Engagement photo contest - Y'all need to vote!

Introducing the three fabulous finalists for the Engagement Photo giveway: details here. It was difficult for me to choose - thanks to everyone that entered! In random order:

1. Angelica and Bret:

I chose these guys because they're ultra cute and funny, and frankly, I'm kind of a sucker for animals!

ang_bret_engagementAngelica writes:

"We've been together for almost 5 years. Bret is the older brother of a close friend of mine. Though we met when I was about 18, there was no love connection until I was in my early twenties and he was in his early thirties. Bret is over a decade older than me, but that has never really been an issue in our relationship. It may have something to do with the fact that even though he's almost 40, he still gets asked for id when he goes into a liquor store. We're not always on the same page when it comes to musical taste, and sometimes he makes references to TV shows I've never seen...'All in the Family'? What's that? But those generational differences never cause big problems.

The one thing we have had to work through that makes us fundamentally different is that I am a total dog lover and he is a cat person through and through - hence the picture I chose to submit.

Early on our relationship we'd go to the off-leash park on dates because Bret hadn't let me know he wasn't a huge dog fan. He realized right away that my dog Sadie is very very important to me. Sadie is very well trained and somewhat cat-like so her and Bret ended up hitting it off - luckily! When we added a kitten to the mix things became complicated. Dax is a huge trouble maker who sheds like crazy and gets into everything, but Bret was in love with his new kitty. Somehow the little bugger realized that in order to win my heart he had to be more dog-like. So we have a cat that plays fetch!

P.S. I'm still working on convincing Bret that Sadie should be the ring-bearer at our wedding..."

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2. Bryn and Jason:

I chose these guys because long distance love is tough, and they're troopers for getting through it! Bonus points for entitling the email "Bryn+Jason=Awesome" and continuing the awesome theme throughout.

bryn_jasonBryn writes:

"We met for the first time in Mexico at our friends' wedding in May of 2005.  I thought Jason was pretty cute and super nice but he lived in Kelowna; so I thought it would never work.  He thought I was an "awesome girl" and thought that it would never work since I lived in Edmonton.

A further reason that we are awesome is that we are "folkies".  The same year as the Mexico wedding Jason came to Folk Fest and we had some further hanging out time...still both awesome; still afraid of long distance.  He came to Folk Fest again in 2006... still both awesome; still enjoying hanging out; still not into long distance.  In 2007 we were a couple of inseparable folkies and finally at the very last set of the whole weekend he kissed me... and then he had to leave.

There was some emailing and phoning that went on and then he told me he was going to Calgary with friends; so he might as well come up to Edmonton to take me out on a date.  He tried to make it sound like he was kind of down the street and it wouldn't be a big deal.  So he had this stellar date planned.  We went to Fantasyland, and went on all kinds of rides.  Then he had tickets for the dinner theatre.  It was the most fun date ever.  We hung out all weekend, went for nice walks; played at a couple of parks and had some great meals.  The awesomeness was totally awesome.

We became frequent flyers.  We saw each other about once a month for a few days at a time. He flew over to visit at Christmas and hung out with my family.  I cried my eyes out every time he would leave.  Finally after six months of flying back and forth, he decided to move here.  I was obscenely happy.  Good thing, because I turned 30 that April; so I needed a reason to be obscenely happy. We moved in together and things just worked.

We lived happily for a year and then decided to buy a house.  We are not so rich; so this was a big deal for us.  We found a fixer-upper in a pretty nice neighbourhood and bought it for an awesome price (more awesome-ness).  We removed the conditions on our house on the Tuesday, and on Friday he proposed!  WOW!  So we were moving and packing and reno-ing all summer...and will be for the next hundred years.  We also got some awesome new twin nephews in May and an awesome new niece in August.  We have been busy.  Our house is a disaster and our wedding planning is totally behind schedule (less awesome maybe) but we are still in love.  I even love him when he smells bad and he even loves me when I snore.  We love each other in crazy reno living conditions and while doing most of the renos ourselves.  He even came to a bridal show with me (I did play up the man room, but still, he came)."

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3. Amanda and Chris:

amandachris_waste

I chose Amanda and Chris because this is one extra hilarious and well-told love story. I grinned and even "lol-led" once or twice.

Chris and Amanda also included a lovely photo of the two of them in the mountains, but I chose this one for reasons that will become apparent after you read below:

Amanda writes:

"We met two years ago, December 15, 2006. I remember it so vividly. It was 4:33PM, and the Alberta sun had set. The stars were out but you wouldn’t have known they were there; furious prairie winds were tossing snow everywhere, obscuring all vision. It was an average winter’s day in Edmonton. We were strangers who happened to be customers of the same bank, waiting in the bank foyer after successfully completing our transactions. We both made futile attempts hailing cabs to get us out of the blizzard. The bank closed its doors, forcing us to seek shelter inside a phone booth. I caught him staring at me. I was cupping my hands over my ears to keep them warm. I inherited protruding ears; they’re more prone to frostbite. I explained this to him. He said his name was Christopher. He said his hands were warm and asked if he could help me cup my ears, so I said, “That’s weird, but OK.” So he cupped my ears/face, and his hands were not warm, what a liar, but we locked eyes anyway. Then he said something like, “Let me be your hero.” I’m not entirely sure—my ears were covered.

Yes. Ah yes. It was love at first sight. I knew he felt the same way because his tongue began wrestling my tongue. For the record, my tongue was the winner. That was our first kiss: the phone booth on Jasper Avenue during a snowstorm.

That is the story we told our families and those of the 50+ church-going crowd, except the version we tell is more the rated G kind. In reality, we met at a classmate’s home, pre-drinking before going to The Bank (Ultra Lounge). We found ourselves standing next to the kitchen garbage can, peering over top of it and expressing our dislike for the empty Kleenex box that had been discarded inside. We both agreed that the offender ought to have simply taken the care to flatten out that delicate box and placed it in a recycling bin. After all, there is no excuse for not recycling in a city such as Edmonton, home to one of the best recycling facilities in the world. It’s true.

That was our first conversation, and it branched out from there all the way to closing time, on Jasper Avenue outside The Bank. We were unable to convince any of the passing cab drivers to stop for us (might have had to do with the girl next to us, puking in the snow bank). We stepped inside a phone booth to stay warm. When I asked him what he was doing later that day, he replied, “Spending the day with you, I hope.” We shared our first kiss, which was cut short when a very drunken one-night-stand couple barged into our phone booth, began to make out heavily and bump into us.

A real gentleman, Chris postponed his plans to drive home to Medicine Hat so he could spend the next day with me, buying Christmas gifts on Whyte Avenue. During our second date, he asked me if I was available for a third date on a particular Friday. I was honest and explained that I had already accepted a date with someone else on that Friday. I was afraid this fact would end his interest in me, but he was quick and sharp. He smiled and said, “That means my next date with you will have to be four times better than your date with him.” Chris, however, was impatient, and did not wait for Friday with The Other Guy to arrive before he asked me to be his girlfriend (January 8, 2007).

Our relationship has been punctuated with moments of hilarity and practical teaching. I once surprised him with a Hong Kong style birthday cake decorated with the Chinese characters: Happy Birthday White Man. There was also the weekend we wanted to get away from one another after an argument over what a terrible listener Chris was being. We booked separate ski trips with different trip groups departing that Friday, with mine headed for Kimberley, and his to Jasper. Friday night I spotted a confused Christopher standing outside his rental condo, which was directly across the street from mine. Turns out Chris hadn’t been listening to the ski trip organizer when they announced the trip was to Kimberley, not to Jasper.

On our 50th date, Chris took me on a surprise private tour of a wastewater treatment plant, where I held a piece of filtered human crap (I didn’t know it was such at the time). On display in our bathroom is a photograph of us at the plant. We are standing on a catwalk mounted over a pool of liquid feces. I am close to vomiting from the stench but he wears a big “shit-eating” grin. When our first anniversary arrived, I was (understandably) suspicious, but Chris had a harmless celebration planned. It involved unleashing his secret talent of making balloon animals and an elaborate balloon hat for me.

Chris has learned a few things from me—like how to match his clothes; how to be even more sensitive and more open-minded; better English grammar (e.g. “Sarah and I’s friend” is not proper English); an appreciation for fine arts; a love for Chinese pastries; to redefine the word ‘family’; and what living true to your principles looks like. Through our relationship, I think I gained the most. Chris taught me many life skills people normally learn from their parents. I am not close with my family and avoided learning most of those skills until now. Chris bought me a GPS and taught me how to drive a car. He taught me how to cook—a project still in progress. He taught me how to safely handle a gun; and even how to make a Swiss seat out of rope (in the event I need to rappel down the side of a tall, burning building).

He had to tell me many times that I am not ugly as I have been lead to believe I am. I go outside without wearing makeup. I put on a swimsuit and go swimming. I couldn’t do those things before. Someone who truly loves you does things to help you become more independent and confident.

From watching other people, Chris and I both noticed that at some point in the development of a couple’s relationship, there is a marked time period when both partners are guilty of subconsciously testing the other’s commitment. These tests determine whether you stay together or break up. Our tests began appearing after our first anniversary. One of our most memorable fiery tests was my public meltdown on Whyte Avenue over a pigeon with a broken wing. The pigeon was on the verge of falling off the sidewalk and killing itself in the busy St. Patrick’s Day traffic. I wanted to call a wildlife centre to rehabilitate the bird, but it was midnight and Chris said we were wasting our time. He grabbed my hand to lead me away from the bird. This launched a very loud and impassioned argument on topics from animal euthanasia and religious philosophy on the rights of sentient beings, to the proper names of pathogens the pigeon is known to carry, and other microbiological minutiae. Our shrill, intellectual, street corner debate attracted many curious looks. Eventually a young couple came to the bird’s rescue. The man heroically took off his vest and scooped up the bird inside it. The lady explained they would take it home. This prompted me to turn to Chris and scream, “WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE HIM? I WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT ANIMALS!” We stormed all the way home with Chris testifying of past behaviours to prove his love for animals. At the time it was life of death –for both the pigeon and our relationship. We laugh about The Pigeon Welfare Incident now.

Love conquers all: fears and hang-ups, meltdowns, and setbacks. We’re hoping it will also land us engagement photos! We’ve never had ’glamour couple’ photos before, and we’re the type of couple that likes to do things right the first time, so we did our research and we don’t want any other photographer!"

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And now it's all up to you! Vote for your favorite couple in the comments below! Tell your friends! I can't wait to see how this turns out!

DEADLINE: DEC 10 at midnight MST!