>Wedding Contest Finalists!!!

>

I am so happy to finally announce the 3 finalists for my Free Wedding Contest!!!  It was no easy task, and I'm glad Seth was there to give his $.02 because there's no way I could have decided on my own!  Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to tell me their story.  I enjoyed reading every single one of them. :)  


I know, I know, get on with it already.  But before I lose your attention, when you've finished reading the following love stories, click here to see how you can help your favorite couple win!!


And now, without further ado, I present to you:

The Free Wedding Contest Finalists!!!!!

1. {Katie and Heath}



     Who ever knew that something so wonderful would amount from "Do you know who I am?" "Yea, Do you know who I am?".
     Heath and I met through the best way a girl could meet a guy, through my mother. She was working at a chiropractic office in 2000. I was 15 years old. Occasionally I would spend time at the office and knew many of the patients well. Heath was a patient at the chiropractic office, but I had only seen him in passing one time. Heath had many back issues and spent a lot of time at the office, so he grew to know my mom and the Dr. very well. My mom would come home and tell me stories of this Heath person, of what a giving and great guy he was, but with no intention of luring us together (he was 4 and half years older than I). So, I had a good concept of who Heath was, yet had never really interacted with him at all.
     At the same time, Heath was learning alot about me, and unbeknownst to me he was giving my mother advice about teenagers. A few years of this goes by... Heath was a baker at the time, and out of the kindness of his heart, brought me yummy treats on my 18th birthday. He just stopped by and dropped them off- didn't want to stay or anything, just left. I thought it was kind of weird to be honest, and I did have that sense about him. He had this long scruffy goatee thing, and long unruly hair that he just put a hat on and tried to smush it down... by anyones guess, it sure didn't look like he was trying to attract a mate. So, time went by and I graduated high school, I had just ended a kind of serious relationship, my best friend had gone away to college, and I wasn't feeling like hanging out with all the old people from high school.
     I was really kind of depressed, and I remember being at the chiro office and just thinking, "who do I know that I actually want to hang out with????" The Dr. offered up the idea of hanging out with Heath. I responded that he was so nice, I would give the dr. my number to give to Heath, (and I don't know how, but the universe must have been foreshadowing) and I even went as far to say, I think I'll marry him! We laughed about it, and I wrote down my number and went about my way.
     A few days went by and he actually called me. He goes, Hi, this is Heath. Do you know who I am? and I said... yea. Do you know who I am? and from there we decided to hang out at his apartment. When the day came,  I definitely was a little nervous, not sure if I thought it was going to be a date or what...but I got there and we watched TV and just hung out as platonic friends would and then after some conversation and being a little weirded out by his roommates, I decided to leave. He walked me out to my car, and we stood there awkwardly, and I say to him, "Well. Can I at least have a hug?" And he hugged me, kind of far away like, arms stretched out and super quick... I got into my car and left and did not know what to think. He was a good friend I guess.
     That summer, we actaully had our first "real date" -- and funny enough, it was to a wedding of a mutual friend. We went separately, but met at the church and he brought me flowers. We had a good time, and at the reception someone took our picture- so we have one picture of us together with him all hairy and scruffy. I'm sure it will be hilarious to bring out for our grandchildren or to embarrass our son ;)
     Then I turned 19, and he brought me baked goods again. I think I was starting to realize he was genuinely a really kind and awesome person. I made my mom find out when his birthday was (we were both born on the 24th of the month) so I could bring him a birthday gift. He had moved out of his old apartment and was living alone. After that, we started just talking on the phone and hanging out every once in a while. I was still living at home with my mom, and his place was a nice sanctuary away from home, and we were definitely developing a connection. We were very different people at the time, I had never met anyone that thought the way he did- so alot of our conversations were debating outlooks on life and other philosophical things that 20 something year olds discuss. But we butted heads on things all the time, and he was just the very first person that I had even met that was so different. Eventually, it was obvious that he was attracted to me, but the beard and the hair just completely shut out any chance. I was not having it at all. He would even go as far to chase me around with his chin trying to touch me with his beard, and I would scream and run away. I was curious about being attracted to him, so I began constantly harassing him about cutting his hair. So, I turned 20 and we were really close and he made me dinner and all that and it was a very nice day. A part of me expected him to have cut his hair and shaved for my birthday, but he didn't.
     A few days go by, and I'm out with my mom & a friend. I think I called him to see what his plans were for the night and he said he was busy cutting his hair, since that would have been my suggestion to him for plans away. I replied, oh that's good, all of it? To which Heath said oh, just a trim. I didn't really think he'd do it, but I had a sneaking suspicion... So I knock on his door that night and this new looking man opens the door. I know he was expecting my jaw to drop to the floor and jump into his arms, but I did not. I just walked in and sat on the couch and went about the night as usual. After some friends had left, I finally went over and sat next to him on the couch. He always wore a hat, and was at that moment. I looked at his face, which I had never really seen before, and I didn't know how to feel. It was almost like I was sitting next to a stranger. It wasn't hairy Heath anymore, it was square jawed, green eyed, smiling, very attractive Heath who I had never met before. Then I took off his hat. WOW! He had left me a little surprise of a large lock of uncut hair on the top of his head. I was horrified!! He thought it was HILARIOUS. I think that was when I called my mom and told her the beard was gone. you might have guessed it, but that night was our first kiss. Again, more awkwardness. I felt like I was seriously kissing someone I had just met minutes ago, it was very weird for both of us I think. A few days later was New Years Eve, the dynamic of our relationship had changed dramatically and things just weren't the same between us. I didn't call him for about 3 months.
     During that 3 months I enrolled in massage therapy school. I had started school and was struggling with writing a paper, so I broke down and called him for help. I went over to his apartment with a clean slate basically, and then we got to know each other all over again.In may of 2005, after seeing each other all the time, talking all the time, and thinking about each other all the time, we decided we were an item. 5 years from very first meeting, we're actually a couple. Although, we still seemed to butt heads about a lot of things, one thing in particular was having kids, it was the first relationship that I actually had to work at. I had to learn to see things from his perspective, and through doing that I have definitely learned to be a better person. He was the best boyfriend I had ever had though, he treated me completely different than what I was used to. He was actually a real gentleman. I kind of rebelled against it at first, I would say, There's nothing wrong with me, I can open my own car door!!!.. ok??!!  But eventually I became more accustomed to that as well. I got my massage therapy license that spring, and began working. We had definitely fallen in love, and we moved in together in August of 2007.
      Heath was still baking, but wanted to pursue a different path. He had actually dropped out of college 3 and a half years in, deciding Public Relations was not for him and baking was just something that he fell into. He really wasn't enjoying it, so he quit and ended up going through 2 extremely horrible jobs that really interfered with the time we spent together. He decided baking wasn't so bad after all, but he knew that he had to do something. After receiving life altering help from the chiropractor we both knew well, Heath became interested in alternative medicine. He decided to enroll into acupuncture school. Along the way,and with a little encouragement from his already massage therapist girlfriend,  he found that he enjoyed doing massage and bodywork. So, Heath was enrolled in school in 2007- he went to school in Chicago. This meant waking up on school mornings between 3-5 am to catch the train to commute all the way to near Wrigley Field, and then sometimes not getting home until 11 pm or later. The days he didn't have school, he worked, or I worked. We rarely saw each other and there was a huge strain on our relationship. Thankfully, his program was only about 18 months, any longer and I'm not sure we would have made it. I had just turned 24 on December 24th 2008, and he had finally graduated, and we finally were able to spend some time together. It was like when we first started dating.... especially in the romance department... :)  
     Well with that said, we were surprised with the news of our life. We made a baby!!! Well, that certainly was not what we had planned to do, but the universe works in mysterious ways.  Having a baby has brought us closer together than ever. As massage therapists, we tend to try the more natural route of life, and we had a natural childbirth that was so bonding, I can't even use words to describe the experience. I feel like the luckiest woman in the entire world because I love a man who is a truly unique and amazing person. We make each other better people everyday, and I am so excited that he is the one that I get to raise a child with in this crazy world. We decided to get married so we can commit to each other in front of our closest family and friends. We are so excited to have our son involved in our special day.
     As I look back through this story, there are so many things that I didn't mention, we have grown so much as people together, and we really have been through so much I could write a book I'm sure. But we love each other immensely and I know that I'm supposed to be with Heath as long as we're alive.



2. {Kristen and Lincoln}




     “I looked for you, the one my heart loves. I looked for you but did not find you. I searched through the night until I rested in your sight; now I will never let you go.” Inspired by scripture, Christian music artist, Matt Maher, beautifully describes the search - and capture - of love from the book Song of Solomon. This particular verse was the definition of my own search for love. However, my experience had a lot more to do with searching for love than actually capturing it; that is until I met my fiancé, Lincoln.
     After several attempts of looking for the “right guy” and ending up with nothing but tears, I was only left to question who on earth I was meant to be with. I was all too ready to settle for the single life. The image of the well-known cat lady came to mind when I took a glance into my future and at that point, cats didn’t seem so bad. However, my heart continued to long for another future, one that involved a husband and a family of my own. Ironically, this future of mine began by rewinding into my past. During my sophomore year in college, I was a Resident Assistant and spent many weeks in training to prepare for the job. It was in training that I had first met Lincoln. We worked alongside each other during training and at several volunteer projects. We remained distant friends during college as we both were dating someone else at the time. After graduation, Lincoln went on to pursue his masters and also became a Resident Director at the university. Over a year after graduation, I dearly missed the ministry I experienced as a RA on campus. I began thinking about the opportunity to become a RD, so quite nervously I messaged Lincoln on Facebook for more information. After I typed my message and hit the “enter” button, I sat there shaking my head. I bet he probably wouldn’t even remember me and possibly wonder how I even became a friend of his on Facebook. No sooner had I began to worry, he replied with a message, a detailed message nonetheless, of how to apply for the job. I was thrilled. We decided to meet up for lunch while he was in town to talk about the RD position and it was then that we both knew our search for love was over. We were captivated. We were captured.
      My story became our story, as we spent the next many months anticipating the day we became engaged. December 2010 came around and Lincoln took me up to Chicago for lunch and a carriage ride through the city. It was an amazing winter day in the city and as we returned to Lincoln’s apartment on campus, I opened up the door to a winter wonderland on the inside! The apartment was lit up with icicle lights and covered in photos of the both of us. Old text messages were hand written on paper and put up on the walls of the apartment. I noticed a letter I wrote Lincoln awhile back was put on the bottom of one of the kitchen shelves. As I bent down to read the letter, Lincoln also got down … on one knee.
      As I look back on our story, it may seem like it is one for the fairy tales. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and are soon married. However, I believe it had more to do with the search and journey we both went through before finding one another that made this fairytale possible. Ironically, it was when I stopped searching that I found Lincoln. It was when I began to lose hope that God brought me through even the darkest of nights to "rest in the sight" of Lincoln.
      People ask how I know Lincoln is the one. I respond, “I just know.” Not surprisingly the response I get is usually a puzzled face. This ‘knowing’ goes beyond similar tastes in music and TV shows (although we both enjoy a good episode of LOST!) It goes beyond our favorite foods and hobbies. It is his spirit and passion for life. It is his selflessness and caring heart. It is his ability to lead me when I need it and walk beside me when I need a hand to hold. My prayers have truly been answered. He did not just know what qualities I was looking for in someone and try to conform to them; rather He is everything I've always wanted. He makes me unbelievably happy. I know I am cared for and loved; we both would do anything to be there for one another and take every opportunity to serve each other, even in the littlest of ways. I know it may sound strange to others but to put it simply, there is a peace; a knowing that we are meant to be together. Lincoln and I would love for Chrissy Deming Photography to be a part of our special day on December 2nd, 2011.We admire her ability to freeze an instant of time in our lives that we will be able to cherish forever. It would mean so much to have you be part of the rest of our story.




3. {Shannon and Brad}



     My fiance and I met in fourth grade. Over the years we became best friends. I have many vivid memories ranging from him asking me out every way possible to him sitting in our seventh grade language arts class staring at me just to get me nervous. You know how adolescent boys are. He asked me out almost on a daily basis. And, I always said “no”. I just didn’t like him that way. He was my best friend and that was it. As the years went on our friendship only grew stronger.
     During our college years he had a girlfriend and I started to feel jealous. Coming to the realization that I finally started to have feelings for him and now it was too late made my heartbreak. I freaked out and stopped talking to him fall of 2002.
     Our friends didn't know what to do. They tried getting us to talk, but I just couldn’t stand speaking to him knowing that he was with some other girl while I wanted to be with him.
     At the end of May of 2003 we arranged to meet at a local restaurant to catch up. We had a great time and our relationship seemed to be back to normal. A few weeks later he broke it off with his girlfriend. That summer and we started hanging out more and getting closer than ever before.
     At the end of the summer, while I was away at college he had asked me to be his girlfriend. I knew that this was truly the last time those words would come out of his mouth. Strangely, I couldn't say yes right away. I knew that this was a huge commitment and if I said, yes that I would never date anyone else for the rest of my life. I didn't know if I was ready for that kind of commitment. I told him that I would have to think about it. For the next two weeks, he called me nearly every day asking me if I had an answer. And, of course I said no. Little did he know at this point I had decided that yes, I did want to be his girlfriend. However, I did not want to share the news with him over the phone. I wanted to share it with him in person. To be able to hug and kiss him and celebrate this moment that both he and I had waited too long for.
     Needless to say, Labor Day weekend of 2003 I went home for the weekend and we started our new relationship together.
     Now, as I am sure you are thinking...we have been together for a long time. Yes, I agree completely with you. Even though I knew one hundred thousand percent in my mind that Labor Day weekend in 2003 that we would end up marrying one another we have had the longest dating relationship out of anyone I know. There are many reasons why. The top reason is money. Yes, I know that many couples use that as an excuse but it is not an excuse with us. Throughout the past seven years we have had to overcome many obstacles such as moving across country, losing jobs, and more. I won't get into all of the problems we have had, the important part is that we have overcome them as a couple. He and I have faced more obstacles than most married couples face in their entire relationship.
     This past November, two days before Thanksgiving, was one of the best days of my life. My boyfriend proposed at Morton's Arboretum. It was truly one of the most special moments I could ever imagine. Everything was beautiful. How he proposed, what he said, the sun beating down on us in the cold November air. We waited a long time for that day, but it was worth it.
     Our wedding date is October 15, 2011. We are planning an intimate ceremony and reception. We both agree that weddings should be filled with people that you love and that mean the most to you. Our ceremony will take place at a Catholic church in Oswego. Our reception will take place in our neighborhood club house. Our budget is extremely small. So small in fact that we were not going to have a photographer because that would consume more than half of our budget. This is why when I saw your blog about winning a chance for you to be our photographer I jumped at the chance. I love your work. I love the fact that you catch “real” moments. I know that you would do an amazing job and having you be there to capture the moments of our long awaited day would truly be a dream come true.



Congrats to all, and good luck in the next round!  


And just so you don't have to scroll back up to the top, here's the link to the post on how to help your favorite couple win. :)


Thanks for reading, Happy Friday, and have a great weekend!!!! :) :) :) :) :)