I first met Rennie back when I was teaching high school. Like myself, she was a Spanish teacher, and we connected over conversations about living in Spain, the lessons we were working on, and the students we were teaching. We quickly became friends and it’s hard to believe but I’ve known her now for about 17 years. In that time, I’ve had the honor of getting to know Rennie, her husband, and her family. I even photographed her sister’s wedding, her brother-in-law’s wedding, and her nephew’s newborn photos, too. Not to mention her and her husband Bruce’s vow renewal almost 10 years ago! But, wait, the title of this post says it’s an engagement session so why, you ask, did they have an engagement session if they’re already married? Read on to discover one of the most unique love stories I have had the honor to share on my blog to date!
Rennie and Bruce have been married for 19 years. They met freshman year in college when they were students at Rutgers University. Years later, they decided to get married and took a very low-key approach to the day by tying the knot in Las Vegas. Since then, their marriage has become stronger each day and these two have been through thick and thin. They’ve faced huge challenges such as Rennie’s MS and breast cancer in addition to career changes, disability, and countless other challenges that life has dealt them. Through it all, their relationship has evolved and strengthened greatly and almost ten years ago, I had the honor of photographing Rennie and Bruce’s vow renewal. Since then, Rennie and Bruce’s relationship has become even stronger and a couple of years ago, Bruce decided to pop the question in a retroactive proposal. He wanted Rennie to have the proposal experience she never had but deserved and his gesture proved him to be much more of a romantic than anyone might’ve thought. You can read Rennie’s account of the proposal here and Bruce’s here. Rennie and Bruce are now planning the type of wedding they never had for their 20th wedding anniversary next year and I couldn’t be more honored to capture it for them.
Today I’m excited to share Rennie and Bruce’s engagement session. This engagement session took place at Rennie and Bruce’s favorite spot, Harvest Moon Brewery in New Brunswick. They’ve spent many an evening here and even hosted their vow renewal here almost ten years ago. It was only fitting that we return there to capture them in a place that is so familiar to them. I love the way in which they approached their engagement session – choosing a place that is meaningful to them and just being themselves. You’ll notice lots of laughs in these photos because these two just love to make each other laugh. I love capturing the love between couples, but capturing it for a couple who has been married for almost 20 years is all the more special. I could go on and on about Rennie and Bruce but I think it’s best for you to get to know them through their own words so keep scrolling for their love story – it’s sprinkled between the images from their session. Enjoy!!
How they met
“Freshman year in college, I went to a party in a dorm room where we were playing trivial pursuit (everyone in the room against Bruce). Bru likes to say how I got upset that me team was not conferring with me soon the next question when they asked my answer, I responded that I wasn’t going to share now. We became best buddies but wouldn’t start dating for 4 more years…. much to Bruce’s dismay.”
Their first date
“Since we were already best of friends, the dating thing kind of just morphed from our friendship so there really wasn’t a first date feeling ever.”
When they knew they had found the one
“Bruce was pining for Rennie rather whole time they were just friends. Because Rennie had studied abroad for her entire junior year, she had to graduate a semester later than Bruce. On the night of her last final exam, we went out to celebrate and the stars aligned. We were both where we needed to be and finally that meant together. That was the night Rennie knew they were meant to be together while Bruce was still in a state of shock that we were indeed together from that moment on.”
“We actually got married on 4/17/00. There was no proposal or wedding…just the 2 of us in Las Vegas with a webcast… very cutting edge for the rear 2000 (and also very scary because traffic caused many awebsure to crash!). On 3/19/2016, we went into town for what Rennie thought was a normal date night. We wanted to take some pictures because campus was empty (it was spring break) so as Rennie was bust setting up the selfie stick, Bru got to his knee in front of Willy the silent. When Rennie turned around, she saw Bru on his knee with a ring. Rennie didn’t get it and asked Bru what the f*ck are you doing. He asked, “will you marry me… retroactively.” We didn’t know what the proposal would mean for a while because we were, after all, already married. But Rennie spent 2017 fighting breast cancer (and breaking toes and dislocating fingers and having an MS relapse), and that’s when we decided we wanted to celebrate our love which has only gotten stronger despite so many obstacles.”
All about the ring
“I am obsessed with my ring especially since I had no idea it was coming. Bruce wanted something that was my style but different than any other ring I have. It is a brilliant stone that perfectly represents us and our relationship. I don’t get to wear it everyday because I’m usually in yoga clothes (lol) but when I do, I can’t stop staring at it!”
One thing they love about each other
“Bruce loves Rennie’s smile. Rennie loves that Bruce is the one person in the whole world that knows everything about her and loves her anyway. Rennie likes to say that we are 2 imperfect halves of one perfect whole.”
Their wedding vision and style
“Perfectly us. Different than anything we have been to, and even better since we are doing it with so much love 26 years later.”
Makeup: Lauren Vena