Carla and Lavonda’s Captivatingly Casual Engagement in Florida

Carla & Lavonda's relationship had many stages. They started as study partners, became colleagues, and then best friends. Soon enough they both realized there was a much deeper relationship forming between them. When they started their romantic relationship, they made a promise that every other week they would go on a date. It was on one of these dates that Carla asked Lavonda to be her wife. It was a beautiful night neither of them would ever forget.

Read all about Carla & Lavonda's date night beach proposal as well as their captivating engagement session at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

Engagement Couple: Carla & Lavonda
Occupations: Regional Director of Human Resources & Professor
Wedding date: November 9, 2017
Wedding location: Maitland Art Center
Location of Engagement shoot: Rollins College, Winter Park, FL

Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. We met in the Fall of 2008 at the University of Central Florida. Carla was just starting her master's degree, and LaVonda was finishing up her first master's in the same program (that's right, LaVonda is a cradle-robber). Our friendship was birthed out of late night study sessions, Drake's "Best I Ever Had" and an unhealthy obsession with cajun boiled peanuts. We were strictly platonic at first; we shifted from study buddies to homies to colleagues to best friends. After a series of relationships gone wrong, we realized the very thing we wanted, we already had in each other. One day, we went to Maria Bonita's for lunch. It was there, over chips and salsa, that Carla finally worked up the nerve to bare her soul. She asked LaVonda to give her some time to get her ish together, and thankfully, LaVonda did....and the rest is history!

(LaVonda) The proposal. Well it all happened on date night, October 15, 2016. We have made the commitment to continuing to “date” each other throughout our relationship. So, every other week, we take turns selecting a date night idea for which that person is responsible for planning. Two weeks prior to October 15, Carla had drawn the Popsicle stick with "beach dinner" written on one side. Unbeknownst to me, Carla spent two months planning our engagement: she knew we were going to travel to our favorite beach where she would pop the question. I found out after the fact that she “stuffed” the date night jar with “beach dinner” sticks to ensure that this is what we would be doing on that day. She was soooo sneaky! I had no clue what was going on. Carla was slowly preparing me for the moment. The weeks and days leading up to the engagement, Carla dropped hints. For example, when packing for the trip, she insisted that I choose an outfit that did not include sweatpants for date night (what can I say, I am a causal gal), she recommended that I schedule an appointment with hair stylist, she encouraged me to paint my finger nails even though I made it clear that I did not care about my nails. Slowly, but surely, Carla was setting the stage for a night neither of us would forget. As the perfect end to a whirlwind weekend in south Florida, we made our way to Melbourne Beach, Flordia. Carla dressed quickly after arriving at the hotel and rushed off to "set-up" date night. She came back upstairs, clammy and nervous. During the elevator ride downstairs, I noticed Carla's odd behavior. I started to ask tons of questions: "What's wrong with you? Are you sick? You're not going to propose to me, are you? (I gave her the side eye) Are you sure you just don't want to go back to the room? We can totally order in and watch TV." Carla simply replied, "No" and we continued downstairs.
Finally, we arrived at the site for date night. The scene: a beautiful tent, blanket, wicker basket with wine, candles and pillows were set up on the beach. As the sun began to set over the ocean, Carla asked me to dance to our favorite song, "Always and Forever". Out of the corner of my eye, I see a glimpse of what I believed to be a Bluetooth radio buried in the sand under the blanket. Unable to hear the music, I asked Carla to grab the "Bluetooth radio". Carla insisted that everything was okay and continued dancing. I would not take "no" for an answer. After several more requests to get the "Bluetooth radio", Carla stopped dancing, grabbed the "Bluetooth radio", dropped to one knee and asked, "Will you marry me?" I quickly realized that the "Bluetooth radio" was actually a ring box and in it, an engagement ring. I immediately turned and ran away in shock! I turned around and saw this lady (our photographer) snapping photos to capture the moment. Shocked, surprised, and realizing I needed to say something (anything), I finally ran back and said "Yes."

Describe your engagement session. Our engagement photo session started out a little rocky. It had not rained in our area in nearly three weeks and it decided to pour the day we scheduled our session. With Nathalie and Taylor’s (our day of coordinator) help brainstorming a new location, we decided to travel across town to Rollins College. We were so happy because the rain had just stopped and the sun popped out from behind the clouds.

We didn’t really have a theme for the shoot. We knew that we wanted to have a semi-formal look and one that was casual. It was important for us to be comfortable throughout the shoot. Natahlie did a phenomenal job of capturing our essence as a couple!

What did you do on your first date? (LaVonda) On our first date, Carla took me to the theatre to see “Flash Dance”. I still have the t-shirt and playbill in my top dresser drawer.

(Carla) I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was so nervous, I passed by her neighborhood like I had never been to her house before. When she came out of the room, she literally took my breath away. We had nosebleed seats (balling on a budget), but it didn’t even matter because I wasn’t really paying attention. All I could think about is how good it felt to be sitting next to the woman of my dreams.

What's your favorite thing to do as a couple? Our favorite thing to do as a couple is visit the beach. We love, love, love, love the beach! We have entirely too much beach equipment for just two people, but hey.

How has wedding planning been so far? Planning is going great! We have tackled the major items on our list. Now, we turn our attention to all of the small details. The cool (yet stressful) thing about it is we get to plan it ourselves. So many couples are forced to have the weddings their parents always dreamed of. We’re fortunate that that is not our experience.

Tell us what you're looking forward to most on the wedding day. (LaVonda) I am most looking forward to our first introduction as Carla’s wife. Marriage, in the traditional sense, was not previously an option for us. So, as a result, it was not part of plans. We knew that our love and commitment to one another was more than enough for us. So much so, we had already dedicated to live the rest of our lives together. I cried the day we learned that LGBT couples could wed. This was a huge step forward. Our love and commitment did not have to be a simple agreement between us, but one that could also be recognized state and nationwide. She is my homie, my love, my friend, and (soon) will be my wife. I cannot wait to continue to create awesome memories with this beautiful person by my side.

(Carla) I can’t wait to see the love of my life walk down the aisle to me. Interestingly enough, I never really thought about getting married. I knew early in our relationship that I wanted to be with LaVonda long-term, but since it wasn’t an option of us, I figured our love would have to suffice. But from the moment marriage became an option for us, I started thinking about our wedding day. I didn’t tell her though because I didn’t want to freak her out. I imagined being stunned by her radiance in the same way I was on our very first date. I can’t wait for my baby to take my breath away on our special day!

Photographer: Nathalie Gaines
MUA: Danielle Walker of Splendid Beauty

  1. Michael Brown

    OMG!!! Their story is beautiful.. I just Love❤️ Love!!! Beautiful Women! Congrats to the both of you!


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