and all the groomsmen laid hands on Ryan to pray for him and the marriage. This isn't something I get to see often, and it made my heart feel so happy! The ceremony was held outside in front of a little grove of trees at the Gurney picnic site at Tower Grove Park and was just perfect. After the ceremony and a few pictures in front of the pergola with gorgeous flowers done by Deborah's aunt, we headed to the church for a fun time of dancing and celebrating. One of the very last images I took was one that I imagined right when I walked up to the church, and I was so happy that they indulged me in pulling them away from the party for one last picture! I hope that you will enjoy the photos and that these memories will be as much of a blessing to you as they are to me!