What amazing fun I have had these past few weeks with Mattye and Woody! I just love getting connected with amazing people like these two!
So, let me tell you how this all went down. We planned a picnic with Mattye and Woody just to hang out and get to know them and talk about their upcoming wedding and a fun project we are planning together. The only thing was…they weren’t engaged yet. Little did Mattye know that we were speaking with Woody behind the scenes to plot out how we could capture the engagement taking place. We planned out that I would find some great lighting and suggest taking a few portraits of them because (and this was the code for Woody to know this was the spot) “the light is sooo pretty!”
Here is a video of the whole event taking place. Mattye has the BEST reaction I have ever gotten to witness. I was so happy I and honored I could be there to experience and capture it all.
And of course I would like to share some of my favorite stills. Here below is where we started out just taking portraits. (also, watch out for “#lovember” on twitter to follow Mattye and Woody’s story!)
Here’s when Mattye realized what was coming:
Best reaction ever, right? It reminds me so much of what Audrey Hepburn says as part of her famous quote, “…happy girls are the prettiest girls…”
I asked Mattye and Woody to share their special love story with you below:
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or imagine.” –Ephesians 3:20
From the moment we came into each other’s lives, this verse has described every little detail of our relationship. As we reflect back on God’s purposeful timing, we are in awe of how He directed our love story down to the second as part of His plan for our lives because of His infinite love for us as His children.
M: Woody and I first met in January 2010 at a small work conference. At the time we both worked in the Greek professional world, and to be honest, other than our bosses and God deeming it so, neither of us had any practical reason for being at the conference. But alas, we were and could not be more thankful now. Throughout the day we had unexpected opportunities to talk and interact and little did I know that Woody was gearing up to make sure we would talk again…
W: My heart was beating faster than normal. After finishing a little pep talk inside my head saying “Don’t be nervous just be curious about her, be you and be friendly” I pushed my lean body forward and mustered up the courage to ask for Mattye’s number. I knew I was interested but had no idea where this bold act might lead us. After getting up the courage to ask for her number, it would end up being 5 months before I called her, in part thanks to losing her number when my phone decided to take a bath in a glass of delicious sweet tea.
My phone went silent and all contacts ceased to exist. What I needed at this time was to be patient and continue preparing myself to be the man I needed to be for the woman of my dreams. Those next 5 months were pivotal in my walk with God to listen to Him and know Him more deeply. I had prayed a special prayer not to date, not to ask for numbers, not to be flirty just to be with HIM and wherever He wanted me to be. Then one fine day a mutual friend Chris Smith offered to give me a ride to my friend’s house while I was in town on business. I’m not exactly sure how relationships came up in conversation but he recommended I give Mattye a call during my weekend in Carmel, IN. I could never ask or imagine the beauty, comedy, and romance that would soon follow.
M: God’s timing is perfect. He knew that Woody and I needed that time with Him from January to June. He knew that when Woody asked for my number the necessary introduction had been made, but we would not be ready for what He had planned for a few months. By the time Woody reached out in June at the prompting of Chris, God was slowly preparing my heart for his pursuit. After a direct message request on Twitter referencing the hilarious MadTV skit, “Can I have your number,” to get my number for the second time, Woody and I arranged a time to talk on the phone. During and after that call, I found Woody to be kind, interesting and the most amazing listener and question-asker I had ever met. God was still carefully holding my heart, and I knew I wanted more of Woody in my life, but with my focus on my upcoming move from Indiana to Alabama, I was patient to see just how that might unfold.
Then July came and I was so excited to fly to Honduras for my best friend’s wedding. As anyone who has ever flown knows, airlines have an uncanny way of crushing the excitement of a much anticipated trip with delays, changes and less than helpful employees. This charming characteristic of air travel made quite the appearance on my trip to Honduras when a late flight crew caused me to miss my connection in Houston, the only flight to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, of the day. So instead of enjoying the company friends, family and the pre-wedding festivities, I was stuck alone in Houston awaiting my flight out the next day. I don’t know if more tears fell from my eyes or the clouds that day during the torrential downpour in Houston. I remember thinking, “God, you have kept me in Houston an extra 24 hours and I am really hoping you have a great reason for it.” Maybe a bold statement to make to God, but I was in great emotional distress! Well, let me just say, I would spend 100 more nights in that humid Houston hotel for the gift God gave me. In response to a tweet I wrote about being stranded and dismayed, Woody called me and was a most welcome distraction to my current condition. This was our second phone call, but after more than an hour and a half on the phone, I felt like I had a new best friend. In the next hours and days, I found myself wanting to talk to Woody when good things happened, when bad things happened and pretty much every moment in between. God used this phone call to unlock my heart and let Woody in. If I’m being completely vulnerable, I truly believe this is when I began to fall in love with Woody.
After these two meaningful phone calls, Woody would proceed to ask me on our first date- breakfast in Indianapolis- and we would hang out twice more that weekend for an outdoor art festival on Saturday and church, lunch, shopping, hanging out, dinner and more hanging out on Sunday. After that we spent almost every day talking and texting on the phone until we would see each other again when Woody invited me to visit him in Charlotte for Labor Day weekend. It was during this trip that he kissed me for the first time and we both realized that we had truly found something special.
God continued to orchestrate our relationship by giving us ample time to be together despite our long distance with me in Birmingham and Woody in Charlotte. In fact, we never spent more than 2 and a half weeks apart. Then, despite my insistence that I should somehow move to Charlotte, God laid it on Woody’s heart to join me in Birmingham. As Woody puts it, “I left the city I love for the girl I love.” Woody found a place just blocks from where I lived, and in July 2011 we went from long distance to walking distance! Being in the same city allowed us to grow closer to each other, spend more “normal” time together (long distance relationships often lend themselves to exciting weekends packed with fun, love and togetherness, with little “normal life” in between), and get involved in our church as a couple. This was especially important to Woody and he was a great leader in that area. God used this time to continue preparing us for what was to come. As I look back on our story thus far, it is amazing how creative, loving and good our God is. Right down to Woody’s proposal I see how He created and fulfilled longings in me all the way through this journey. If we let Him, He is careful and kind to prepare our hearts both for the hard and the joyous times that He allows in a gracious effort to draw us closer to Him.
Starting in December 2011, Woody and I began talking about the future and came to the mutual and exciting conclusion that we wanted to get married in 2012. We had both known for a long time that we wanted to be together forever, but it was a matter of waiting on God’s timing to make it official. Although I know I got impatient at times, deep down I knew God was refining me and preparing me for an important call He was placing on my life: to become Woody’s wife. It wasn’t always easy to wait in this world of instant gratification and fake depictions of “true love,” but wow, was it totally worth it. Not only can I now better appreciate the gift of engagement and a man who wants to love me forever as my husband, but I know that I am where God wanted me so that I can be the wife He wants me to be to His sweet child, Woody. I rarely felt it in the moment, but it is the experiences of the past several months and days that have taught me that God is so rich in His goodness to deny the immediate fulfillment of our requests in order to bestow a more glorious blessing on us than we could’ve ever asked for or imagined.
Because we had open conversations about our desire to marry in 2012 and had spent some very fun and intentional time seeking the perfect diamond ring, I knew a proposal was coming, but Woody got secretive and kept the details very under wraps. We planned a trip to St. Simons Island for his birthday in March. I knew this trip has “proposal potential,” but my very active brain became consumed with thoughts of when it could happen so after some prayer and thinking, I convinced myself there was no way it was happening and decided to let it go so that I could enjoy the rest of the week with my boyfriend. After I did this, I truly did not think of the possibility again and just figured it would happen sometime after we returned to Birmingham. Little did I know, my God and my boyfriend had a divine surprise waiting for me.
W: Leading up to now we often say our relationship has been storybook. Since the author of this story is the Almighty God then its no wonder the surprises keep getting better. Little moments will happen and I’ll just turn to Mattye and say “storybook.” She grins and gives me one of those smiles I love. Originally I had thought about asking Mattye to be in my life forever on my birthday. I mean who would really be getting the best gift of all on that day? God gave me all the help and blessing I could ask for by allowing the ring to be ready one day before we would leave for our trip to St. Simons. During our second day of the trip we met with David Yarborough, pastor of SSCC, to hear his heart for weddings and offer him our vision of a Godly marriage we desire to have. We talked with him about past life experiences with family and described what we thought the other really needed in a husband or a wife. He gave us the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas and posed the question, “what if marriage isn’t just about finding happiness, but was truly created to make us more Holy through sanctification?” Interesting question we both thought. We believe God plants traits within us to bring our partner closer to HIM.
On the last day of our trip in the final hours of daylight we drove over to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. The sun was still hanging around in the sky and a view of sunset was growing near. We met up with our friends and photographers Sarah and Brent Deshaw. Mattye didn’t know it, but I had been in contact with them sharing my plan for the proposal and orchestrating for them to photograph the special moment. All four of us walked along the driftwood trees stepping over and under branches. It was really an amazing setting almost like a movie set. Brent and Sarah suggested we go exploring and this was the beginning of some natural cues to come. We walked along the beach holding each other as the sun dipped lower in the sky. Sarah positioned us in some very relaxed poses but I was a little tense. I just kept holding onto Mattye saying I love you and giving her kisses. Finally the moment appeared. I said I believe that 33 years and one day ago God had knit me together with talents and longings and a purpose. He birthed me out into this world to glorify HIM with all that I am. I believe he did not create me to be alone. I reminded Mattye that on Sunday she asked me if she would be happy in 5 days and I said no. Our time and prayers leading up to this moment were perfect. She wasn’t expecting a proposal and I believed she had given up control of this thing to me and God to let us handle the right timing. I talked about my heart definition of who she is. Then I told her that I could not tell her she would be happy in 5 days because in 4 days I was going to ask her to marry me. I got down on one knee and pulled the little black felt box from my pocket, “Mattye Caroline LaSuer will you be in my life forever?” She covered her face and came toward me to kiss me. Then she paused to look down at the sparkling new ring that was meant for her finger. When she saw it for the first time her mouth dropped open. She finally let me take the ring and put it on her finger. We jumped, laughed, hugged, kissed, and praised our God through whom all this was possible.
M: We could not be more thankful to Sarah and Brent for helping us capture this precious, life-changing moment. Not only did their talent for beautifully immortalizing emotions and moments shine in the photographs, but we thank them for being the kind of people that we were comfortable sharing a moment of such magnitude with. Leading up to the proposal they were as natural and unsuspecting as could be, letting Woody’s surprise unfold seamlessly. They were intuitive, respectful and kind, and the photos, well, they speak for themselves. The next best thing to actually living a moment is reliving it through photos and sweet memories. Words cannot express the invaluable gift this will be to us and our families for years to come.
Mattye and Woody, we are thrilled to be partnering with you two for your wedding! So so excited!!!