Julia and Justin

Fresno, California


Photographer | Simple Joie Photography | @simplejoiephotography

Event Designer | Circle of Events

Makeup | Makeup By Min


Julia and Justin have family in Fresno, CA and was visiting in the fall of 2017 and she reached out to me to capture their beautiful engagement photos because I am her niece on her father’s side (long story). I immediately said yes knowing this beautiful love story of Julia and Justin. The engagement session was styled by Susan from Circle of Events and makeup and hair provided by Makeup by Min.


From the Groom

I saw her for the first time at our Annual Hmong New Year celebration in Syracuse where we lived in our childhood. She was part of a Hmong Girl’s dance group that performed at cultural events. I can still remember her in the middle of the group just dancing away and that’s how my crush for her all started.


Years passed and we both attended the same high school. All our interactions were mere “Hi’s” and waves in the hall ways. We were strangers up until our  junior year of high school when we finally befriended one another online. We instantly became best friends, going to the mall, going to the movies, bowling, sharing music. Little did she know, I had the biggest crush on her.


Junior Prom was around the corner and another girl at our school had been wanting me to ask her to prom, but I already knew who I wanted to ask. We used to share lockers because mine was a lot closer to her classes. I decided to surprise her by leaving a note in our shared locker. She opened it that day and saw the note and said yes.


We went to prom and that was only the beginning. We hung out almost every weekend that following summer leading up to senior year when we decided to make it official. We dated the whole year and went to Senior Ball together. Each moment I spent with her I continued to fall harder and harder for her. I was in Love. At 18 years old I had fallen in love with my best friend. Sadly after that summer our relationship fell through and we broke it off. I was the saddest person on earth, experiencing my first heart break.


A few years passed and we both dated other people but we both knew we would never be satisfied in life. She would always be the one that got away. She felt the same. We were able to get in touch and started talking again like old times. Feeling like best friends again, except this time around we both knew how we both felt inside. Not long after talking, we began dating again and have never looked back. 5 years and counting since we started dating the second time around. She was my high school sweetheart and now my college sweetheart. After college I moved away to Minneapolis, MN because of a job opportunity. We had a long distance relationship for 3 years. Holiday visits, phone calls and Facetime became our favorite things. Even with the difficulty of conflicting schedules and an hour time difference I would never give this up for anything.


She was my childhood crush, my high school sweetheart, my college girlfriend and now she’s my fiance. Every year our families get together for the holidays and celebrate Christmas. I decided during our White elephant event would be the perfect time. Christmas 2016 came around and I knew it was time. I’ve been in love with this girl since I was 18, and been waiting all my life for this moment. I set it all up where I would go last and open the last gift. Inside the last gift there would be the ring. After all 30 of my relatives playing went and picked their gifts it was finally my turn. My heart was racing. My palms were sweating. She sat next to me, anticipating what I would do. Would I steal someone’s gift or pick the last gift. I picked the last gift. As my hands were trembling and sweating I slowly opened the last gift. My heart racing like never before, my blood pressure sky high. With over 40 family members and loved ones around me. I revealed the ring box and stood up from where we were sitting. I had planned a whole speech I had written out and rehearsed for weeks. Standing in front of her, looking into her eyes, my whole speech just vanished from my mind. Before me was my best friend, my girlfriend, and my fiance to be. Her slight look of nervousness and her smile of joy brought tears into my eyes. I started speaking and my voice cracked. I can’t even remember  what I said exactly, I just know it came straight from the heart. I dropped down on one knee and asked her to marry me.


With no hesitation she said yes and we embraced each other. A tight hug and many kisses and tears. December 24, 2016. The day my best friend, the love of my life, said yes to marrying me. Our wedding was held on September 7, 2018 in Syracuse where it all started.