An Engagement Shoot With Views That'll Take Your Breath Away
April 5, 2017
Outdoor WeddingsSummer Weddings
Relationships aren't always rainbows and butterflies; they take work, compromise and patience - and these two right here are proof that it's all 110% worth it. From long distances to ER visits and now a deployment, they've weathered storms and come out stronger. Duffy Photo & Film captured their love in person with this gorgeous shoot in the Garden of the Gods - just in time for their upcoming June nuptials. See more in our Vault right this way!
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From the Bride-to-be, Katie... Ryan and I met in college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where we were introduced by a mutual friend. We didn't immediately begin dating, however, as our lives took us in different directions. A few years after graduating, we reconnected through none other than the social media app Snapchat! Ryan had been stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky and I was living in St. Louis. Although a couple states away, four hours was all that stood between us. We began communicating and planned on going to a St. Louis Cardinal game for the Fourth of July.

The date went very well (perhaps with the help of some alcohol to ease the nerves), and Ryan and I bravely (or stupidly) decided to begin a long distance relationship. Being a school based Speech-Language Pathologist, I have summers off. I was able to go visit Ryan a couple weeks later in Kentucky. Again, we were both nervous because this would be the second weekend that we spent together during our new relationship. Somehow, we survived July and made it to August.

Unfortunately the Army took Ryan to California for the entire month of August. Not only was he not the usual four hours away, he was now across the country! We stayed in touch through texting and calling and finally made it to September.

September was a critical month in our relationship. During a visit to Kentucky, I slipped and hit my head/face (pretty darn hard) and ended up with a black eye. If that wasn't enough, Ryan developed appendicitis and ended up in the ER. There I was, swollen face and black eye sitting next to a stubborn, try-to-be-tough-thru-the-pain Ryan in a hospital all weekend. That was a sight to see! It was September that we began to realize how deep our feelings truly were for one another.

Let's jump to the proposal. Ryan was stationed at Fort Lee, Virgina for his Captain's Career Course Training for his promotion to Captain in the Army. We were prepared to spend three months apart until I could visit during my spring break at the end of March. I share a birthday weekend with his sister, so I wasn't at all surprised that their dad and step-mom invited us over for dinner to celebrate our birthdays. The whole family (my mom, Ryan's mom, etc) was invited, which also didn't raise any red flags because we have all celebrated Thanksgiving together. I arrived at Ryan’s dad’s around 6 p.m. and put my purse and coat in a spare bedroom. He asked me to go into the garage to grab a beer and walking back into the kitchen I was extremely surprised to find Ryan standing there smiling. Thinking that was my surprise, I immediately went to him and hugged him. Ryan gave me a card (his family is big on cards... I think he gets it from his mom ;) ) so I opened it and began reading. As I was reading I realized everyone was recording me on their phones. When I got to the en, Ryan was down on one knee. He pulled out a beautiful ring and asked me to marry him. It was the best night of my life. Reluctantly, we spent another couple of months apart until Ryan completed his career course training.

Fast forward to now: the military has brought us to Fort Carson in Colorado. After a couple years of being apart, we are finally together... in the same state! We are excited to continue our journey in beautiful Colorado Springs. That excitement was short lived as Ryan is now proudly serving our wonderful country overseas in Afghanistan instead of acclimating to our new life in Colorado.

Soon after our engagement, Ryan and I set a wedding date for June 3, 2017. I was extremely excited to begin wedding planning. It was a piece of cake to find a venue. Once that was booked, our amazing wedding coordinator gave us a list of vendors. From that list of referrals, Ryan and I chose to reach out to Duffy Photo & Film and were immediately impressed with Ali’s style and professionalism. Since we found out Ryan was deploying, we did not think we would have the time for an engagement session since we were stationed in Colorado and wouldn’t have time for a trip back to St. Louis, MO. Our amazing, incredibly talented photographer offered to travel to Colorado Springs with her business partner and husband, Beau. Ryan was set to leave August 5, 2016. With proper communication and a little fate, Ali and Beau arrived to complete our photo shoot on August 1, 2016…perfect timing and perfect weather to shoot our engagement session at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO. We were thrilled! Ali and Beau did an amazing job and our pictures turned out beautifully. I cannot wait for Ryan to see the portraits hanging on our wall when he gets home from his deployment.

Throughout our relationship, Ryan and I have been tested. Our entire relationship revolved around ‘the next long weekend,’ or ‘a holiday break,’ or ‘summer time.’ We thought we were finally catching a break when I decided to move to Colorado with Ryan. Soon after we arrived, Ryan got the orders to “cross the pond” and take command of a unit stationed in Afghanistan. As a soon-to-be military wife, I was faced with several changes and heartache. The distance was nothing new, however, the time difference, the length of time apart, and the acclimation to a new environment was new to both of us. This is Ryan’s first deployment and my first time being exposed to the military lifestyle. This has been our ultimate test. Fortunately, I met new friends while Ryan has been gone. I’ve also kept myself busy with my job as well as wedding planning. There is no easy way to get through a deployment.

The biggest take-aways I have learned from Ryan’s and my challenges are to #1 Communicate your feelings as soon as you can - don’t hold them in; it’ll cause bigger issues. #2 Don’t blame one another for the timing, scheduling conflicts, and Uncle Sam when duty calls. #3 Trust in God and believe that one another is in good hands. #4 Trust one another! #5 No matter how often (or little) you’re able to talk, you have to know and believe you are each other’s number one and always in each others' hearts.

Thank you for listening to our story. It’s only just beginning. :)
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