They say when you know you’ve found “the one,” you just know. Mike and Mandy’s story, as told by them, proves that love knows no bounds.

 love knows no bounds.

MANDY: It was back to September 2012, I graduated from a college in China and came to America to visit my dad who was a visiting scholar doing research at UCSD. I met a Chinese girl, Iris, at the airport departure from China to America. She was going to be a freshman in UCSD. We became friends very quickly and she invited me to her orientation.
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

 
I went to orientation with Iris and met another girl, Christina. Christina asked me to sign up  on facebook and add her as friend. So I went back home and added her. Then I was thinking, oh I need more friends here. I went through Christina’s facebook friends list. I saw a picture of a boy wearing a cute hat holding a guitar preforming at a church, he looked very peaceful and looked like there was story in his heart. Of course he is handsome. I went through his facebook page and saw some pictures. I figured out this guy is very artistic, friendly, and romantic. He could be a friend, so I sent him a friend request, introduced myself to him, and wished we could play guitar together.

I saw a picture of a boy wearing a cute hat holding a guitar

It was one day later, he replied back to me.
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Balboa Park, San Diego engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overtrf

 
MIKE: I first encountered Mandy in the form of a Facebook message from a girl I’ve never talked to or seen before. She said she was visiting America from China and wanted to meet new friends. She seemed eager and honest, and I figured it was no harm to befriend her while she stayed in America. I invited her to do some volunteer work the following day, tutoring and playing with refugee children, an activity I partook in on a weekly basis. I picked her up from a mall near where I met up with my tutoring friends. She seemed a little shy as her dad sent her off. She was very quiet but I talked to her and asked her a lot of questions. I don’t know if it was the conversations we had, the songs we sang together while playing with the children, or something else, but I felt a strong connection with her.
 

She seemed eager and honest, and I figured it was no harm to befriend her while she stayed in America.

MANDY:  I found out that he was very different than what American boys were like in my imagination. Also he was very different than Chinese boys. He is cute, but also mature, these two personality combines together attracted me a lot.
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

 

The following days seemed magical

MIKE: The following days seemed magical as we spent every day together. We went to a guitar store, we went to feed the homeless, and we did many other things. In a mere few days, I was confident of my feelings and told her that I loved her and that I wanted her stay to stay in America with me. A week later, after spending more time and talking about it some more, I asked if she would mind if I told me friends she is my girlfriend. She was reluctant at first, but finally agreed. This began our tough but rewarding journey.

MANDY: I realized attraction can’t be the only thing I wanted to marry him for. What was more important was I realized that he is someone I could trust and share my heart with.
 

This began our tough but rewarding journey.

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

 

With her traveling Visa expired, Mandy had to return to China

MIKE:  There were many hardships as the relationship continued, but they were resolved either by sheer willpower or an act of God. With her traveling Visa expired, Mandy had to return to China and finish her college education there. In our time of anxiety before and during her trip back to China, I shared a story from the Bible about a Jacob, a man who loved the daughter of a landowner:

The father told the Jacob he could marry Rachel after working for him for seven years. After seven years passed, he told Jacob to work another seven years. The work was difficult but the Jacob persevered due to his love for the Rachel. Finally after a total of fourteen years of working, Jacob was able to marry Rachel. 
 

I remember telling her that our life together in America begins now.

I told Mandy that because our love was strong, the time she’s going to spend in China until she can come back will feel short. This gave us comfort in our trying times. Mandy was determined to come back, and promptly applied to go to school in San Diego. After a mere four months in China, she broke the good news: she was accepted to a university in San Diego with a degree in Accounting! We were both overjoyed! After visiting Mandy in China during the summer, I only had to wait another week or so before she flew back to rejoin me in America. I remember telling her that our life together in America begins now.
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

 

It was an all or nothing situation.

The plan was always this: after being together for a set amount of time, we would seal the deal with marriage. There was a lot of pressure that came with this as Mandy and I haven’t been dating for a very long time. However, I needed to act quickly before her student’s Visa expired. It was an all or nothing situation. We needed to get married very soon or not at all.

What if Mandy has a dark secret I don’t know about? What if she changes? What if I change?

I pondered about this for a very long time. I was anxious about many things. I didn’t know what the future held. What if Mandy has a dark secret I don’t know about? What if she changes? What if I change? What if she’s actually a Chinese spy sent to steal American government secrets? I decided that the future is unpredictable and I had to act based on everything I knew about the present and with my instincts. I knew that Mandy and I are wonderful for each other and that I love her. Love is not a feeling but a promise. Feelings change, but I felt like I was ready and able to make a promise to Mandy that no matter what the future holds, I will be by her side. And that’s what really counts.

Love is not a feeling but a promise.

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

 

 “I’m looking for a ring. I’m going to ask my girlfriend to marry me.”

So, a little nervous, but moving forward, one day I walked into a jewelry store. The friendly saleswoman turned to me, smiled, and asked, “How can I help you?” I said, “I’m looking for a ring. I’m going to ask my girlfriend to marry me.”
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

 

MANDY: Last year, I was about to graduate in October and Mike said we should celebrate it. He took me to the beach we first went to and sat down to chat with me. Later on he pointed far away and asked me if I saw something there. I saw a bird so I said, “a bird?” He told me to wait there for him. He went far and came back with a bottle, inside held a scrolled letter. He said he found it on the sand and asked me to open it. I opened the bottle and the letter, it says: ”Will you marry me?”
 

”Will you marry me?”

This is also one of the reasons I love him, always gives me surprise:)
 

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf
Balboa Park, San Diego Engagement session by destination wedding photographer, Paige Overturf

San Diego Wedding Photographer, Wilmington Wedding Photographer, Destination Wedding Photographer

 

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  • Rachel Smith - that tree = awesome.

    Great session!! per usual ;)ReplyCancel

love. it’s a curious thing.

 

You may remember Christian and Melissa from that time they climbed a palm tree or when they danced in the hot sand under swaying palms.

 

This time, we hiked along the infamous red dirt of Guam amidst sword grass and mountain tops.

 

I love how completely taken they are with each other. love, it’s a curious thing. 

 

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer
Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer
Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer

Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf. Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer
Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf.  Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf.  Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf.  Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf.  Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer.
San Carlos Falls Guam Couple Session by Destination Wedding Photographer, Paige Overturf.  Wilmington, North Carolina Wedding Photographer.

Guam Wedding Photographer, Wilmington Wedding Photographer, Destination Wedding Photographer

 

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Family and the military. They hold a common bond, a pride and a loyalty.

 

Growing up in the military brings you closer together as a family. It isn’t easy saying goodbye to your dad for months at a time. It isn’t easy picking up every few years and moving to a new place. It isn’t easy saying goodbye to friends and always being the new kid. It isn’t easy. 

 

But as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy. Through all the deployments and moving, family is right there next to you. Stronger relationships are built because you don’t have a choice but to go through it together. And there is nothing, nothing, better than have best friends you get to call family.

 

What an honor to photograph this gorgeous family! Thank you for your service, your commitment, and your sacrifice.

 

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Guam family session by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

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The smell of saltwater danced through the air and the sun toasted us from above. After loading everything onto the boat we departed from Merizo Pier on the southern tip of Guam. The boat picked up speed, sending the girls long hair blowing in every direction.

 

A mini “off-island” adventure on Cocos Island was about to be had!

 

I love that the Wilson family opted for a lifestyle session! “This is what we do here,” Mindy said, “You captured everything I love about our time and our children as we live on Guam.”

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf
Lifestyle session at Cocos Island on the island of Guam by destination photographer, Paige Overturf

 

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*knock! knock!* It was faint, definitely the knock of a small hand, unsure if I was awake or not. A little head full of curly locks could be seen through the slightly open door. “Good morning, Auntie Paige!”
 
Do you remember the beach babes wearing striped bikini’s in Hawaii a year ago? Those girls welcomed “Auntie Paige” to Hawaii last fall with colorful signs and big hugs. Their family was an incredible blessing to me, opening their home with warm hospitality while I was in Hawaii.
 
Every morning I was greeted with a cheery good morning. On the nights I was home in time, we laid on the bedroom floor as their mom read a goodnight book.

Even thought I’ve only known the Beissel family for a year, I feel like a proud auntie watching them during hula lessons, hearing how well they did at school, and braiding the girl’s thick hair. 

 
Thank you, Steffanie, not only for being an amazing hostess while I was in Hawaii, but also for including me as part of your family.  
 
Mahalo!
 
 

China Man

China Man

China Man

China Man

China Man
China Man

China Man

China Man
China Man
China Man
China Man

China Man
China Man
China Man

China Man
China Man
China Man

China Man
China Man

China Man

China Man
China Man
China Man
China Man

 

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