I was so excited when Ali and Daniel decided to have me photograph their wedding day in my hometown of Pensacola. The Tuesday before their wedding weekend, we photographed Ali’s Bridal Portraits out at Holland Farms to go with Ali’s rustic theme. We had fun despite the nervousness of all the dirt around her gorgeous gown – nothing makes a photographer sweat more than a Bride in the dirt! 😉 .
I can’t help but share Ali and Daniel’s beautiful story about the way Daniel truly won her over against all of Ali’s hesitations proving to be the man that would learn and love her in a way she never thought anyone would. Ali’s younger sister Shaela met Daniel first. When he saw Ali in a picture, Daniel knew he had to meet this girl. They went to the same church for weeks and weeks – but never crossed paths. He tried to Facebook her, but not knowing who he was, she declined his friend request (Stranger danger! Good girl 😉 ). A week before her mission trip to East Asia, with 1,000 other things on her mind, she walked into Sunday School and he was sitting in her spot. They met, and they inevitably became Facebook friends. Everyone could see Daniel’s undeniable attraction to Ali. While Ali was in East Asia, Daniel became best friends with her sister Shaela and said that he could see his future marrying Ali.
The first time they hung out together, Ali found herself singing along in the truck to the songs radio – something she just didn’t usually do when with someone she barely knew. She was taken off guard at how freeing it was to be completely comfortable with Daniel.
Before things got closer to a dating relationship, Ali’s nervous heart caused her to pour out a list of reasons to Daniel about why he shouldn’t date her.
Ali: “I am not the kind of girl to have boyfriends you know…”
Daniel: “Well then I will take that as a compliment.”
Ali: “That doesn’t mean you’re my boyfriend. I just need some time.”
Daniel: “Ali, I grow plants for a living. I am a patient man.”
He chose not to kiss her on that first date, but when she fell asleep in the truck on the way home, he kissed her forehead before waking her up. The following month, they made it official that they were dating. She already knew he was the one…and he was ready to plan their future.
Patience is such a big part of Ali and Daniel’s story. He wanted to propose to her, but the timing wasn’t right. They knew they wanted to get married in November and that plans were needing to be made, but before he proposed, Daniel wanted certain ducks in a row (it’s a man thing!).
Ali – a sweet and vivacious social worker with a huge heart to help others, a soft southern accent, and a laugh that could charm a rattlesnake – was arranging plans for their big day and telling the vendors – “I know I don’t have proof, but I promise we are getting married.” She laughs and cringes simultaneously as she recalls the looks the vendors gave her – the girl without a ring. “I need my golden ticket!” she would tell Daniel as she playfully poked at their delayed proposal.
But let me just tell you : IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT.
Daniel, a horticulturalist who has mastered patience but not totally mastered stealth, had every moment of the big day planned. Ali knew it was coming, but surprise after surprise kept her heart fluttering. He told her, “You are going to have three happy’s before the night is over. Something that has been a constant in our relationship, something that represents a light to guide our way, and something you have loved and will always love.” After a delicious dinner at Jackson’s, he took her to the first happy of the evening – Starbucks. And not just any Starbucks, but the one they went to on their first date…one that started their tradition of grabbing a Starbucks after almost every date…a small but noticeable, cherish-able constant in their relationship. They reminisced about their first date there and how he was so sad she had to leave that first date because he didn’t want to stop being around her and getting to know her. Afterward, he told her he needed her help with the next part of the journey.
Daniel: “Is this the way you turn to head to the cemetery?“
Ali: “What? Yes. Why?” (This was the cemetery Ali’s older sister Christa was buried in.)
“I know how much your sister means to you…how much you wish she could be here – especially on big days…so I thought we could make her a part of it.” Taken off guard doesn’t begin to describe Ali’s melted, touched, love-filled heart. Her sister had been such a huge part of Ali’s story and was a huge impact on who she is as a person. Her heart was completely overwhelmed – flooded with joy and awe that Daniel thought to make this part of their special date.
In memory of her older sister Christa, Ali had a butterfly sewn into her gown made from one of Christa’s t-shirts. She chose a dark color so that, at any time, if you looked for it, you could see it.
I think it was after this point in their proposal story that Daniel actually had to stop for a bathroom break…which is ironic and special to this story since Ali regularly asks for a bathroom stop!
They went and picked up a lantern Daniel had for their date. It all happened so quickly from there. By the time Daniel was on his knee and proposing, she realized the lantern she thought they would use as a “light to guide their way” was holding her beautiful Engagement Ring – dangling inside. She knelt down to his level and said “But how are we going to get it out?!?!?!?!” to which she soon added “Oh! and Yes!!!”.
Happy Number Three? This head-over-heels groom-to-be thought of everything. As they went home too celebrate with Ali’s family, Daniel had flown Ali’s younger sister Shaela in from Texas as a surprise to celebrate with them!
This story is one that will fill your heart with love, bring you to tears, make you laugh and smile with joy. Daniel and Ali are dynamite together, and their love story is one that is worthy of a great book about love, faith, and patience! 😉
Ali and Daniel shared a beautiful (and chilly!) November wedding day with so many loved ones around them. Ali has the best taste and handpicked so many beautiful, rustic details that made everything come together in the best way!
After their honeymoon to the Keys, Ali and Daniel move into their beautiful new home – something they have been preparing for and looking forward to! “He just makes life fun. We laugh a lot and have so much fun together,” Ali told me. I am so thrilled we could photograph you and over the moon to be a small part of your love story. Keep laughing and don’t ever forget to have fun together you two! May God bless you and your marriage and may each year bring you many more beautiful heartwarming memories! Congratulations!