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Inspiration

Paula and Michael met in 2013 doing what they love best, traveling! They were both enjoying a cruise with their families, not knowing that the Carnival Liberty would change their lives forever. Simply put, Michael says that Paula caught his eye on the cruise and after that, he had to meet her! Likewise, Michael caught Paula's eye since he is an identical twin, so she thought she kept seeing him everywhere on the ship. One night, Michael introduced himself and they were inseparable every day of the trip after that. Five years later and now this pair has fulfilled their destiny by getting hitched. As they enjoy their days of wedded bliss, we wanted to take a look down memory lane to admire Paula and Michael's cozy garden engagement session, captured by In His Image Photography.

Bride's full name, age and occupation: Paula Daniels, 27, U.S. Air Force 

Groom's full name, age and occupation: Michael Crudup, 27, Behavioral Health 

Place of residence: New Jersey

Engagement Shoot Location: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina

Wedding date: August 11, 2018

Engagement story:

So for the proposal, Michael wanted to take it back to where it all started, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So yes, we took another cruise with our families. At dinner one night, Michael had everyone there tell the story of how they met their significant other and when it got to us, I told my version of our story. When I was done Michael told the table how much I meant to him and that he couldn't see himself without me. Next thing I knew, he was on a single bended knee with a beautiful ring! 

For the Groom: Walk us through the behind the scenes of creating this special day.

June 26, 1018. I knew I wanted that day to mean something. I wanted all aspects of our engagement to have a deeper connection than me just getting down on one knee and simply asking her. I found it amazing and I still do that I ran into my soulmate at sea. It felt only right to ask her to stick by my side forever at sea as well. On the cruise we met, one night we skipped dinner with our families and ate with each other. I figured that by going on a cruise and asking at dinner provided me with the deeper connection I was looking for. With the help of my father, I planned a family vacation that her sister was able to go on. With members from both sides of the family preset at dinner, I pulled out her ring and took a knee. Although I knew she'd say yes or kid around and respond with something like, "It's about time!" But my heart was racing 100 miles-per-second. I really thought at one point that they had turned the AC off. She answered my question with an, "Of course," and a kiss to seal the deal. 


What makes your love special? 

Paula: Michael and I clicked right away. You hear people talking about finding their better half and that's exactly how I would describe our relationship. Within a couple months of dating, I truly felt the love. We encourage each other to be the best we can, and strive to be great at all we do. We let each other know when the other is in the wrong but still show support as we figure things out. Having someone in your corner like that is priceless. We help each other be better people of the world, and work together to do the same for our daughter. Our love is timeless and I can't wait until forever!

Michael: For me it's simple, Paula introduced me to a type of love that that couldn't be duplicated by the best of them. With her, I feel like a young black king. She allows me to take the lead when it comes to our family, but as my queen she steps in when she feels she needs to. Watching her be a mother to our daughter has sealed the deal. I absolutely love my mother, but watching her be a mom is one the most sexiest aspects about her. Since I've met Paula, I don't know what a day feels like without her. We did the long distance thing for about a year and a half before I made the move to be with her. During that time, a foundation was built so strong that as we continue to build our empire on that foundation, I have complete faith it won't crumble. 

What was the theme of your shoot? 

Mike is originally from North Carolina, while I am not to familiar with it, I have heard of Duke before. Mike told me one day about Duke Gardens and I looked it up online. I thought it was beautiful, but still wasn't sure. Then mike came up with the idea of wearing trench coats and I loved it! I thought the gardens plus the concept would be perfect together. The session turned out amazing!


Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

Honestly, the entire shoot was memorable. Walking through the garden laughing, cracking jokes on each other and sharing our story in detail to Dajuan made for a great day. There was a certain moment in the Asia section of the garden where Dajuan made a comment that I was looking too serious while he was shooting us. Paula leaned over and whispered something into my ear that made me show all 32 teeth to the camera. I want to repeat what she said but every time I see that photo I can feel her lips up against my ear talking crazy. It's truly amazing how someone can just bring out the best in you so effortlessly. 

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding? 

On October 31, 2016, I and Mike welcomed a baby girl into the world. Her name is Amari and she is such a blessing. She is a ball of sass, but so sweet at the same time. We have enjoyed raising her thus far and are excited to continue seeing her grow and learn. As the wedding approaches, I am excited to make our family whole and join my fiance and daughter with the last name of Crudup. She is also our flower girl and I can't wait to see her make her way down the aisle!


Have you started planning your wedding?

Yes, we did. We got married on August 11, 2018. We did most of the planning ourselves. Our photographer and wedding day coordinator suggested various vendors to us. Mike and I were able to plan out what shaped up to be an amazing day for us. At that point, everything was booked and planned and we ironed out minor details. We couldn't wait to enjoy the day, but more importantly, we couldn't wait to say "I do!"


Congratulations to the happy couple! We wish you a fruitful wedding, marriage, and a smooth parenthood journey.