I'm not sure we could have imagined a sweeter, more romantic story (told by the groom!) or a more beautifully Floridian engagement session than this gorgeous shoot from Michelle at Endearing Studios. And the sweeping Florida Keys ocean view is the very sweet icing on the cake.
Ashly's family has had a house in the Keys for two generations, making it the perfect sentimental wedding spot for these two. After deciding on the Coconut Palm Inn as their venue, Endearing Studios was recommended to them and it was a perfect fit... as was Michelle's suggestion of Anne's Beach for their engagement session. Says Michael, "She knew just how to capture the setting sun and the vivid colors of the fauna and mangroves along the shore."
Ashly and Michael met through friends, training for a triathlon as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. I loved the groom's story of how he finally hooked his "hot nurse" (which totally sounds like something out of a rom-com!): EVERYBODY on the team was trying to push us together. Breakfast after a morning ride? We'd coincidentally find ourselves sitting together. Warm up stretches? Funny, we were the only two left without partners. It got a little awkward and forced pretty quickly. But nonetheless we really did enjoy each others company thus far, even if it was mostly comprised of avoiding the corny coincidental match ups.
So I worked up the nerve to ask her out one day after a few apres workout beers together with the team. I figured what the heck.. if it doesn't work out, at least we can tell the team that we tried the date thing and it's done with. If we clicked, we clicked.. win, win right? Although, always easier said than done. I'll never forget it! Leaving Tarpon Bend with a couple of pints of liquid courage and we're both in the elevator of the parking garage. The awkward silence, "Just do it", I think to myself. We hit her floor first, still nervous like I'm 16 again, the door opens, she steps out, the doors closing. "Bam", I stick my foot in the door just as it's about to close. "Hey, ya wanna get some dinner sometime? Maybe next weekend?" She replies, "Sure." I jumble out of my mouth, "Ok, then, I'll call you."
They had their first date at Le Tub in Hollywood; but as Michael tells us, it was "a dud". They learned enough about each other to realize they were both focused on their careers and headed in different directions; although they shared a romantic view on life, they decided that leaving it as friends was the right thing for the time. Until... Fast forward a few months and everybody is starting to work out living arrangements for our trip to Hawaii for the triathlon. Wouldn't you know it, guess who are the only two left without a partner to share a hotel room with. Ashly seemed ok with the arrangement and I was rather puzzled with the predicament. I arrived in Hawaii about two days after everyone else and I'll have you know that there was one person that was a bit happier to see me than everybody else on the trip.
The night before our big race, it hit me like a slap in the face. Why the heck didn't I see it before? Everything I'd ever wanted was right in front of me. The only question now was did she really feel the same way. Right before the race, my parents met up with us. I introduced Ashly and that's when I knew she was the one. Something in the way she so openly embraced my family, and them her, as if she was already part of us just blew me away. The rest is history. We both ran the race and I was sure to be waiting there at the finish line when she finished.
Over talks with their friends and Michael's parents the next day, they found out that Ashly's aunt Celeste was an old family friend that Michael knew well; in fact, Michael's parents met at a Halloween party that Celeste had hosted back in 1977. Celeste (and sometimes, her family) even used to vacation with Michael's family at a lake in central Florida every summer... they even have pictures of Ashly with them at the lake when she was five years old! If that's not destiny, I'm not sure what is.
Michael asked Ashly to be his bride in the winter of '11, with the very grand gesture of a trip to NYC for her birthday, complete with a romantic horse and carriage ride through Central Park. After the ride, he found the perfect private spot, got down on one knee, and asked Ashly to be his wife... "I then clumsily tried to place the ring on the wrong hand. She giggled, pulled her hand away and put out her left hand as if she'd been naked without it. Without looking at the ring, she replied, 'Of Course.'"
Sigh... y'all have one of the best stories ever! Congratulations, guys, and we can't wait to see how you celebrate the big day!
Location: Anne's Beach, Florida Keys | Photography: Endearing Studios