November 17, 2021

Steven & Kara | University of Virginia Engagement

I’m Stephanie, a wedding + lifestyle photographer based in Destin, Florida and Warrenton, Virginia. Whether I’m by the mountains in Virginia or the ocean on the Florida Gulf Coast, my soul feels at home, surrounded by rural living and the raw beauty of nature. I genuinely love what I do, and feel so passionate to share the enthusiasm and joy of these celebrations with you!

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Steven & Kara | University of Virginia Engagement

Oh, Steven and Kara … “What a SWEET couple!” … I kept thinking during our initial phone call and all throughout their engagement session!! Genuine, down-to-earth, smart… GOOD LOOKING? I mean, common! Look at these photos below! They initially met at the University of Virginia orientation back in the day, and I bet they had NO idea that there would be an engagement years later. 🙂 I love their love story and I’m excited for you to read it below because Steven had me cracking up at so many points! Haha! They are so good for each other and I am so honored to be their photographer for their wedding next May! Speaking of which… That month is going to be one to remember because not only are they getting married, but they are graduating from Med School! Whew! Kudos to them for making that happen!

I bet you can guess why they wanted their engagement portraits at the University of Virginia … 🙂 It’s one of my favorite University! And I can say that because JMU has no competition with UVA. 😉 HA! It’s BEAUTIFUL, and I could’ve easily photographed them for hours as we wandered around the Rotunda! The light was perfect, and they looked amazing, which was impressive because it was SO hot outside!!! Mind you … their session happened in August … Whew! Halfway through the session, we drove out to the Blue Ridge Mountains to capture some portraits with a VIEW! I love an adventurous couple who appreciates nature. <3 Spoiler Alert … They got engaged on top of the mountain! Check out this session below!!!

Steven & Kara | UVA, Virginia Engagement Photographer

HOW STEVEN & KARA MET

from Steven’s perspective

You know that rom com with the two best friends who would “never date” and the final scene of the movie is some intimate make out with inspirational music (aka every rom com, but hell I’m here for it)?

Well, I guess my childhood of car rides filled with this plotline still didn’t prepare me for the inevitable...

When Kara and I first met, we were friends and nothing more. Happily dating other people, we chatted in class and hung out socially. It was only when one of our mutual best friends, Brett, had the crazy idea that we all live together that everything changed.

Cue most any Drew Barrymore film. It wasn’t quite that simple, though, as the first six months of our co-ed apartment was filled with Kara and I trying to wingman each other (terribly I might add – can’t imagine why?).

Over these months, we ran a half marathon together, studied for our cold sweat-inducing board exams, and told probably twenty of our closest friends that we were happier as friends. Forget one moment of weakness on my end in the cold months of January and a bit of tension while practicing physical exam maneuvers on each other (abdominal exam, relax!), but we remained truly celibate.

My parents tried to set us up in February, but thankfully even their efforts were shot down. It was only after the pandemic took us away from our clinical duties and locked us in with our other roommates that feelings started to change. It started with a nickname, “Spark”, Kara called me and singing Backstreet Boys on the way back from a hike at Devil’s Marble Yard. Thanks to COVID, we were spending every waking second with each other without many other distractions, and we loved it!

When we finally went to our respective homes, it was clear the dynamic between us had changed. I missed her. I wanted to spend time with her...

After a brief hiccup and some confusion, I knew the call was finally coming. Thank god she’s the brave one! She asked if I’d be willing to give it a try (sitting on her bathroom floor I might add). We met up in Charlottesville May 3rd, 2020. On May 1st, 2021, I asked her to marry me.

So yes, my friends, my family, and probably the entire world was right (and we were right too, she is still my best friend!). Now I get to marry the most wonderful woman in the world, and she’s chosen me, which oddly also fits perfectly with the kind of dynamic you’ll see on a rom com these days smh! 

HOW STEVEN PROPOSED TO KARA

from Kara’s perspective

“Why don’t we wear clothes to take pictures in?” Steven asked as I looked down at my muddy hiking boots. I gladly changed outfits, thinking he wanted to take a selfie at the top of the mountain. To celebrate the year anniversary of my relationship with the love of my life and best friend, we were going on our favorite hike, Humpback Rock.

On the drive, he surprised me with a new playlist, and we sung along to all our favorite songs. As we slid our way up the mountain in our tread-less shoes, we talked about our favorite memories together. At the summit, as we sipped wine, ate cheese, and watched as the sun lit up the clouds, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I didn’t think anything of it when Steven suggested we stand up and take pictures. He gave me a big hug and whispered loving words, and then slid out of my arms onto one knee.

There he was, wearing the most handsome radiant grin and holding the most beautiful diamond ring I have ever seen, when he asked me the question. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough! As we danced around celebrating, my cousin and now maid of honor popped out of the bushes. She had been taking pictures the whole time! Little did I know that I still had one more surprise in store- we came home to our apartment full of all our close friends, there to celebrate. I still get chills thinking about this magical day. 

Thank you!!!

Thank you, Steven and Kara, for making time in your busy med school lives to photograph your engagement at UVA! I had the BEST time with you and was sad that our time quickly came to an end — I hope to see you two again SOON! 🙂 But otherwise, your wedding day will be here before we know it, and I cannot WAIT to document those beautiful moments for you and your families. 🙂 Thanks for the best time!!!!

Stephanie Messick Photography, LLC is a Northern/Central/University of Virginia, Virginia + Colorado Family, Wedding, and Engagement Photographer. Learn more HERE or contact her HERE!!

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