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Spring LGBTQ Engagement Photography Session at The Witches Castle in Forest Park | Portland, Oregon

Katelyn & Kayla

Being in Love, Gay and Getting Married

I was lucky enough to meet and become the Portland engagement photographer for Katelyn and Kayla through the Spread the Love Wedding Giveaway.

Being a sponsor and organizer for the giveaway I got to read all of the submissions. There were so many good and deserving couples but I found myself extremely drawn to Katelyn's words, their love story and their struggle. Though they didn't win the giveaway I was so touched by their entry I reached out to see if I could give them a gift anyway and they gladly accepted.

The reality is, even today, shopping for wedding vendors as a gay couple is not easy. If they can't easily figure out from your website that you welcome and work with all couples, they are then set to the task of drafting an email about the services they want and "outing" their sexual orientation or identity in hopes of being received in a positive light. Never once have I received an email from a straight couple letting me know they were a man and a woman, just in case I might not be OK with that, sounds absurd, right? Because it is. LOVE IS LOVE, and it deserves to be honored and celebrated regardless of the couples race, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, color, national origin, religion or age.

For the giveaway we asked each submitter to answer a series of questions, with Katelyn and Kayla's permission I want to share with you Katelyn's answers.

Tell Us Why You Deserve to Win a Free Wedding?

"Kayla Dillon is the love of my life. She is the most selfless and caring person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing AND the honor of marrying. Kayla has never asked for anything out of her means. From a young age, she had taken on the role of caretaker for her grandmother and great uncle, never expecting anything in return. To this day, they live with us, now her and I taking on the responsibility of caring for them together. Life has never been easy for either of us. From our relationships with our families to our everyday life.

Wedding planning has proven to be just as difficult. Kayla asked me to marry her on August 25, 2020. I couldn't have said yes fast enough.

Kayla has been working 60+ hour work weeks to help save for the wedding. She has sold many of her belongings I never imagined she’d part with. She has exhausted herself, staying awake at night trying to budget for the wedding she and I talk about. Being a college student and a dog groomer part time, I don’t have enough hours in the day to contribute to the wedding like she has. She simply wants the perfect day that we will remember forever.

I would love to give her the gift of having the wedding she and I have dreamt of without adding the additional stress of money. Knowing that we are a gay couple, we expected interactions to become awkward during this process, most people assuming we are a straight couple when we inquire on wedding details, venues or even cake tasting. With that said, it doesn't make this process any easier. If we won this Wedding Giveaway, it would give us the gift of planning our wedding with a huge stress off our shoulders and off our bank accounts."

What Would it Mean for You to Win?

"To be honest, I haven’t mentioned this Giveaway to Kayla. If we won this, I would want her to be completely surprised. The look on her face if we did win would be a prize in itself.

Winning this opportunity would be a once in a lifetime chance! This is the day we both dreamt of since we were little kids. We know we will spend the rest of our days together looking back on it and the fact that we would have the chance to work with all of these wonderful vendors (that otherwise we could never afford) to make our day so special would be huge!

This would mean sleeping again and being able to rest knowing that our day is taken care of. Lord knows we’ve spent hours trying to find venues that are in our budget, florists we could afford and photography that we are proud to show our children one day."

How Did You Meet?

"Three years before meeting, I specifically remember a mutual friend had said that if I had ever met Kayla, I would fall in love with her. We lived over 1200 miles apart at the time, so chances were, we’d never meet anyway. A year later, Kayla moved to Washington... more specifically, 16 miles away from me. Finally, I met Kayla for the first time. I would say I was a little caught off guard when I met her. Her laugh was contagious; her smile made me blush. But we were both in relationships though and in two very different places in life.

We would see each other off and on but nothing ever blossomed.

After a year went by, we started hanging out more, never having a dull moment. I have never laughed so much in my life. She was my best friend and the only person I found myself wanting to spend time with. As relationships were failing around us, we found happiness in the times we had with each other. A couple months later, our friendship transformed into a relationship.

We were in love. We spent every second together and our love kept growing and getting stronger. She taught me what unconditional love felt like, she taught me how to be strong and how to let go of things I can't control. In return, I showed her patience and understanding, sacrifice and encouragement; both offering traits that neither of us had experienced.

My favorite thing that has been said to me was from my mom. Our mother-daughter relationship has always been tough. I feel like I’ve let her down in so many ways in my life, not living up to the expectations she set for me. I was never the type to bring girlfriends home so when I brought Kayla home, she knew it was a big deal. One night my mom invited Kayla and I over for s’mores. I remember we were sitting by the fire and Kayla and I were sharing funny stories with them and my mom interrupted me and said “Is this all you guys do? Laugh all the time?”. A moment where even my mother, who is completely against our relationship and wedding, couldn’t deny the love we found in each other. I am forever changed because of Kayla. My outlook on life, the love I offer and the kindness she’s shown me every time I mess up or say the wrong thing. She is my better half. And she deserves the world. Our wedding is just the first of many grand gestures I have to give."

Tell Us About the Proposal

"August 25th, 2020. A day that I will relive over and over. Kayla had planned a trip for us to Ramona Falls in the Gorge. I love waterfalls so I was over the moon about this destination.

After hours of driving, getting lost, redirected, then losing service, we finally found the road to the trailhead of the falls. “CLOSED”. A huge sign and road block made it impossible to get to the falls. Kayla was acting abnormally annoyed. I told her it wasn't a big deal and we could come back another time. Continuing our drive back to the hotel she reserved, we saw a sign to Lost Lake. That seemed fitting because we had spent a good chunk of the day being lost anyway. We followed the signs and ended up at the most beautiful lake with a breathtaking view of the mountain. We parked the car and began walking the loop around the lake.

We found a bench that was unattended, lakeside, and daydreamt about waking up to this view every morning. She asked if I wanted to go down to the water and I said “DUH!”.

We skipped some rocks then I turned to head back to the trail. She told me to come back and when I saw her she was on one knee with the most perfect ring. Just like that, we were engaged. And I haven't stopped smiling since, looking forward to the day I get to call her my wife."

We first met via Zoom to make plans for the session. I totally put Katelyn on the spot and asked her to read some of her answers to Kayla, it was a special thing to witness. We decided on the Stone House, AKA the Witches Castle in Forest Park for their engagement session as it was a nice compliment to the theme of their upcoming fall wedding. When I finally got to meet them in-person, it only cemented how beautiful I thought their relationship was. I am so glad to have met these two and for their openness to share their story. I can't wait to work together again!

Engagement Photography Session Location: Forest Park

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1 Comment

Apr 27, 2021

Love is Love. What a beautiful story and lovely pictures showing that love.❤

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