Tuesday, January 27, 2015

in which the intern married his mentor's daughter (i.e. cody made sarah his wife) :: st. louis, missouri wedding photographer

Well, I don't have many and I don't have much
In fact I don't have any but I got enough
'Cause I know those eyes and I know that touch
I don't have many and I don't have much
Oh darling my heart's on fire
For you
|| heart's on fire - passenger ||
It's fascinating to me how little decisions or opportunities that God puts in our path actually turn out often to be the first stepping stones to lead us to our biggest decisions and biggest opportunities God has in store. In 2012 Cody heard about a pastoral internship being hosted by Dr. Marcus Serven, a man he greatly looked up to and respected. Through lots of prayer and seeking the Lord's will, everything fell into place and he found himself in the middle of Missouri surrounded by Servens. ;) And so the time began...September 2012 - May 2013. Out of all the amazing benefits and experiences he gained in his 8 months under Pastor Serven's tutelage in their home, something incredibly special began to develop. A friendship. It started small (like these things often do) but by the time he was headed home, there was a particularly fond place in his heart for his mentor's beautiful daughter Sarah. Though his days had been full of exhortation and being built up in wisdom, it didn't escape his notice when the Lord put a precious girl like Sarah directly in his path. :) And so "this'll be a perfect opportunity to learn great things" suddenly became "I think I just met the girl I'm going to marry."      
Fast forward to one lovely afternoon in May, 2014...he asked if she was available to accompany him for dinner. She accepted, even though she was a bit nervous. They headed off for an afternoon spent on the quaint cobblestone streets of old town St. Charles. Shops were looked into, selfies were taken, and memories were made as they spent the afternoon together. 4:30 arrived and they made their way to an alfresco style restaurant. Reservations had been made, and a table for two was waiting in an outdoor garden - the atmosphere was complete with the murmuring sounds of a nearby stream.
As big band music floated through the air, they enjoyed delicious food and each others company; although the conversations seemed to be strangely halted. As time sped by and the supposed hour of departure drew near, she guessed that they would soon be heading back. He mentioned that "plans had changed" - unlike her curious personality, her suspicions were not peaked.
After leaving the restaurant, they headed down Main Street, supposedly to the car. After a couple of minutes of walking, dialogue seemed to slack. They came upon a white picket fence that lead into a lovely garden, with luscious green grass and tulips lining the brick path - he had ofter given her tulips throughout their relationship, which added for another meaningful aspect. He suggested that they take the path through it, on their way to the car. She disagreed, thinking the way to the car was still further on; but, after a moment of hesitation, decided to follow him...
Then suddenly he was down on one knee, with a sparkling engagement ring offered towards her. Surprise was definitely there for her, but not doubt at all. He asked her if she would be his wife and spend the rest of her life with him....after a thoughtful second, she said "Absolutely!"
Which ultimately leads us to this day. For a love story that more or less began in the Serven's home, I find it splendidly appropriate that that is where the story of their wedding day began. Before even walking through the door I could feel the presence and warmth of strong family ties permeating and surrounding the home's atmosphere. After crossing the threshold I was delighted to see a beautiful harmonious chaos, bustling around to get things ready. Littles were being fed breakfast, bridesmaids dresses were being laid out, and a great deal of squeals and laughter were escaping from the basement.
And that is exactly where I found this group of wonderful women. Sarah was the fifth Serven child to get married; the third daughter to be a bride. The colorful and contrasting threads of bittersweet excitement alongside familiarity and "we've done this before" calmness, wove a fun environment around us. The fact that we were in the Serven's home was a driving force...not just a meaningless detail. It really added a depth and wonder to all of it. It was as if, having all the sisters together getting ready felt completely normal until someone would exclaim, "Oh Sarah! You're getting married today!" Then everyone's face would break into huge infectious grins...what a joyous thing!  
Though I had never met Sarah or her family before the wedding day (other than two of her older brothers, Nathan and Peter who attended a wedding of a mutual friend of ours), we had lots of mutual friends and I knew of them pretty well. The humorous thing is, in 2011 when her brother Peter got married (his wife Meredith was one of Sarah's bridesmaids), my friend Jessica shot their wedding. One of the getting ready shots she did was of Sarah and I just remember noticing how sweet, kind, cute, and pretty she looked! I didn't even know her at all but that picture made me have a fleeting thought of "That'd be so fun to photograph her! Like...her wedding or something!" As I said, the thought was fleeting because I, of course, didn't know their family and wasn't even a wedding photographer at the time! I had also seen Cody perform at several different conferences throughout my teen years because he, his brother, and his dad are a bluegrass group. And that is why it is no surprise that when I got the email from Sarah about shooting their wedding I honestly almost fell out of my chair! Sarah Serven and Cody Winton?! I know but don't know them! They're together?! They want me to shoot their wedding?! How much more fantastic can one inquiry be?! ;) I find it so intriguing and almost downright funny how the Lord can piece together such random and little pieces of a puzzle and before you realize it, those pieces start forming into one big beautiful picture. And that's how I found myself photographing that sweet, kind, cute, and pretty girl...as a bride!
Sarah wanted a special "private" bit of time with her dad before leaving for the church. It was so precious to see the joy, pride, and love in his eyes. It is the look every "little girl" yearns to see in her Daddy's eyes on the day she knows she's going to have to leave him. When her heart is torn between the man that raised her and the man he raised her for. That look is one of the only things that makes it all easier. :)
As the nerves started to rattle Sarah just a little bit when everyone was packing up, her mom was there to hold her. Every bit as equal to the Daddy's approving look is the Mama's supportive touch on a wedding day. It has the tenderness of wiping away dirt out of our toddler scrapes and yet the gravity of wiping away the tears of our first heartbreak. 
So. much. joy. :)
Almost mom and daughter-in-law ;)
"Oh, this is fun! Everyone did always say I looked like Nana when I was little, didn't they?" 
There is something magical about seeing a bride's eyes and smile faintly mirroring the same eyes and smile, two generations down the line, that are aglow with the joy of seeing her granddaughter getting married...aglow with joy for the bride and groom and a twinge of nostalgia remembering when she was the one in the white dress. :)
Lovely dresses, gorgeous flowers, and stunning ladies....all sisters too! (Meredith + Emily on the left  are the sister-in-laws) Which means not only did they all love the bride, they all loved each other! And all that love and happiness looked pretty great on every one of them. :) 
Please take note of the little man out front striking the pose and leading the pack. ;)
Dardene Presbyterian Church was a gorgeous backdrop for this sweet ceremony. :) 
Before the ceremony actually began, Cody addressed the whole crowd, welcoming them to the wedding and thanking them all for the part they had played in his and Sarah's relationship. I loved how heartfelt and personal it was. It really spoke to how much they cared about all of their guests. :)
I'll admit, I'm a feeler. Special moments on a wedding day often touch me deeply and leave me laughing or tearing up. ;) This wedding was certainly no exception...even having just met the couple. One of the moments that "got" me this day was when Sarah was walking down the aisle. While Cody's eyes were focused on his bride walking down towards him, his soon to be mother-in-law looked right at him. I've witnessed this same emotion in my mom with Trevor...overwhelming thankfulness that the Lord has provided such a man for her girl.   
After signing the family bible, they gave white roses to their parents, another deliberate and precious gesture of thanks. Having been a bride myself I can testify to how much love gets graciously poured out on you by more friends and family than you can wrap your brain around. Seeing how purposeful these two were to pour out love back was such an awesome testament to their character. 
First kiss first kiss! ;) And this one was a sweet one, folks. Just look at the way he held her close afterwards! It was so sweet in fact that after a lingering applause that almost seemed to be begging for an encore, Cody swiftly stole a second kiss right then and there. I'm pretty sure they like each other. ;)
This recessional cannot be described as anything but a sprint! "We're maaaarrieeeeed!" ;)
The brand new Wintons!
Mr. and Mrs. Serven had successfully married off five of their wonderful children and so, to celebrate....this happened. Cody + Sarah : Officially, excitedly, happily, and smoochingly added to the roster of married kids. ;)
Though I absolutely loved every aspect of our wedding day, one thing that was at the top of my list of favorite parts was our flower girls. And so, when I realized how many little ones were going to play a part in Cody + Sarah's wedding day, I might've been just a little ecstatic. ;)  
And (at long last!) it was time for portraits of just the happy (married!) couple alone. I tend to forget, after being with both the bride and groom all day, that they really haven't had any time just the two of them! Ceremonies are such a glorious blur of trying to drink each other in and yet "keep your head in the game" of what is going on, then family portraits, and wedding party...it's no wonder that as soon as I had them alone, you could see the "sigh of relief", the "oh! it's you", the look of "forever beginning" resting on both of their faces. I got to see firsthand that these two are most definitely best friends, sweetly in love, and eager to belong to one another.
When they were engaged I asked Cody to tell me a little bit about Sarah...
"Sarah is a godly woman and is always such an encouragement to me. 
I’m amazed sometimes at how easily she can cheer me up when I’m not doing well. 
She is not content with the status quo and always seeks to be purposeful in everything that she does. She is constantly serving others and desires to be sensitive to everyone she comes in contact with, which is such an inspiration to me.
 She’s also a ton of fun to be around. With lots of spontaneity and a smile that can light up a room, Sarah brings a lot of joy to all who know her, including me.
She has a real eye for aesthetics and is an excellent photographer. 
She’s also fantastic with decorating (she put together our wedding reception!)
And last, but not least, she is absolutely beautiful. She is, and always will be, definitely 
my favorite girl."
When I asked Sarah...
"My best friend and encourager. That's Cody. 
When its been a hard or long day, he's always there to talk with, and build me up. 
The first thing about him that made me turn my head, was how willing he is to work - and what a hard worker he is. Alway pitching in and helping me. Got a problem to solve? Hit up Cody. Truly... And he'll probably even smile as he figures his way through it. :)
Maybe that doesn't sound too romantic, but that guy definitely knows the way 
straight to this girl's heart. 
It's funny - before God brings someone into your life, it's like you've got a hole you never knew about. Then in the Lords good timing, He brings you someone...
and it all fits together."
Cody told me, "Sarah and I have been getting to know one another over many months and, as our love and commitment grows, our enjoyment in each other grows as well. We both desire to be purposeful in our lives and our marriage and probably the best thing that we do is trying to encourage each other and learn together.
We’ve enjoyed talking about theology and reading about marriage. That being said, we also enjoy some really fun stuff, like Frisbee, playing and listening to music, cooking, inside jokes, and good food.
#Hashtags are scattered throughout our emails, texts, and letters to one another. FaceTime and phone calls have helped us through the days when we’re apart, but real face time is way, way, way realer!!!!!!!!!  #epic #grammarian"
Then it was time to join the party again. ;) As Cody mentioned, Sarah has quite an eye for beauty having put together their wedding reception. Every little detail was so refreshing, colorful, bright -- incredibly fitting for their mid-August wedding day. I mean...banners, twinkle lights, and wildflowers? These people know how to make their photographer giddy. ;) 
So enraptured with one another. *swoon*
Joel was a fellow intern with Cody and in his speech he hinted towards the fact that they might've seen this whole "Cody + Sarah thing" coming. ;) Having friends to walk with you through the before, blossoming, and culmination of a love story is "up there" on the list of best things. :) 
And Cody's brother and best man Jesse of course made many playful jabs...like brothers do. ;) 
Then Cody's precious speech...thanking his parents for their faithfulness in raising him, thanking the Servens for all that they had come to mean to him in his life, and last (but not least according to the tears and smiles we all shared as he said it), he praised the Lord for his new wife, gushed about how dear she was to him, and spoke excitedly about looking forward to their future. <3 
I loved discovering how much these two just "click." They're both mature and very put together and that's often the majority of what you see on the surface, and yet they can slip right into silliness with charm, grace, and class. They bring out such a fun side in each other. They truly are (as their classic instagram hashtag declares) #bettertogether.  
Then Cody serenaded his bride with "Heart's On Fire" by Passenger
(And surely I'm not the only one who bawled.) :')
"Oh darling my heart's on fire...
for you."
Confession : 
Sometimes I get distracted when I have my darling who my heart is on fire for with me. ;) <3
Cody and Sarah!! I cannot even begin to thank you two enough for letting me be a part of your wedding day! I absolutely adored every minute of it....it was a great joy and an honor to meet you guys, witness and discover the uniqueness of your love, and capture it accordingly. I can't believe it's been a little over five months already since this day...time is flying! I pray the Lord blesses y'all with countless more months of growing in love. You two have something special...keep it, k? ;)


  1. Sooo lovely. I have met both of these two and their families, and I'm so glad they ended up together!! :)

  2. I love reading through your wedding posts, Allix. This one is no exception. Full of beauty and love that you capture so wonderfully. Love love love this.



  3. so much beauty. love how you tell stories, allix. <3

  4. Allix, I love reading your posts - I love how you point out the grace and goodness of God in the little things giving Him glory!! Thank you for sharing this story (words + pictures) with us!!!

  5. Thank you so much for posting this Allix! You did such a great job! I was very disappointed to have missed Sarah's wedding, but I am so happy I get to see pictures of the gorgeous day thanks to you (though I'm still sad I missed it in real life)! They are such a beautiful couple! I loved reading the words they wrote describing the other! So sweet!!! What a poignant example of Christ-life selfless love! I admire all the details Sarah chose... especially her dress and cake! (And Nana's Nook is so cute and creative!) :-)

  6. I am so moved by their story!! Beautiful hearts. God bless them. <3

  7. EEP EPP. my heart is absolutely a puddle.
    she is literally such a cute bride, like oh my gosh. SO ADORABLE. and together they are just perfect and I adore all the happy smiles and emotions. gahh, it's magic.
    killer work as always, allix. :)

  8. Gorgeous pictures, Allix!! Sarah, you were a beautiful bride and I rejoice with you and Cody in God's goodness in bringing you both together. What a glorious day of rejoicing! It's been exciting to see the Lord grow the Serven clan these past five years - abounding with so many precious grandchildren!


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