Today’s the day. The day men dread the entire year. The day they have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on flowers, candy, dinners, fluffy things….I could go on and on. My best Valentine’s Days were making and decorating mailboxes in public school while eating cinnamon hearts until my tongue felt like it was going to bleed.
Valentine’s Day is a little different for us this year for us at E.Photography. This year we’re giving a couple the gift of photography for the most important day of their lives. Makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂
Claudia and I would like to thank all of you who took the time to send your stories in to us. We would be lying if we said it was an easy choice. We were filled with incredible emotion reading each one of them. At one point, we toyed with the idea of giving every couple a free wedding session because we just couldn’t decide. But, after a long deliberation, we came to the following decision: WE HAVE A TIE! And, we added a runner up who will receive an hour shoot with us. This can be used as either an engagement session, family portrait session or a post wedding session. Like, a Trash the Dress perhaps?
Ok, I’ll stop teasing now.
The winner(s) of our Contest to End All Contests are:
Christine & Stephen
Lyndsay & Peter
Our runner up couple who will receive a portrait session with us is:
Corri & Jamie
And now, their stories……
Christine & Stephen
We met online in the year 2000. We hit it off and soon decided that we should meet! My friends thought I was a little crazy because it wasn’t very common to meet people online at the time. I was nervous. In school, I wasn’t what you would call the “popular” girl. Boys didn’t pay me much attention, and up until meeting Stephen, I never had a boyfriend. So, once a “boy” showed interest in me through my personality rather than my looks, I thought it was perfect. Our first date was a movie in Newmarket at The Glenway Theater, which is no longer around. We watched the movie “Mission to Mars”. Stephen saw me and hugged me right away. We hit it off in person too! We had wonderful conversation the entire night. As we were leaving the movie, he gave me my FIRST KISS!! I had butterflies in my stomach, and I was smiling ear to ear the entire way home! The next day I couldn’t wait to tell the world that I went on a date and that he KISSED me!!! We continued to see each other and made it official – we were now boyfriend & girlfriend – and I made sure the world knew it! I would write letters of gossip in class to my friends about my boyfriend and how wonderful he was. He made me feel on top of the world and I loved him with everything inside me, he was my world! I actually had a boy to go to prom with. I could hardly believe this really be happening to me!
In 2001 we both started applying for college and we thought it would be GREAT if we both got into the same college so we could attend the same school! We applied to several colleges together. Soon, Stephen received an acceptance letter to attend Humber. I waited penitently for my acceptance letter too. I would check the mail daily, waiting with bated breath for the letter that would make me jump for joy, the letter accepting me to Humber. Well, not even a week later, I got my letter from Humber; I couldn’t wait to get home to open it! To my disappointment it wasn’t the letter I wanted to receive, it was a rejection letter. I was crushed to think that we would have to attend separate colleges. I decided I had faith in the relationship I had built with Stephen, so got back up on my two feet and through it all Stephen was very encouraging. I ended up getting accepted to Georgian College. We tried our best to make the long distance relationship work but to no avail we parted ways as our college lives lead us down separate paths. We still kept in contact every once in a while to see how each other were doing. Years past, we both graduated and said goodbye to the college life. We both returned home and decided to get together and catch up. The moment we saw each other, it felt as though we had never been a part, we were head over heels in love all over again.
We continued dating for years having our ups and downs. He was my rock, my everything, he stood by me when I was struggling to find a job after college, he did nothing but support me and encourage me and help me in any way he could. I did eventually get a job and things were smooth sailing. Then in 2007 my parents decided they wanted a divorce. I was devastated, it was hard to breathe, and it felt like my life, as I knew it was falling apart. I had trouble sleeping, had no appetite and just had no motivation for life. Stephen stood by me and was the shoulder I needed to cry on and the motivation I needed to get up and continue living my life. He encouraged me to focus on something else, so I decided to apply myself and I decided I wanted to get on the police force as a 911 dispatcher. I applied, and after a vigorous interview process, including psychiatric testing, background checks and 4-person panel interview, and I made I through everything, I felt like life was looking up. I waited for the letter to arrive with the time of my home interview, the final hurtle. But, as with my Humber letter, I didn’t receive the news I was hoping for, I did not get chosen for the final stage. Without conscious thought, I called Stephen right away; he was the first person I wanted comfort from.
As time passed, things seemed to be getting better, until my Uncle Mike, who had been diagnosed with MS, passed away. The disease had been aggressive, and my mom had taken on the role of caregiver, so the loss of her brother hit her hard. Everyone felt the sadness, and I don’t know that I could have gotten through it without Stephen. It made it clear that Stephen was the constant, the one person who could lift me up when I would fall.
Time heals all wounds, as it did for my family after the loss of my Uncle. I began to feel happy. Stephen and I were in a wonderful place, I didn’t think life could get any better…and then it did. On May 7th, 2011 Stephen took me to the lake front at Kempenfelt Bay in Barrie, set up a picnic for me with all my favorite foods, sat me down and proceeded to get down on one knee and propose. I was so full of emotions, I cried like a baby! We then took a walk around the lakefront and discussed how we would announce this wonderful news to our families! Well to my surprise he had already told everyone in our families that he was going to propose, he had asked my Dad for permission to have my hand in marriage and my Dad was absolutely thrilled and said YES! Stephen had shown my sister the ring, he had it all planned. I was still so thrilled that I had to tell the world, we told his parents first, then I went to my sister and brother and flashed them my ring my sister cried in happiness for me and my brother made it clear that he more than approved. When I went to my Dad and showed him my ring, he smiled and said, “Oh, dad already knew!” I had never seen my Dad so happy! When I told my mom, she cried and gave me such a big hug. I don’t think she could have been happier if she tried. My entire family was happy!
I started making wedding plans ASAP! Started buying all the books, googling wedding ideas, getting venue ideas, center pieces, colour choices, EVERYTHING! There were so many choices, so many hard decisions to make! There was; however, one decision that didn’t need any thought. My wedding photos.
My brother has a friend who he had gone to school with in elementary and high school, he told me she had a website called E. Photography and that I should check them out, so I did. It was love at first sight. I called my brother right away and told him that they were amazing. One shot stood out in my mind, a picture of a bride fixing her dress by a big bay window. It seemed like a simple moment, caught perfectly on film. The shot encompasses exactly what I have always hoped for in the pictures that would be taken at my own wedding. I knew who would take my wedding photos at that moment. I e-mailed Elizabeth to ask for her for a pricing list/packages and realized that it was over my budget but still was trying to figure out a way to have her take our photographs. I thought maybe I could work extra hours or get a part-time job because I had to have E.Photography, nothing else would do. I opened up a Pinterest account and on my wedding ideas board I added E. Photography as my wedding photographer. Every time E. Photography added new photos I had to make Stephen look at them, he would agree with me that they were just out of this world. We both had our hearts set on E. Photography.
Together, Stephen and I have come across many obstacles. After the proposal, both his grandmothers fell ill, one being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the other with Dementia; they both required long term care, a painful ordeal for his entire family and a financial burden that needed to be paid, and Stephen stepped up to help take it on.
Soon after, his father starting battling with cancer and has required specialized care that has also put a strain on his family’s finances. Stephen has been taking on the responsibility to support his father during this difficult time; his father is still fighting his cancer battle today. We have met these challenges together, supported one another, and have made it through. We did so without question, as family has always been our priority.
Conversation about our wedding has been able to uplift our families’ spirits in so many ways. Something for everyone to look forward to!
I would like nothing better than to tell Stephen that we can have E. Photography take our photos on our wedding day. To be able to give Stephen this gift and our family members photographs of our wedding would mean the world to us. Most of Stephen’s close family members will not be able to make it to our wedding due to illness and it is very difficult for him to deal with the thought of them not being there. It would mean everything to know that our photographs were in good hands, to know that we will have beautiful moments captured to share with those who will not be able to be there with us. Stephen has been my support, my everything, and I want this for him.
We are having a very small and intimate wedding with approx. 60 guests at The Cardinal Golf Club in Newmarket, ON. We plan to marry on October 19, 2013. We are not doing anything over the top but are hoping we can still have a very elegant & special day. We figure if at the end of the day we are married to each other, and then everything will have been perfect! When I saw your contest on Facebook it brightened my day and I started writing my submission the moment I read about it. This contest couldn’t have come at better time, and I appreciate the chance to participate and have the opportunity to have you as our photographers.
I want the first boy I kissed, to be my last, and would love nothing more than for E. Photography to capture those moments so we can remember them, always.
Lindsay & Peter
I would like to recommend my niece Lyndsay Mills and her fiancé Peter Hamilton for the contest to end all contests.
In today’s day it is hard to make ends meet, let alone add the cost of a big wedding. Although a big wedding would be a dream, Lyndsay and Peter have come to realize that a costly wedding is not affordable to them. They will have their ceremony at City Hall with the reception to follow in Peter’s mom’s backyard. Whether it will be catered or not is still undecided. One thing for sure is they cannot afford a professional photographer. It would be such a shame not to professionally capture this wonderful day simply because of the venues. The love they share is insurmountable and with your experience and talent it will be forever kept in photographs.
Lyndsay is working hard going to school for nursing and Peter at present is unemployed. They are struggling to pay student loans and are living in the basement of Peters moms house. Lyndsay and Peter are very caring people who put others before themselves. Lyndsay’s parents have been ill and she is busy caring for them as well as juggling school and work. Her mom Cindy has scleroderma. It is an incurable autoimmune disease that is very hard on the patient as well as their family. She has been in and out of the hospital for years.
Her dad Ed, had heart surgery and still isn’t back to work. Peter’s mom Janet also has medical issues. These illnesses also make it hard for them to contribute to the wedding. If they won this contest it would greatly help their parents and relieve some of their stress by knowing that this beautiful day will be captured by the best.
Elizabeth and Claudia please consider Lyndsay and Peter as the recipients of your gift. Your generous offer will result in great memories for them as a couple, and you both for being a part of this beautiful couples day.
Corri & Jamie
Since I have my fiancé’s endorsement to write you, what essentially is reserved for her (a love letter of sorts) I will tell, as it happened, as it is… If it wins the contest great, if not, well to be honest it’s a story that I love to tell. Sometimes the simplest things in life, you know, the things that money can’t buy, are the most important.
Corri and I have led different lives, both essentially coming from different worlds. Without getting into those stories, but leading into this one, we both had almost given up on looking for love, resigning ourselves to the fact that after being hurt maybe one too many times in the past, it just wasn’t worth it.
Within my social circle, the chances of meeting someone new was remote and the thought of moving out of the safety of that circle was even further from my mind. I decided to give it one more go, maybe even for a confidence boost. So, I tried online dating. Well suffice to say it didn’t start off very well, a few interests, a few scary winks, pokes, etc, etc. Then came this very sweet, very beautiful person onto my computer screen. She was interested more in integrity, honesty and loyalty than anything else, looking for a nice smile; maybe I was on to something here! I have those things. I could have that smile? So like so many had done before me I’m sure (being as beautiful as she is) I “winked” at her.
As soon as I checked my computer the next day, she had winked back! I didn’t know her as Corri at this point, just her screen name “Blondeee”. She told me she thought I had a great smile. I think she may have commented on my bathing suit shot too! I was definitely intrigued. I sent her the message back to ask her if she was interested in getting to know the man behind the smile? She was and we started with some texting and although we were both new to our phone’s capabilities, we were able to ask and answer about 100 questions…
After a few days, we both (while nervous) decided that we should definitely meet. After having quite a bit of heartache in my life and not wanting to risk much more, I thought that if she was interested in me so far, the only thing that could blow this deal was if I wasn’t what I looked like in my picture? So we met, at a coffee shop about half way between our homes as we live about 60kms apart.
I was extremely nervous but at the same time a bit reserved… I didn’t want to risk being hurt, but I’d rather risk it, than never know. I brought her some Chocolates (yes, the old fashioned thing to do, plus she mentioned that chocolate can sometimes get her out of a bad mood, so I hedged my bets!). I had my 3 girls praying for me and even an ex-wife suggesting a suitable outfit. I figured I needed as much help as I could get! I was meeting a beautiful woman, both on the outside (from her pictures) and on the inside (from who she is).
We knew what car each of us was driving. I arrived first and watched her drive-up shortly after. I snuck up beside her car (winding my way through the car-filled parking lot). As I stood outside her car, I thought, “ I really hope I’m what she is looking for, but I can only be me”. We had a great first meeting. We talked, laughed and shared stories for quite a few hours. She agreed to see me again and so it began, an amazingly open and honest relationship.
We have both carried a lot of the baggage and more than a few of the hurts that life gives you on your journey and decided from day one to never hold back on anything. We speak to each other about our fears, about our worries, about how the past can raise its” ugly head” and we have a relationship that started with, and continues to grow because of a fully open and honest level of communication. We say it all… and we still do, we have been dating for 6 months (which we joke, feels like 9 years in a good way) and have talked every night for at least 2 hours, never an awkward moment or short on words to say.
As we got to know each other, Corri had spoken about a diary that she had when she was younger, she used it as an outlet, as a way to get out her feelings. The diary was thrown away unfortunately in a past relationship and she had never had the heart to replace it. I bought her a book inscribed with the word “Dreams” on it and told her that this was a new diary or journal of sorts. That she could write all of her dreams on it, and maybe one day, show it to me, so we could get working on those dreams together. Since then we together have filed that book and purchased a few more to continue the process. It ended up being as much of the story of our love as it did a journal of her dreams. I’m guessing they now may be one and the same.
Corri and I are planning our life together. It’s a life that involves different careers, different schedules and a few other people!! Our daughters, we are both parenting and raising our girls, Corri has a beautiful 14 year old and I have set of beauties myself, eldest of which is 11, my middle daughter who is 9 and the youngest is 7. As Corri and I build our relationship and strengthen our bond, these 4 girls are getting to know each other. We know that we have some bumps in the road ahead; some challenges, and our fair share of small victories and look forward to facing them together as a team.
I know that your contest had a few requirements; I’ll tell you a bit about our wedding. We are inviting a small group of our closest friends and family members, on a Sunday afternoon this coming August to help us celebrate that we have decided on forever. Sunday was decided on for a few reasons. Many venues do not allow for small groups, as well as it is a lot more budget friendly. Both Corri and I have always had to be aware of our financial situation. When it’s not just you, a lot of unseen expenses tend to come up. That is the reason why we thought we would enter this contest (apart for the chance to tell our story), since we both would never put ourselves or our wants in front of our children’s needs, the photography was one of the items that had to be left out of the budget. We will have beautiful memories of that day in August. It would be nice to have beautiful pictures to put up in the house, which will become our home.
Thank you for giving me this chance to write out our story, a copy of this letter will find its way into our ‘”Dreams” book. If we are fortunate enough to have you take the images of our day, our book will definitely need a place in one of those pictures!!
Claudia and I both hope that we’ve been able to relieve some stress for our winning couples, and we’re looking so forward to meeting you all.