A Couple Made In Heaven
I have said it before and I will continue to say it…. I love being a wedding photographer in Orange County! It allows me to meet and get to know new people, but it also allows me to spend time and get to know those I’ve already known even better in a different light because they are in love, and this was the case with Renee and her fiancé Ivan.
I’ve known Renee since I was in high school, about 12 years ago now. Her dad, Albert, was one of my youth leaders at Calvary Chapel East Anaheim and Renee would always encourage me to attend events. I remember when I first started attending church, Renee was always very kind and would somehow convince you to attend youth events. I couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter in her life. Ivan is a great guy and I’m so excited for them!
For their engagement photo session, we went to The Lab Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. If you haven’t been to it, definitely check it out, it’s a pretty cool place. The Lab has some very colorful walls, a warehouse with a smashed VW bug on it, a fountain made from oil barrels, some old-school Winnebago trailers and so much more. But the stars of the shoot weren’t the location, it was the couple. It was filled with playful moments and sweet smiles.
They are getting married at Newland Barn in Huntington Beach this June. Enjoy their story.
Renee and Ivan’s Love Story
Q: What do you do for work and what do you enjoy most about it?
A: I travel and advocate for disability rights and lead a team of care providers. My formal title is Community Specialist, which by no means explains much about what I actually “do.” My job duties are quite unique to any field but especially mine because everything I do is to compliment the life of an individual on the autism spectrum so that she can lead a rich and full life in spite of her disabilities. There are many perks to my job. One includes traveling the world, however, I find the most fulfillment in seeing my friend and client succeed.
Q: How did you first meet Ivan? Describe to us your thoughts upon first meeting him… was he goofy, weird, prince charming, etc?
A: Ivan and I met over the phone after a close friend approached us about the possibility of meeting. Our first “in-person” meeting however was over dinner in April or May of 2015. Ivan was very confident over the phone and showed a lot of interest in my faith. At first, I wondered if he was pulling my leg with all of his “spiritual” questions. However, in person I found him honest and humble, and quieter than when we spoke over the phone.
Q: What was it about Ivan that made you start liking him?
A: I began liking Ivan right away, and as we continued to talk and see each other over dinners I was impressed by his confidence in the Lord and that he always held my hand while blessing our food.
Q: What’s the proposal story? How did it all unfold and were you surprised?
A: The proposal story is kind of like a Braxton Hick’s contraction. We knew from the beginning that we were both dating for the purpose of marriage and so it wasn’t strange for us when we sought “couples counseling” from our Pastor and his wife early on in our relationship. However, he would never discuss with me when he was even thinking of popping the question and that drove me bananas. I knew that Ivan wanted to marry me early on in our courtship when we were hanging out at my place and he just stared at me with tight lips that made me believe that he was holding back a thought or a feeling. So of course I asked him what he wasn’t telling me. He responded with, “I love you” and it seemed like he had the wind knocked right out of him. Shortly after the “I love you’s” Ivan took me window shopping for a wedding ring, it was the best and worst thing because I still had no clue WHEN he would propose or what his time frame for marriage was. Ivan even asked for my hand in marriage from BOTH of my parents and I sat back impatiently waiting for the “big question’. With eyebrows raised, I would ask him after every date, “ya got a question for me?” Ivan always just smiled and kissed me on the forehead.
After what felt like eons, Ivan asked me to marry him at the beginning of our date on December 31, 2015. The night before the proposal we made plans for an NYE breakfast, dinner with my sister, and fireworks at midnight with my best friend. I was running over an hour late that morning, but Ivan welcomed me with open arms and gracious words. He sat me down at the fireplace in his unfurnished living room and began doting on him. All I could think was that I didn’t have my hair and makeup on and that I wanted to finish getting ready before we set out for breakfast. He began his proposal formally and I knew that he was going to propose, so I sat up straight and composed myself to receive the “big question” which included a proverb, a bended knee, and an upside-down jewelry box. I silently turned the box right side up and he said, “Renee, I do have a question for ya”…
Q: As you plan your wedding, what has this experience been like? What’s your advice to others as they plan their wedding?
A: The experience of wedding planning has been challenging, but also rewarding. Rewarding because I have realized the greatness of God’s love for me through the love poured out by my church family, friends, and even strangers. My advice for others would be to keep at least one date night sacred where wedding talk is NOT allowed and the enjoying of your fiancé is a priority. The second piece of advice is the one given to us by our photographer, create three categories as you plan, Must Haves, Like to Have, and Can Live Without. This has really helped me to prioritize while planning.
Q: If Ivan were a superhero, who would he be and why?
A: He would be The Dark Knight, Batman. Well, Ivan is like Batman in that he lives to protect and serve others, never asking for credit and always standing up for what is right. Awww, I love Ivan.
Q: What do you do for work and what do you enjoy most about it?
A: I’m a police officer and I enjoy helping people and contributing to a safer community.
Q: Describe Renee in one word. Why did you choose that word?
A: Compassionate. I say compassionate because Renee absolutely has a heart of gold. This is what I love the most about her. You can see it in her job and how patient and understanding she is with Sue.
Q: Tell us about your first date. What did you do and were you nervous?
A: On our first date we went out to eat at a restaurant in Whittier. Contrary to what Renee will tell you, I was not nervous. For some strange reason, I felt so comfortable with her that I was going to play a little joke on her. So as we pulled up to the restaurant I see a guy I knew from work. Now, mind you this is our very first time meeting each other. So as I greeted my buddy from work I was going to mess with her and introduce her as my baby’s momma. Although I did not play the joke on her, from literally day one I knew Renee was the woman who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought to me to lead her in his word.
Q: Was Renee surprised when you proposed and why did you choose to propose the way you did?
A: I think Renee was surprised when I proposed, I know she knew I was going to do it but I don’t think she knew it was going to be that day. I proposed on New Year’s Eve 2015. I chose this day because I wanted us to always remember that 2016 was not only a new year but the beginning of our lifelong love story.
Q: Looking towards the future, what do you most look forward to doing with Renee?
A: The thing I look forward to the most with Renee is spending the rest of our lives together. I love Renee so much and she is the most precious thing the Lord has blessed me with. I look forward to raising our family together in the Lord and being an example of what a Christian couple and family is supposed to look like. I also can’t wait for the first day I come home from work and my beautiful gift from God is waiting on me at our house.
Q: What is something unique, quirky, or special about Renee that you’ve come to admire?
A: I adore Renee’s heart and desire to please our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like I said before, Renee has a heart of gold and it is most apparent when she is serving God. I truly feel like I won the lottery because I get to spend the rest of my life with this amazing, intelligent, and beautiful woman of God.
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