Amanda and Lauren met about seven years ago when they were both teaching in Mississippi. They became fast friends and were friends for several months before they realized and admitted that they were crazy about each other.
When I asked them how they each knew the other was ‘the one’, Amanda said, "We knew pretty immediately that this was it for both of us, but the very first time I ever remember consciously knowing that I would marry Lauren was just about two months after we started dating. We were at a big party with a bunch of friends, and it was the first time we were out together as a couple where our friends knew about us. Lauren had lost her voice that week, and could barely speak. Even still, she lit up the room and managed to make everyone around us laugh the whole night. I remember seeing her across the room at some point, her eyes sparkling, and I remember her turning to look at me, and find me in the crowd. And I wanted to be the person she looked at like that for the rest of my life."
When I asked them how they got engaged, Lauren told the story. "Amanda proposed to me after we'd been together just over four years, by way of a truly masterful homemade advent calendar she made for me. This was not the first advent calendar she'd made for me, but it's hard not to like it the most. Each day in December I got a new ornament and a special edition verse of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.' When we were on our way to her family's place for Christmas on December 23rd, she abruptly changed the address in the GPS, telling me we were meeting her parents somewhere else in town. About an hour later, it was obvious we weren't headed anywhere near her house, and instead, were going to a cabin in the Catskills (context: my perfect Christmas present is to be a hermit in a cute cabin in the mountains).
We'd been there several hours when it occurred to me that she might propose — I really had no idea until I tested the waters by suggesting we buy a bottle of champagne and she said she'd brought one. I opened up my advent present for that day and the ornament was a giant ring (accompanied by an ending to 'Twas...' that included a proposal, and my own gorgeous ring); I said yes, and then we drank champagne and took selfies, obviously. Totally one of the coolest moments of my life — everything about it was so perfect, and it was *so* Amanda: thoughtful, intimate, and creative.
I found Amanda's ring shortly after that but didn't give it to her until the day the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, June 26. I hadn't planned on giving it to her then, but couldn't pass that up. I put it in a box in her makeup bag and asked her for some lip gloss, which she proceeded to look for fervently without even noticing the box. After she finally noticed it, we celebrated enthusiastically and thus June 27 is also a memorable day for us: the day we survived the worst hangover we'd ever had, together."
After chatting a bit with them about making engagement photos, Amanda and Lauren decided they wanted an engagement session that told the story of where they are in their life together right now. Alexandria is their home for now, and they wanted to include a few of their favorite locations. But it was also important to make sure their cozy home life was a part of the story, which is why we started their session with them at home in their pjs making coffee and cuddling with their spunky black cat Snowflake.
Words and Photos by Amanda Summerlin
Hello, my name is Amanda Summerlin, and I’m an artist and explorer. At least, that’s what my business cards say. I’ve been an artist since I first held one of those nice chunky Crayola crayons. I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I drew my first portrait when I was four. Even though it was on the wall, it still counts. All through grade school, I drew on anything that would hold still (including myself and some of my friends and most of my textbooks too). Then I went to art school, where I earned a BFA in painting, and while I was there, took my first few photography classes and was hooked for life. Although I still draw and paint, and I will always love painting, for the past few years photography has completely stolen my heart.