A Botanical Garden Elopement

Kandice + Will

I am a sucker for a true love story. I instantly felt connected to this couple when I heard their story and was asked to photograph their intimate elopement in the Botanical Garden at City Park. During their vows, I had tears in my eyes. I LOVE intimate ceremonies. They are so true and special. I really enjoyed my time getting to know Kandice and William and documenting this very special moment in their lives.

A word from the bride:

Will and I met in 1989, when I moved to Coarsegold, California (a little town just an hour south of Yosemite National Park.) I walked into my new sixth grade class, feeling very nervous, and there he was. I remember him looking at me and smiling, with his soft, sweet eyes. We ended up running in the same circle of friends, so we got to know each other a little bit. I was sort of the “different” girl, always wearing my 80’s alternative bands t-shirts and Vision Street Wear high-tops. He would always compliment me, but in a “shy guy” sort of way… very cute! I remember him taking my same bus home one day, because his buddy lived down the street from my house. Will walked home with me that day, and asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I refused, because I knew that my dad would have a hissy fit if I had a boyfriend at only 12 years old (and, I happened to like one of his friends, anyways.) He still treated me great, even after crushing his 12 year old boy’s heart.

We ended up getting the same homeroom teacher for eighth grade, and sat near each other all year. We always chatted and laughed with one another, as he was always the sweetest guy around. He always had his long skater shorts on, with his high-top vans, and was sportin’ an awesome mullet back then. He was also about the only 13 year old boy that could grow a mustache (and, he did)… hilarious!

After we graduated junior high, I remember hearing that his mom had passed away from cancer over the summer, and I couldn’t wait to see him our freshmen year, so I could make sure he was okay. Seeing him in high school for the first time, was definitely hard, because at our age you just didn’t know what to say to someone who just lost their parent. He definitely was more withdrawn, and I could see the sadness in those eyes of his. Through our freshman year, he and his best friend (who was sweet on my older sister) used to skateboard over to my house to hang out. Will would always just stare at me, smiling, but hardly said a word. He was so shy, and I found it endearing. After our freshmen year, he disappeared, and I found out that he had dropped out and went for his GED. I knew that it had probably just been too much for him, with having lost his mom. I would always try to find out where and what he was up to, always finding out such vague information. From time to time, I would run into him, and he always was a sweetheart to me. One day, my sister, her friend, and I took Will’s older brother home from high school, and I remember driving up their driveway feeling so nervous, hoping to see Will. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around.

After high school, I kept running into Will in our small town. He kept somehow showing up at the places where I worked, and I always found myself being excited and giddy. We both were always involved with other people, but there was always a little spark there when we saw each other.

Years would pass, and I would get little information about Will through my older sister, as she ended up marrying Will’s best friend (the one that used to skateboard with him over to our house.) My sister would always tell me how much Will adored me and then proceed to try and get us together somehow. Time and circumstances just never allowed it. Even when my sister had her actual wedding, and Will was supposed to be one of the groomsmen and walk with me down the aisle, he ended up having to move out to Texas, and couldn’t attend the wedding.

Will was living his life and I had mine to live, as well. We just figured we would be those people that crossed paths over the years, but have “missed chances.” The last time we saw one another, before our whole journey together started, was in the summer of 2006. I was in our hometown, at the local lake for the fourth of July. My girlfriends and I went out to the little bar, where everyone met up, and low and behold…I looked over and saw, out of the corner of my eye, a dark, handsome man with this red button up shirt on and blue jeans. He looked at me, and there was that smile from sixth grade, with those soft, sweet eyes! He ran over, picked me up, and hugged me so tight. We talked for as long as we had, before his buddy came over and grabbed him, telling him they had to leave. I was so bummed that our night had to end, and remember feeling so strange when he walked out that bar door. Then, he walked back in, came over to me and put his hand on my waist and leaned in to my ear. He whispered, “I’ve always liked you and think that you are the most beautiful girl in the world.” Then, he kissed me softly on my cheek, and was gone. The next day, we found out that our very good friend from when we were kids, had drowned in that lake on the fourth. I called Will’s work phone number, because I knew that he would be a wreck. He was so glad to hear my voice, and we said that we would sit together at the funeral, to get through it with one another. I never saw him at the funeral, and figured that he just couldn’t handle even showing up.

Another 3 years went by, and I didn’t hear much about Will or where he even was. I was busy living life, raising my two kids, and working as a Massage Therapist. Until, one day on Facebook when I received a friend request from him. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy to finally hear from him, and see how he was doing and where he was. He was living in Corpus Christi, Texas, which made sense because his mom had grown up there. He never said too much on Facebook, but would post songs on my wall from time to time. I always told him how much I appreciated our friendship and how sweet he had always been to me. We had our own stuff going on, so we always respected each others’ situations and didn’t get too involved in conversation with one another. The funny thing is, I always had this gut feeling that somehow, someway, someday, we would be in each others’ lives. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true!

In May of 2011, my life had drastically changed, and I had just about given up on finding true love in my life. I was now 34 years old, and a single mom with two children. I was living with my older sister, and she asked me one day, ” If you could just get away and take a breath for just a moment in your life, who would you want to spend that moment with, other than your kids?” I replied, in a split-second, “Willie Haynes!” She smiled and said, “I knew it! Let’s email him!” Next thing I knew, we were emailing Will and she was mostly doing the writing, as I was too nervous to even know what to say. I read over what she had quickly typed, and said, “There is no way that we are sending this! He is going to think that I am crazy wanting to go out to Texas to spend time with him, after all these years! He is probably married and has kids of his own…” She insisted that we send it, and clicked the mouse. My heart was beating so fast and I was dying to get a reply, but figured that there was no chance of that happening. She kept making me check my email every 15 minutes…it was the worst suspense ever! Finally, on my 8th or 10th “check,” there it was…the email that would change my life forever! I saved the emails that we exchanged over that day, and we still read them.

What can I say?! The rest of our story is like a love story you watch with your girlfriends on Friday night, over a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream. We talked on the phone for hours every day, every night. I went to visit him and we had our first kiss. Crazy thing is, we actually saw each other for the first time after 5 years, in the town where his father and mother met called, Beeville, Texas. Funny how things happen just the way they’re supposed to. We had an amazing few months of falling in love, and then he moved me out to Corpus Christi, Texas, where we got our first place together and found out we were having a baby! We were so excited to find out that we were pregnant, and my two kids were over the moon happy that they were going to have a sister or brother, as well as see their mom be the happiest I’ve ever been. After Will, my kids, and I spent our first Christmas together, he got down on one knee and proposed! I, of course, cried my eyes out, especially because he proposed with his mother’s engagement ring and accepted my kids into his life. We soon found out that we were having a little girl, and would name her Gaelle (guy·elle) Janie, her middle name after Will’s mom’s name. We had wanted to get married for so long, but just didn’t know how we wanted to go about it, being as most of our family is spread all over the country. We thought about having a “family and close friend” wedding, but then soon realized that eloping was more suited to our personalities, relationship, and story. We began planning in January of this year, and knew that New Orleans had to be the city, since his mom and dad honeymooned there. Since neither of us had ever been to New Orleans, I did my research online to find the perfect place and perfect people to be involved in our big day. We couldn’t be happier with who we chose for each detail and aspect of our little elopement! From our photographer :), to our officiant, and florist and make-up & hair artist…everyone was lovely and so talented! My dress was the inspiration piece that brought everything together, though. I wanted something unique, colorful, and completely different than your typical bride. I typed in, “unique & colorful wedding dresses,” into google search, and the name, Chrissy Wai-Ching, popped up. As soon as I saw just one image of a gown that she had designed, I knew that I had to have her design me my wedding dress! I went to her website, www.wai-ching.com, got an idea of what styles of hers that I liked, and made some customizations and color choices, and voila! She took what I had envisioned, and made it even better! Chrissy is the sweetest and most pleasant person to work with. We did all of our communication through emails, since she is located in Seattle, WA, and I could not make it there to handle anything regarding my dress. You can see, by looking at the pictures, that my dress turned out beautifully, and I never once even met Chrissy or had a fitting at her studio in Seattle. You can see that she knows what she is doing and is extremely talented! Chrissy also designed Will’s tie, to match my dress, which we both loved!

My bib necklace, of blue morph butterflies, was designed and made by, Anastasia Lovisetto, a designer and seller on Etsy, from Peterborough, United Kingdom. Her shop called, Butterfly Treasures, is so unique and her creations are amazingly beautiful! Her craftsmanship is impeccable, and I was so proud to wear the piece that she created for me!

Destiny, of Poppy & Mint Floral Company, created my perfect mini clutch bouquet! She listens to everything you say and incorporates all of the flowers that represent you and your relationship. The two orange roses that she so cleverly and creatively tied into my bouquet, were so special to Will and my story, since those were the first kind of roses he ever gave to me. Destiny was also very sweet to pin on Will’s mom’s butterfly broach to my bouquet, at the last minute. We wanted something to represent his mom being there with us on our special day. It meant a lot to the both of us!

Angele, of Just Face It, LLC, did my hair & make-up design. She is the biggest sweetheart and did my hair & make-up exactly the way I showed her, through some photos that I had found online! She is amazing and listens to exactly what you want! She also finished in about half the time, which gave me extra time for finishing getting ready…yay!

Reverend, Samantha McGovern, performed our ceremony, and was perfect for what we wanted for our elopement. She allowed me to write our entire ceremony, and make it as unique and detailed as we wanted. She was so great working with us through way of emails and it couldn’t have been easier! Great woman, with a big heart!

So, there you have it! I probably left out a few little things, but you have the bulk of our story. I describe us as, “25 years in the making…friends to best friends to best friends who are crazy in love and eloped… now Mr. & Mrs.!”

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