Wednesday, September 9, 2015

in which michael is the prince + stephanie is the princess :: chandler's gardens celina, texas wedding photographer

"Marry me Juliet, you'll never have to be alone
I love you and thats all I really know
I talked to your dad, girl, pick out a white dress
It's a love story, baby, just say yes
Cause we were both young when I first saw you"
|| love story - taylor swift || 
 It all began when they met at the University of Arizona. Stephanie's sister, Ashley, and Mike were in the same pre-law club where they became acquaintances and attended many club events together. Ashley would invite Stephanie to some of those events and somewhere along the way she introduced her to Mike. Although they knew each other, they never really talked or hit it off. A few months later, Ashley invited (read demanded ;) ) that Stephanie come to a club event that night. Stephanie didn't want to go, but she obliged. While at the event, Mike spotted her from across the room and thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He then went up to Ashley and asked her permission to get to know Stephanie better...and maybe even kiss her. ;) Ashley thought it was the cutest thing, and it was her mission the rest of the night to to get Mike and Stephanie together. At the end of the night, Mike asked Stephanie out on a date for the following night. He said he would call her the next day to let her know what time he would pick her up. The next day she went to work, and waited for the phone to ring. Many hours later there was still no call. She was so disappointed. But as it turns out, he had taken a nap and overslept (now that she knows him and his love for sleep, it makes total sense! ;) ) He did eventually call and apologized. He felt so bad! He came and picked her up and they went out to dinner and a movie. After that first night, they went out on a date every single day thereafter. Proof that naps can actually accomplish great things. ;) A week later, he asked her to be his girlfriend. After 2 weeks, they both knew they loved each other. In fact, Mike mouthed "I love you!" to Stephanie from across the room, although he didn't work up the courage to say it to her for real for 8 months. (8 MONTHS!!) They both knew pretty early on that they were meant to be together. It just felt right.
Mike proposed 4 years, 6 months, and 6 days after they began dating (not like she was counting or anything. ;) ) He was on break from school and was in town visiting her. One morning he woke her up early and told her to get in the car. They drove for almost 3 hours and arrived at a little town north of Phoenix. Mike had arranged to take her off-roading (something neither of them had done before) in the Toronto National Forest. They took a trail that led down to a river. Mike had packed a picnic which he set up by the river. After they ate, he wanted to take some pictures by the river. He set his camera up and came to stand by her, telling her the camera was on timer. Little did she know it was actually recording. He proceeded to tell her the sweetest things things she had ever heard, and he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. It was the happiest day of her life...so far. ;) They spent the rest of the day having fun off-roading through the forest and stopping to take lots of "just engaged!!!" photos and then they drove back down to Tucson and celebrated with her family.
As the years passed, they went through a lot and stuck together through thick and thin. They loved spending time together and couldn't get enough of each other. They loved eating together at their favorite restaurants "The Melting Pot" and "Sushi Garden." They loved watching silly comedies together, their favorites being the Office and Parks and Recreation. They loved going for walks, going on trips, cooking, workout, hanging out with friends, playing board games, going out dancing, being goofy together. They loved watching University of Arizona basketball and football games (bear down!) They liked to find and watch videos on Youtube of funny animals (sloths, pigs, puppies, and Grumpy Cat.)  Mike enjoyed listening to Stephanie sing, usually along to Taylor Swift. (Steph is a Swiftie through and through.) They loved talking about their future plans of having a farm and many animals. And they always sought to get to know each other better spiritually, walking together on their journey to know the Lord better. When they lived in the same city, they spent every day together that they could. Then they were long distance for some time which was incredibly tough, but their relationship stayed strong. Six years to the day of their first date, they got to finally become husband + wife. All that waiting made the day that much sweeter...they were so completely ready to have the privilege of spending the rest of their days + nights together for always. <3
The exquisite flowers were done by Petals Couture  and I was smitten with them all day! 
The day began in the appropriately named Grand Hotel in Downtown McKinney. All the intricate details in the room made it such a charming backdrop for everyone getting ready. 
Mike gave Stephanie this locket in the beginning of their relationship and she's worn it ever since...which is no wonder that she was faithfully wearing it while the ladies of Beauty Art turned her into a bride fit for a fairy tale.   
Stephanie's mother, Mary, is such a classy lady and she just looked positively stunning! 
Shoutout to my extremely amazing second shooter Elizabeth for these photos of Mike...several of her images are included in this blogpost! She was such a thrill to work with and I cannot praise her work enough. This is one of my favorite shots of hers!! 
Their wedding venue was none other than the enchanting Chandler's Gardens in Celina, Texas. A photographer friend of mine was married there and a year later I shot a wedding with her there as well. It was such a joy coming back and working there again, and there couldn't have been a more perfect place for Mike + Stephanie. And as if the place wasn't lovely enough by itself, all the details these two included just made the whole occasion that much more breath-taking. So much thought was put into everything that you are about to see. 
These signs leading up to the ceremony site, each marked with a line from various love songs or poems that meant something to them in their relationship, Stephanie made herself. And when I say made I mean she went into the backwoods behind her aunt's house, hand picked each piece of wood, hauled it back to Arizona, sanded it, stained it, painted the quotes, and borrowed power tools to nail them together. If that's not a labor of love I don't know what is!
This watercolor sign (as well as others you will see later at the reception) was hand-painted by her grandmother!

The grandmothers were the flowergirls!! How precious is that?! Best idea ever!
During the ceremony they gave each of their mothers a flower and a kiss, with the symbolism being since their mothers gave them their first kisses they wanted to give them their last kisses before getting married. 
I asked Mike to describe Stephanie and what he loves about her and this is what he told me...
"When I first met Stephanie it just felt right.We've been inseparable since we've met, when we can help it. She has always been there for me. Stephanie is the reason that I am a better person.
She makes me want to be better and pushes me to be better at everything. She really believes in me every step of the way. Needless to say she is my motivation for a lot of the things I do. Stephanie and I are comfortable just hanging out at home by ourselves or going out to be with friends.
 I love that we can be goofy together about random things. She's also not afraid to speak her mind about the tough issues. She hates it when I say this, but I think she is the cutest person in the world when she is grumpy. Stephanie is also a pretty good singer and makes me smile.
My favorite thing to do is hug her. We fit together like two puzzle pieces; literally perfectly. In short, I love Stephanie. 
And Stephanie had this to say about Mike...
"Michael Quist is my soulmate. One of my favorite quotes by Emily Bronte sums it up best: "He's more myself than I am. Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
Mike loves harder than anyone I know.  He loves me completely, truly, and deeply. He is passionate about those he loves, his beliefs, and his work. He is friendly to all, and everyone who knows him loves him. He has a captivating spirit. Mike always has a way of making me smile. I love his sense of humor, and how always laugh together. 
He is fun to be around, and even if I spend every second of every day with him, I still want to be with him more. As it says in the Train song, "Marry Me", "Forever will never be long enough for me, to feel like I've had long enough with you."
Our connection transcends words, it is something made by grace that I have trouble finding ways to describe. Ever since I've been with Mike, I have felt that he is my soul's counterpart.

I love his smile and his spunky spirit that I see when I look in his eyes. I love how he takes care of me. I love how well he knows me and yet still wants to know me deeper. I never thought there'd be anyone out there who was perfect for me, but Mike is perfect for me in every way."
More artwork by Stephanie!
I'm always a sucker for Instax documentation of guests...it's the cutest!
The menu, seating chart, and table names were all painted by her grandmother. :) 
Each table was uniquely named after something special in their relationship. :) 
The glasses was yet another display of her grandmother's artwork. I love how she painted them as a perfect replication of Stephanie and Mike's dress and suit. :)
If you'd like to know why these mischievous cuties are giggling...look no further than the picture after this one. ;) 

Stephanie's sister Ashley (where it all started of course ;) ) gave an incredibly epic toast. She started by saying that after many failed attempts through Twitter to get Taylor Swift herself to come sing at the reception, she decided she would have to take matters into her own hands. She proceeded to sing a Taylor song but with lyrics that she wrote about Mike + Stephanie's relationship. Check out their wedding video to get a hilarious taste of how amazing it was! :)


Sunset photos were something that Stephanie really wanted but the sun was sinking fast after all the toasts and cake cutting. We headed out anyway and though we only grabbed a few with golden light, I absolutely adore the pink sky after sunset we were able to have! :)
One of the funnest parts of the reception was the dance to see which couple had been married the longest where all the married couples went out to the dance floor and the DJ started calling out years, "Everyone who has been married a year or less, leave the dance floor." The music continued playing, everyone continued dancing for a few moments before he went on, "Everyone who has been married two years or less, leave the dance floor." And so on and so forth. 
It was a close battle in the end....
...but Stephanie's grandparents, married more than 50 years, were the winners! 
"Can you feel this magic in the air?

It must have been the way you kissed me
Fell in love when I saw you standing there

It must have been the way

Today was a fairytale."
Sweet Mike + Stephanie...you had me booked for a long time...way back before I was doing wedding photography full time. ;) You were the first "strangers" who ever chose me for their wedding and as the months passed and I learned more about you two and your wedding day, my excitement continued to build and build. But I never could've imagined how much of a glorious blast being your wedding photographer was going to be. I felt so privileged to be witnessing and capturing something so beautiful as you, two best friends, pledging your lives to one another. All the thought and care you put into every last detail made it so clear how important this day was to you guys and the fact that I was one of those details is truly humbling. I hope these past months of being newlyweds has been wonderful! "All I can say is, I was enchanted to meet you." ;)

2 comments:

  1. Beautifully captured Allix! Well done! And good job to your second shooter as well!

    I hope that you are settling in your new home, and that you and Trevor are doing well. I look forward to seeing any posts/pics related to your move!

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  2. Once again, stunning, stunning photos, Allix!!! My goodness. So so love this set. Your attention to detail and the way you capture the whole day so well is just so beautiful. Your talent just increases. :)

    God bless!

    -Madi

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Hey!! You're commenting!! You are so nice :) Thanks for making my day. :D