Outer Banks Engagement: Chris & Kristen - Live View Studios
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Outer Banks Engagement: Chris & Kristen

It seemed like the perfect place to propose. Nestled in the outskirts of the small coastal town of Manteo, this historical and beautiful place known as the Elizabethan Gardens made an intimate romantic getaway. Having grown up in the area, Chris wanted to share this special place with his Chicago-born girlfriend. They had met online, but after Kristen moved to North Carolina they both had several opportunities to visit this sleepy coastal town – and these colorful, ancient gardens. Both of the times that Chris and Kristen had gone to the gardens while they were dating, he had wanted to propose to her. But it hadn’t been quite the right time or circumstances on each occasion – so he waited for that perfect moment, which Kristen tells us about below –

Besides being overjoyed with happiness that we would spend the rest of our lives together, I was also very surprised by his proposal.  It was a Tuesday in May and I was deep in the midst of craziness that comes before a big deadline for work.  I was having a particularly frustrating day at the lab when I got a phone call from Chris saying that he had gotten a crack in his windshield and was having it repaired in Chapel Hill.  He told me he had an appointment for work that ended at 5:30 and asked if I could come pick him up afterwards as he would have to leave his car there overnight.  He told me he would wait for me at a coffee shop.  I didn’t think much of it since I was so distracted with what was going on the lab at the time.  I told him I’d get there as soon as I  could.  At about 6:30 he gave me another call to ask where I was.  I had just finished cleaning up and was on my way out the door.   I headed out to pick him up so we could go back to my apartment, make some dinner and watch the Bulls play the Heat in the NBA playoffs.   While I was glad to be getting away from my experiments that weren’t going the way I had hoped, I was also pretty stressed out about my looming deadline.  As soon as I got to Chapel Hill I got out of the driver’s seat to let him drive.  He told me that we had to stop and pick something up in his car and pulled into a parking garage – when he told me to get out of the car with him I started to get a little suspicious.  He ended up taking me up into the attached building – which was the Franklin Hotel where he had booked us a pent house suite.  When we got upstairs there were two dozen long stem roses and a bottle of champagne … and a cleaning lady making the bed.  At that point, I think Chris was a little exasperated as he had gone to great lengths to make everything perfect – and she seemed to be in no hurry to get out.  But the 10 minutes or so it took her to finally make the bed gave me a little time to freshen up from my long day at work.  Once she left, Chris took me out on the patio, and got down on one knee.  That’s when my memory of what he said gets a little fuzzy… I just remember his blue eyes, him telling me that he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and then he pulled out the ring.  I did my best to not get teary eyed (failed in that endeavor) and of course I said yes.  We called/texted loved ones with the news and went to Elaine’s for a wonderful dinner.  Then we came back to drink champagne and watch the game.  Though the Bulls lost, the turnout of the game didn’t phase me the way that it normally would have.  It made me realize that the down times/curve balls that life inevitably throws would be much easier to handle with Chris as my partner.

Both of them wanted to go back to this special place where they’d shared so many memories together, so we all rode together to the coast last weekend for their engagement session at this beautiful garden, and the small town of Manteo where Chris grew up. Along the way, they both eagerly watched their phones for the game scores of the day (Kristen says their obsession with it is all for their fantasy teams), and we found out that they were also Lost fans. Chris and I determined that the reason for the disappearance of the settlers from The Lost Colony in Manteo was undoubtedly the basis for the original Lost story, and that they had all been abducted by John Locke’s Smoke Monster. It was a three and a half hour drive there and back, so we had plenty of time to solve all of the world’s problems and get to know this wonderful couple :)

You two are so cute together! :)

Kristen, you are beautiful!

This gate at the edge of the garden looks out onto the ocean … it’s a nice quiet spot for thinking, and dreaming. Or falling in love.

You two are just natural models – soo photogenic!

^ This was one of our favorite photos from the gardens. So intimate and sweet!

One of Chris & Kristen’s favorite seasons is fall, so they wanted to incorporate the apples to bring in a fall theme.

The twisted and gnarly 100+ year old oak trees at the garden made these photos totally enchanting …

Chris and Kristen don’t just hold hands for photos .. they’re the kind of couple that holds hands and are affectionate to each other all the time. Which of course, makes our job all the more easier – because their love is so natural and real :)

After we left the gardens, we headed to Manteo where Chris grew up to take some photos around the marina and downtown.

Chris always can make Kristen laugh … he seems to know just the right things to say!

We walked back from the marina to this little vintage movie theater, where the most gorgeous light was shining through – and got some more of our favorite photos.

Chris & Kristen, you two look amazing together.

We had discussed style ideas with Kristen before the shoot (yes, we used Pinterest) – and this was one of the looks she wanted to do. We love it!  Just a little picnic on the beach at Nags Head .. with Harry Potter and some vintage props, flowers, and sandy toes.

Dude. Lookin’ pretty handsome there.

Chris & Kristen are getting married next June … anyone else notice how their wedding date numbers are spaced in threes?

Chris and Kristen, we can’t wait to photograph your wedding next June at The Oaks at Salem! We had so much fun going with you on this road trip adventure and documenting your love. Keep dreaming, loving, and holding hands … together. We know your wedding is going to be just as gorgeous as you two are. :)

Locations: Elizabeth Gardens, Manteo, and Nags Head, NC
Makeup by Michelle Clark.



  1. Reply

    […] and is a beautiful location for any elegant wedding. We’re looking forward to shooting Chris & Kristen’s wedding there next […]

  2. Reply

    […] It was a warm, sunny southern day. Set against the backdrop of The Oaks at Salem (we love this place!), Chris & Kristen’s wedding filled with colorful oranges, yellows, and blues was a heartfelt dedication of their love for each other. They spent the day surrounded by their family & friends who had traveled from literally all over the world (Kristen’s brother came all the way from Singapore!) Family is very important to them, and it was wonderful to see so many family members show up since their family is all separated geographically (Chris is from North Carolina, and Kristen is from Chicago .. see the story of how they met here!) […]

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