Anniversary Session with Payton and Shayla

Anniversary sessions might be my new favorite thing.

Just like an engagement session, an anniversary session captures a specific moment in time, not to mention the type of love that only comes after years of the work, play, and fun of marriage.


Payton and Shayla met each other when they were just 14, but they lost touch and reconnected on Facebook 7 years later. By the time they reconnected, Payton had graduated basic training and airborne school and was stationed in Alaska.

After only two weeks of talking and Skyping, Payton told Shayla she would one day be his wife.


Five months later, Payton proposed. I’ll let Shayla tell that part because she does it best:

Come June 2014, Payton’s mom, grandma and I headed to the airport to pick up Payton, who was coming home on leave. I wanted to surprise him by being at the gate when he got off the airplane.

Little did I know that he already knew that I was going to be standing out there — he had gotten the entire family in on his proposal plan!

We made our way to the escalators in DIA where people wait for their loved ones. All of a sudden I saw his family and part of my family standing there waiting for us. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

When we looked up, his younger sisters had signs that said “Mr. and Mrs.,” “Will you marry me?” and “Mission accomplished!” The entire airport saw and applauded when we were done! It was perfect!

The next day, we got married. It was a small little dinner at Olive Garden with our family there. It’s unique that we were married in an Olive Garden — we love telling people where we were married.


When I asked Shayla what has surprised her about marriage, she told me one of the most surprising things was how much fun it was — how many times you fall in love with your spouse:

I always think there is no possible way I could love him more than at this moment, but I’m always wrong. I fall in love with him more and more every day. There are always new surprises around every corner, and our life is anything but dull.


She also shared how difficult it can be to be an army wife — lots of dinners alone, lonely nights, and being away not just from your husband but also from your family. But the upside is it makes them appreciate the time they do have together:

I still get butterflies when I go to pick up Payton from being in the field for days or even weeks.

She also shared how insanely proud she is of her husband for serving our country — to which I have to say thank you to Payton and also to Shayla too for the sacrifices they are both making for our country.


It was impossible not to notice the 40’s vibe of Payton and Shayla’s session. If you ask Shayla, she’ll be over-the-moon happy to talk about it!

My 40’s obsession :) I could go on and on about it. I’ve always loved everything about the 40’s — the fashion, the music, everything! 

She sees it as paying respect to an entire generation of strong and beautiful women who worked tirelessly on the home front while their husbands were away.

They did so much for their households and the country while the men were gone and still had time to look fabulous! I love it!


When we met for photos, Payton shared that he had just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, jumping out of airplanes at the 72nd D-Day Celebration in Sainte-Mère-Église, France — a huge honor!

Even though Shayla didn’t get to go with him this time, she gets as excited as Payton does about sharing the details:

I think Payton’s favorite thing about France was being where history was written. He got to see Omaha beach; he walked in the footsteps of the band of brothers from 101st Easy Company. And the way the French people are so grateful to the American paratroopers — they still honor today’s paratroopers. He said everywhere you look there was a French flag flying and right next to it would be an American flag!

The entire time he was there, he would text me, saying, “Babe, you would love this!” and “There is so much 40’s stuff here!” Whenever we talk about it, he always says he can’t wait till we go together.


Right now Payton and Shayla are already planning their 5-year wedding renewal, which lands on the 75th D-Day celebration in Sainte-Mère-Église, and heading off to France for their real honeymoon!

Not only is seeing a marriage grow stronger over the years such a beautiful thing, but I love hearing couple’s love stories from the perspective of a few years down the road. I hope you enjoy Shayla and Payton’s story and photos as much I do!



  • Sarah G - August 18, 2016 - 9:37 am

    Your tones are just amazing! And her shoes and the whole session is so beautiful. Great intimate perspective!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 12:14 pm

      Aw, thanks, Sarah!! That means so much!ReplyCancel

  • Kim Rodgers - August 18, 2016 - 9:40 am

    HER SHOES! This is beautiful- what a cute couple. You did a great job Michele!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 12:13 pm

      I know! Those shoes are everything!! :) Thank you for your sweet words, Kim!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - August 18, 2016 - 1:10 pm

    I love these so much! What a fantastic idea.ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 4:38 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! I agree — I think everyone should do an anniversary session … or a few over the years. :)ReplyCancel

  • Larissa - August 18, 2016 - 2:23 pm

    These are seriously precious! I love her outfit choices and the photos of him carrying her shoes. So cute!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 4:37 pm

      Larissa, you are so sweet. Thank you!! They are definitely a class act.ReplyCancel

  • What a fun session!! Their outfits are so classy, and those shoes and just too cute! Beautiful work.ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 4:37 pm

      Thanks, Ashley! And I agree about their outfits — I am kind of obsessed with them!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Willy Wilson - August 18, 2016 - 5:27 pm

    Anniversary photography session – what a great idea! Beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 7:07 pm

      Thanks, Willy! Wish I could take credit for the idea … but I do hope I can do more! :)ReplyCancel

  • Abigail - August 18, 2016 - 5:32 pm

    Great photos Michele! Anniversary sessions are the best, and they will definitely cherish these!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 7:06 pm

      Aw, thank you so much, Abigail! I hope to do more of them — they are so special!ReplyCancel

  • lindsay - August 18, 2016 - 6:14 pm

    Oh my lanta! what a beautiful session, I am in love with her vintage vibe and sweet smile. you captured this beautifully!!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 18, 2016 - 7:08 pm

      Thank you for your sweet comments, Lindsay!! Isn’t her vintage vibe the best? I love her smile too — and the way they look at each other!ReplyCancel

  • Keziah Kelsey - August 19, 2016 - 7:58 am

    So adorable, what a cute couple and I LOVE those stockings!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 19, 2016 - 8:59 am

      Thanks, Keziah!! I know — aren’t they so fun?ReplyCancel

  • Rayna McGinnis - August 23, 2016 - 9:12 am

    What a fun session! I totally LOVE her style!ReplyCancel

    • admin - August 23, 2016 - 9:32 am

      Thank you, Rayna! I agree!! Wish I could pull it off — Shayla definitely has “the look.” :)ReplyCancel

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