Janessa and Lanaya’s “Extra Fancy” Brooklyn Engagement

Featured in the Summer 2017 Issue of MunaLuchi Bride Magazine.

Having met during a financial conference at Goldman Sachs, Janessa was initially "blown away" by featured panel speaker Lanaya. Janessa explains that "in the financial services industry there is little representation of people of color so it is understandably rare to find another LGBT woman of color on top of her game in every way." It would be byway of a mutual friend that the two would officially meet and later be joined together in a group dinner. That evening after dinner, during a shared cab ride home, they realized not only did they both live in Brooklyn but just one block away within window sight of each other's buildings. "Only in NY could two people live so close by and never run into each other once," Janessa observes. From that evening on their feelings for each other would grow, blossoming into a beautiful love that would set them on the path to being forever joined together.
For their engagement session, the soon-to-be wed couple wanted to highlight their love for the city of Brooklyn.
On their wedding day Janessa and Lanaya look forward to "hearing our officiant finally pronounce us married in front of everyone we love and who love us," and hope that their wedding will be "a colorful celebration of life and love…in all forms."

Read all about Janessa & Lanaya's love story, romantic surprise Paris proposal, and wedding aspirations in their "extra fancy" Brooklyn engagement session.

Couple: Janessa & Lanaya
Occupations: Janessa- Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Lanaya- Director of Global Equities
Wedding date: 7/21/17
Wedding location: Gotham Hall (NY, NY)
Location of Engagement shoot: Various locations in Bedford Stuyvesant and Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. Lanaya and I met at a finance conference at Goldman Sachs in 2013. She was a featured speaker on a panel and completely blew me away. In the financial services industry there is little representation of people of color so it is understandably rare to find another LGBT woman of color on top of her game in every way. We both had zero interest in each other when we met because truth be told for us, the conference was a work commitment and nothing more. Luckily a mutual friend had other plans and introduced us briefly during the conference reception then set up dinner for the three of us about a month later. After dinner, Lanaya and I shared a cab home after we learned we both lived in Brooklyn. It turns out that wasn’t the only coincidence... We actually lived 1 block away from each other between the same cross streets. I could see her condo from my apartment. Only in NY could two people live so close by and never run into each other once.

Lanaya popped the question on Saturday, June 4, 2016 on the gorgeous Pons Alexandre bridge in Paris. We were staying at the Peninsula Hotel and the staff was in on it all. Lanaya arranged for a private driver that evening to take us to dinner and as we were on our way Lanaya suggested we stop by the Pons Alexandre to take a photo which I was definitely in support of as the majority of our photos on the trip at that point had been selfies. The driver took our photo and we were preparing to continue on to dinner when Lanaya pulls out a box that in no way resembled a traditional ring box because in true Lanaya fashion it wasn’t a traditional ring box (so it wasn’t immediately clear to me that a proposal was in fact happening). She had ordered this box special from Asia to ensure it fit in her always slim fitting hipster leather jacket. She proceeds to tell me all the things a girl wants to hear…that she loves me, that I am her "person" and can’t imagine spending life with anyone else and asks me to marry her. I was still stunned but at some point managed to utter an “of course I’ll marry you!” We then go on to dinner where the staff there was alerted ahead of time (Lanaya had arranged it all weeks before) and a celebration complete with champagne greeted us upon arrival.

Describe your engagement session. While we did not have a theme, we knew we didn’t want the shoot to be too self serious. We are Brooklyn residents and wanted the shoot to be a little bit of a love letter to Brooklyn but not in the literal way. We didn’t want to shoot at the traditional “go to” places in Brooklyn. We shot at places we love in Brooklyn. Our home in Bedford Stuyvesant, one of our favorite bars in Williamsburg, Extra Fancy, and (at the time) the newly opened William Vale hotel which provides spectacular views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Our photographer is also a close friend so the photos captured our personalities and all of the fun we have regularly.

What did you do on your first date? We had dinner at Lido in Harlem then a client gave me amazing floor seat tickets to the Justin Timberlake/ Jay Z concert at Yankee Stadium. We sang, rapped and danced the night away. After the concert we went salsa dancing

What's your favorite thing to do as a couple? Dance, without question. No matter where we are, if there is music, we will find it and we will dance to it as if no one else is around. We regularly have at home dance parties while we cook…just the two of us. Music and dancing are a big part of our relationship.

How has wedding planning been so far? Collaborative. We both know our strengths and have allowed each other to play to them throughout the planning process. Lanaya is a very technical person so numbers are her strong suit. She has negotiated every contract we have. I am very much a stickler for detail and planning so have been going through everything with a fine tooth comb. We both have a love for fashion and distinctly different styles. Lanaya is edgy and cool and I am more classic and ridiculously high energy so every inch of the wedding will be a true representation of us both.

Tell us what you're looking forward to most on the wedding day. Hearing our officiant finally pronounce us married in front of everyone we love and who love us. For many LGBT people, the institution of marriage was an unrealistic dream for a very long time. For many Black people, the struggle to be seen as equal has been a long (and unfinished) one. We acknowledge the tremendous hard work that those before us put in so people who look and love like we do have a place. We don’t take that lightly and our wedding will be a colorful celebration of life and love…in all forms.

Photography- Rebecca Emmanuelle Photography
Hair (Janessa)- Idalia's Salon
Hair (Lanaya)- Jhavuanna Moody
Makeup- Nicky Saunders
Wedding Planner- Jeff Stillwell Events

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