I had the great privilege of photographing this adorable couple on the morning of the 4th of July. I was thrilled when Christelle contacted me with the news of her engagement, and I nearly jumped out of my seat in enthusiasm when she followed her news with a request for me to be her photographer. The session took place at Noah's Event Venue in High Point, and the location did not disappoint, but that is enough with the details about the session itself. Let's get to the photos and some storytelling that you won't want to miss!
I first met Christelle the summer of 2014 when she and another wonderful young lady lived with Ben and I for the summer as they participated in City Project at Mercy Hill Church. Over the course of that summer we quickly came to love her bright personality and ability to make us laugh. Matter of fact, as I'm writing this, I can honestly say that just a couple of hours ago she had me laughing so hard tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was no strange thing to see her during a church service and hear her calling us mom and dad, causing many confused looks to come our way. We have so many fond memories for sure!
A love story is rarely better told by anyone other the one's whom it revolves around, so I asked Christelle if she could share some of their story with us. Christelle first remembers seeing Jon at a community group bowling outing in 2014. At the time, she was in an all-girls group and he was in an all guys-group. But, their first interaction didn't occur until the next year when they both joined the same co-ed college community group. Contrary to what we might expect, she said that her first words to him were interjected into a conversation that she wasn't a part of and she instantaneously knew that she had offended him. She quickly apologized, but he wasn't buying it. Later that evening, still trying to make up for the offense, she promised to get him some of his favorite ice cream. Shortly after that, the school year ended and being that they were barely friends, they didn't see each other much.
In January of 2016, Christelle studied abroad for about six months. When she returned to Greensboro, she got a job working for Mercy Hill. It was then that she reconnected with Jon because he was participating in City Project that summer. His first words to her upon her return were, "Hey, you owe me ice cream." Now, Christelle prides herself on being a woman of her word, so she messaged Jon to find out what his favorite ice cream was and where it should be delivered. She proceeded to go to the store and buy the complete wrong brand and flavor and take it to him. One thing lead to another and they became friends.
Around that time, Christelle was determining that she was ready to date, and was talking to someone else. She had been discussing with friends about how as a believer dating wasn't just "dating", it meant dating with the intention of marriage. She actually remembers telling them, "I wish that this guy would just treat me and love me the way that Jonathan Martin does but I don’t have any feelings for Jon Martin." She says she realizes how incredibly ridiculous that sentence was looking back at it now. Jon was a consistent, loyal, and sacrificial friend to Christelle even as she continued to hold the view that they would only ever be just friends. Little did she know, during that time, Jon had asked his friends and mentors to be praying because he really liked her a lot and could tell that she was very closed off to the idea of them dating. Jon remembers thinking, "Just because she doesn't like me doesn't mean I don't like her, so I'm not giving up." Those prayers were answered and through a very intentional scavenger hunt, Jon asked Christelle to be his girlfriend on December 21, 2016.
Christelle said that she knew she wanted to marry Jon because of his ability to serve others, specifically his friends, and to love Jesus and to just be a safe place for her at the time. Through some of the stories she shared with me, it was evident that he consistently did just that. Jon said that he knew he wanted to marry Christelle after their trip to visit some of his family in D.C. He said this was due to the fact that he saw her willing to sacrifice some aspect of something that she stood so firm in, which was hating road trips and not wanting to drive longer than 45 minutes to an hour, and instead choose to die to self and do something that he loved and wanted. It made him want to be able to make such sacrifices for her as well.
The proposal came the day after a long dinner with Christelle's family at which Jon proved to her just how committed he was to her through his sacrificial and caring heart. He took her to dinner, steak because she loves it, and then drove to the spot where they had their first kiss. It was there that he asked her to be his wife, and she said, "YES!"
I thought it best to quote Christelle directly to conclude this post. (Of course, there will be more images below!)
"In Jon I have found that friend that sticks closer than a brother; that person who pushes me to the gospel even when I don’t want to be pushed. The person who loves my imperfections, and my faults. A person who is ready and willing to sacrifice most things besides his relationship with Christ in order to see much more of Jesus in me. We want our engagement season, wedding day and most importantly our marriage to be a picture of the gospel. To be a picture of sacrificial love going from one degree to next towards holiness on this side of heaven. When it come to kingdom come, and the GOOD LORD says well done good and faithful servant, we can look at one another and say that I loved you enough to push you to this moment, this eternal moment - that surpasses all of these light and momentary sufferings."
Jon and Christelle, thank you both for allowing me to capture this very special and exciting season of your lives! I look forward to seeing the Lord work through you as you unite to glorify Him together.
If you've enjoyed reading Jon + Christelle's story, you can leave a celebratory comment or well wishes below!