COURTNEY + ROB :: Norfolk Engagement :: Virginia Photographer & Destination Photographer

A glimpse into this coast to coast relationship, discovering they were each a good kind of different, a 9 month deployment, and now the lovely chaos of planning a wedding in 4 months! 

I was so excited when Courtney and Rob reached out asking me to take their engagement and wedding photos! Last year, they'd seen me at work photographing this Richmond wedding and felt I was a perfect fit for their big day. I couldn't wait to meet them! 

Below you'll find a quick glance at this super sweet couple's backstory and some of my favorite shots their oh-so-beautiful engagement session in Norfolk, Virginia.  Plus, I'm mixing in some quirky and beautiful quotes I received from Courtney! I just loved hearing her share details of their journey so far together. Their love and colorful personalities truly shine through in both their story and photos!
As with so many fantastic couples these days, Courtney and Rob met online. At the time they were both living near San Diego. 
"I had just happened to jump back on after a couple of unsuccessful dates and he was trying his hand at the dating world after coming back from a deployment." 

Courtney was first struck by the grin in Rob's photo, and after a few initial online "chats" they finally met for sushi! 
"Admittedly, I almost bailed on him.  So many unsuccessful dates and here I was, meeting this guy who's voice I'd never heard to share a meal and PERHAPS a few awkward hours. Well, as it turns out, his voice was perfectly normal and the chemistry that spilled out over texts was multiplied over wasabi.  I was struck by his laugh and just the slight air of "I'm trying really hard to impress you."  

She said that after they goodbyes that first date, he never left her mind!
"Let me tell you that trying to read addresses while driving with the smile of the most handsome man you've ever met plastered across your thoughts is like trying to walk through a minefield with snowshoes on: clumsy and dangerous!  I always prided myself in being a careful driver, having never been in an accident before.  *crumple* What was that?  I shook myself from my thoughts to see that I had driven right into a parked truck.  I couldn't believe I'd been so teenage starstruck that I got into an accident...with a parked vehicle.  That was my first, and possibly most obnoxious, indication that Rob was a good kind of different."

Their next several months of dating was quite eventful with trips to Disneyland, hiking at Torrey Pines, and even "enjoying the kitschy strawberry chocolate covered awe of our first Valentines Day together. That's when we first admitted that we loved each other."

Soon after, Rob had to disclose the fact that he'd applied to be a Naval Nuclear Reactor Officer and would soon be moving across the country to Charleston, South Carolina. 
"I remember the day he told me.  We walked out to the sand at Pacific Beach and he told me he was leaving like it was a goodbye.  He was so nervous and so sure that I bail out on our new relationship.  But when I asked him what he wanted, he admitted that he wanted to continue our relationship.  Watching him so nervous, I couldn't help but laugh a little.  The Navy was nothing new to me.  My dad had spent 33 years in the Navy and living in San Diego, a majority of my friends were involved with the military in some fashion.  "Love doesn't measure miles.  Let's do this!"  I still recall his wide eyed look of hope, disbelief, and happiness.  He tells me that was his first indication that I was a good kind of different."

Together, Courtney and Rob embarked on their incredible road trip!
"We climbed caves, I enjoyed my very first margarita in Texas, and we even stumbled upon the Alamo!  We jammed through New Orleans with beignets and gumbo, destroyed burgers in Atlanta, and finally made our way to Charleston.  I had to fly back shortly after we arrived but Rob was moved out there and settled and soon we found our groove through letters, emails, and care packages.  I was even fortunate enough to be able to spend a semester out there with him.  With the romantic mixture of young America, country charm, and warm beaches, Rob and I both readily admit that Charleston is where we both realized that this crazy cross country love affair would last a lifetime." 

That Christmas, Courtney moved back to San Diego, but soon after Rob flew to visit. Little did she realize, he'd flown all the way out to personally ask her father for her hand in marriage! Nearly a month later, on March 23rd, "Rob knelt down before the rushing waters of Niagara Falls and asked me to be his wife.  I'll let you guess my answer!"
"We hadn't even gotten used to referring to each other as "my fiance" when he received an email that he would be stationed to the USS Harry S Truman, the carrier that was next to deploy."

They spent the next 9 months falling more in love over emails. 
"We must have had a lot of great moments to reminisce over because 9 months flew by fast and finally, I'd made the arrangements to move out to Norfolk and be together permanently.  

During the midst of deployment, they'd paused planning their wedding. Now, Courtney's brother will soon be returning from his own deployment and her parents made arrangements to visit in August, so they decided to make the most of the timing and settled on August 31, 2014 for their big day! This left them just under 4 months to plan, and "have been in a lovely chaos ever since."  
I always tell my couples that I want their photos to truly reflect THEM. I ask if they have any unique, personal and/or silly quirks between them, and if so, that we should definitely try to capture some of those moments. "Rob likes to pick me up even though I insist on staying down.  He has dropped me twice.  Scarred for life." 
For part of their engagement session, we wandered the Freemason District in Norfolk, since it has similar qualities to the areas they love in Charleston.  This area also has a cute little bed and breakfast which they'd stayed at before Rob's deployment!  
 Isn't this ring stunning?! 
 Stealing kisses!
 ow ow! 
SO gorgeous!
Eeek! I cannot wait for Courtney and Rob's wedding next month, and cannot thank them enough for the honor to be their photographer!!!


Michelle + Steven ● San Diego Engagement Session at Torrey Pines and Balboa Park

Sorry to all previous posts... but this one is my favorite! 
Not only do I get to announce the awesome news that MY SISTER IS ENGAGED! 
... but I had the absolute honor of capturing her San Diego engagement photos too! 

Michelle and Steven met online in 2011, and are beyond perfect for each other. They're both incredibly active (I get exhausted just hearing about their 50 million mile hikes and bike rides! Ok, million might be an exaggeration, but probably not far off), so it was naturally fitting that their first date took place at beautiful Torrey Pines. They hiked and watched the sunset from a lifeguard tower (hence some of the photos you'll see in their session). 

I remember meeting Steven for the first time and instantly felt like we'd been friends for years. He was in the Marines at the time, and I adored the respect and love I could see that he obviously had for my big sis! I'm beyond thrilled to welcome him into the family and couldn't imagine a better match for her! 

I also have to thank him for timing the proposal perfectly too ;) At the beginning of June, Michelle and Steven were on a romantic getaway in Belize. On their second night - June 4th - they dined at a restaurant on the water, and knowing how much my sister absolutely loves piers... Steven planned a little stroll.... and once they reached the end of pier he popped the question!!! YAY!  The timing was awesome since this was the same week I was arriving in California for a visit.... so as soon as they returned home, I was able celebrate the awesome news with them! 

Below are some of my favorite photos from their engagement session!!! We wandered beautiful Balboa Park (where they took their first photos together in 2011) and then headed to Torrey Pines for sunset photos on the beach. 

Aren't they just adorable?!
THIS RING!!! I can definitely say I've never seen another like it! 
My sister is a super-talented Architect and this ring definitely suits her perfectly. 
The diamond practically floats in this tension setting and allows light to hit from all angles making for an extra gorgeous sparkle! 
Since it had to be custom fit.... as soon as they returned from Belize, it was sent off to be sized. We waited patiently, with fingers crossed, hoping it would be back in time to take engagement photos before I flew home to Virginia on Wednesday morning. LUCKILY (many thanks to the wonderful team at Leo Hammel Jewelers) the ring was ready Tuesday just in time for evening photos on my last day visiting. 
My gorgeous sis and her handsome soon-to-be hubby!
OW OW! Model alert. 
Beach time! I just love this one! 
Another favorite ring shot ;) 
I get teary-eyed thinking about the fact that similar beach photos will be taken
soon for THEIR WEDDING in the Caribbean!! eek!! I cannot wait! 
Two more of my faves! 
The spot where they watched the sunset on their first date! 
Ow Ow!
 I just love seeing her this happy! Thanks Steven ;) 
Talk about a dramatic sky!
I'm counting down the days til they say, "I DO!"
I'm seriously beyond happy for these two, and am so grateful they let me snap these photos. 
I truly hope they cherish them forever!

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