Feature Stories

Hastings MN Engagement Photographer: Candi and Dave


By Emily Zimmer  |  Anthologie

Even before Candi met Dave, his voice gave her a sense of peace.

In the fall of 2011, Candi and Dave started communicating through the online dating site, OKCupid. Candi, a project manager, had been on the website for a year and had gone on some less-than-stellar dates. When she stumbled upon Dave’s profile, she was hopeful because his pictures suggested he shared her sense of adventure.

“I was about to throw in the towel,” Candi said. "I had gone on a bunch of bad dates and I thought: 'okay, I'll give one more profile a try' ... and then I saw Dave's profile."

Some of Dave’s profile pictures showed Dave, a pilot, on a camping trip up North with some friends. A lover of travel and all things outdoors, after seeing his captivating photos, Candi thought she had a good feeling about Dave, so she messaged him.

Dave said he felt the same thing when he saw Candi’s profile. One of her profile pictures was from a trip to Seattle and she was enjoying a beer. Dave thought that they may have a love of travel in common and the fact that she was having a beer was a bonus.

Due to both Dave and Candi’s hectic schedules keeping them from meeting up, they agreed to exchange phone numbers. The first voicemail came in from Dave, who was passing through Atlanta between flights.

“After hearing the destinations planned for Dave’s work day, I remember feeling a sense of relief and immediate trust,” Candi said.

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On Oct. 30, 2011, Candi and Dave had their first “real date." They met at Zantigo Mexican Restaurant in Bloomington. Over lunch, Candi and Dave started to get to know one another.

“We ended up sitting there for four hours talking,” Dave recalled.

They talked about travel, work, families, and their mutual love for the outdoors. Their chemistry was strong and they enjoyed each other’s company for the afternoon.

“Now when we go back on occasion we sit in our same booth, if it’s not taken, and stare people down if it is,” Candi quipped

While they met online, Candi and Dave discovered that they lived only a mile and a half from one another.

“We had been in the same proximity for eight years or so … and we probably would have never crossed paths otherwise,” said Dave.

For their second date, Candi and Dave went for a run in their neighborhood. Candi said living near one another made it easy to keep meeting. Considering they are both busy professionals that part came as a surprise. Candi said they simply enjoyed doing things together and made it a priority to do so.

“It was so easy,” said Candi of making time for one another.


The December after they met, Candi and Dave went on a winter camping trip to Wild River State Park. It was an opportunity to spend quality time together. Although they had been dating only a few weeks, Candi said it felt natural. That first trip would lead to many others.

Travel is an integral part of their relationship. Both travel for work and enjoy seeing new places. If they have a fault when it comes to travel, Candi said it’s trying to pack in too much.

“We just want to see everything we can,” said Candi.

Traveling together had provided the couple a tight bond. They share stories from cities all over the United States, including Denver, Chicago, and more. In fact, the centerpieces at their wedding represent each of the cities the couple has traveled to together.

“We just work well together when we travel,” Candi said.

Candi said Dave also provides a level head on their travels, which comes in handy, especially when things don’t go as planned. Such as when Candi’s car overheated on the side of I-29 outside of Sioux Falls.

“Dave’s the calm in my storm,” she said.

On the other side, Dave said Candi challenges him to be more adventurous and outgoing.

“She’s fun to be with and always opens my eyes to new things,” Dave said.


Duluth, MN Engagement Photographer | Mike and Melissa

Mike and Melissa are ready for the unexpected

A police officer has to be ready at a moment’s notice; toiling behind a desk on paperwork one minute and called to an emergency the next. The work can be physically demanding, stressful and dangerous — the perfect recipe for those up for adventure.

Embracing the unexpected is one of the many reasons why Mike Schantzen was attracted to law enforcement. He was first exposed to the field through criminal justice courses while studying business at St. Cloud State University. There, Mike had grown tired of the prospect of life in a corporate setting.

He wasn’t sure what his next move would be, but it became clear his sophomore year while mountain biking with a friend who was then a Sheriff’s Deputy (now Mike’s commander). Mike had some insight to a career in law enforcement thanks to his schooling, but he wanted to know more about the job.

His friend was happy to entertain his questioning, which only piqued his interest further. Soon, Mike had scheduled a ride-along with another deputy to experience the job firsthand, and after that, he was hooked. Mike became a Community Service Officer (CSO) in 2002, and by early 2005, he was already working as a deputy for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

“(Being in law enforcement is) better than sitting behind a desk every day,” Mike said. “You always get to get out and do something different.”

Part of that something different is engaging with new people on the job every day. So when co-workers first suggested that Mike go out on a date with fellow officer Melissa Wistrom he was receptive. After all, good or bad, he was always up for a new experience.

One and the Same

Melissa was also on a different path when she was first exposed to law enforcement. She was studying to be a high school social studies teacher at the University of Minnesota when some criminal justice classes pushed her in a new direction.

“I really enjoyed the sociological aspect of why groups of people do things,” Melissa said. “But I wasn’t sure what I would want to do with (a degree in criminal justice).”

A friend discovered an internship for Melissa as a crime prevention specialist, which piqued her interest, and soon Melissa was doing ride-alongs and was taking a shine to police work.

With a bachelor’s degree from the U of M in hand, Melissa enrolled in the law enforcement program at Metro State University. Just like Mike, she began as a CSO and was hired on by the City of Ramsey Police Department after she finished school.

In addition to the diverse workload, Melissa said she enjoyed the camaraderie within the department. It was common for officers to go out and talk shop after their shifts concluded. One night in fall 2008, Melissa’s conversation with her patrol partner, Brad Bluml, turned more personal. He, Melissa and a deputy, Justin Sabo, met for drinks at The Penalty Box Bar & Grill in Ramsey and were talking about relationships.

Knowing that Melissa was a family person and enjoyed staying active outdoors, Justin suggested his patrol partner Mike Schantzen would be a perfect fit for Melissa. The two worked for the same county but in different departments so they hadn’t crossed paths.

“It was the first time I had ever heard of who Mike was,” Melissa said. “(Brad) gave me an 80 percent chance that Mike and I were going to get married.”

Melissa wasn’t so optimistic about her odds. The three friends talked briefly about Mike and Melissa connecting, but then dropped it completely. Justin, however, decided to fill Mike in on the conversation when he returned to work.

The Penalty Box

Mike learned of his cohorts attempts to be matchmakers but didn’t think much about it. About three weeks later, though, he stopped in at The Penalty Box to meet up with friends and saw Melissa for the first time. She sat across the table from Mike and stood out despite being surrounded by about 10 other officers.

“I thought she was really cute,” Mike said. “I think it was her eyes and her smile, but the rest of her is pretty cute, too!”

Mike also caught Melissa’s attention.

“I noticed his very blue eyes from across the table!” Melissa said. “‘I wonder if that’s the Mike Brad and Justin were talking about?’ I thought.”

The large group wasn’t conducive for the two to get to know each other, so the next day Mike reached out to Melissa using an internal department message system. Despite some initial chitchat about work, nothing was set into motion.

It would be a few more weeks before the two would see each other again. This time, it was for Melissa’s birthday party at the end of November. And yet again, a large group of people, including college friends and co-workers, stifled Mike and Melissa from getting to know each other. Mike put an end to that the next day.

He used the internal network again to see if Melissa was on her shift. She was, and he asked her out for coffee. Their two shifts didn’t coincide, but Melissa agreed to meet him the next afternoon.


Mike and Melissa finally had a chance to meet one-on-one on a blustery November afternoon at the Dunn Brothers coffee house in Anoka. Both were on break during their shifts so they had plenty to talk about in addition to the normal, get-to-know-you small talk.

The common ground of police work helped to easily propel the conversation, and before too long, both had to get going back to their shifts.

“It was just the two of us so we were forced to have a conversation the entire time, but it never felt forced.” Melissa said.

Before the two departed, Mike asked Melissa for her phone number, which she gleefully doled out. By the next week, they had decided on an official first date.

Mike asked Melissa out to the Holidazzle Parade, a stunning display of twinkling lights and fairy-tale characters brought to life with festive floats, in downtown Minneapolis on Dec. 18, 2008. Mike had never been to the event, but was aware of the parade’s romantic qualities, Melissa had actually been in the parade as a member of the color guard in the past and was excited when Mike suggested it for their date.

After braving the wind chill, the two warmed up at Brit’s Pub nearby, where their conversation continued to effortlessly flow. The two realized they had much more in common than their day jobs, including a fondness for camping, canoeing and biking.

When the date ended, those connections helped make the 30-mile drive home pass by in a flash. Mike walked Melissa up to her door and the two shared their first kiss. Mike suggested they go on another date, but made no definite plans at the time.

The two received encouraging news, though, when they began to look at going out in the future. Both had bid on their work schedules the year before. As luck would have it, the two shared the same shifts, making it a cinch to go hiking at area parks on their off days or plan a last-minute ski trip.

“Whenever we were off it was: What are you doing? Let’s go do something,” Mike said.

They both enjoyed the exercise and fresh air of being outdoors, as well as the escape from the taxing work of law enforcement, so it seemed like the two were always active in nature. Before long, the mini excursions turned into more serious dates and meeting each other’s families.

“I wasn’t looking for anyone else,” Mike said.

The Journey Continues

In 2010, Mike and Melissa were well into their groove. Their careers were going well, and Mike was soon to accept his position as Detective for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. The couple had been dating for more than two years and survived the spells where their work schedules were completely opposite. Their relationship worked naturally and was better than any either had experienced in the past. It wasn’t long before Melissa was dropping not-so-subtle clues at jewelry stores for Mike (just how many times depends on who you ask).

For Christmas that year, Mike and Melissa traveled to Kauai with some friends. The journey would prove to be remarkable for more than the fact that it was their first vacation out of state together. Mike had packed an engagement ring along with his luggage.

While exploring the verdant peaks on the island’s Na Pali coast, Mike knew he had found the perfect location for the proposal. As the group descended a coastline trail and approached Ke’e Beach near sunset, Mike covertly informed their friends that he needed a moment alone. He suggested they watch the sun dip below the horizon from the shore, while he and Melissa stayed above to take in the view.

The couple had talked about getting engaged “someday,” and when Melissa found her friends venturing down to the coast while she and Mike stayed high up on the trail, she thought perhaps that day had come.

As they stared out into the Pacific, Mike walked behind Melissa and embraced her.

“Do you know what today is?” he asked.

Melissa said she was confused by the question and could only muster: “The 28th?”

Mike pulled the ring from his pocket, presented it to Melissa and said: “It’s someday. ... Will you marry me?”

With tears in their eyes, the weight of what had just happened hit them. They hugged, kissed and enjoyed their private moment. Melissa said yes.

They paused briefly to commemorate the moment with pictures before heading down to join their friends at the beach.

Mike said he never had any doubts about proposing.

“We get along so well. Everything seems to click. Everything bad I’d seen in my past relationships or with friends wasn’t there with us,” he said. “And she was so darn cute!”

Melissa was equally excited to accept Mike’s proposal.

“He always puts family first. He’s a very caring, loving person,” she said.

Lonsdale, MN Engagement Photographer | Bill and Candis

If one could catalog each life event and analyze the data, there would undoubtedly be some startling revelations and coincidences. For example, Candis Bastyr and William Parkos would hardly be surprised if they somehow discovered that they actually first crossed paths at a wedding.

It seems as though each milestone in the couple’s relationship has centered around the nuptials of others. As is turns out, though, the two first met in a tavern.

Stockings Hung With Care

Bill is a hardworking man with sort of an aw-shucks disposition. The fruits of his labor are hidden in plain sight. They’re in the stable ground our homes are built on and below the roads we rely on to get us from one place to the next every day.

A year after graduating from Montgomery-Lonsdale High School in 2003, Bill began working as a heavy equipment operator for a contractor specializing in earth moving.

When the weather is cooperating, it’s not uncommon for Bill to leave his home at 5 a.m. and not return until 9 p.m. It’s not a glamorous job, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world.

“It’s nice being outside all of the time, and not having the restraint of being in the same place every day,” Bill said.

On a cold November evening in the winter of 2006, Bill stopped in to what was then Railway Liquors (now Whistle Stop Tavern and Grill)  in Lonsdale, MN, knowing he wouldn’t have to take the helm of a bulldozer the next morning. He was anticipating to savor a few libations and share laughs among friends.

What Bill wasn’t expecting, however, was to cross paths with Candis. He did so quite literally — walking directly under a ladder she was perched on to hang Christmas decorations for her mom (Candis wasn’t an employee of the tavern) as he walked in the door.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Be careful there,” Candis said to Bill and his friends.

That innocuous warning was enough to catch the attention of Bill, though he didn’t show it. He and his friends were soon striking up a conversation with Candis while she continued to decorate. She was enlisted by her mother to write names on miniature stockings and hang them up on an iron wall screen in the bar.

In short time, Candis and Bill realized they had many friends in common. Despite growing up in small towns near one another, they hadn’t previously met since Candis was a year older and attended New Prague High School about 10 miles away.

At the time, she had just returned home from earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN, and had started her new post as a “Jill of All Trades” for the City of Lonsdale Police Department.

There, she supervised the evidence room and performed as an office clerk in addition to her many other duties as a civilian employee. With few opportunities to put her studies in biochemistry and biology to good use in her hometown, Candis said she was happy to take on her position at the station house.

“I always wanted a family and I always wanted to be close to my family here (in the Lonsdale area),” Candis said. She planned on using the position as a gateway to the world of forensics.

However, it didn’t take a scientific investigation to realize a connection was starting to form between Candis and Bill. After returning home from school, Candis began to frequent the tavern to visit with family and friends more often, and eventually even took a part-time job there. It seemed as though Bill’s face was showing up more and more, and that the two were always talking.

“I noticed (Bill) and I liked him, but I wasn’t flirting with him by any means,” Candis said.

The bashful dance continued between them for nearly five months before an official connection was made.

Wedding Bells are Ringing

While Candis and Bill were hanging out with mutual friends in the spring of 2007, Bill was talking about his role as an usher for the upcoming wedding of his brother, Scott. One of their friends, Kristi Power, asked Bill if he was bringing anyone to the wedding. He had no plans to do so. With Candis standing in the midst of the conversation, Kristi bluntly asserted: “Take Candis.”

After recovering from the initial awkwardness of Kristi’s ploy to help Bill get a date, he agreed as did Candis. An official first date was set for May 19, 2007.

Having their first date at a wedding turned out to be a much more positive experience for Candis and Bill than either had expected. The often unpleasant get-to-know-you chitchat and awkward pauses in conversation were absent as there were so many events propelling the date.

Candis was able to get to know Bill’s family relatively quickly. And she had the benefit of being able to check out Bill’s moves on the dance floor.

“Bill hated dancing and said the only time he would dance was when he was in a tux,” Candis said. “He wasn’t too bad. He just had to keep moving.”

“I can slow dance!” Bill added.

In between Bill’s official duties in the wedding party, he and Candis had a lot of time to spend together and enjoyed each other’s company. Candis stayed until the last dance of the night, but she would have to wait a bit longer to receive her first good-night kiss from Bill.

The next day, Bill called Candis to glean her impression from their time spent at the wedding. To Bill’s delight, he found out that Candis wasn’t at all put off by the unorthodox nature of their first date.

“I wouldn’t recommend (having a first date at a wedding) to everybody,” Bill said. “But for us it worked out. I had fun.”

Within days the two were hanging out again, though neither recalled if they were specifically “dates” or not. What is certain, though, is that the two officially became a couple on May 23, 2007.

As Bill approached the driveway to drop Candis off at her parents’ home, where she was staying at the time, they hobbled around the topic of their relationship status.

Bill: “So, what? Are we, like, dating now?”

Candis: “I don’t know. You never asked me.”

Bill: “So, will you be my girlfriend?”

Candis giggled and said “yes.” Her reply was followed by a first kiss for the couple in the driveway. It wouldn’t be the last time Bill needed a gentle nudge from Candis.

In Step

Candis and Bill continued to learn from one another and grow closer over the next two years. They enjoyed the art of long phone conversations, dining out, traveling and sharing in new experiences.

The couple was introduced to the world of wine together and has since made a point to visit area wineries. Candis was always there to cheer on her man when Bill played in a Thursday night bowling league, and she was even able to coax him on to the golf course, albeit mini golf at the Mall of America.

In between outings to a Twins game or their favorite restaurant, Candis and Bill learned that what really made the two of them work as a couple is that they compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I like that Bill is a little shy,” Candis said. “I’m a very social person, so if I’m too loud or too social, Bill is always there to pull me back a bit.”

And Candis is always there to push Bill forward when he’s a little reluctant, like when the couple started looking at homes together and talking about their future. One night, at a wedding of course, the conversation stretched to the dance floor.

It was exactly two years from their first date, and at the same venue (the American Legion in Montgomery, MN), so naturally, Candis and Bill were thinking and talking about where they were headed in their relationship. Both mentioned they wanted to be married.

“Why don’t we just get engaged already?” Candis said.

Then, as a handful of couples slow danced around them, Bill got down on one knee and said that he and Candis were best friends and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

“Will you marry me?” he said.

She said “yes.”

“I was shocked at first.” Candis said. “I was really excited. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the next week.”

While the couple tried their best not to take away from the excitement of the wedding couple, their news quickly spread. Wedding guests were congratulating them all night.

“I would have rather waited until I had a ring and do it the traditional way,” Bill said. “But being spontaneous is fun.”

Weddings have served as milestones in Candis’ and Bill’s relationship, and now, they’ll have the opportunity to be married at one. The couple is planning to be married on the 28th wedding anniversary of Candis’ mother and father, April 27, 2012, in Veseli, MN.

Just how they’ll top a first-date wedding and a proposal wedding remains to be seen.

“I’ll think of something,” Bill said.