Amanda & Cole’s Citrus State Park California engagement session is a special one. I’m in awe of these two, and so honored to have captured a little piece of their love story. Their session took place at two meaningful locations. We started at Citrus State Park – where they will be getting married later this year! And after that we went to another Riverside, CA location: Fairmount Park! Amanda & Cole grew up in Riverside, so it has a special place in their hearts.
I was so excited that they decided to include their furbaby in their session! Their dog, Ralph, is a blind half pug, half miniature Pinscher. He is the cutest, sweetest pup, and you can see how much he loves his parents. 🙂
Amanda & Cole have the most beautiful love story. They first met in high school, and Cole remembers always seeing her wearing band t-shirts walking to art class. They kept in touch on social media after graduating. Amanda always noticed Cole liking her photos – in particular, the heavy metal concert photos!
Amanda told me, “After Cole finally reached out and slipped into the dm’s in 2017…we agreed to meet up for a date. Cole had already moved out to San Diego to become a chef in San Diego’s super fun and creative food industry. For our first date, Cole tried to recreate a date he would have taken me on if we were in high school again. So he took me to the beach with beers and we just hung out and talked! I knew this was the beginning of the end for me. I was just so comfortable and myself with him. Our date went effortlessly and I woke up the next morning to fresh, homemade ricotta pancakes with a raspberry reduction sauce…SOLD.”
Amanda told me more about how their love story started to unfold. “With a new budding relationship, I was living in Moreno Valley at home with my mom and stepdad with that traditional idea that I wouldn’t leave home until I was married. But I was ready to let go of that and figured…it would either be the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever to take a chance and move out so San Diego with Cole. I was 26 at the time and it was either going to happen or not.”
“Shortly after moving out to San Diego, we found out my father was starting the diagnosis process for early onset Alzheimer’s, he was only 55 at the time. Needless to say…we’ve been on a very difficult journey navigating through this disease and trying to find my place in the world while feeling entirely helpless that my father was going through this. That’s where I knew Cole was the one. He had taken a week off work, insisted on driving me up to Oregon so that he could meet and help figure out next steps in caring for my dad.”
“With my step mom a full time caregiver and myself being what would be considered a ‘care partner’…we had a many emotional days, long nights. It was a constant, heart breaking nightmare that lasted 5 years as I got to experience what the longest goodbye felt like…My father passed away June 27th 2022. One last goodbye. Cole has been so supportive and understanding and as helpful and anyone can hope for when caring for and losing a loved one.”
“About 3 years ago…Cole had gone up to Oregon where my father lived and asked him for his blessing before he would progress further into Alzheimer’s. The spark came back in my dads eye for that brief conversation. If there were anyone more excited for my wedding day and for my engagement, it would be my dad. I’m his only daughter, or ‘only princess in the world’ as he’d say.”
“I don’t how he managed to surprise me but he had booked a stay at La Jolla Shores. Shortly after checking in, we took a walk along the beach when Cole got down on one knee ^__^ I remember specifically pausing in that moment and soaking every second of it in…my person was asking me to spend forever with him and I wanted to scream “YES” when he spoke the first word! As if that wasn’t the shock and excitement of my life….I turn around and my mom, stepdad and friends and Cole’s parents were all cheering us on.”
Cole custom-designed Amanda’s engagement ring and it is absolutely STUNNING! And what’s more, it has the meaningful detail of including Amanda’s dad’s initials beneath the diamond. How special is that?
Amanda & Cole, you two are incredible. Your love story is so moving and inspiring. Together you two can conquer the world. The way you support one another through all of life’s ups and downs, and how you encourage each other to pursue your passions and goals is BEAUTIFUL. Photographing you guys was an absolute joy – thank you for having me document this special season and chapter of your story. Sending you both infinite gratitude and a huge hug! xoxo