Laid Back Engagement Session in Chicago: Phoenix + Oliver

Phoenix and Oliver first noticed each other at a mutual friend's housewarming, and their attraction was instant. With the blessing of their entire family, Oliver proposed to Phoenix on Christmas day, and from then on their focus have been on each other. So much so, that even their engagement session was as simple as two people in love. No props. No destinations. Just Phoenix and Oliver against the world.

Bride to Be: Phoenix Singleton
Groom to Be: Oliver Ballentine
Engagement Session Location: Chicago, IL
Wedding Date: 11/01/2015
Wedding Location: Bermuda Dunes, California

How did you meet?

Phoenix: We met through a mutual friend. Our friend had just moved into a new apartment in downtown Chicago and I and another friend went over to check out the new space. Oliver just so happened to be his neighbor. He was sitting on the balcony and I was instantly smitten by his smile and cool demeanor.

Oliver: I was over my neighbor’s house and he told me he had friends coming over who wanted to see his new apartment. One of the girls was Phoenix. When I laid eyes on her, my first thought was “who is that????” At that particular meeting the introductions were short but I knew then that we would meet again.

The Proposal

On Christmas, we went to my parents’ house. We have a tradition where both sides of the immediate family get together and celebrate the holidays together. When Oliver came he told everyone (except me, of course) that he planned to propose. I was so oblivious to everything and while I knew it was in the horizon to happen soon, I just did NOT think it would be that day.

I leisurely ate my meal and relaxed not even noticing everyone around me was buzzing around and being very obvious. Immediately after we ate, my mom said we had to open gifts and my dad pulls out the camera to record the moment. At this point, I can sense that something is going on. We NEVER film opening gifts, but I still attributed it to the fact that my dad wanted to try out his new fancy camera.

Once everyone was almost done, Oliver and I opened our gifts to each other. I was super happy that I got the Keurig coffee maker I wanted and at that point was grateful for what I got...Oliver then told me my present was on my phone. My first reaction was to look in my email because I thought he had got me some e-gift that was emailed to me. He kept insisting that I log onto Instagram. And then I saw it.

He filmed an Instagram video of himself standing by Lake Michigan. And as he walked up the stairs, he filmed cards that were placed on each step, spelling the question: Will. You. Marry. Me. ?

At the end of that video, I looked up to see him bend down on one knee with the ring in hand. Hands down, this was the best moment of my life so far.

The Engagement Session

The concept for the shoot was simple....exactly that "simple". Typically, we see engagement shoots are frequently done amongst the elements outside or with some other beautiful landmark either a tree, building, or city skyline as the backdrop. We wanted it to just be US. We wanted a studio shoot in a controlled environment and told the photographer we want some beautiful shots that accentuated how we are as a couple.

Initially, I wanted to play on the concept of bride and groom and have myself wear all white (casual and dressy) and Oliver wear all black, but as you can see that got thrown out the window when we tried on some of our outfits together and saw how they complemented each other.

The actual shoot was nerve racking at first. Both of us had never took any professional pictures. Out of the gate, Oliver was knocking it out the park, but me not so much. Come to find out Oliver had googled how to pose for photo shoots and how to be a model, so he had an unfair advantage. LOL! However, as the shoot went on, we really just enjoyed being there and what we were doing and that we were experiencing another "first" together. Also, we had an AMAZING team come with us. My hair stylist/future sister-in-law, Kesha, came to make sure all my hair was strategically tousled and Oliver's barber, Jimmie, came along and doubled as his wardrobe stylist—armed with boxes of J's (Jordan's). We all just had a really good time with it and the photographer Shaun just did his magic.

Favorite Thing to Do as a Couple

Oliver: Eating tops the list as a favorite. We try out a lot of restaurants in Chicago and eat out often. So much in fact, that our friends call us first for dining recommendations. Phoenix: MY CHOICE would be traveling. We have taken a tons of trips together. We like to stay on the move and plan to visit every continent at least once.

How has wedding planning been?

The wedding planning has been fun! As with any wedding, we've faced our share of challenges. Planning a wedding weekend in California from Chicago is no easy task. Every visit is limited, so getting everything done in a short amount of time can be difficult.
Not to mention, who can concentrate on wedding details with all the distractions of sunny Cali.

What are you looking forward to most on the wedding day?

The moment when we both see each other for the first time at the altar is what we look forward to the most. We have been hearing that nowadays brides and grooms are foregoing that moment and doing it before the ceremony to use that time for pictures. We want to stay strong and wait. It's so sentimental to see your future husband / wife as you come down the aisle while a meaningful song is played and you both are seeing each other for the first time before you take this monumental step. If you do it right you should only get that moment once, and we both want it to be special and untainted.

Photographer: Shaun-Andru Photography
Makeup: Imari Allyce
Hair: Kesha Levy

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  • Phoenixs

    Cant believe we made the features!! Love it!!

    • LOVE !!

      This is such a beautiful story and couple ! I had chills the entire time I was reading. God bless your love!!

  • Angel West

    This piece is amazing! Thank you Munaluchi!!

  • Camillesbw

    Congrats guys!! Love you both so much!

  • nate’e

    Beautiful love story….. congratulations! !!

  • Renna

    Beautiful story….true love shined through. There is nothing like black love. Congratulations may god bless this unity.

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  • black nubia

    lovely concept beautiful couple and love story.

  • Danielle

    Such an awesome story!! Congrats guys!!

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    Your love is effervescent in these photos! Congratulations!!

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