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Engagements

Engagement Session: Cristina Spiewak and Joseph Parker Jr.

While Cristina was vacationing in Mexico with her friends, Joe flew in to surprise her and proposed.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Keith Cephus Photography.

Cristina leapt off the slate stone wall of USNA’s stadium and forever into Joe’s heart. From the start, it was huge hugs and even bigger smiles. Joe recalls feeling a cloud lift within seconds of their first hug. When Cristina met Joe, during a stop-over in Maryland on her way from Boston to San Diego, it was fortuitous, the result of fate's intervention and patience. Joe and Cristina had almost certainly crossed paths before, or just missed catching sight of each other with Cristina having walked the sidewalks and streets of the downtown Annapolis community where Joe lived during Cristina’s first stint back home after college. Had they met then, Joe says, he might not have been so lucky. Having not crossed paths, life afforded them the experiences, triumphs, and failures that define a person, and allow them to “know when you know.” Effortlessly they fell into place beside one another, Joe desiring to protect the freedom and inviting joy in every one of Cristina’s smiles and Cristina using that joyous spirit and love of life to encourage, support, and inspire Joe. They found each other and never let go.

While Cristina was vacationing with her friends in Mexico, Joe flew in to surprise her and proposed. They wed earlier this year on September 27, 2014, on Cristina's father's private estate that he had built years prior with her wedding day in mind. Keith Cephus captured the evening with beautiful photos of their special day, while Tanya Wilbon of The Event Group International made sure the night went off without a hitch. "She did everything!" Cristina told Washingtonian. "I didn't realize how much we needed and relied on our planner, but she really did an amazing job and with her; we weren't stressed at all and could really enjoy the night." The couple now calls Annapolis home.

Engagement Session

Engagement Photos: Tara Parekh and Jeff Simpson

He popped the question at the site of his latest work project, which happens to be the US Capitol Dome.

By Valeria Boucas Photographs by Jessica Latos.

Jeff Simpson works at Jacobs Engineering, the company spearheading the effort to restore the US Capitol Dome, which is currently under construction. He told Tara they were going to an awards dinner for work on the evening of August 28, 2014. Jeff had his boss leave a fake voicemail on his phone telling him about the event and explaining that he could bring a plus one. "I had overheard the voicemail (how convenient) the day before the event and was so excited to attend because the Capitol is one of my favorite buildings in DC," Tara says. 

That morning, Tara took a dress with her to work to change into for the night's festivities. She rode the Metro over to the Capitol and met Jeff at the Cannon Office Building where they took the underground tunnels through to the Capitol. "In the rotunda, we took some photos of each other, and Jeff brought our Go Pro, so we took a short video too," she remembers. Then, Jeff took Tara to the Speaker of the House's office (John A. Boehner) to allow special access outside. They went out on the balcony and Tara leaned over the railing to look for the Jacobs logo on one of the construction trailers Jeff told her to search for. "I kept looking but I didn't see anything, and when I turned around to ask him where the logo was, Jeff was on his knee with a ring box in his hand," Tara says. "I was stunned, to say the least, and I could not stop smiling. He got me so good!"

Engagements

Engagement Session: Winnie and Darren

These Maryland natives brought their adorable dog along for a shoot celebrating Washington in the spring.

By Alison Kitchens All photographs by Julie Lim.

After meeting through a mutual friend, Winnie Dora Nham and Darren Liang hit it off immediately. “Within that week, I knew he was the one and told a close friend, ‘I’m going to marry that guy,’ ” says Winnie. Three years later, Darren proposed at the National Zoo, the site of one of the couple’s first dates.

Both Winnie and Darren grew up in between DC and Baltimore, and they took advantage of the District’s beautiful spring weather during their engagement shoot. Along with their dog, Nugget, and photographer Julie Lim, they visited the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove, the DC War Memorial, and Constitution Gardens. “This was a wonderful way to pay homage to one of our two ‘home’ cities,” Winnie says.

The couple is set to marry at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore on May 23, 2015.

Engagement Session

Engagement Session: Rebecca and Joseph

It took several years for this soon-to-be groom to work up the nerve to talk to his future wife.

By Irina Grechko All photographs by Karena Dixon Photography.

Joseph Zimmerman was smitten from the moment he spotted Rebecca Harris. “Joe actually found me first, and I didn’t even know it,” says Becky, a graduate student and a registered nurse. Despite living 30 minutes away from each other in Maryland for most of their lives, the two ultimately met in Texas where Joe was visiting the University of Dallas, which he would attend the following year as a freshman. “She rushed into the English class I was observing and sat down across the room from me wearing her crimson Maryvale Preparatory school sweatshirt,” says Joe, a retirement fund advisor. “After seeing her that first time, I couldn’t shake her from my mind.”

Despite seeing Becky frequently around campus, it would take a while before Joe worked up the nerve to talk to her. “She was an upperclassmen and always seemed to have a boyfriend,” says Joe of why he hesitated. Finally, in the spring of 2008, the two wound up on the same porch at a house party and he finally introduced himself. They shared an instant connection about their mutual love of Baltimore and what brought them to Texas. “It took me two years to finally break the ice and talk to her, but only a couple weeks to let it sink in that this girl was going to mean the world to me,” says Joe. 

The lovebirds would date five years before getting engaged a week before Christmas. “Joe proposed to me in front of the Washington Monument in the Mount Vernon Neighborhood of Baltimore,” says Becky. “The monument was entirely lit up with Christmas lights for the season and the night was crisp and clear, with a full moon. It was perfect.”

When it came to the engagement session Becky and Joe wanted a place that was meaningful to them as a couple. “We love our home state of Maryland, and Becky’s father worked in Annapolis for twelve years as an elected official, so Annapolis was a natural choice of location,” says Joe. The two enlisted the help of Karena Dixon Photography and braved the freezing temperatures to get the outdoor shots that they wanted. The couple is set to get married on August 3, 2014, at the St. Christopher Catholic Church in Maryland.

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Engagements

Engagement Session: Stephanie and Glenn

After seven years of dating, this couple celebrated their engagement with a shoot featuring DC monuments.

By Irina Grechko All photographs by Tara Parekh Photography.

When Stephanie Benitez and Glenn Musa met on the first day of high school in Peoria, Arizona, they had no idea they’d eventually discover they were soul mates. They shared a classroom every day for the next four years, and finally decided to give romance a shot as seniors. “I wish I could say our first was dinner and a movie, but being a broke high school kid back then, it was just a movie,” says Glenn. “We saw Flyboys, because nothing says ‘romantic first date’ like a World War I drama about revenge.”

Lucky for Glenn, his date didn’t mind the movie. “I did, however, discover Glenn’s love for popcorn—and his dislike for sharing it!” says Stephanie, now a college admissions counselor.

Seven years later, Glenn, an IT consultant, chose the scenic Harper’s Ferry in Virginia to ask Stephanie to be his wife. After they spent the weekend whitewater rafting and ziplining, he proposed to her under a large white oak as they watched the sunset.

With the nuptials taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, the couple wanted to include a piece of Washington in their wedding planning. They enlisted the help of Tara Parekh for an engagement photo shoot featuring DC’s Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin. “The large majority of our family are from the West Coast. We wanted the theme of the session to share where we will be starting our life together,” says Stephanie who is currently living in Phoenix. “Stephanie is a meticulous planner and very organized,” says Glenn about what surprised him most about the wedding-planning process. “Still, it’s fascinating to me that she’s able to juggle planning this wedding, coordinating her bridesmaids from around the country, and planning a move out to the District all at once.” The couple are set to wed on September 27, 2014.

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Engagements

Engagement Session: Jessica and Frank

This couple opted for a “breakfast at home” theme for their photos.

By Irina Grechko Frank and Jessica are set to be married on April 5, 2014. All photographs by Astrid Photography.

When Frank Battaglia met Jessica Fu, he thought she was cute—but they were working for the same law firm, and he wanted to avoid a workplace relationship. Jessica, sensing they had a special connection, was not as quick to shake off the possibility of something deeper. Determined to at least become friends, she made a point of swinging by his office on a regular basis to say hello. “It became part of my routine to stop by his office at the end of the day and chat a little bit,” says Jessica, now a legal assistant. “I guess I finally wore him down; eventually he asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him.” Soon after, their friendship blossomed into romance.

After a three-and-a-half-year courtship, Frank, now a software developer, surprised Jessica by proposing in their condo, into which the couple had moved just the week prior. Jessica came home after work to find Frank had decorated the Christmas tree, set the table, and cooked her a nice dinner. “I was still clueless and just thought he was being extra sweet and giving me an early Christmas present,” says Jessica. “Then he opened the drapes to our terrace to reveal a dozen Christmas trees he set up outside. Ultimately, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was amazing.”

For their engagement photos the couple, who will marry this spring at Sunset Crest Manor in Chantilly, Virginia, opted for a fun, nontraditional brunch shoot at home, captured by Astrid Woltering.

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Engagements

Stop Everything, Here’s a Flash Mob Wedding Proposal (Video)

A fun surprise leads to an engagement, and it’s all caught on video.

By Irina Grechko

At Bride & Groom, we hear a lot of creative and unique engagement stories. But when we came upon this sweet flash mob proposal, we had to share a little end-of-the-week love. In the video, James Walker enlists the help of DC’s LivingSocial to set up a painting class for his girlfriend, Artesia Cauley. When a song interrupts the painting session, the entire class turns into a dancing flash mob, with a special surprise for Artesia as the grand finale. Check it out.


Have a great engagement story to share? Let us know at realweddings@washingtonian.com.

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