You know you’ve got yourself a keeper when he surprises you at your 30th birthday with a poem he’s written and then pops the question at the end in front of all your besties! Yup, that’s exactly how this sweet and devoted couple came to be after the gorgeous bride battled a rare illness that separated them while she recovered at her parent’s house. And just like us, Katherine O’Brien Photography loves happy endings and got to attend this gorgeous Austin wedding and share with all of us it’s pretty, little details. See even more here.

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From the Bride… Our story starts over five years ago with Jeff and I both “trying to make it” in big, bad New York City. Each of us coming from athletic backgrounds, we met at Columbia University, where we both worked in various veins of the athletic department.  I would love to say it was love at first sight, but honestly, when I first met Jeff I wasn’t his biggest fan!  Eventually he won me over — the man was persistent!  After hanging out for months with me enthusing, “We are NOT dating” (when we very clearly were), I broke down and gave in. We OFFICIALLY dated for over two years while working at Columbia and loving every minute of being New Yorkers. 

As with any good plot, it was at the point where everything was going well way that my world was turned upside down. In early July of 2009 I started feeling small but recurring dizziness and slight numbness on the right side of my body.  I thought it was fatigue. I thought it was an inner-ear infection. I thought it was migraines. I saw doctors who confirmed that it was none of the above, but there was no problem they could pinpoint. After going through a barrage of tests and a rolodex of doctors, I was finally diagnosed with a rare and random brain injury that was referred to as a Cavernous Malformation or an AVM. This injury occurs in a tiny percentage of the population, and of that tiny percentage, only an even tinier percentage ever know they have it. Unsure of how to proceed, I was sent home by my doctors, convinced I would be better in a matter of months. I was referred to specialists and alternative practices, and with the help of my family and Jeff, continued the search for the solution to my injury.

As the year progressed, so did my symptoms. Seeing straight became difficult, the numbness got worse, my balance became distorted, and soon, it was hard to walk. Eventually I needed help walking, the right side of my body was completely numb, and the left side of my face was paralyzed. During all of this, Jeff was not only there for me but was also my main support system. Any time (which was a lot of the time) I was scared, he kept me calm and secure. He was always questioning the doctors I went to and looking for other specialists. Through his research, we actually found a wonderful surgeon at a wonderful hospital who probably helped to save my life. On Jeff’s 30th birthday in September, I underwent a nine-hour brain surgery. He was the last person I saw before surgery, one of the first I saw when I woke up, and he was there with me almost every night in the hospital. When I was moved to a therapy hospital 45 minutes out of Manhattan, Jeff was there. He was my friend, my partner, my therapist, my butler — everything short of hair stylist. When I was released from the therapy hospital in November of 2009, I moved to my parents’ house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He would brave the East Coast winter and visit me at least once a month for a little while until his job relocated him to Memphis, Tennessee in January 2010. Even then, he would visit each chance he got, hopping on a plane even to surprise me for on a random weekend.  We would talk every night and he always stayed positive and practical, remaining my rock from halfway across the country.  

A year and a half later, I was up for the challenge of moving back to NYC, through which (no surprise) Jeff was VERY encouraging, even though he was living and working in Memphis.  I moved back to NYC in April, and Jeff came to visit me that July — it was the first time we had been in New York together since before my surgery. He surprised me by throwing a surprise 30th birthday dinner with friends where he read a sweet, funny, very long and very witty poem. At the end, he caught me completely off guard by proposing!

Wedding Photography: Katherine O’Brien Photography / Wedding Venue: Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas / Floral Design: Last Petal / Wedding Cake: Barton Creek Resort & Spa / Band: Texas Unlimited Band / Wedding Dress: Ivy & Aster / Hair: BeautyMark Agency / Makeup: The Bride’s Cousin / Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew + Jenny Yoo / Groom’s Suit: His Own / Groom’s Vest + Tie: Men’s Wearhouse

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