What could be more fun than getting dressed up in your wedding gown the day after your wedding and having a dreamy aftershoot? That's just what Amanda & Tanner did with their photographer and good friend CARLA GATES. These beautiful images were captured at HAMILTON OAKS WINERY in San Juan Capistrano and Carla had this to say about it, "This Wedding was extra special for me. Amanda has been one of my dearest friends since we met on a mission trip in 2008. We have been through so much together since, and she has been a tremendous blessing and light in my life. You have never met a more genuinely authentic and sunshine filled human. Getting to watch her story unfold over the years made this marriage and God's hand in it even more incredible. I was overjoyed to be by her side both throughout her wedding day and at this shoot the day after, to capture every moment. These two are such a wonderful example of God's selfless love and are always so beautifully transparent with how they live and love. I am honoured to call them friends."
The gorgeous bride shares some of their story with us, "For me, this snippet of the story begins in February when I received a call from one of my international student ministry contacts who lives in South Orange County. He said, "I had a young guy call me who wants to volunteer with international students, but he lives closer to EvFree. So good news, I am sending you a volunteer... and maybe a husband!" Naturally, I laughed that off and got ready for another regular coffee meeting with a potential new volunteer. Little did I know that this was about to be the best coffee meeting of my whole life! I often think back to how the Lord must have been excitedly thinking, "You have no idea what I have in store for you!" I got out of the car and this good looking guy started walking up to me. I couldn't believe it! Even better, after 2.5 hours of getting to hear Tanner's heart (and very little talk about the ministry as it turned out), I left feeling very excited and hopeful. I found myself praying that Tanner would ask to get together again! But as the days turned into weeks, I figured, well I guess he must not have been that interested. A few weeks later I did hear from Tanner and he did ask to get together again to talk about the ministry; but this time, we actually did talk about ministry the entire time. I remember leaving thinking if I had any doubt about him not being interested before, it was definitely confirmed now. It is so funny to hear how different Tanner's perspective on that day was! He left thinking, well that went great! Haha! We did have some more interaction over the next couple months, but at that point I had already come to terms with the fact that we were just going to spend the rest of our days as brother and sister in Christ with a similar heart for ministry.
Over the course of that same time period, the Lord was working in my heart. I began to have an unrest and thought that perhaps the Lord was starting to stir up a calling to go back to Africa for an extended period of time. He opened the door for me to go on a week long trip to Rwanda, a trip that I was praying intently would answer that question. I truly felt that pursuing a future relationship was out of the question until He resolved that question in my heart. It was a wonderful trip, but by God's grace, I clearly felt the Lord answering my question with a "not now". I thought that was odd at the time, because it wasn't a definitive yes or no, but chose to just trust Him for whatever He would have. It was then that I felt free to resume praying about whether the Lord would now bring me a mate. Well, that question was answered very quickly because, the day after getting back from Rwanda, I received a call from Tanner asking if we could go to breakfast the very next day. At that point, I just thought, "Well that's nice, he wants to hear about my trip to Rwanda". Turns out, he had quite a different agenda. ;) He proceeded to share his journey - how he'd been praying about us over the past several months and the freedom he believed God was now giving us to pursue a relationship going forward; and I just kept thinking, "Holy cow, where did that come from?!'" But naturally, I was very excited, as I had never met someone quite like Tanner. I remember thinking prior to that day that whoever the Lord had for him would be an incredibly blessed woman. Little did I know, that one day I would get to be that girl!
From the moment in that café moving forward, I have found myself constantly standing in awe of the man that Tanner is... funny, playful, smart, kind, gracious, fiercely devoted to those in his life, and, best of all, he truly loves Jesus with every ounce of his being. Throughout each day, I find myself not only falling more in love with Tanner, but with our God because of the way I so clearly get to see His heart poured out through Tanner. I honestly had no idea that finding a best friend to spend your days with could be this amazing or this easy, simply because God is the One directing our steps. And oh the incredible ways He has directed our steps each moment of this relationship!
So when October 24th rolled around and that glorious moment came when Tanner got down on one knee, there was no question in my mind that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my days walking alongside. In fact, he didn't even have time to ask the question before I said, "Yes, yes, yes!" and jumped into his arms. The next few minutes went by in a blur, but I do remember Tanner saying a few minutes later, "You know, I didn't actually get to ask you yet, right?" That is the moment where he got to finally utter the words I had been waiting my whole life to hear, from the man that I had been waiting my whole life to meet.
There is so much more I could say about my amazing hubby and the God that has gone before us, but I'll end with our theme verse, "He has only just begun to show us His greatness and His mighty Hand." We know this is just the beginning and can't wait to see what our great and mighty God will have in store for our future!