Jenner, California | Engagement | Nicole & Alvin - courtlandphotography.com

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Welcome to my visual journal! Here you'll find posts of some of my favorite weddings and engagement sessions, educational tips and insights on photography and wedding planning, and personal photographs of my trips around the world. Enjoy browsing! 

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Jenner, California | Engagement | Nicole & Alvin

As Sacramento wedding photographer, I’m privileged to be surrounded by various beautiful locations. One of my favorite locations is a little town called Jenner. Jenner, California will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not only because it’s a gorgeous location for wedding photography and engagement sessions, but because my wife and I often visit this quaint coastal town. We actually got married in Jenner in June of 202! It’s far away enough to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday American life and surround yourself in a quiet scene that reminds you the coasts of Ireland, but close enough to visit the Bay Area or San Francisco for the day. Jenner is truly an amazing place, and I love it when my clients want to experience it with me.

From the moment Alvin contacted me about doing an engagement session, I could tell these two were special. I quickly learned that Alvin served in the Army as an infantryman (as I did), so naturally I was intrigued to learn more.

I’ll let them describe their story in more detail, but let’s just say it involves a bomb attack during one of their Skype sessions while Alvin was deployed in Afghanistan. Continue reading to learn more…

Nicole & Alvin

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?

We met in our hometown of San Diego in 2010 right before I (Nicole) started college and Alvin started boot camp. He moved a couple months later to North Carolina to start his time in the Army and we kept in touch as friends. The next couple of years, we fostered an incredible friendship. In 2012, Alvin deployed to Afghanistan, ultimately spending his 21st birthday there. While we were Skyping, a bomb went off at their base. He rushed off screen and the computer was still on. The connection eventually cut out and when Alvin called back, he asked if I was okay! It was that moment and we realized we cared for each other on a different level. When he came back from deployment, he confessed his love for me. After Alvin got out of the Army, we spent approximately one year together before I moved up to Sacramento for graduate school. A couple months passed, and he moved as well just to be with me.

What makes your relationship special?

Throughout the 12 years we have known each other, we have gone through various life changing events. We have grown together in more ways than one. People say you become different versions of yourself throughout your lifetime. We are both not the same people we were when we met, but despite that, the strength of our love has never faltered.

How did you know your partner was the one?

Nicole: I knew Alvin was the one because of his many amazing qualities. One, was that he has shown me what a healthy relationship is like, way before we even became a couple. He prioritizes communication when we were doing long distance, and quality time together when we were finally living in the same city and even now when we live together. He has always been open and honest with me, ensuring that I was never kept in the dark about anything in his life. In addition, he is completely selfless. One time, we were in San Francisco grabbing boba tea with some friends. There was an Uber driver who was parked on the curb trying to replace his flat tire. Alvin immediately came to his side to assist him when others were just walking past. There are so many more qualities I can list, but you would be reading forever.

Alvin: I knew she was the one. We used to Skype for hours when we were long-distancing, leaving the webcam on for hours, even days sometimes. She was my best friend that I could come back to the barracks room and talk to. Nicole sent me countless care packages to Afghanistan to boost my morale, and to let me know that she was there for me. After leaving the military, it was slow to get used to being outside of the military. I have experienced a lot of different adventures and foods because of her. Before, I never knew there were any other type of cheeses other than Kraft singles! She makes me feel strong and successful in life even when I think the opposite, Nicole has stood by me through the roughest parts of my life and always put me first. She is committed to me as much as I am committed to her through all the good and bad. I may not have all the romantic touches down, but she understands that I try my best at it.

Tell me about the proposal.

On a weekend trip to Mendocino, we stopped by our favorite spot. Down a couple flights of stairs behind the Harbor House Inn in Elk, CA, is a private beach with no one around. We usually do videos of our trips, so he set up his GoPro to “capture some memories”. He gave me his phone so we could take a selfie together. As I prepare for the selfie, he takes a step back and got on his knee. The proposal was perfectly intimate and everything I could’ve asked for.

Tell me about your ring!

The ring is a simple round solitaire with a pave band. I wanted something very minimalistic and classic, and Alvin delivered with the ring I have always imagined myself wearing.

Describe your experience during our engagement session together.

The engagement session was amazing! We have never taken professional pictures together and were very stressed about posing. Courtland walked us through the whole session and made us both very comfortable in front of the camera. By the end of the shoot, we were more excited than nervous and couldn’t have asked for a better photographer to ease us into it.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to finally take pictures that show and signify the love that we have for each other!

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