Monday, January 3, 2011

My own love story...

This past year I've had the privilege to travel all over North America to photograph others' love stories. In May I flew to Georgia to photograph my friends Lydia and Leland's wedding; probably 12 hours after my first date with my now to be wife, Andrea! Here's our story!

Seeing that I'm 32 years old, I've waited quite awhile for a love like this...

Over the course of those 32 years I've spent an untold amount of time pining away for love. A love that made me feel: manly, satisfied, respected, cherished and content. I'd prayed and whined to God numerous times. I'd run out of ink journaling about being lonely, or how I longed for this remarkable love. Quite honestly I'd made many a mistake while in pursuit of love. I'd spent way too many times crying in the shower, or nursing a broken heart. One could say that I was "looking for love in all the wrong places", but I really think it was more my impatience and non-reliance on the Lord that got me into those predicaments. Through this I developed a jadedness towards love. It was a weird dichotomy that I lived out; I longed for love but I didn't trust it.

"Love will not break your heart
but dismiss your fears" 
-Mumford & Sons

So without dragging you into an swirling tale of my dating-life, I'll get right on with my (true) love story...  While I never went on many blind-dates, I still have frightening and funny stories from them. So when my friend Kareena began telling me she wanted to set me up with her "gorgeous" and God-loving physical therapist I honestly wasn't stoked on the thought. It has never been my closest of friends that have tried to set me up. Kareena kept at it though, telling me about how awesome Andrea is. In the mean while Kareena was telling Andrea how great I am.

On May 17th I hosted one of my monthly Indie Movie Nights. This one was a little different. Ok. REALLY different! It was a theme party. Specifically: "White Trash". Friends came in elaborate costumes or what they wore to work (ha ha ha). We watched "A Day Without a Mexican" while eating tacos. Classic and by far... Classy.

I've skipped the most important part though. Kareena had invited Andrea. Kareena swears she told me prior to the party that Andrea had been invited but I don't remember that. I'm prepping the house and the food and Kareena tells me, "Oh by the way Andrea is coming tonight." Thankfully I was too busy to freak out about it, and a short time later I heard the doorbell ring. Kareena gave me a little knowing and reassuring smile when I went down to answer the door. Mind you I was wearing a Miller Highlife hat (with built in bottle opener in the bill), a Nascar type shirt with the sleeves cut off, and "jorts" (i.e. jean shorts). I opened the door and found my now fiancee standing there. I thought "WOW!" She was beautiful and that wasn't because of her swanky Bass Pro Shop hat or "I think your tractor's sexy" t-shirt.

My Indie Movie Nights are a very busy time for me while I'm trying to be a good host. I really didn't get much time to talk to Andrea, but made the effort to sit next to her while we watched the slightly funny but God-aweful movie. People began filtering out and heading home after the film wrapped up because it was a work night. I'm pretty sure that I told Andrea that it was nice meeting her, BUT, I didn't ask her for her number. Moments after she was gone I realized what an idiot I was. I text messaged Kareena telling her I needed Andrea's phone number STAT. She replied saying that she knew I'd be asking for it. With Andrea's number in hand I immediately called her. None of that waiting two days (or whatever rule you follow) for me.

I told Andrea that it was great meeting her, and thanked her for coming to my party when she really didn't know anyone. Then I jumped right to the point. I told her that I'd love to get to know her better, and asked her if she would like to go out three days later (May 20th). I wanted to do it right this time. Too many times I'd told someone I'd been interested in, "We should hang out sometime." So lame and non-commital... Our first date was at Thai Basil, and I knew Andrea had to be awesome if she loved Asian food :)

Over the past 7+ months I've fallen more in love with her everyday. Thankfully she had the patience to put up with me moving slowly. As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, I'd had my heart broken way too many times. While this often didn't cause me to pursue relationships cautiously, I knew that Andrea was incredible and I wanted so desperately to not screw things up by being too hasty. I joke about waiting to kiss her until we got married, but the wait did seem like forever. Two months and three days to be exact. I'm positive I've never waited that long to kiss someone. It was definitely worth the wait.

I hope you're still reading, I tend to get long winded when I write. The best part (i.e. the engagement story) is coming up I swear.

This summer flew by, but we spent many a day getting to know each other while out hiking 14ers, biking, walking, camping, hanging out with friends, teaching her how to skank (i.e. ska dancing) and even watching The Devil Wears Prada at Heaven Fest. Andrea was definitely not a fan of TDWP, and really didn't know any of the bands at the festival, but knowing that she was there merely to be with me won me over even more. Sundays have been one of our favorite days of the week, because we've both had the day off. We spend Sunday afternoons hanging out, and then make the drive to Denver to goto an intercity church named Scum of the Earth Church. We had many a stretching talk on the way to or from our little church.

Several weeks ago I enlisted Andrea's best friend, Caitlin, and sister, Alecia, to help me get the scoop on Andrea's expectations for her engagement and ring. The funny thing is Caitlin got engaged on Christmas Eve and her fiance, Justin, had Andrea spying for him. So after many emails, and hours of searching the internet things began coming together.

On December 21st Andrea's ring arrived!

It was sooo hard not to pop the question on a regular date night. And also to not seem too excited. I didn't want to give it away. She knew our engagement was coming because we had already selected a wedding date, and were under contract for the venue. This is due to the way our scheduling and vacation picks work at my job. We had things a little backwards there for awhile but now we're like normal people.

I planned a scavenger hunt for Andrea. It initially had her going to memorable places here in the Colorado Springs area, and then winding up in Denver. Seeing that we live in Colorado, and the joke is "if you don't like the weather just wait five minutes"; I thought the scavenger hunt could really backfire if we had a horrible winter storm come through, so I modified the route to keep it local. Andrea thought she and I were going to a late lunch with her family on New Year's Day. This was sort of her idea, and through the art of Inception, I used that thought to further my secret plan. She had suggested that we all do "something" while we were driving back from our Christmas in Illinois. Everyone but Andrea knew my engagement plans, complete with a surprise party following the proposal. I suggested that we could "maybe do a late lunch?" Later I asked her sister to tell Andrea where we were "going" for lunch, just to make it appear that it wasn't my idea.

At 3pm, Alecia showed up at Andrea's house. Andrea was expecting me so this really caught her off guard, and when Alecia presented the first scavenger hunt envelope Andrea knew 01-01-11 was not an ordinary day. That first envelope had a list of rules for the scavenger hunt, the first clue and a CD of awesome love songs.

Over the next close to two hours Andrea followed the clues around The Springs. They took her to our first date spot, where we went mountain biking for the first time, a totally random location to remind her about a fun day we had with her family, our first kiss spot, and finally to the last stop where we had gone hiking on her birthday in October. This was Waldo Canyon between Manitou Springs and Cascade Colorado. It is a such a beautiful place. When she arrived there, I had posted another clue card which read, "FIFTH STOP. FINAL STOP. COME AND GET ME."

I had been waiting on this overlook about 1/4 of a mile from the parking lot. It was oh, about 13 degrees without windchill and well below zero with the blustery winds. I wanted to look stylish so I hadn't worn a ton of layers or heavy clothing but thankfully I had worn a down jacket. As hypothermia was setting in I saw Andrea running towards me, as fast as she could safely on the snow packed trail. When she got closer she waved to me and I waved back with a hand that I couldn't feel.

She got to the overlook and I held her close. I was literally freezing and I didn't want to keep her out in the cold too long so after a couple of short minutes I told her. "I tell you that I love you everyday, but today is a different day, and I want to tell you in a different way." (I swear I hadn't practiced this, it just came to me ha ha). As I got down on my right knee I pulled the sweet wooden ring box from my pocket, opened it and said, "Andrea will you be my wife?" She started saying "Oh my gosh!" Over and over, and then with tears in the corner of her eyes she said "YES!"

I forgot to put the ring on her finger because I was so excited. I stood up and began hugging and kissing her. Andrea quickly reminded me that I needed to put the ring on her hand. She thought it was so beautiful. Seeing that we were both about to die on the top of the mountain, we started heading back down the trail. Andrea was literally skipping and yelling "We're engaged!"

Her best friend and her new fiance met us at the parking lot to congratulate us and pick up Andrea's car. I then burned some time at Starbucks, then headed to my house. On the way I told her that I had dinner in the oven. We arrived and headed upstairs where to her great surprise about 40 of our closest friends, and her family was waiting. She was in absolute shock to see everyone there. And I even had a surprise visitor. An old roommate and one of my "brothers", Paul, had come out from California.

So there you have it! Like I said. A long winded story. And just imagine, this is merely the start of a life long story!!!

I love you Andrea! You are my beautiful fiancee, my true love and come May 29th will be my wife!

"Love it will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
it will set you free"
-Mumford & Sons

(1st, 3rd and 9th photos taken by Elizabeth Weitz ©2010)


  1. oh my GOSH. Sooooooooo sweet!! Tim, I'm beyond-words excited for you and Andrea!!

  2. This is so awesome! I love every aspect of this story!


  3. i l.o.v.e. this tim! i'm so very excited for you!!!!!

  4. Aww, I started tearing up. Thank You, Lord for true love that is truly worth the long journey to get there. Congrats! So happy for you guys!

  5. awww sooo awesome!!! I'am so happy for you, God has blessed you!

  6. I promised myself I wouldn't cry! Dangit Tim, why do you have to be such a sap? :-) I'm glad you trusted God (and me!) and I could not be happier for both of you if I tried! Much love my friend!

  7. Love the story, Tim. Can't wait to see God work through the two of you together!

    Additionally, May is a FANTASTIC month to get married, especially in the last third of the month. ; )

  8. This was so great!!! Something Andrea will treasure forever. Having your story written down is priceless. Love you Tim and I am SO happy that my friend found you. Many many years of happiness!!

  9. The Mercier/Kippel love story is one of the most beautiful and beautifully documented "love stories" imaginable and this is just the beginning! God bless both of you, your marriage and your forever journey! I couldn't be happier for you!

  10. Awwwwwww yeah! Don't worry, I already called ahead and had them reserve my tux as the best man (from florida named Jon Jon). Woot.

  11. Awwwww! Thanks for sharing this with us, Tim!!! Many many congrats! <3

  12. Timmmm....I LOVE YOU. Not to mention...since you are sooooo amazing at writing and taking photos that means I don't have to do it!!! Thanks for writing this, our love story. I don't want to be on this journey with anyone but you.

    The Future Mrs. Kippel

  13. tim...I am Andrea's cousin and I loved reading your story and seeing the photos. congratulations ~ I am so happy that you have made her so happy! can't wait to meet you!

  14. Congrats, my friend. I'm so excited to meet her!!!