June 12, 2018


Bemidji, Minnesota, is home to two of the tallest characters in American folklore, Paul Bunyan and Bunyan and his trusty sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox. (Brainerd, Minnesota, might challenge that claim).

Bemidji is also the origin of another great tale, an amazing larger-than-life love story, which began in Oak Hall on the Bemidji State University campus, and entered it’s chapter just a couple miles down the shoreline of Lake Bemidji when this story’s protagonists became husband and wife.

Ciara and Phil met when they were just your typical students at BSU, living on-campus and doing all the on-campus things. Ciara and Phil, however, were not your typical students. Phil had the charm and an arm, and was blessed with baseball talent and an amazing sense of humor and personality (as he demonstrated through his spot-on posing, complete with athletic stance); Ciara was the nursing student with the heart of gold. Their couple-dom was only a matter of time, as these two clearly have that chemistry that every couple hopes to have with their would-be spouse.

Ciara and Phil are total yin and and yang. It was obvious last year during their engagement session, and it was even more obvious on their wedding day, which was a beautiful June day. As Phil pointed out, it did technically rain on their wedding day–but it was in the very early hours, so the day had gotten it out of the way nice and early. The clouds parted at 4 pm, just in time for their blush and navy blue lakeside beach ceremony. Bare feet, handwritten vows, sand ceremony, and the gentle waves of Lake Bemidji in the backdrop…it was perfect.

But, much to Phil’s lamentation, there was no saltwater; there were no tears until four hours later. It is important to know that Phil is a sweet guy; as sarcastic and off-the-cuff humorous he can be, he cares so greatly for Ciara. He cares so much he wrote amazing vows. He gave a great speech. He danced a great first dance to “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton.

But what followed the dances is what took everyone’s breath away and brought not just Ciara to the happiest of tears. A groomsman sat in the corner, plucking at a guitar as one chair was brought out onto the dance floor. Ciara was escorted out to take a seat while Phil meandered around with a microphone. After a brief introduction, Phil began his sentimental, heartfelt rendition on “Yours” by Russell Dickerson for Ciara, making her (and no doubt anyone listening) so emotional they could not help but have a tear or two (or twenty) trickle (or flood) down their cheek.

While Paul and Babe may be tall tales, Ciara and Phi have quite the story in the works. Paul may have a footprint that can make lakes, the newlyweds here are already making waves with their romance, and will no doubt continue to do so with every hug and kiss for the next forever and a day.


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At home on the road. Forever-focused on authenticity and the thrilling art of creation; always found in the moments that leave me breathless and in awe. 

After fourteen years as a high school educator, I stepped back through a door I thought was closed. Journalism came back into my life. Armed with a Masters of Arts in Communication, I was again challenged and prepared to tell the stories that would become history, but with a twist: It is now your legacy of love that I document. The tension I seek is that from every tear, smile, laugh, and moment of love on your wedding day. 


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