What’s better than one real bride model? TWO real bride models! Stephanie and Mikala were more than willing to dress up and pose in Tahoe’s cold air, and we’ve got the beautiful pictures to prove it. Read on to find out about their modeling experience and wedding plans.

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What made you want to model for this photo shoot?

Stephanie Maynard: We heard about it through Jennifer Resnicke and thought it would be a really fun experience (we were right!). Both of us have done photo shoots before for cosplay and we really enjoy them, but this was something very different than what we’re used to.

Mikala Hernandez: Honestly, I mainly did it because Steph was so excited the moment she heard about it. While our hobby may include photoshoot, there is a distinct difference in shooting as a character and shooting as yourself. I am not usually the type to do things like this as myself and was a bit nervous.

Tell us about your modeling experience. What was your favorite part of the day? How did you feel afterwards?

SM: Favorite part of the day was seeing each other in the different outfits. I know I got a little teary eyed at a couple points from the realness of it all. We were less two months into our engagement when we did the shoot, so we’re still in the early stages of planning. Seeing everything laid out – the ceremony arch, the dining table, the flowers, the gowns, etc., almost felt like a preview into what was coming.

MH: I did end up having an absolute blast of a time, despite my initial reservations. Especially because they made sure to work within our comfort zones. Plus wearing a suit felt absolutely amazing.

How was modeling with your significant other?

SM: We’ve modeled with each other before for cosplay, so we are used to each other and a camera, but normally she’s far more unsure in front of the camera and I take the lead. This time I felt like we switched, especially when she had on that suit! I could tell she felt beautiful and confident and so did I.

MH: Modeling with Steph as ourselves and not as any characters was such a different feeling. There were several times I couldn’t help but stare, knowing that one day soon, this was all going to be a real thing, which almost made me cry. Happy tears, of course.

What was your favorite part of the shoot? Did you relate to the concept/theme?

SM: Favorite part was hands-down seeing my fiancée in a dress! I really enjoyed looking at all the little details of the set design that went into every area we shot. And of course, the trek across milk crates to the beach in a full-length poufy wedding gown and attempts to get that perfect shot when the rainbow appeared in the sky. Whether or not we got the shot, it was an adventure and a great way to wrap up the shoot!

The concept/theme is almost exactly what we’ve been looking at – more outdoorsy/nature, with darker, richer colors. We’re probably going more vineyard for our wedding, but there were still a lot of similarities to what we want for our day.

MH: My favorite part of the shoot was probably when we got into our main outfits. I had never actually worn a suit and it was an awesome feeling. Gave me a lot of ideas for my actual wedding day look. What’s funny is, the theme of the shoot wasn’t too far off from what we’re kind of going for with our actual wedding theme.

Tell us about your love story. How did you meet? What was the proposal like?

SM: We’re both big parts of cosplay and convention culture in California.  We met at a comic con in LA in 2016 (she was dressed as a Death God, I was dressed as a vampire). At the time, she was in a relationship with someone else and I wasn’t looking for anyone. But we became long-distance friends and a year and a half later we met back up at another convention. This time we both we single and were both ready to try another relationship. The rest, as they say, is history.

We each proposed to each other at different times. Mikala’s proposal to me was the first and it was criminally romantic. We were out at dinner at one of our favorite date spots with two of our best friends, The Dancing Fox in Lodi which is one of the first places we’d ever gone on a date at. She got down on one knee and I was sobbing and nodding before she could even finish asking.

My proposal to her was a hot mess. I had planned on something similarly romantic at Downtown Disney, but when we got there, security thought our outfits were too costume-y, I got super flustered, and wouldn’t you know it, her ring fell out of my bag and onto the ground in front of her. I attempted to salvage the moment, but wouldn’t you know it, I put the ring on her wrong hand. Not my proudest moment. But very “on-brand” and a very funny story to tell our future kids.

MH: Our love story is honestly kind of funny. Both of us go to comic book conventions in costumes as our hobby, which is exactly how we met. I was SoCal based at the time and at a huge con, but she spotted me from across the courtyard and ran over to say hi since I was wearing a costume of one of her (and our) favorite comic book characters. We exchanged social media and kept in casual contact for a while before I decided I wanted to see if I could take things a little further even though I lived about five hours away at the time. Obviously, things went pretty well. Fast forward to about a year later, a couple of our best friends and I started planning the proposal. February 2, 2019 we went out on a double date to one of our favorite restaurants and I popped the question right before dinner.

Tell us about your wedding day.

SM: We’re still early in the planning, but we’re trying to balance elegance and our nerdy, whimsical side. Fairy lights, flowers made of books, but also R2-D2 and Darth Vadar might escort us into the reception.

MH: Still in the works! But at the moment we’re looking at a modern enchanted forest kind of vibe with some geeky touches to add to the overall feel of the day. No matter what ends up happening, I know it will be an amazing day for the both of us.

If you could offer any advice to engaged couples what would it be?

SM: Wedding planning is stressful, because unless you are a professional event planner, this is far beyond what you’re used to. Make sure you communicate with each other about what you each want out of the day and your future together.

MH: Communication is key. While you are still two separate people, your partner is there for you to lean on in times of need, as are you for them. Open communication leads to a lot less mess in the long run and made us a much stronger couple because of it. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about things that are going on in your life.



West Shore Café & Inn

530-525-5200  |  westshorecafe.com


Sweet Marie Photography

707-685-7694  |  sweetmariephotography.com


Epic Thyme Events

530-955-0093  |  epicthyme.com


Strelitzia Flower Company

530-758-5050  |  weddingsbystrelitzia.com


Jaynee Cakes Custom Cakery

916-879-3137  |  jayneecakes.com


All Dolled Up Hair and Makeup Artistry  |  Melissa Oretta 

530-206-7775  |  alldolleduphairandmakeup.com


Second Summer Bride

916-330-4422  secondsummerbridesacramento.com


Ariat ariat.com

DSW  |  dsw.com



Moka Davis, My Stylist@Macy’s Roseville Galleria  |  916-787-3310  |  macys.com/mystylist

Mariell mariellonline.com

Style Avenue Studios

916-812-1114  |  styleavenuestudios.com

Woodland Belle  |  woodlandbelle.com


Little Bird Paper Company

831-809-9403  |  littlebirdpapercompany.com


Ink Furie

916-717-5966  |  inkfurie.com


Tahoe Elevated Events

 775-783-9300  |  tahoeelevatedevents.com


Creative Coverings

775-359-6733  |  creativecoverings.com


Soulmates Wines

209-406-2898  |  soulmateswines.com


JB Wedding Photography

916-220-0159  |  jbweddingphoto.com

Special thanks to our real bride models, Stephanie & Mikala, and all of the professionals who contributed to this feature!

Click here to see more from our Endless Love styled shoot.

Blog post by Real Weddings Magazine’s Associate Editor Emily Peter.

Photos by Sweet Marie Photography/copyright Real Weddings Magazine.

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