The Place: The Dalles Oregon
The Church: The Old St. Peter Landmark the Dalles Oregon
The Venue: Civic Auditorium
The Couple: Melissa and Christian
The Photographer Oregon Wedding Photographer : Juan Carlos Torres
We had the priviledge of photographing Melissa and Christian wedding in the Dalles Oregon. Melissa and Christian story is incredible and their strength and courage as human beings is extraordinary.
We thought that only Melissa could tell their unique story.
After 13 years of close friendship, I learned that Christian was going to be deployed to Iraq. Without second thought, I drove the five hours to Oregon to spend some time with him and see him off. I was very upset that he would be leaving and I didn’t want him to go without saying goodbye.
While he was in Texas preparing for Iraq, we wrote letters and I sent him care packages. We were close friends despite being miles away, and I always looked forward to getting a letter or postcard in the mail. One day in August 2004, I received a special letter from Christian asking if I would like to join him on a trip to the east coast during his leave. He would be boarding a plane for Iraq right after this trip, so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to spend more time with him before he went overseas. November 5-11th, 2004, we had our first kiss, and fell in love. It took 13 long years for us to finally get to this point, and he would be leaving for a dangerous place soon. We were devastated. After only a month, and numerous calls and letters from Iraq, we were talking about getting married. We toyed with the idea of getting married on his two-week leave, which would be in the spring, but we worried about time constraints (and surprised parents, too!) After much prayer, we deicided to go ahead and elope on his leave, which would end up being the best decision we have ever made. March 9th, 2005, we were married in Las Vegas, and will always remain a day we will never forget.
Not even three months later, June 3, 2005, Christian was hit by an IED in Iraq, and I received a phone call indicating he had been injured–two broken legs. New to the army family, I had no idea what to expect. I cried and waited, not knowing the severity, not knowing where he was. Hours later, I received another phone call, this time more devastating: two amputated legs and a severely injured left arm. I now know what it means to feel truly helpless and heartbroken. This news was shocking and literally brought me to my knees. I hadn’t even heard from him yet. I didn’t know the details or how he had suffered…I didn’t know when I would see him, or if I would receive yet another more devastating phone call. I was in shock and I leaned heavily on Jesus.
I heard from Christian two days later: a phone call from a hospital bed in Germany. He was hysterically sobbing, and didn’t think I’d love him anymore. He needed reassurance and soft words. I didn’t know if I could be what he needed me to be, but I knew I had to be. We believe that marriage is for life. It is a choice that cannot be taken back, no matter WHAT happens. It is a covenant made before God. So with much prayer and strength from the Lord, I packed my bags and flew to Washington DC to meet my new husband and begin our new life. I had no idea how to care for an amputee. This was something no one ever expects, nor are we taught to deal with.
When I arrived at the hospital, Christian told me his story. I learned that he had been pinned in his humvee for 45 minutes and thought he was going to die. He had suffered immense pain of mangled legs without any pain medication. He had told his comrades to tell me how much he loved me, and he had begged the doctors to tie his wedding ring around his wrist before going into surgery. To know that someone you love so much suffered such great trauma is heartwrenching.
During his rehabilitation (which still continues) Christian battled severe pain and multiple surgeries. He battled anger, depression, and fear. And I had was forced to take on roles in our marriage I thought I would never have to take: decision making (important ones!), around the clock caregiving, and protecting. I learned to stick up for myself and for Christian. I learned how to be our own advocate. I learned how to truly love.
Now, almost 10 months later, Christian walks perfectly with prosthetics. You would never know he has two prosthetic legs if he were wearing pants. He walks without a limp, despite having his right leg amputated above the knee, and his left amputated below the knee. He tries so hard and remains so strong. We are looking forward to running with President Bush within the next few months at the White House.
Last month, on March 11, we renewed our vows to each other and held a large wedding ceremony, this time for our family and friends. It was tear-filled and beautiful.
We asked Sandra & Juan Carlos to cover our wedding, and we are so glad we did. This day was to be so very special for us, more so than a regular wedding would have been, and we wanted every emotion captured. Sandra & Juan Carlos were so very patient and understanding with us, as Christian really cannot lean down or pick me up for any “special” poses. They were absolutely FANTASTIC and did everything we requested and more. They sent more pictures than promised and did so in a timely manner. We would recommend them to anyone.
This is truly an inspirational story. And the pictures are gorgeous. You have captured their love for one another beautifully. I spend so much time on photography web pages and I am so lucky to have come across yours. Thank you for sharing their story.
Juan Carlos and Sandra
The wedding blog is beautiful–thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication! It is clear that you are both passionate about what you do.
We are in the process of picking out photos. Things are a little hectic right now, but I promise, we are trying–there are just so many excellent ones to choose from! We haven’t forgotten and are so excited to see our wedding album when it’s finished!
Anyway, just wanted to give you an update 🙂 Take care, and we pray you had a blessed Easter!
Melissa and Christian
What a truly wonderful story of your lifes. Christian thank you for your service to our nation and the sacrafices that you and your wife have made. Juan Carlos and Sandra did our daughters wedding on memorial weekend and it was truly amazing! Best of wishes on your life together.
?you guys look so happy! keep it up and things will only get better and better… i am praying for you guys always.
OMG! these pictures are great! I used to know christian way back when i still live in The Dalles! you are the best and i hope you guys have a great life…. your look so pretty and handsome! good luck