Friday, May 29, 2015

in which jake and leah's golden hearts overpower the cloudy skies :: paris, tx engagement portrait and lifestyle photographer

How long will I love you?
As long as stars are above you,
and longer if I can.
How long will I be with you?
As long as the sea is bound to
Wash upon the sand.  
|| how long will I love you? - ellie goulding || 
Jake and a girl named Shelby Criswell had been friends since they first met in middle school in Forney, Texas. They continued that friendship throughout her time at Baylor University. He would see pictures on Shelby's social media of her and this Leah girl, and of course his eyes took notice.
Shelby was in town for a weekend during the summer of 2014 and she and Jake met for Starbucks to catch up. She told him all about her life and the different events and happenstances and such. The conversation then took a turn that he will never forget. Shelby told him that she thought he would really like her roommate, the same girl he had seen in all of those pictures.
Shelby then said, "And you know, in all my time at Baylor, you still have yet to come down to check out the campus." And a month or two later, they made plans for Jake to come down and to go hang out with her roommate's family and all of their friends. He came down a few days early so that he could tour the campus and do all of the Waco staple-types of things, and he walked through the door of Shelby and Leah's apartment to a beautiful girl sticking her hand out to meet him. He 86'd that idea and went straight in for the hug. From that very moment, he knew that hug was going to mean a lot more than any other hug.
Shelby and Leah met at line camp the summer before starting their undergrad at Baylor. Leah thought Shelby was mean. Shelby thought Leah was weird. They realized they were in the same major and therefore would have classes together for the next four years! They were basically just acquaintances until they became absolute best friends sophomore year over some good bonding girl talks about life, Jesus, and how much they hated school. After Shelby and Leah had become friends, Shelby invited Leah to a mission trip her friend Jake was leading. She ended up not being able to go but Shelby came back with lots of stories from this incredible trip with some guy named Jake. Not more than a few months later and Shelby invited her to work a D-Now at her church back home. She said that same Jake was going to be working it and that Leah could finally meet him. Once again, Leah wasn't able to make it so she yet again missed the opportunity to meet this friend named Jake. She worked D-Now the two years after that but for various reasons Jake wasn't able to work them. 
FINALLY at the beginning of the summer of 2014 Shelby texted Leah to let her know that she had met with this mysterious Jake (that Leah had yet to meet but seemed to know quite a bit about through stories from Shelby) for coffee. The first message she received regarding Jake was "I have found your future husband". Shelby had claimed this multiple times before so Leah didn't think much of it but then she continued to assure her that she knew this was it and that Leah had to meet him. She proceeded to tell her about all that he was doing to pour into others and grow himself in Christ. She sent Leah a link to his blog where he had written an article about how women should be viewed, loved, and respected just as we are called to be. Leah told Shelby that if it was possible to have a crush on someone simply from their writing that, then that was what had happened to her. 
Toward the end of the summer Shelby mentioned inviting Jake up so that he and Leah could finally meet (as friends) and get to know each other. Leah still wasn't looking for a relationship but she thought she might at least gain a new friend. The entire week before he arrived she was praying that the Lord would bless whatever friendship came from the weekend. After she met him she couldn't stop laughing, smiling, or looking at him. She was in continuous prayer that she didn't mess up whatever the Lord was doing and didn't let her silly girlish feelings get in the way or ruin a friendship. At the end of the weekend she thought they had hit it off but he (in their own words) STUPIDLY didn't ask for her number and her heart was crushed. Shelby asked later if Leah liked him and she said that it didn't matter because he clearly didn't like her. Shelby informed Leah that she had been texting him for the last couple hours. "I've been talking to him solely about you and how much he...likes you, Leah. He asked if I could send him your number." Leah approved. ;) He texted her the next morning after church with a cute joke and hasn't stopped since. 
The Lord's timing with all of this has proven to be better than anything either of them could have imagined. They would both say their love story is truly their favorite. :)
Their engagement session was the first time for me to meet these two and I was immediately struck with how genuine they are. They have huge hearts of gold that radiate humility and kindness. They were both super easy to talk to and get along with, they clearly are madly in love, and they're crazy photogenic. I couldn't ask for better subjects! 
Jake, if Leah looked this remarkable during your engagement have another thing coming on y'all's wedding day. She's gonna be breath-taking. 
So let's talk about this stunning opal engagement ring, shall we? Here's how she got it...
The week of Christmas 2014  Leah left Jake for what she thought would be the day after they attended church together on a Sunday morning. She had plans to go with Shelby for a day full of shopping, good food, Starbucks, and good bonding time because they would not get to see each other much anymore now that they were not roommates. So after lunch with Shelby, Jake and Leah said their goodbyes because she did not think that she was going to see him for the rest of that day. Little did she know, she would most definitely be seeing him again that day. ;) 
They had made it through church with everyone making faces and putting imaginary rings on their fingers behind Leah's back, and Shelby and Jake of course knew the whole time at lunch. They are being considered for an Oscar in the next award season for Best Ruse. ;) After a few hours of shopping, Shelby told Leah that they were headed to some park in Dallas to look at a special Christmas ornament (and she believed her!) So they went to the park to check out this magical ornament and as it turns out, it was not a magical ornament after all. So they made the corner to walk around the other side of the park back to the car...
For about a month before, Jacob had the entire plan together. So while Leah was shopping with Shelby, he was texting and calling people, coordinating with everyone on when to be at the park and where to be so that he could go over the plan with them. He waited until everyone showed up and then he explained to them how everything was going to go down, put them in their places, and they even rehearsed it with a walk through. They were all ready for Leah and Shelby to walk up from the magical ornament, everyone sitting or standing and talking; hidden in plain sight. As a guitar starts strumming behind her, Leah walks up to one of her best friends, Paige, who is holding a sign with "July 31st, 2014" written beautifully on the front. Paige then says, 
"You met for the first time, and you absolutely captivated each other."
There are four people on every side of Leah taking pictures and videoing as she walks up to the next sign being held by Jacob's family: "August 21st, 2014" and Amy, Jacob's mom, says, "You decided that you couldn't call each other just friends anymore." 
Sobbing, Leah then walks up to two of her friends from grad school at Baylor, Lizzy and Meredith, who are holding a sign which beheld the date "September 20th, 2014". Lizzy began, "You had your first kiss, and if your parents did not know that yet, then hopefully they did not hear me", and Meredith finished up, "And that was also the first time you told each other you loved each other, even though you both knew way before then." 
In even more tears, Leah walks up to her parents, who are holding a sign with the date "November 10th, 2014". With a tear in his eye, her dad says, "He asked us for our blessing, and after an hour of making him sweat, we said yes. We love you Leah." Then the three tearfully embraced. 
For the last sign, "December 21st, 2014", Leah's brother Robert was the holder. He then said, "A new addition to the list and for sure one that you will never forget. I love you Leah." And out of the hug with Robert, Leah has only a few more steps until she was face to face with Jacob, who was hidden behind one of the arches. Cameras flashing, tears in both of their eyes, the Dallas skyline in the background, Jacob drops to one knee... "Leah Nicole Brooks, will you marry me?" And (in Jake's words) "Wouldn't you know it, that lovely woman said "Yes". ;)
Now these two are just days away from their boho, whimsical, hippy, flowerchild, outdoorsy, eclectic, warm, comfortable, filled with love wedding day and I couldn't be more excited to be there and shoot it. When I asked Leah what she really wanted the feel of the day to be she said, 
"It’s hard to explain. I just want people to feel at home and comfortable in the space. I want it to be nice and semi-romantic but more just filled with love and thankfulness. I want it to be more about how incredibly much Jake and I love each other and love the Lord than anything else." :)
June 6th here we come!