One of the joys of being the editor for this site is getting to know the stories behind the photos; to see how our couples came to be, to see how they tick. When so much of the wedding industry focuses on things, it’s an utter privilege to be able to tap into the human side and celebrate the people we feature. Tori and Nano have a great story and it starts (for us) with the winning of a Nice People contest.
Tory and Nano were actually the winners of our 2013 Nice People contest, a contest based on a public vote system for the nicest couple, so they got their wedding photography for free. They created this wedding on a literal shoestring budget, right down to buying the burning used from a couple that were cleaning up their reception when Tory toured the venue.
Let’s get to know Nano and Tory.
Splurging and splendor will probably never be an option for us and that’s okay. Our wedding will be beautiful and joyful, but, out of necessity, it will also have to be somewhat frugal. The theme of our wedding is fun- and it would be truly wonderful to have you there to be a part of it and to help us remember and celebrate each moment.
The one thing I admire most about Tory is her heart. She has the biggest heart I have ever known and can love without restraint. When I say ‘love,’ I mean Tory has this incredible ability to love everyone and everything for simply being alive and apart of this world. Through Tory I have learned how to also open my heart to my world and my community. During college she would take me with her to service events to clean invasive species from parks, collect canned goods for food pantries, and tutor children at elementary schools in Seattle. If not for Tory, I would never have realized the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving and opening my heart to others. I also would never have spent two years of my life as a City Year volunteer, and I would never have discovered my passion and purpose as a teacher.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we moved to the middle of the country in 2010 and joined City Year, an Americorps program that works to end the drop-out crisis in urban schools. It was the most intense experience of our lives as we spent 50 to 60 hours a week tutoring struggling students, breaking up fights, creating behavior programs, running after school classes, putting on Spelling Bees and generally trying to be everything and everywhere in schools that didn’t have the money or staff to provide fully for their students. Then we’d be at the City Year office at least 3 nights a week and most Sundays, trying to catch up on lesson plans, creating flyers and templates, and planning trainings, workshops and appreciations. We made due with a meager stipend and food stamps, sharing a tiny apartment with several roommates. We spent 10 to 12 hours a day with a team of people that sometimes drove us nuts, and were lucky to see each other for an hour each night. We poured our energy into kids with heart-breaking stories, who were more likely to cuss us out than thank us, and who might not have anyone else in their lives telling them they were smart and capable. Needless to say, we totally fell in love with it.
What surprised me was that through all the stress, frustration and sleeplessness, I also fell so much deeper in love with Nano. I had always treasured his gentleness, his romantic side (that beautifully off-sets my overly pragmatic tendencies), his unique insights, his sense of humor, and his thoughtful, open-minded attitude. But it wasn’t until we worked side by side and faced such intense challenges as co-workers, that I learned a whole new level of admiration for him. I suddenly saw him a leader and was so incredibly proud to see him step up to challenges with a confidence and passion that he’d never shown before. Not only that, but he supported me every step of the way, and helped me have faith in my work and in the difference I was making, even on those days I wanted to give up. I might have been what brought him there, but he brought me through it. Seeing how much of himself he was willing to give to improve the lives of others was more than enough to convince me to say ‘YES!’ when he proposed during the fall of our second service year.
As we prepare for our new, married life, we’re also preparing to start our careers. We have decided to dedicate our lives to serving our community by becoming teachers. It’s our passion to work with the most challenging students in the toughest areas, because we believe in the power of education to create change and in the ability of one caring adult to inspire the youth in our community to succeed with confidence. We know this path will not be easy. It will not be paved with gold, but there will be treasures along the way. The treasures ahead of us are not the kind we can hold in our hands or fill our pockets. They are the treasures we will hold in our hearts and will fill our souls with love and purpose. And, most importantly, we will walk along this path of love side by side and share in these treasures together. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Tori and Nano
Kitsap Memorial State Park – Log Hall, Washington
Event Date: August, 2013
Photographer: Amanda Summerlin Photography//Cake Designer: Bella Bella Cupcakes//Invitation Designer: Citrus Press Co. Stationery + Design//Tuxedo and Mens Attire:H&M//DJ: H&M//Dress Store: J. Crew//Reception Venue: Kitsap Memorial State Park – Log Hall//Beauty:Seaport Salon and Spa//