Wedding Photography Giveaway Finalist # 1

Well I've picked out the three finalists for my Greenville Wedding Photography Giveaway. After over twenty awesome entries it was extremely difficult to pick just three of them. I wish I had the time to shoot everyone's wedding for free, there is just so much need out there. Regardless here is my first finalist: Kelly and Christian. They are an awesome couple who have had to deal with a lot. Christian is in the Army and has to be away for months at a time. Kelly is struggling to pay her way through college, and pay for a wedding. I'll let their entry, written by their friend Chelsea tell the rest of their story:

"My name is Chelsea and I know it's a long shot to win such an awesome contest, but I had to try it. You see, my twin brother is getting married soon. And when I say soon, I realize their wedding date alone may disqualify them from your contest. Their final date is set for January 30th, 2010. My brother's name is Christian, and his soon-to-be bride is Kelly. Christian is in the army, so even though they were planning the wedding for late February, they knew the army would have the final say. They met here in Greenville, and Kelly will complete college here in May. Christian is stationed in Louisiana which has been a challenge for them personally and especially with the planning of their wedding. Therefore, the rest of the family (like me!) have gotten involved to alleviate stress and make this season in their lives enjoyable. It's a twelve hour drive for Christian to come home, so he was able to make it home for Thanksgiving and will be back at Christmas. Then the next time we see him will be the wedding weekend. Even after they get married, they will still have to deal with the long distance thing for a short time while Kelly finishes school and Christian has pre-deployment training, but then they will live together in Louisiana. They are excited about the chance to actually live like newlyweds for a little while. Originally it looked like he would deploy to Afghanistan in the spring, but that has now been pushed back, so they will have a few months to enjoy each other before he goes.

A little background on each of them. Christian is strong and quiet, unless you bring up a topic that he has strong opinions about, and then he can be quite talkative. He is the kind of guy that when he sets his mind to something, he will complete it well without being swayed. The military was one of these missions for him. When he felt called into the military, he was driven to finish school and begin serving. Relationships were another area that he felt strongly about. He went through high school and college without dating. (Actually he had one relationship that lasted a couple months, but he quickly realized she wasn't 'the one' and ended it). He knew that he did not want to waste his time dating. He felt that dating was intended to lead to marriage, and if he wouldn't think of getting married right now, or to her (whoever she was!) then he had no use for it. He worked for a couple years during college so he was 25 when he graduated Clemson. He had lived on his own and supported himself during that time since high school, so by 25 he had developed many opinions about things. I liked to joke that it was taking him so long to find the right girl because God had a lot of work to do to build a match for him! Little did I know how true that ended up being.

Christian and Kelly met the month he graduated. It was the same as all his relationships- a group of friends hanging out in their free time. Kelly was just a friend of a friend. But he knew immediately that she was different. He worked at Furman as a recruiter initially which allowed time for them to get to know each other (and us to get to know her too!). They were dating within a month, and it was not long after that when Daddy said that if 'Christian were crazy enough to let her go, we were going to keep her anyway'! Their relationship was a joy to watch. We had been afraid that when Christian finally found someone, he would be head-over-heels. And he was, but in a healthy way, without all the drama. We were so thankful that they still made our family a priority and would come to hang out with us (my husband, kids, and I), Daddy and Mama, and Jordan and his family (our older brother). We loved the opportunity to get to know her alongside him. By the time Christian headed off into service, we had all built relationships with her. And we absolutely love the fact that while he's gone, she still participates in family meals and activities and joins in like family already.

Kelly is much younger than Christian, five years to be exact. And it is amazing how much God has worked in her life. She has a unique living situation; her parents divorced when she was small and her dad lives in Chicago. Her mom got remarried when Kelly was in high school and moved to NC with her new husband. Because Kelly was in school and had a job here, she stayed and has payed rent to her grandparents and supported herself ever since. Her mom is still involved, and comes down weekly to visit, but Kelly has carried a much higher level of responsibility than most her age. She complements Christian so well. She is sweet, level headed, even tempered, sensitive and loving. She understands him and responds to his different attitudes in a way that somehow makes him kinder and gentler also. We just feel like she is an answer to prayer, and it is amazing when two people are willing to trust God with their lives, how He can build a relationship that is so balanced between each partners' strengths and weaknesses.

Christian and Kelly continued to date and get to know each other, and eventually Christian began to devise a plan to propose. At this point he had already spent seven weeks in training in Oklahoma (and the time away just secured their feelings for each other) and he was back in Georgia for Airborne school. This meant he was able to come home some weekends. Daddy and I were so blessed to be cohorts in this scheme, and we were there ahead of time hiding in the bushes to get some coveted engagement pictures. I'll include some in this email, but it was awesome. I was so nervous- not that she would say no, but that she would see us and that would give it away! Since then it has been a flurry of wedding ideas and options, and finally now that the date is set, putting stuff into action. They have a limited budget, so trying to allot an appropriate amount of money to each area has been a challenge.

I would absolutely LOVE for them to win this giveaway. To have a professional photographer who actually takes professional looking pictures at their wedding would be such a blessing. Life is such a challenge with being so far away from each other that I would just like the time they have together and the wedding itself to be enjoyable. I think right now they are in a 'last resort' type of mindset, and that makes me so sad! I don't want them to have to 'settle' when it comes to a photographer. I know from personal experience that your wedding pictures are treasures that hold your memories for a lifetime! Our kids love to sit down with us and our wedding album and have us tell them the story again. And back then was before the candid type of photography was big, so we've only got a few that really capture our characters. I think good photography is the most important part of the wedding day (although Christian would probably argue and say the food comes first).

So let's see, some details... the wedding is at Greer First Baptist at 2:00 on the 30th. The reception is at the Sawmill at N. Main St. Greenville.

I'm sorry that this ended up being so long. I didn't intend it to be, but I guess my excitement flowed though my fingers. I think this is a great thing you are doing, it's very generous. I expect you will hear a lot of great stories, and I know it will be a blessing to whoever you choose!
Thank you for the opportunity,