It All Started with an Instant Message
August 26, 2016
Mid Atlantic
Al FrescoRusticRustic Weddings
This couple? They're kind of everything. Because not only did John and Amanda's love story start when they were just youngsters, but the beginning of said romance? Downright cinematic. Fast forward a decade later and this sweet pair proves that their love is stronger than ever. With Maria Lamb behind the lens capturing every second of their celebration, we've got it all waiting for you in The Vault!
View as

"To officially ask me to be his girlfriend, he named a star
after me and filled up a spiral notebook with letters"

From The Bride...My husband was 16 and I was 15 when we first met. We were playing tennis. He saw me on the other side of the courts and walked up to say hello - "Hey, you're Abby's friend Amanda, right?" That was the beginning of late nights instant messaging on AOL (AIM), sending mail on MySpace (pre-Facebook), and leaving notes for each other in between our high school classes. To officially ask me to be his girlfriend, he named a star after me (Walk to Remember?) and filled up an entire three-subject spiral notebook with letters. We then went to Prom, where we had our first official dance.

We are each others' first-and-only. But like all couples, we've also had our struggles. 26/25 year old John and Amanda are very different from their 16/15 year old selves. For eight out of our 10 years together, we were doing long-distance (Los Angeles, New Haven, Maine, New York, Boston). For 1.5 of those years, we took a break (without seeing other people). Our first time as adults in the same city was only two years ago. We are thankful for our journey, a testament both to what God has done in our lives and also our continual perseverance.

John proposed in Napa on December 18th, 2015, by reading me a letter which he wrote in 2006, hardly half a year into our courtship. Although it was only a few months after we met, John wrote that he loved me and wanted to marry me. I think he was smart to never give me that letter 9 years ago, as he might have scared me away! But luckily he saved it, and I will cherish those words forever.

Maria did a great job capturing the vibrancy of our excitement, disbelief, and joy that this day was finally happening. We chose the Poconos because I spent every summer there growing up. We loved the camp theme as it offered our guests the chance to take advantage of the beautiful Pennsylvania outdoors: guests stayed the entire weekend and slept in cabins, while spending free-time zip lining, canoeing, hiking, etc. What sold the place for John was the lack of noise restrictions and that the party could last until sunrise (as opposed to strict 10pm cut-offs at other venues). Also, how gorgeous are the trees! There's a reason it is called Camp "Timber Tops."

The weekend started on Friday with a traditional Korean "paebek" ceremony, honoring John's heritage and our beginnings as both an American and multi-cultural family. The dress is known as a "hanbok" and my favorite element of the ceremony was when John gave me, his mom, and my mom each a piggy-back ride, to signify his responsibility to uphold his future family. Also, family members threw us dates (girls) and chestnuts (boys), and how many we caught symbolized our future children - 2 girls, 1 boy! Finally we ended the night with delicious Korean BBQ and libations.

Saturday was the traditional black tie wedding. The decorations and planning were a collective labor of love led my my mom, along with her team of friends/family who worked hard to make the day special. I can never repay their time and energy, whether crafting the cross for our ceremony, tying hundreds of goodie bags with s'mores, setting the tables with logs and candles, hand-painting our bark signs, etc. My mom saved one surprise for coming back down the aisle - not rice, but rainbow marshmallows!

After we were pronounced husband and wife, we entered the camp dining hall for the reception; this was when it became real, as all of our friends and family who flew in from around the world cheered for us as we danced to "Must've Done Something Right." If there was one thing that surprised me the most about our wedding, it was the realization that it is not all "your" day but where you can celebrate God, family, friends who were there with you every step of the way.