2012 Bride and Groom Contest Winners!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of my 2012 bride and groom contest applicants. I so appreciate all of you writing your loving stories and sharing them with me. Everyone who entered will receive a gift.

Congrats to Mandy for first place! Thank you Mandy!

Mandy’s Story-
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The series of coincidences that led to John and I meeting are nothing short of ‘Serendipitous’.  He grew up in the most Eastern part of Russia on the border with China, and I grew up in a small town in Northeast Wisconsin.  You could say that we were literally “worlds apart”.  I was always curious about other cultures growing up, studying both French and Spanish, but I never even considered that I might fall in love with that Russian boy who was thousands of miles away.  It wasn’t until the age of 18 that John’s mom married an American and made him move here with her.  Where did they move? Northeast Wisconsin, about an hour south of my hometown.  I always ask myself, “What are the chances that someone would move from that very spot in Russia to Wisconsin… of all places in this country?”

During the next few years, I had moved to Hawaii and back (being the adventurous type), and just happened to be finishing my Bachelor’s degree at UW-Green Bay when John’s roommate, Wes, died in a motorcycle accident.  If this had happened while I was living elsewhere, we probably would have never met.  But through this unfortunate tragedy, many of our mutual friends came together to mourn the loss.  That was the beginning of our story… We met shortly after through those mutual friends. (and we were honored to have Wes’s parents attend our wedding this Summer).

I can remember that from the first day I met him, I was in love with his Russian accent.  We laugh about it now, but after we officially started dating, I would ask him to tell me a bedtime story in Russian… I couldn’t understand a word, but it just sounded so amazing.  And although the accent has somewhat faded over the years, my infatuation with his speaking hasn’t.

We spent the next year or two having eyes for each other, but never really being able to act on it (I was actually in another relationship at the time).  I remember feeling heart-sick when, in the Summer of 2007, I had to move to California to begin my MPH degree.  I felt that we would probably never see each other again.  After all, I couldn’t expect him to wait around for me, could I?  After only a few short months, however, the relationship I was in ended, and I took a Leave of Absence from school.  In February 2008 I came back to Wisconsin once again.  The day after landing, I met up with John and we have been together ever since.

Now, I’m not going to give the false illusion that everything was a fairytale from that moment on.  After all, we live in the real world.  John and I had completely different backgrounds, beliefs, priorities… So we were bound to clash from time to time.  But I can honestly say that we have both changed into better people because of the relationship we share.  Through those lessons, we became kinder, more patient, and compassionate, not only to each other, but to those around us.

Since becoming a couple, we have stood by each other through thick and thin.  We moved to Portland, Oregon for two years (more adventures) so that I could finish my MPH degree.  There, we struggled to find work in the beginning, and John eventually got a job as an Over-the-road truck driver (which came with its own challenges).  Then, in 2011 we moved to Iowa so that I could go to medical school and John finally got a great local job so that we could be together every night again.

So every once in a while, we like to sit and think about all of those coincidences that brought us together.  If his mom hadn’t married an American, if that American hadn’t been from Northeast Wisconsin, if Wes hadn’t passed away, if I had stayed in my other relationship or moved someplace new… we wouldn’t have become the people we are today.  It’s funny how life works out isn’t it?

Here is just a short version of our wedding day through my eyes…

On our wedding day, May 26, 2012, I felt calm and relaxed… maybe too relaxed.  It was about 10:00AM when we decided to head over to the reception site (a gorgeous, old brick winery) and start decorating the tables.  I had spent the last year (which was also my first year of medical school) making big mossy centerpieces and mercury glass candle holders for the tables.  When everything was set up I felt so proud because it was exactly how I had imagined.  The bridesmaids and I had made all of our bouquets and centerpieces ourselves the night before, and I also made each of them a pretty sash and feathered hairpiece for the ceremony.  At about Noon, everyone met at the vineyard where our ceremony would be held to do a quick run-through of the ceremony.

By the time we returned to the winery, it was almost 1:30 and this is when I first met Leah and her assistant.  They were so helpful and positive, and I knew I was in good hands.  The bridesmaids got to work doing each other’s hair.  In fact, there are photos of our ‘train’ where there were literally 4-5 of us sitting on the floor working on the hair of the person in front of you.  It was pretty crazy.  I remember at one point reaching down to grab a bobby pin and accidentally grabbing a hot curling iron… let’s just say that there is a bandaid covering a huge blister in most of my wedding pictures, but thankfully people never seem to notice that.

I was never one of those stressed out, crazy brides… In fact, I remember Leah having to remind me to start getting ready because we were actually running behind.  In my mind, I knew I was marrying my best friend, so why would anything else matter that day?  We had worked so hard to organize the wedding and save up the money to pay for everything, that now I just felt at peace.  The Rolls Royce and its driver were waiting patiently outside to transport me to the vineyard where John was waiting with our friends and family.

When we pulled up, I waited in the car with my mom (who walked me down the aisle) as our song (A thousand Years) started to play.  I watched the bridesmaids and groomsmen start to walk, and saw my husband waiting at the end of the aisle… he was crying.  There they were, the NERVES!  I hadn’t expected to feel them, but the moment I saw him waiting like that, they hit me.  Suddenly it was our turn to get out of the car and walk across the grassy lawn.

Everything went by so quickly, that before I knew it, it was over.  We had exchanged rings, said our vows, locked our Love Letter/Wine Box, kissed, and we were now Mr & Mrs Levchuk!  So much of our day just flew by after that.  The dinner at the winery, our first dance, the father-daughter dance where my dad (who I had only recently become close to) cried like a baby, visiting with friends and dancing.  It was all perfect.  At the end of the night, we released some giant paper lanterns, which created a bit of a fire scare, but turned out to be amazing.

When I look back, one thing that I will always cherish about my wedding is that my husband, the Russian man who hates for people to see his feelings, cried.  He cried during the rehearsal (when I was wearing jean shorts and a tank top), and he cried during the ceremony in front of our family and friends.  To this day, those tears mean more to me than any gift I have ever received.

Congrats to Cara and Kayla for 2nd Place! Thank you ladies!

Cara’s Story-
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The best way to describe how I felt when I first met my husband was “love at first sight”. I know cheesy! But, thats who we are 🙂 We met on the Chippewa River in Mount Pleasant when I was maybe 19 years old, and at the time unavailable. You see, I was then dating a guy who I thought I would marry and be with forever, so the idea of dating someone else was not something I thought about considering the amount of time I had invested in this now past relationship. Ben, my hubby, was 28. I naturally assumed I was too young for him and visa versa. We spent all day together that hot summer day out floating down the river with my co-workers, and miscellaneous other friends. I thought I would never hear or see Ben after this day, but turns out his best friend’s wife (who I am also friends with) mentioned to me that he could not stop asking about me. I always thought it was a joke and we would laugh about it. But, the more I thought of him or the random times he would say “hi” or say “happy birthday” on facebook (again with the cheesy) I had instant butterflies and a smile that would make my face hurt. Annually, we would do these float trips. Most of the time it was with the same group of people, and every time it was the same thing: butterflies, smiling, laughing, serious flirting. It wasn’t until 2 years later that we starting dating. He was the first guy EVER to ask me out on a date!!! He picked me up from my house and we out to eat at my favorite restaurant and then he took me home. I remember him telling me that he was so nervous to take me out but when I casually propped my feet up in the booth at the restaurant, as if to almost recline, I eased his nerves and he started to fall in love with me even more. He loved the carefree, casual quality I posed. It didn’t take long for him to ask me to be “his special lady friend” HAHA I even think I laughed out loud when he said that to me at the time. We spent all the free time we had with each other, which for us involved a hour and a half commute. I lived in Lansing and he lived in Detroit. I always looked forward to the end of my work week because I knew that was when I got to see my man for almost 4 days in a row, then I would wake up extra early on a Wednesday to make is back to Lansing to start my work week. This cycle continued for a little bit until we made the decision to live together. I decided to leave my job in Lansing to pursue my relationship with Ben. We found a cozy little house in Ferndale to call our own, then BAM! We found out we were expecting a baby! As nervous as we both were, we wouldn’t have wanted this life changing experience to be with anyone else. Ben proposed me when I was maybe 4 months along. We were going out to dinner to celebrate our 1 year anniversary of dating. He called and asked me where I wanted to eat, he said “pick anywhere”. I picked Mexican town haha!!! I wanted spicy authentic mexican food, or maybe that was our son talking vicariously through me. Close to the dinner being complete he asked if I wanted dessert. I don’t really care for flan, which I think was the only dessert offered, so I told him “no” and just wanted to go home and relax and go to bed. He kept hounding me about dessert and every option he put on the table I turned down, until he casually asked if I wanted “ice for dessert” WHICH at first I thought was ridiculous until he had the ring between his fingers. I felt my face turn beet red and I was really hot. I forgot to even say yes, and put the ring on my hand. When we got to the parking lot I made him redo his proposal, which this time I cried and was shaking and finally said YES!! My life has been truly blessed and through all the hoops and obstacles I am grateful that my husband waited for me. I would not have wanted my life to have been any other way.

Kayla’s Story-

1334Mathew and I met in middle school. We barely spoke to each other, or even made eye contact. When you’re in seventh grade, you are hardly capable of understanding a mature idea…and you are especially not ready to meet the man you are meant to love for your whole life. So, life went on. We were still friendly acquaintances while we attended high school, though we never had a class together. I can only guess that we were kept apart because we were not ready to build a relationship that would ultimately lead to the most important, life-changing, romantic event of our lives.

After high school, Mathew and I parted ways. I chose to become a Spartan, and he moved to the frozen tundra at Michigan Tech. We were 492 miles away from each other, yet somehow two people whose only connection was that they grew up in the same town were drawn to each other three years after they had parted ways. In the last few weeks of my semester at Michigan State, all I could focus on was a potential phone call from this sweet, charming guy. I had never studied so much for any finals week; I stayed up until all hours of the night studying, waiting for any form of contact from Mathew.
For our first date, he drove all the way down to East Lansing to help my move out of my sorority house for the summer. He could have waited until I went back to our hometown, he could have taken me to a cheesy rom-com and kissed me goodbye at the front door, but instead he showed me how giving and selfless he is by offering to save my parents the trip and be the strength I needed to move boxes and furniture. After grabbing a bite to eat, we went on a moonlit tour of my ivy-covered campus. I pointed out where my classes were, we strolled past the library fountain, and I giggled awkwardly when he grabbed my hand. Our walk led us to a bench by the river, where we sat talking about how wonderful our experience with each other had been so far. Even that early in our relationship, we both felt so lucky to have made this connection. We fit. We wanted the same things out of life and love. We made sense. Why hadn’t anyone seen it before? Then, the romantic sigh and pause in conversation that we’ve all seen in movies happened. With a smooth nudge, Mathew moved in on the first kiss. It was a kiss that we all dream of. Perfect, light, sweet, and lasting.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our first day together, and I wouldn’t change a thing since.

To everyone that entered, thank you again. Every one of your stories were wonderful and I’ll be sending you a thank you gift. I appreciate every one of you.

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