One could say that Forrest and Michael’s attraction for each other might have been as hot as the fireplace they were constructing for a Christmas competition—or you can just see it for yourself in their Gruene engagement session.

gruene engagement session couple walking arm in arm beside the river just as the sun is setting by San Antonio TX Wedding Photographer Tammy Blalock

They met as coworkers working together to decorate their fire station for a Christmas competition. Michael was put in charge of tearing pieces of tape so that Forrest could turn the laundry closet into a paper mâché fireplace.

He tolerated my bossiness incredibly well. We quickly made plans to go on a ski trip together with some coworkers but began dating even before our vacation!


Forrest and Michael’s Gruene Engagement Session

It took them two years to decide that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

gruene historical district, texas a couple arm in arm off a back balcony of the gruene mansion inn overlooking the river by San Antonio TX Wedding Photographer Tammy Blalock

Michael decided to share the birthday trip Forrest planned for him with her and she wanted to share where many of her childhood summers were spent out on the Frio River. After hiking up to the summit of Old Baldy in Garner State Park, Michael told Forrest that he wanted to help make that place even more special. He surprised her with an engagement ring that he succeeded in getting without her knowledge. Forrest confesses that she’s not easy to surprise because she is way too curious or nosey (her words, not mine), and she had no idea that he had gotten the ring and was going to propose to her on that day. August 26, 2021, was a wonderful surprise.

Forrest and Michael both work as 911 paramedics for the City of Houston. It goes without saying, that this is an incredibly stressful job. Forrest is grateful that Michael has taught her to never give up and even when mistakes happen or times get challenging, that they can always find a way to adapt and overcome. (<–Marine mentality right there!) Michael says that Forrest has shared the same with him and that having a positive outlook can make a big difference in making temporary struggles easier to manage.

pre-wedding engagement session by San Antonio TX Wedding Photographer Tammy Blalock

Due to the incredibly high stress of working as a 911 paramedic, Forrest and Michael tend to focus on lots of playful teasing, inside jokes, and making sure they set aside lots of time to help each other decompress. They also take on more housework when needed (no gender roles here), set aside a tv date night, cook a special meal, plan a date night, spend a day outdoors with their dogs just taking extra care to focus on enjoying each other’s company.

Speaking of their dogs… Forrest and Michael have two dogs and a cat. Riley is a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix who looks like a black lab. He is a good boy who loves to constantly play and never runs out of energy. Scooby is a Golden Retriever who looks like the iconic American dog. He is the diva of the house who loves things just like Goldilocks and is incredibly smart. Then there is Taco—the Snow Bengal cat. He is the most recent addition to the soon-to-be Van Outryve family. He loves tormenting his big brothers and cuddling with them too. He also has daily episodes of the zoomies. They are all blessings in Forrest and Michael’s life.

a silhouetted couple standing in front of the gruene water tower in gruene, texas by San Antonio TX Wedding Photographer Tammy Blalock

I can’t wait for Forrest’s bridal session coming up soon! I know she’s going to rock that gown! I almost feel guilty getting the honor to see her in it before Michael. (I’m sorry, Michael.)

These two, sometimes also affectionately known as “chicken nugget” and “sweetheart” are tying the knot on May 21, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort And Spa in San Antonio. I am sure that this wedding affair is going to be one for the record books. They are putting together a super-talented vendor team beginning with their wedding planner, Crisell, of Dellightful Little Events.

Enjoy some of my favorite images from Forrest & Michael’s three-hour adventure engagement session in Gruene. Many thanks to Monica, from Artistee Lane, for accompanying me on the shoot and taking special care of Forrest and Michael the entire time! (She’ll also be taking care of them and the rest of the ladies on their wedding day!) Please be sure to watch the slideshow at the end!

If you’d like to see all the images from this Gruene engagement portrait session, please enjoy this video. For the best quality, be sure to change the video player settings to 1080 HD. 

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About Ata-Girl

I am a San Antonio-based wedding photographer and I cater to outdoor-loving couples who prefer to have all the realness captured on their wedding days. I am the wedding photographer for the outdoor adventurers, the romantics, the laid back, the snugglers, and those who wish to capture all their realness.

I am absolutely in love with capturing the kinds of weddings where there are more hugs than handshakes, the dance floor rumbles all night long, and chairs are pretty much rendered useless after dinner. Whiskey bottles are passed around, most of the wedding party has been best-best friends since kindergarten, Grams is likely to lose her shoes and your partner is much more emotional than you are. These kinds of weddings are my jam!

You can always call or text, but if you really want to get to know me, schedule a meetup!

I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journeys and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.

If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to get your hands on 20 FREE interactive wedding planning tools that every couple needs, please take a moment to access them here.

I am a published author (purchase my book here), a podcast host (listen here) (watch here) and a WPPI-C certified professional, full-time wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.

When I’m not behind my camera, you can find me hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, enjoying water sports, listening to music (Elvis and Prince), hunting for arrowheads, reading audiobooks, occasionally eating a few glazed donuts (my only weakness to sweets) and then re-starting my keto diet about every 10 days. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of.