We love stories & one of our favorite aspects of our job as wedding photographers is getting to know our clients & their unique love stories- how they met, fun accounts about when they were dating, and how they got engaged. These anecdotes give us a little insight into our couples & we truly enjoy hearing them & laughing about not-so-smooth pickup lines, feeling so inspired by stories of love that fought through hard times, and connecting with our couples over similarities between our story & theirs. Inevitably, lots of people ask us about OUR story & we’re happy to share it with you!
On a gorgeous early summer evening in May 2005, a wannabe grunge band full of young aspiring musicians prepared to take the stage at Mark’s Landing, a nautical themed restaurant/bar close enough to Gilford Lake to feel the breeze blow across the waters. Josh was there with a group of friends waiting to hear the band; he had known the bass player, Seth, since they were very young children and had grown up playing hide & seek in the pine trees behind his house and going camping together at a nearby camp ground every August with their families. Danielle was there with a group of her friends, too. She’d known Seth and the guitar player, Matt, since they were in kindergarten at the same small town school. As the band played, Danielle & her friends were near the front row dancing and having a great time. At the time, Josh & Danielle had never met, but years down the road, Josh admitted to Danielle that he had noticed her dancing in the crowd and that he liked the way she shook her behind. 😉 After the guys were finished playing hits such as Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” and Green Day’s “When I Come Around,” they retired to the patio area to chat and hang out. Josh and Danielle were both headed over to congratulate their friends on a fun set, but Josh got there first.
Danielle decided to hang back with one of her other friends and not to interrupt the conversation, but she quickly changed her mind. She thought, “Who is this really hot guy who seems to know all of my lifelong friends? And why don’t I know him?!” It was one of those pivotal moments in life when she just knew that this instant was going to impact her forever & saying hello was a must. Something drew her to him. So, somewhat uncharacteristically, she walked over, interrupted the conversation, and extended her hand to Josh and said, “Hi, I’m Danielle.” Josh thought to himself: “This smoking hot girl I’ve been admiring all night just introduced herself to me!” Josh had admired Danielle’s bright smile earlier in the evening a few times when he had noticed her amongst the many people on the very crowded, noisy patio. Now that she stood in front of him, he couldn’t take his eyes off her smile & the way that her beautiful eyes crinkled when she laughed. Danielle loved the way Josh carried himself with a quiet confidence; she immediately noticed his gorgeous blue-green eyes. Once Danielle & Josh started talking, it was like the entire crowd and their friends faded away. They stood on the patio as the next band took the stage and talked about whatever came to mind. They were both really surprised to find how much they had in common with one another & how many times in life their paths had probably crossed before that evening; their fathers used to work together, Danielle’s sister went to preschool with Josh, they attended neighboring high schools, they had many mutual friends, their families lived 6 minutes apart, and they lived in neighboring dorms while they both attended Kent State University. They both knew they wanted to spend more time together and get to know each other better; as they talked, they couldn’t stop smiling. They exchanged telephone numbers that evening and Josh couldn’t stop thinking about Danielle the entire drive home from Mark’s Landing that night.
The next day was Memorial Day. Danielle was at a picnic at her grandparents’ house. Josh was at a cookout at his parents’ house. He was nervous, but he worked up the courage and called Danielle to ask her on a date. Danielle’s heart jumped a little in her chest when she saw that Josh was calling her. After they chatted awhile, both unable to get the huge grins off their faces, they decided that Josh would pick Danielle up and they would go to the movies. Josh picked Danielle up in his green Ford Escort with automatic safety belts and they headed off to see The Longest Yard. Danielle remembers what Josh wore- jeans and a blue t-shirt that had a photo of a fruit stand on it & said “Emerson’s Big Melons.” His hair was gelled and spiked. Josh remembers what Danielle wore- a pink shirt with a jean jacket and holey jeans. Her hair was long, dark, and straight & she wore her bangs straight. Their conversation was so natural; they both felt an instant attraction to each other & were really excited to get to know each other better. After the movie, they stopped for a milkshake and Danielle choked on the strawberry bits in hers. . . smoothness never hurts on a first date. A few fun dates like playing catch in the park, hiking, and talking a lot about everything and nothing at the same time later & Josh had finally worked up enough courage to kiss Danielle. He said he had wanted to kiss her from the first moment he met her, but he wanted to wait in order to ensure that she knew his intentions with her were respectable. How gentlemanly. After a fun night at the park, Josh dropped Danielle off at her parents’ house, but he didn’t want to leave. It was like he couldn’t get enough of being around her; he always wanted their dates to last longer. They got out of the car and stood in the driveway on a clear, country summer night and looked at the stars together for a while. When he finally decided it was time to tear himself away from her for the evening, Josh walked Danielle to the door and leaned in for the kiss. Danielle was so breathless and tingly afterwards that she couldn’t stop smiling even after she’d gone in, brushed her teeth, changed her clothes, and gotten into bed. She knew she had found a sensitive, caring, wonderful man that she was really enlivened with the idea of getting to know and having the entire summer to be carefree together. On the drive home, Josh was excited, happy, and full of butterflies. He couldn’t wait to see Danielle again. She inspired him and made him want to be a better man.
After the best summer of their lives full of fun with friends, lots of dates, and a whirlwind of infatuated feelings for one another, Danielle & Josh both realized that their relationship was so much more than just summer fun. . . they loved each other and deeply cared for one another.
Five years passed and they steadfastly stood by each other as they both graduated college from Kent State University and as Danielle graduated law school from the University of Akron School of Law. One early Spring evening, Josh planned an elaborate surprise for Danielle. She arrived home from work on a Friday evening ready to see his bright smile, but he was nowhere to be found. What she did find was a small golden egg at the top of the stairs. Beside the egg was a small note in Josh’s handwriting that said, “Open me, Danielle.” Danielle called out loud, “Where are you, Joshua?” She didn’t receive an answer. Upon opening the egg, she found a typed note inside that had song lyrics that were significant to her and Josh as a couple & a clue for where to go to discover the next egg. She was jumping around with excitement and joy! Josh led her on a little scavenger hunt to find three more eggs at the house; they all had meaningful song lyrics on them and a clue to find the next egg. She was really expecting that Josh would jump out from a hiding spot somewhere, but when she got to the last egg at the house, the clue led her to the park where they spent a lot of time on dates. Danielle knew this was it; Josh was going to ask her to be his wife. She was shaking with adrenaline. She couldn’t contain her joy as she got her dog Norris and drove to the park to meet Josh. Josh had been waiting in the gazebo at the park for Danielle to arrive. He was a little chilly, as the temperature was only around 40 degrees. He received a few text messages from friends on his Blackberry asking him if he had asked her yet. As he waited for Danielle to arrive, he searched radio stations on his phone for songs that he could play when Danielle walked toward him. He was filled with anticipation and a little nervous; he wanted everything to be just right. He wanted his words to be powerful and for everything about the proposal to blow Danielle away with happiness. When he saw Danielle pull up in her white Chevy Cavalier that she called the Smooth Beast, his heart started to beat quickly. Everything that he had planned to say and do completely left his brain; he felt entranced by Danielle & couldn’t think of the words to say. She jogged from her car to him with Norris on his leash; he could see her smile from 100 yards away as she approached. Danielle couldn’t help but run to Josh once she got out of her car and saw him waiting in the gazebo. She wanted nothing more than to throw her arms around him and squeeze him tightly. Once she arrived to the gazebo, she sat next to Josh on the picnic table bench. He took Danielle’s hand in his and held out the last egg. He said, “Danielle, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?” Danielle immediately started to cry and smile the biggest smile she ever smiled and said, “Of course!” When Josh opened the last egg and revealed the most beautiful princess cut solitaire diamond that Danielle had ever seen, the sunshine hit the diamond just so & it sparkled brilliantly. Danielle, Josh, and Norris shared a long and emotion-filled group hug. They just didn’t want to separate or stop holding onto one another; the cold didn’t phase them any longer. They took a photo with Josh’s Blackberry before “selfie” was even a word. When they finally decided it was time to leave the park, they sat together in the car for awhile and cried tears of sheer happiness. At one point, Danielle was so overcome with love and joy that she started to laugh and couldn’t get herself to stop for a long while. Josh just laughed, too, and hugged Danielle even tighter. They excitedly called and texted their family members and friends to share the great news.
Eight months later, they exchanged vows in a very personal ceremony at their church. On November 20, 2010, Josh woke up and began to write his personal vows; he’d been brainstorming them for weeks and knew what he wanted to say. He pictured what Danielle would look like as she walked toward him down the aisle. The words he penned still give Danielle goosebumps when she reads them: “With these vows, I promise that I’ll always be there for you no matter the circumstances. I promise to never lead you astray and keep you close to my heart. I will give you strength and comfort as well as my full unconditional love. I promise to keep God in the center of our marriage so that we may be blessed and hold our values true to each other. I’ll love you more each day until we grow old and our time on earth is ended. With the grace of God and the sacrifice of our savior, we shall spend our eternal life together in heaven. Danielle, I promise to love you to the best of my ability until total self-sacrifice.”
A few short months after their wedding & honeymoon in Jamaica, Josh & Danielle launched Menning Photographic in their first home together as husband and wife. Since then they have traveled many places, moved to their new home in the country, grown even closer together, added another pug to the family, and had way too much fun working together building a business with a vision that will (prayerfully) impact lives beyond what they can even imagine. They realize each day that they are incredibly blessed to be able to do what they’re passionate about together; there are moments during each wedding day that they photograph that they connect with no words as their eyes meet & they both communicate with each other silently that they love each other & feel very blessed to be living their truth & their lives’ calling together.
[Photo Credit: Inlux Photo]