This may be one of the greatest love stories that has impacted me personally.

Claire and I have been friends for over a year now but about 8 months ago is when she became one of my best friends. She entered my life at the most perfect time and when I unknowingly needed her the most. Ever since then we have both been through some roller coaster life rides that most girls in their 20’s go through and she was there with me through all of it. Cooking me dinners, staying with me, constantly checking in on me and just doing what best friends do. 8 months ago I didn’t have a best friend and now I have 10 solid girls that I can honestly say I would do anything for. These are girls I trust more than anything and have taught me so much about self growth and being positive no matter what. Claire, I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me. I look at you all the time and I just think to myself, “What a beautiful person inside and out. This is someone I love so much and I cannot believe I get to have her as one of my best friends.”

When Claire met Read I was so excited (also jealous because wtf.. I was totally losing my wing woman), but when I met Read I was like, “Okay.. he’s amazing.” A few months after they were dating Claire told me, “So.. we may be getting engaged.” And at first I was skeptical so I asked her all the questions best friends are supposed to ask: “Are you sure?” “Am I a bridesmaid? I better be a bridesmaid…”
But then when Read came over and we all discussed their pre-engagement, it became clear. There was a room full of people talking and Read could only stare at Claire. He didn’t care what was being said, all of his focus was on her even though she was talking to other people. I was just staring at them like, “Dang. Yes. This makes sense.”

Read kept me in the loop 100% with his proposal idea while Claire was in Thailand. Messaging me about the ring, coming over to plan how he was going to propose, making sure we both knew how this was going to happen, and telling me every single day how excited he was.

Prior to my leaving for Thailand, Read gave me a white dress that he wanted given to Claire so that she would meet him wearing it for the baptism that they had planned. Claire thought that I was there to photograph the baptism for my blog, but didn’t know I was photographing a proposal.
After not seeing each other for two months, these two baptized each other in the Indian Ocean at the same time to cleanse themselves and start a new life together. As Read was dipping her in the ocean he said, “In the name of all the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers in the waters that meet the lands where all of the families live. We let go of our pasts, look towards the future, and let the water cleanse us from this moment on as we walk together. Claire Hodgson, will you marry me?”

I’m so happy I flew to Thailand to witness and document one of my best friends getting engaged. To photograph a love so strong and such an intense moment for me as a photographer.
Their love has been impacting me for a couple of months now. It’s so forgiving, kind, loving, and nurturing. Unbreakable and nowhere near fragile or weak. It is so pure and it doesn’t hurt others in relationships or cast hatefulness/judgment on other people or those in love, which is the type I’ve seen the people of my past have.
It makes me so happy to see this type of love between two people because I only get excited. It makes me thankful that all the closed doors I once wanted open are now staying closed. Read told me he waited his entire life for Claire and he’s the happiest man in the world now. I’ve never seen two people glow so much.

A few days after the engagement I had some one-on-one time with Claire and we were talking about love. She told me, “When you find the right person, you won’t want to wait to get married. You won’t want to wait at all.”

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Showing 8 comments
  • Scout
    Reply

    This is such an incredible story. I’m glad you, Claire and Read shared it with us. Good luck to all of you in everything you do. And Stephanie, those photos are ah-mazing! I love the black and white in the street. Congrats all!

  • Jessica Alsip
    Reply

    This is incredible Stephanie!!!!

  • Jacqueline
    Reply

    This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

  • MARY R ADMIRE
    Reply

    My heart swells with happiness for you two

  • Erica
    Reply

    This is literally the most beautiful story ever and the photos captired following it make it even more amazing!!

    • Erica
      Reply

      Captured*

  • Liz
    Reply

    This is so magical. Thank you for sharing! Love you Read! Can’t wait to meet Claire!

  • Leslie Holt
    Reply

    This is AMAZING!! Congrats to you both!! ❤️❤️❤️

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