Our photographer is going to be the amazing Jessica Peterson from Kansas. We stumbled upon her website by accident and were blown away by her work. Naturally, we couldn't afford her.
It just so happens that she does 1 free wedding a year, based on the couple's story and need. And the wedding had to be between August and December.
We decided to give it a shot and so Ryan composed our love story and sent it to her anyways. And that is how we were lucky enough to have this amazing woman take pictures of our wedding. We will be paying for her flight, rental car and hotel, which we were planning on splitting between the 2 families.
Here is the story Ryan sent her:
Melissa and I met at Mexican Monday Monday a year ago today. It’s just a Mexican dinner get together that is supposed to happen on Monday but occasionally happens on Tuesday making it either Mexican Monday Monday or Mexican Monday Tuesday. She came in with another guy and they sat across from me. I thought, “Wow, she is beautiful, I hope she’s not with that guy” and she thought, “I want to sit next to him, I hope he doesn’t think I’m with this guy.” She got up, moved around the table and sat next to me.
When I met Melissa I was four months into planning the biggest adventure of my life, a 10-month sailing trip from California to Australia. I had bought a boat with my friends Mike and Shawn and we were in the process of fixing it up and learning how to sail. The night I met her I wrote in my journal, “I have a crush on an amazing girl. Funny, gorgeous, half Peruvian, pole vaulter on the BYU track team, art major, really weird. I hope she doesn’t ruin sailing.”
When we met I lived in Salt Lake and Melissa lived 45 minutes away in Provo. There were a lot of dangerous nights driving home to Salt Lake at 4 am. I was hesitant to fall in love though because I was also commuting back and forth to California to see my mistress, Sweet Baby Jane, my 36 foot sailboat. When summer came around Melissa moved to California to be closer to me and we both got jobs in Utah working at a wilderness program. We would spend a week in California, she with her family and me working on the boat, then drive to Utah and spend a week working together with a group of at risk youth.
One night after a week of work we slept on a friend’s roof in Provo because neither of us had a place to stay. Before falling asleep I rolled over on the shingles in my sleeping bag and said, “I think maybe I love you.” She said, “You think maybe?” I said, “Yeah”. She said, “I think maybe I love you too.”
Before meeting me Melissa had spent a summer in LA living out of a minivan. She decided that every summer she wanted to live out of her car in a different US city. During our summer of commuting to California she decided it would be easier to live out of a box truck. We found a giant Mother’s Cookie truck and she spent half the summer stalking it online and drooling over it. Finally towards the end of the summer she had saved up enough to get it. She talked the guy down to 1,400 and we drove the huge thing from Salt Lake to Provo on the freeway at 45 miles an hour. It was old and dirty and full of metal and shelves. We spent the next few months ripping out shelves, putting in a wall, hardwood floors, a loft bed, carpet, painting the walls, and putting in a skylight, solar panels, lights and new shelves. I would spend a week working in the wilderness, a day or two on the truck and a few days in California. When school started she was staying in the truck and I wanted her to have a nice place to live when I was gone.
As the departure date for sailing got closer and closer Melissa and I dreaded being apart more and more. Finally the day came for my one way flight to California. December 2nd. We said our final goodbyes and she cried. She said, “You’re not crying.” I said, “I’m just pretending it’s like any other time I’ve left.” She said, “I cry every time you leave.”
I spent another week in Long Beach getting ready for the trip. We talked every night and every night I wanted to be in Utah with Melissa and not at sea with my two friends. On December 15th we set sail for Australia. The open ocean was beautiful. There were late nights alone on watch staring at the stars, days where thousands of dolphins would swim with us for hours, there was a time when a pod of killer whales swam directly under us and another time a family of grey whales jumped fully out of the water. The ocean had been my dream for so long. I had spent years dreaming about this trip and thousands of dollars preparing for it but all I could think about was how I’d rather be in freezing cold Utah than in the beautiful South Pacific if it meant I was with her. There were winter storms to the south of us and the first few days we had rough seas. We had problems with the self steering gear and we tore our primary main sail in a late night gale. Being at sea for days at a time was hard and I realized how dangerous our adventure really was. One night after an amazing dinner of fresh fish and a late night blues jam session with Mike on guitar, Shawn on harmonica, and me on banjo, I broke the news. All was quite as we sat around the galley table in our little boat.
I flew home from Cabo San Lucas 1,200 miles into our 14,000 mile odyssey. One of Mike’s friends flew in and met them and they continued on to the Galapagos Islands. Melissa picked me up in LA and I think it’s safe to say no one has ever been happier to see me. A couple weeks after I got back we were engaged.
Now I’m working on starting a photography business while Melissa finishes school. We’re planning on living in Cookie for the summer and going on our own adventures as soon as she’s out of school and we have a little money.
I know that your one free wedding is between August and December but we’re getting married on April 20th. I think we have a pretty good story and our getaway car for our reception is a Mother’s Cookie truck so I thought I would go ahead and apply for your contest anyway. We both love your photography but there’s no way we can afford to pay you. She’s working part time and using student loans and all my money is invested in a boat that is in the Galapagos. Thanks for taking the time to read this, we hope you’ll consider making an exception.
Oh, and in case yall are interested in following up on the ol' crew, check out their blog