Although, I think everyone deserved to win, don’t you? The truth is, I’d shoot the weddings of every single couple that entered for free if I could. But I’ve got a house full of kids and animals that keep insisting on being fed at regular intervals. If you only knew what our milk budget was!
After all the votes were tallied, and interviews were conducted, by the narrowest of narrowest, super slightest amount (did I mention how amazing all of the finalists were?!), Tory and Nano won the day. Woot!
So, rather than chatter on about how awesome Tory and Nano are, I thought it would be cool to let you read about them in their own words. They spent a lot of time crafting their entry, and it’s really clear that these two not only adore each other, but they have an enormous respect for each other. Here’s what they had to say:
Nano: “Our relationship began simply, with just a bit of fate involved. Out of nearly a thousand people, Tory and I were placed in the same 10 person group during freshman orientation in college. We had our first conversation during a walk back to our dorm, where she happened to live just down the hall from me. I was immediately drawn to Tory because of her love for animals, the outdoors, and her quirky, somewhat shy, nature. We grew to be inseparable during those first few weeks. We would wait for each other before going to meals, we would walk with each other to classes, and we would explore the new city together. It was both exciting and comforting to have someone to share these new experiences with, although we insisted that we were only friends. Then wefinally realized what everyone else had already noticed and discovered that, while we did have an amazing friendship, we were going to have much more than that. The one thing I admire most about Tory is her heart. She has the biggest heart I have ever known and can love without restraint. When I say ‘love,’ I mean Tory has this incredible ability to love everyone and everything for simply being alive and apart of this world. Through Tory I have learned how to also open my heart to my world and my community. During college she would take me with her to service events to clean invasive species from parks, collect canned goods for food pantries, and tutor children at elementary schools in Seattle. If not for Tory, I would never have realized the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving and opening my heart to others. I also would never have spent two years of my life as a City Year volunteer, and I would never have discovered my passion and purpose as a teacher.”
Tory: “We were incredibly lucky to share so many experiences together during our time in college. Not the least of which included getting our wonderful beagle, Finch, during our junior year when we really should have been studying more and our landlord didn’t even allow pets! After graduation, we moved first to Portland and then to Boston, close to my family and then his, seeking adventure and change. Of course, what we were really seeking was a calling, and a chance to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That quote by Gandhi has always been a favorite of ours and we got our chance to do just that in Milwaukee.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we moved to the middle of the country in 2010 and joined City Year, an Americorps program that works to end the drop-out crisis in urban schools. It was the most intense experience of our lives as we spent 50 to 60 hours a week tutoring struggling students, breaking up fights, creating behavior programs, running after school classes, putting on Spelling Bees and generally trying to be everything and everywhere in schools that didn’t have the money or staff to provide fully for their students. Then we’d be at the City Year office at least 3 nights a week and most Sundays, trying to catch up on lesson plans, creating flyers and templates, and planning trainings, workshops and appreciations. We made due with a meager stipend and food stamps, sharing a tiny apartment with several roommates. We spent 10 to 12 hours a day with a team of people that sometimes drove us nuts, and were lucky to see each other for an hour each night. We poured our energy into kids with heart-breaking stories, who were more likely to cuss us out than thank us, and who might not have anyone else in their lives telling them they were smart and capable. Needless to say, we totally fell in love with it.
What surprised me was that through all the stress, frustration and sleeplessness, I also fell so much deeper in love with Nano. I had always treasured his gentleness, his romantic side (that beautifully off-sets my overly pragmatic tendencies), his unique insights, his sense of humor, and his thoughtful, open-minded attitude. But it wasn’t until we worked side by side and faced such intense challenges as co-workers, that I learned a whole new level of admiration for him. I suddenly saw him a leader and was so incredibly proud to see him step up to challenges with a confidence and passion that he’d never shown before. Not only that, but he supported me every step of the way, and helped me have faith in my work and in the difference I was making, even on those days I wanted to give up. I might have been what brought him there, but he brought me through it. Seeing how much of himself he was willing to give to improve the lives of others was more than enough to convince me to say ‘YES!’ when he proposed during the fall of our second service year.”
Nano: “As we prepare for our new, married life, we’re also preparing to start our careers. We have decided to dedicate our lives to serving our community by becoming teachers. It’s our passion to work with the most challenging students in the toughest areas, because we believe in the power of education to create change and in the ability of one caring adult to inspire the youth in our community to succeed with confidence. We know this path will not be easy. It will not be paved with gold, but there will be treasures along the way. The treasures ahead of us are not the kind we can hold in our hands or fill our pockets. They are the treasures we will hold in our hearts and will fill our souls with love and purpose. And, most importantly, we will walk along this path of love side by side and share in these treasures together. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Tory: “Splurging and splendor will probably never be an option for us and that’s okay. Our wedding will be beautiful and joyful, but, out of necessity, it will also have to be somewhat frugal. Winning your contest would mean the world to us. Having a wedding photographer is something we’d be delighted to have, but it’s really a luxury to us. Having you at our wedding would allow us to make this day all that much more amazing and to share our joy with all our friends and family around the country. The theme of our wedding is fun- and it would be truly wonderful to have you there to be a part of it and to help us remember and celebrate each moment.”
Hello. My name is Amanda. I make neat pictures of nice people, drink coffee and whiskey (sometimes at the same time), and travel. I love traveling so much, I won't charge you any travel fees to photograph your wedding. Check out my travel info page for all the details. And see my blog for all the cool photos.