Wednesday, March 18, 2015

in which tom got to marry amanda after all :: kirksville, missouri wedding photographer

Well, I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
|| i won't give up - jason mraz || 

I'm not really sure how one should begin to write the story of capturing the wedding day of a dearest friend but I guess I'll figure it out as I go along. I met Amanda in 2008 and decided right off that she was way cooler than I would ever be. Our friendship really began because we shared a bestie. I was Rachel's local best friend and Amanda was her long distance one living 650 miles away in Kirksville, Missouri. Our mutual closeness to Rachel eventually brought us together and after a couple of years I considered her to be one of my most beloved friends. Our relationship deepened even more when I fell in love with her friend and fellow church member (that's Trevor! obvs ;) ) 
Hindsight is such a fascinating thing. It's remarkable to think that the same night that I met my future husband, I met Amanda's future husband as well. It was April 6, 2012 at the Fellowship Conference in Denton, Texas at the Friday night bonfire. Tom (going by the nickname Buddy at the time) made a great impression even in just the few minutes that I spoke with him. I walked away from the encounter thinking, "That was one of the most kind, personable, and friendly, guys I've ever met!" This opinion I had formed, therefore, made the news a couple months later that Amanda was in a relationship with him very exciting! Amanda had always said that she wasn't as giddy about the thought of falling in love and being married like Rachel and I (and most girls) were. This clearly seemed like the Lord was showing her that marriage was exactly what He wanted for her! She had a boyfriend! Whoohoo! But as time would tell, and as the Lord would have it, it wasn't to be as simple as we all thought at the time.
Tom and Amanda met on February 26, 2012 during some special meetings Pastor Ryan Fullerton was giving on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. There were a lot of visitors especially on that day and her aunt and uncle that she lived with at the time, being the hospitable family they are, invited some of the young people who were from out of town to their house, including Tom.  
She had been helping some friends that weekend and came in a little late to the get together. She had never seen Tom before, but she remembers her first thought when she met him being, "He's cute....I could marry him." Just for the record, she did NOT walk around thinking about if a guy was cute or she could marry him based on his looks. As soon as she had the thought she immediately rebuked herself and went about her business. She didn't take too much more notice of him the rest of the afternoon. He stayed for supper that evening, they all went to the special meeting, and then he went back home to Hannibal, Missouri.  
The weeks following she did not think about him once. He showed up again at some friends' wedding and they spoke a little again, but it was so short that she thought he obviously didn't like her -- not in a mean way, but in an indifferent way. After the wedding that evening she passed by the church and saw that Tom's and her uncle David's truck were there and thought, "I wonder if he is asking my uncle if he can date me..."Again, she shoved the thought from her mind and tried not to think about it, this was a guy she didn't even know after all!
A month later she was housesitting for a family when her aunt and uncle asked her to come for supper that evening. She had wondered if Tom would be there and if he would ask her to date him, but again she didn't even know him so she kept trying to push the thought from her mind. When she got to her aunt and uncle's house his truck wasn't there and she was a little disappointed and more than a little upset with herself for having such crazy thoughts about a guy she didn't know. She walked into the house and lo and behold, who should be there but Buddy (Tom) Bowles! They had dinner and then went for a walk where he told her he had been praying about courting her for the last 3 months and wondered if she would pray about it too. He said that he had been interested in her from the first meeting. She prayed about it and sought counsel over the next few days and felt that there wasn't a reason to say no and so they proceeded to court for the next 3 months.
Since Amanda was the first of our "three amigas" to enter the wild unknown world of "having a guy" Rachel and I asked her questions, giggled, and nearly swooned over the whole ordeal constantly. But there was always an air of hesitation coming from Amanda when she talked about it. Hints of fear, touches of worry...all cleverly masked with a nonchalant disposition. Sometimes she would talk excitedly about him; how attractive she thought he was and how much she really did like him. Other times she spoke as if it was all up in the air and she wasn't really sure how she felt. All in all there was just a sense that she wasn't ready. She couldn't even begin to wrap her mind around this leading to marriage! Tom mentioned it often...his intention, his desire, his goal was always to marry her. But, try as she might, her heart was just not there yet. After 3 months, she felt it was right to end the relationship and it was hard for both of them.
Because he lived an hour and a half away in Hannibal, they were really able to heal and not be constantly bombarded with uncomfortably running into each other. Almost 2 years later though, while she was visiting Rachel and I in Texas, she received an email from him. "Oh my goodness, you guys," she said to us in a nervous tone, "Tom just sent me an email. He's moving to Kirksville." We were both shocked!! Perhaps all the awkwardness they had been able to avoid before was here to haunt them after all. "I'm fine," she quickly assured us, "His email is actually very considerate." He wanted to warn her more or less that he had gotten a job and would be moving to town. He wanted her to know that he wasn't moving to start anything back up with her and he would do his best to make sure people didn't start such rumors. He wanted to be friends and hoped things wouldn't be weird between them. We all prayed that they could be good friends, that things would be normal, and perhaps even better than before! I doubted they would skirt past all awkwardness and felt for Amanda during that time. But she frequently reported to me and Rachel that things were going wonderfully with Tom and she genuinely enjoyed being just friends with him for the first time. 
One conversation I had with her at the beginning of 2014, though not Tom related, was my first clue that Amanda's longtime "not ready for marriage" heart might be beginning to take a turn. She just seemed to be gaining understanding of the positives and glories of married life that she had never seen before. There wasn't anyone in particular that I thought God was preparing her for, but I had a feeling something -- or someone was coming. 
At my wedding in May where she made a sweet companion and gorgeous bridesmaid, I continued to see a precious spirit growing in her that did my heart so much good to see. I found myself praying with more fervency that the Lord would bring her a husband. Much to my surprise, God's answer came faster than I would have expected! Apparently, the Lord had been working more specifically than I had once thought! While I was busy praying for her a husband, God was putting Tom back into Amanda's heart in a way that he never was before. All the while, Tom was having feelings of his own...though his were not quite so new. After about a year of living in Kirksville he came to Amanda's uncle David and basically told him he appreciated how welcoming they were to him, always inviting him over, and being such wonderful friends and brethren in Christ but he felt like he had to create some distance for his own good. Why? Like nothing short of a tale out of a Jane Austen novel, he had tried with all his might to "get over" Amanda. He had sought and prayed to feel "just friend"ly about her. But it would not do, his feelings would not be suppressed. ;) The more he tried to move on, the deeper he fell in love with her. He never stopped loving her, not one moment. The more he tried to think of other girls, the more wonderful and beautiful Amanda became to him. 
Finally a mutual friend of theirs who realized that they were interested in one another talked to them both and gave them the push they needed to talk to each other. (Go Mandi!!) They were so thankful for this! Crazy though it all seemed, they were an item once again! A few weeks after talking to one another they made a trip together. They stopped in Hannibal at Riverview park to take a walk. They talked about where they should take their relationship from that point and how they both felt like the Lord was leading them to be together....for always this time. ;) As they sat looking at the river he asked her if she was ready to be married and if she wanted to marry him....she said she was ready and she definitely didn't want to marry anyone else. ;) He then pulled out a ring and asked her to marry him and she said yes!!
And they didn't waste anytime on their engagement. ;) Less than two months later, the morning that my dear Amanda friend was to be a bride had come. I cannot tell you that I did not cry while shooting these pictures, nor while I was editing these pictures -- my goodness! I'm crying as I blog them! This love story is one of the most vibrant, mighty, and wonderful ways I have ever seen the Lord work in two people's lives to bring them together. I am so thankful -- the Lord has done a great thing and I am glad!!
She was so happy and at ease. Completely ready. ;) My heart soared to see her so excited to be marrying her love. <3
He, too, was very relaxed but expectant. Trevor insists that this man deserves forever recognition and should be a legend: "The Patience of Tom." After years of waiting and hoping, he was finally about to make his beloved his wife!  
Pause for a quick photography lesson: all the rooms in the building were cluttered and left a lot to be desired as far as lighting. As I passed this one bathroom I was blinded to all it's flaws because of the glorious window light and the cheerful yellow tile. So I situated her in the corner...and made some magic. ;) When in doubt, always go to the good light!!
All during our friendship I was never able to really imagine Amanda as a bride. But when she finally was one, she was every bit as breathtakingly (and unforgettably) elegant and graceful and lovely as any bride could be. And I don't say that lightly, she brought tears to my eyes and really did take my breath away.
When we got back to the room so the rest of the girls could see her, there was an audible gasp. We were all so delighted by her beauty. After "hugs all round" it was time to see her Tom. :) 
This look. When I saw Tom have this look in his eye when taking in the loveliness that was bride Amanda, I choked up (again.) God gave her a man! A man that is ardently in love with and committed to her! A man who truly treasures, appreciates, and makes her the best Amanda she's ever been. Oh my heart <3  
They're a good thing, these two. They are wonderful humans individually but together they are seriously fantastic. They certainly pack a punch of greatness -- humor, kindness, care, and adorability -- that they couldn't quite achieve alone.  I like couples that are even better as a unit than apart.
Someone called Tom for directions to the wedding. His wedding. The most reliable information is found right at the source I guess?
Allison, Amanda's cousin, has proven herself to be very skilled at the adorable flower girl routine having already strutted her stuff at the first wedding I ever photographed and mine and Trevor's wedding as well!  
Hugging Mandi...the darling "instigator" if you will, the mutual friend that kindly connected all the dots for everyone. ;) 
I mentioned my first wedding earlier...Dan + Regan were just one of three past couples of mine that attended this wedding! I love seeing my brides and grooms. <3
In Amanda's words, here is what Tom is like and what she loves about him...
"Tom loves to learn about new things and figure out how to do things to be more "self sufficient" (i.e. gardening, back packing, making things). It's really cute when he finds something new that he wants to try out and how excited he gets about it. He loves to be outdoors no matter what he may be doing out there.
Tom also really cares about other people. When we're at restaurants or stores he doesn't like for the waiters or cashiers to be "just a blur", so he always tries to strike up a friendly conversation with them. This is a real struggle for me, and as annoying as it can be, he's a real help to me to view people as people and not just as blobs helping me. (Does that make sense??) ;)
He's also really funny, I love that! I love having someone I can laugh with to the point of tears. He's always doing something to make me laugh, especially if I've had a rough day. I love it! 
I love how much he loves me!"
And, in Tom's words, what Amanda is like and what he loves about her...
"Amanda is very loving. I hate to sound cheesy, but it is really true. 
I love that she enjoys being spontaneous with me.
She keeps me honest and is always helping me. I like that she is willing to try new things, even if she's unsure if she'll like them or not."
She said one of her favorite things to do with Tom is to go grocery shopping. "It sounds crazy," she said, "but I really do not like grocery shopping and I love having his company when I do have to go." They both said, now that they're married, they really enjoy taking spontaneous or surprise weekend trips together. She said it's fun to be able to decide that they want to do something and just be able to go and do it. They also really enjoy running together and talking with one another...basically, all in all, they really enjoy being together. :) (Which is good...cause together is my favorite way for them to be ;) )
He makes her happier than I've ever seen. :)
She makes him happy too ;)
Timeless beauty.
Because of the Whovians that they are (for the record, she got him started on it) I had them run....because that's apparently a part of "Dr. Who"dom.  (I personally wouldn't know...but maybe some of you will?) ;)
You might've noticed the red door in the pictures from the beginning of the day...Amanda said she loved it and was bummed that the church it belongs to was too small for their guest list. But when it became the darling backdrop for so many of the portraits, her disappointment was greatly mended. :) 
The reception was at the 120 year old former soda fountain now renovated into an event venue with a turn-of-the-century atmosphere, Pickler's Famous in downtown Kirksville. It had big windows (once again, gotta love that natural light!), tons of personality, and plenty of room for people to just hang out. The entire reception was heart-felt, relaxing, and intimate where people enjoyed just fellowshipping and basking in the happy afterglow of two people becoming husband and wife. Not too mushy, no extra frilliness -- it was the bare minimum where receptions are concerned but it was perfect....very "Tomanda." ;)
Cute dude in the red shirt is taken....just fyi. ;)
Beautiful bridesmaids, beautiful friends, beautiful souls. I adore these women. :)
All of the speeches were precious...laughter and tear filled alike. These two have been blessed with truly incredible friends (and family.)
Oh hey handsome. ;)
This little girl was as adorable as they come. Her mom brought her up to Amanda and said, "I'm sorry to bother you but...she keeps asking to see the princess!" :)
These lovelies were married just two weeks after Tom and Amanda! Look at their cute baby fiancéness. ;) I, sadly, wasn't able to make it their wedding but my bestie did a wonderful job of capturing the day for me to imagine I was there. :)
I highly approved of the large amount of Chucks this wedding day included. ;)
Here they come! Mr. + Mrs. Bowles!
And there they go! Have you ever seen a couple more happy, more fabulous...they're in a Porsche for crying out loud! 
Oh Amanda. Oh Tom. Oh Tomanda. We're all married now...we adorable T+A couples. ;) It is an enormous privilege to not only know you but to love and be friends with you remarkable people. I cannot promise that I won't tear up at the thought of you being married for many years to come...let's be old wrinkly couples that laugh about how cool we once all thought we were. I like you guys a whole bunch and I'm still so thrilled I got to shoot your wedding. Three cheers! Yay! All the confetti! xoxo