Now it’s time to meet our second cover model finalist, Ericka, from our “Secret Garden” photo shoot! You’re going to love her proposal story! Read on and check out her gorgeous photos!

Why did you enter this contest?
Ericka: It was partially an impulse decision, but I’m so glad I did! A coworker of mine had been selected as a Real Weddings Real Bride Model previously and encouraged me to do it. She told me what an amazing experience it was, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of it all.

What did your partner think about you entering this contest? What was their reaction when you were selected? What was your reaction when you were selected?
Ericka: My husband wasn’t the least bit surprised. I’m always getting some wild idea and throwing it at him, and he just goes along with it (one of the many reasons I love him so much!). I, on the other hand, was very surprised and excited to be selected. It was so surreal at first and then went by so fast. I’m still wondering if it was a dream!



Tell us about your cover model experience.
Ericka: I feel like words can’t do this experience justice! I’ve always wondered what it would be like even just as a fly on the wall during these types of photo shoots, so just to be there and see all the hard work that goes into it was eye opening—it was full speed ahead from the get-go. I walked in and immediately got put into hair and makeup, and then after that we were serving up looks on looks on looks. It was such a rush! There were so many favorite moments, but I absolutely loved getting to try a bunch of different styles of hairstyles, makeup looks and dresses that I wouldn’t have picked for my own wedding. The experience gave me a chance to live out my “what if…” moments and test drive some more daring or even just different options that I was too chicken to try. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous about how I would look posing for photos or if I’d photograph well, but the whole team was SO amazing and supportive. It was definitely a major confidence booster to hear the ladies get so excited over the completed looks and photos! I was so sad when it was over, because it was so much fun (I’m still not over it, ha ha!). It was such an unforgettable experience!

Tell us about your love story. How did you meet? What was the proposal like?
Ericka: We met through a mutual friend at the end of our freshmen year in college. We had gone the whole year, never running into each other once, and three days before we were set to move out we found out we actually lived one floor and one door apart!

The week Michael proposed, he told me his photographer friend needed some couples to be models for him for an upcoming magazine article and if I’d be interested in helping out. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but when I asked him what the article was about, he told me, “UC Davis couples who have been dating for a long time and live in the Sacramento area.” WILDLY specific! So, under the premise we were just going to help out a friend, we went to the arboretum of our alma mater at sunset. After a couple of test shots, the photographer had me turn my back towards Michael and then told me to turn back around. I guess I turned around much quicker than Michael anticipated, because I ended up catching him off guard! So much so, that he ended up jumping down to one knee and blurted “Will you marry me?” He said it so fast, I didn’t even register what was happening. I literally thought it was a prop for the photo shoot! We joke that I got jipped from a moving proposal speech and a magazine photo shoot, but funny how life works; what started with a fake magazine photo shoot ended in a real one! It’s come full circle.

Tell us about your wedding day.
Ericka: Our wedding was everything we could have asked for. We got married in August at The Colony House in Anaheim, a beautiful wood and brick venue with an amazing giant succulent wall. It really was such a magical day and I wish I could re-live it all over again. One of my favorite moments of the ceremony was when our officiant asked for the rings, and all of our groomsmen lifted their arms up and pushed the guy in front of them in a ripple effect to form what they coined “the human centipede.” It ended with the best man lunging down to present the ring. We all had a great laugh.

If you could offer any advice to future brides what would it be?
Ericka: When people tell you that it all goes by so fast, they are not kidding! Truly take little moments throughout the entire day to take it all in — the way your spouse is looking at you, the looks on your guests faces, the decorations and decisions you agonized over for months. You’ll have pictures and maybe even video, but all of that really just doesn’t do it justice. Also, don’t forget tissues. Have the groom and/or the officiant carry them in their pocket! Sometimes your bridesmaids are too far behind you and you won’t be able to see them trying to secretly hand them to you.



The Kimpton Sawyer Hotel

916-399-4730  |


  2 Girls 20 Cameras  |  Ashley King and Gabby Terrasi

916-580-8200  |


5 Star Wedding Films and Photography  |  Rodger Sargent

916-905-5782  |


All Dolled Up Hair and Makeup Artistry  |  Melissa Oretta (Hair) and Lynsee Stewart (Makeup)

 530-206-7775  |


Halo Salon & Day Spa  |  Alexis Reynolds (Hair)

916-782-8842 |

Happily Beautiful Makeup Artistry & Skin Studio  |  Happi Ybarra (Makeup)

530-632-0607  |


Always Elegant Bridal & Tuxedo

530-755-4282  |  530-487-7110  |

The Bridal Box

 916-742-4638  |

The Clothes Mine

209-267-0417  |

De La Rosa’s Bridal & Tuxedos

916-983-3400  |

Diamond Bridal Gallery

916-521-9856  |

My Martha Design Boutique

530-622-6009  |

Second Summer Bride

916-330-4422  |




Always Elegant Bridal & Tuxedo

530-755-4282 | 530-487-7110  |

Chloe + Isabel

Deepa Gurnani  |

Hair Comes the Bride  |

Luxurious Bridal

209-400-1915  |

Macy’s | Moka Davis, My Stylist@Macy’s Roseville Galleria

916-787-3310  |

Mariell  |

Sorrelli Jewelry  |

Style Avenue Studios

916-812-1114  |

Twigs & Honey

USABride  |


Accents by Sage Floral Design

916-799-6242  |

Ambience Floral Design & Gifts

916-786-6851  |

Ames Haus Design

916-730-1635  |

Amour Florist & Bridal

916-392-8168  |

Bloem Decor

916-447-2001  |

The Bloom Lab

916-996-5572  |

Carson Valley Florist

775-266-9285  |

Curious Floral

916-812-2506  |

Hillside Blooms Floristry

530-320-4216  |

Morningside Florist

916-635-9891  |

Paradise Parkway Event Productions

916-384-5520 |

Picture Perfect Petals

760-846-0922  |

Placerville Flowers on Main

530-622-1121  |

Relles Florist

916-441-1478  |

Rodarte Floral Design

916-799-3625  |

Strelitzia Flower Company

530-758-5050  |

Visual Impact Design

916-489-3746  |

Wild Flowers Design Group

916-899-1289  |


Wholesale Flowers from

877-507-6737  |



Ames Haus Design

916-730-1635  |


Blossom Farm Vintage Rentals

 530-681-8937  |


Sacramento Event Co.

916-837-3684  |


Standard Party Rentals

888-200-6513  |


Creative Coverings

775-359-6733  |


Designed by Ames Haus Design

Wholesale Flowers from

877-507-6737  |


Batter Up Cakery

707-439-8299  |


The Party Concierge

916-440-8080  |


Real Weddings Magazine

Special thanks to our real bride models, Ericka and Olivia, and to all of the professionals who contributed to this feature!

Click here to see more from our Secret Garden Cover Model photo shoot.

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine‘s Editor Wendy Sipple.

Photos by 2 Girls 20 Cameras / copyright Real Weddings Magazine.