Photographing Lizzie & Russell’s engagement in Southern California this past summer was easily one of my favorite things to document in 2016. Not only are these two dear friends to Seth and I, Russell also happens to be the only cousin I have on my dad’s side of the family. We’ve grown close since high school, and his beautiful bride-to-be is just as amazing (if not more ;)) as he!
Much like the day we spent together, I’ll be sharing their engagement photos in two parts. To begin the day, we ventured from Lizzie and Russell’s beautiful home in San Diego to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. The landscape and history at the Mission is truly remarkable and provided a rich well of inspiration throughout the morning.
I asked Lizzie to share a little bit of their story and have sprinkled her words to provide a complete picture of the two of these two beautiful souls. So without further ado, it is with much joy that I share this engagement session with you!
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Although our love story began when we were oh so young, we believe that when something is truly meant to be, neither time nor circumstance can diminish the simple truth that love can overcome all of life’s obstacles. In youth we often find ourselves following the crowd, and giving into the opinions of those that surround us. However, Russell and I found a way to stay focused on what made us happy, and that was and still is each other. High school relationships are normally seen as a stepping stone or a rite of passage, however it seems as though we are among the rare few that found true love where it was least expected. I often feel as though somewhere deep down we knew we would end up together. there was a simple trust between the two of us that I had never felt with anyone before. I felt safe, in mind, body, and spirit when I was around him, and to me that was a clear sign that this was truly something unique.
Our relationship started out very slowly, we were friends for just over a year before we officially became a couple. However, a good six of those months that we spent as friends was a slow build up to us finally realizing that we were simply much more than what we were admitting to. Back then I was very anxious to make things official, but looking back I am grateful that Russell took his time in putting a label on our relationship. We didn’t jump in feet first; we really never have at any stage of our relationship. We have always tried to take the calm and calculated route. And in the end there isn’t a thing that we would change. The time and thought that we took truly showed that we were sure about each other. Nonetheless, when Russell finally asked me to “officially” be his girlfriend on January 11, 2008 it was the best feeling in the world. We weren’t nervous, we simply were sure about one another; and that feeling of a calm confidence has never left our relationship. In the years that followed we both saw that life wasn’t easy, we both lost people that meant the world to us, we both went through deep personal struggles, but by the grace of God our relationship endured. Our love for each other served as a reminder that there was still good in the world. Maybe this is the biggest sign of all that we will be okay, we have seen one another through dark and stormy times, through near death experiences, through the loss of loved ones, and so much more. and through everything our love for one another has always pulled us through.
So now, almost ten years after we met, and almost nine years after we started dating we are engaged. The way Russell Proposal felt so much like when he asked me to be his girlfriend. It was calm and simple. He didn’t feel the need for a grand proclamation, the past eight and a half years all spoke for themselves. He simply told me he loved me, and asked me to marry him, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. When he got down on one knee I knew that our lives were going to change in a wonderful way, and although I had been hoping and praying for this to happen for years, I was still shocked and surprised.
The scene was set beautifully as well. The day prior we drove around the north shore of Kauai until we found our perfect sunrise beach. When we walked onto the shores of Moloa’a Bay it was breathtaking, we walked along to the northern side of the beach and there was an amazing look out, with these large black lava rocks. We talked and splashed in the water, and it was pretty easy decision that this was where we would be watching the sunrise the next morning. However, little did I know that Russell would be proposing in 12 hours. On the morning of June 29, 2016 Russell, myself and my niece left the house around 5am and started our drive to the beach. Little did I know that the both of them knew that this sunrise was more than just a sunrise, it was a proposal. I am so grateful that Russell incorporated my niece into this special moment in our lives. My sister passed away just over 4 years ago, and having her daughter there with us made it feel as though a piece of her was there with us on that beach. I never thought that I would have my sister be part of this experience, and Russell found an incredibly special way to honor her and make me feel her presence.
Just like every little girl, marriage has been something that I have dreamt about since childhood. Probably more accurately I dreamt about a wedding, because I didn’t fully understand the full meaning of marriage. As I grew up I saw the amazing things that my parents had in their marriage, and when I started dating Russell it seemed as though I found those qualities in our relationship. So with that being said marriage had been a hope pretty early one. We had the hope that our love was true and would endure the formative years of our lives. It seems as though marriage has been something that was on our horizon; with the both of us truly knowing that we would reach it eventually. And it is with great joy that we have finally reached this point in our journey. It is hard to imagine how we will feel on our wedding day, and it is even harder to imagine how we will feel as we exchange vows. In all honesty I hope that we are able to take it all in and feel the emotion and the love that will be present in this, once in a life time moment. Our vows will truly shape our future. We are promising to love one another unconditionally for the rest of our lives. We are promising to bear witness to each other’s lives, and to make sure that the other’s life does not go unnoticed. Most importantly, we are promising to care about all of the beautiful small moments that will build our lives, and I hope our wedding truly reflects this bright hope that we have for our future.