Leia and Jerel used to see each other all the time on the bus in high school, but neither one of them made a move face to face. It wasn’t until they were in their twenties, when Leia saw a picture of Jerel with a mutual friend, that the couple started dating. What started as a sweet conversation over drinks, turned into a three year courtship and a surprise holiday engagement! Now after six years the couple is ready to tie the knot. Their stunning outdoor engagement shoot at a Philadelphia art museum was captured by Bernard and Tiffany Hamilton of Your Endless Memories Photography. Be prepared to be captivated by their gorgeous smiles and bask in their affection as Leia describes their beautiful love story!
How They Met
Since Rel and I went to neighboring high schools, we would see each other on the bus but didn't converse at all. Years later when we were in our twenties I saw a picture of him with a mutual friend and told the friend to bring him to the club where I bartended. I wasn't a skinny tomboy anymore, I was a grown woman and clearly he needed to see that! Hahaha! Our friend did bring him up to my job; Rel and I chatted and exchanged numbers. Things didn't progress initially. We lost communication for a couple of months, but after I heard he lost a family member I reached out on MySpace (yes, MySpace lol) to send my condolences. I told him if he wanted to go out for drinks to give me a call. We ended up setting up a date during that convo. The day of our date Rel was supposed to come pick me up at 8:30 pm, he called me at 8pm and said he hadn't gotten a haircut yet. I couldn't believe it!! I told him that I was going to go out and once he was done we could link up later. I went and sat at a girlfriend's house (clearly I had nowhere to go, but he didn't need to know that LOL) he called me a couple of hours later, we went for drinks and have been together ever since...that was 6 years ago...
After 3.5 years together, on Christmas morning 2010 I found out I was pregnant. I cleaned off the pregnancy test, wrapped it in festive paper and put it under the tree. Although we both wanted to be married before we had a child, we were extremely excited to be expecting. Rel mentioned we would definitely be engaged before the baby came. Months went by and no proposal. We scheduled to have a 3D ultrasound of the baby and a family photo-shoot with myself, him and our son (his biologically). During the part of the shoot with just him and I, Rel asked the photographer if she was finished. She said no, she wanted to take more photos. After about 10-15 minutes he asked her again if she was finished. I, pregnant and annoyed, asked him why he kept asking her that and if he had somewhere to go. The photographer made her announcement that she was done and he started to bend down. I looked at him as if he had lost his mind and asked him what the heck he was doing; then I noticed the black box he pulled out of his back pocket. I was completely surprised! The photographer was in cahoots and knew he was going to propose. He said he wanted to wait until the shoot was over because he knew I'd cry and mess up my make-up; that's why he kept asking if the shoot was over. The photographer captured the entire thing, it was brilliantly planned!!
Looking Forward to the Wedding
While working full time, caring for two children and a fiancé, I decided to throw in an accelerated master’s program. To say that planning this wedding has been somewhat of a challenge has been an understatement. But with the help of my wedding planner (a family friend who knew I needed some help) things have been going better than expected. We will be moving soon after the wedding so we wanted it to be elegant but inexpensive. I suppose our wedding could be described as romantic, with a vintage feel. The colors are black, champagne and rose. Instead of having floral centerpieces we will do candelabras to give the room a warm, romantic feel. It just so happens that October 19th is a little known holiday called "The Sweetest Day" founded in Cleveland in 1921. During this holiday, a candy company would hand out sweets to orphans, the elderly and the sick. We are paying a little homage to this holiday at the wedding with a candy bar and because it will truly be the sweetest day for us as well.
Loving You is Easy Cause You're Beautiful
- Jerel says he loves how real I am and how devoted I am to our family and our lives together.
- I love that regardless of what is going on, he has no problem being silly to get me to smile...even when I don't want to.
Photography: Bernard and Tiffany Hamilton www.yourendlessmemories.com