Firstly, I want to start of by saying that prior to about two months ago, I never met Jewel and Ellison. I didn’t know any of their friends, family, or coworkers, and now I can’t even call them ‘clients’. They are my dear friends and we’ve only hung out twice. Guys, they found me through a hashtag. A hashtag. How stupid cool is that. It’s cool because a little twenty-first century technological buzzword thingy help little me meet another amazing couple who’s story is one that I have the privilege of telling. God has given me the continuous gift of being able to meet and relate to the sweetest of the betrothed Those who love the Lord first and seek Him before choosing each other. These couples, Jewel and Ellison included, are filled with wisdom and grace that only comes from choosing the kingdom first and I am a better photographer, daughter, friend, and person because of it.
One thing that I will never ever forget for as long as I’m doing photography is the reason why they picked me. It wasn’t my photos, my wit, my corny jokes. It was a small sentence written in my bio. I am no better than any other photographer out there because of what I do or say, but I want to be honest about my identity. I always just hope that I get to meet people in person in order to open my heart to them.
The first time we met was at Milk & Honey during a really hard week. We prayed for our time, shared funny stories, and talked about ourselves for a bit. They are so genuine and kindhearted and it almost took me by surprise. Not because I expected them to be aloof or mean, but with opportunities to meet new people being slim amidst work and post-college endeavors, it’s sadly a rare occurrence. It didn’t take us very long to get excited over their engagement photos and their wedding. I’d meet them four weeks later to take the very photos you see here.
Jewel and Ellison met at, guess. Guess where. You’ll never get it, so I’ll tell you. Chuckie Cheese. Wait, Chuck E. Cheese? I think that already speaks about Jewel’s character because this was for her and her friend’s birthday party. A birthday party celebrating a 24 and 27 year old mind you. They went on a weekday because they didn’t want too many KIDS to be there. Makes sense, right? Ellison was an attendee of the festivities and that was the first time they met through mutual friends. The after party consistent of Jewel laughing so much that tears came out from her lacrimal glands and her stomach hurt because Ellison did things along the lines of putting a monkey mask on and grabbing a shake-weight and dancing around. ESFP right there. The attraction that built over a few months was established after Jewel realized that Ellison wasn’t only the ‘funny guy’, but someone that she should see herself trusting, someone extra special.
Group hangout after group hangout led to Ellison doing things for Jewel that he hated. That included running a 10K just to spend more time with her during training. The morning of the 10K, (ooh yikes, that’s a long run), he asked her what she wanted for breakfast before he picked her up to carpool. Anyway, she told him that she just wanted McDonald’s oatmeal and coffee, so he got that. Another morning, he surprised her and brought her a box of pastries from, drum roll. . . PORTOS. DANG, he knew the way, he knew the dang way with that guava roll oh my gosh. I died when I heard this part of the story because, side note, I’ve been trying to make it to Porto’s every time I go to LA and it just closes so dang late that it’s not fair. He got her two wondrous breakfasts. Sounds like love to me. That’s when she knew what this charade was.
In August of 2011, Ellison tried to teach Jewel to skateboard. She hurt herself and when Ellison carried her home and helped her ice her ankle, Mom walks in and was not pleased. Like, who is this boy holding my daughter! And that’s how future son-in-law met future mother-in-law for the first time. Yay. A trip with friends to Vegas gave Ellison the green light that Jewel liked him back. October they shared their first kiss, November was their first date at Disneyland, and their first trip together to San Francisco was the perfect opportunity to make Jewel his girlfriend.
Many pizzas and pastries (hopefully from Porto’s) four years later, came April. Work schedules got crazy and they started to see less and less of each other. Ellison made dinner plans after a few skipped dates and for some reason, he really wanted to go to Cerritos. She wasn’t having it and she wanted poke from Fullerton. Ellison already goofed earlier that morning because he didn’t get Jewel her own macaroon after she asked him to buy some for her friend. Second side note, I feel like the future-fiance is never having it on the day of the proposal. Knock on wood to all the future dudes out there!! A drive in the car as he tried to hold her hand led to a mini-breakdown of fears, stress, and the realization that comes around the 3-4 year mark of dating with things getting a bit routine and not being able to spend enough time together. All Ell had to say in order to get Jewel to come back to earth was, “You are my number one priority.” Dinner went normal and plans were made to go to the mall and Target for everyday errands. He deviated to a nearby park to watch the sunset and that’s when she freaked. She knew this wasn’t like him and the light bulb went off. She reached into her purse for two essential things. Chapstick and hand lotion if you catch my drift. Random babble happened and I’m just laughing as I picture them pointing at random things to try and stay calm because I think anyone could have figured out what was realllly going on here. At the very park where they shared their first kiss a little over three years ago, Ellison set up a picnic blanket filled with goodies and topped it off with a beautiful ring that he almost put on her well-lotioned right hand. It made it on the left hand eventually. Just a year or so ago, I personally didn’t even know which hand such rings go on. Glad to have been informed.
Here we are. Their engagement photo-day went extremely pleasant. They took so much responsibility with planning the day that it was so easy on me. They even got two awesome assistants to help out with bag-carrying, bts, and fluffing. It was awesome and I’m so grateful. We saw a snake that day too. The biggest snake I’ve ever seen out of its cage. I had way too much coffee and I felt so sick in the heat, but they fed me with strawberries and fruit snacks! Shame on me for being ill-prepared with my irresponsible caffeine intake. When going over their engagement story with them, it was hilarious because they both separately texted me, “The first time was on May 4th, 2011, HUH, You know, May the Fourth Be with You.” The accuracy of the wavelength that they are on with each other is really precious, but also made me a bit queasy from the lactose from all that CHEESE.
I’m going to sign off for now because we still have their wedding photos to look forward to along with more stories. Quickly, I just want to share a note from Jewel that encouraged me so much and I just want to share it with you.
“I know you have that Mexico trip coming up along with I’m sure many things on your plate, so I pray that God will continually replenish you with strength, infuse you with His creative energy & vision, & allow you to find true rest & completion in being His beloved… May you continue to shine your light brightly so that when people see you or any of your products, they are pointed to the reality of God’s beauty, grace, and love. And may God protect your health so you can serve him with your best.”
With that and few more tears every time I read it again (ESFP here), I just want to say: I’m best with my words on paper (or screen). Not so much in person. I may be creative in the sense of visuals, but when it comes to words, I’m simple. However, if you’re reading this. I’m glad you made it this far and I hope that seeing these photos and hearing this story was not so much about gushing over a really cute couple (though that’s totally welcome here), but something more. About how friendships can be formed from the most unlikely of places. About how fear is not compatible with trust and love. About how fear is not for us. About how Porto’s is great. About anything that relates to you.
Again, I’m overly excited to share these photos and can’t wait to take on more projects like this in the future, but moreso, I’m just in awe of the things God can do through really simple, everyday events and even tribulations.