Syreeta Brown and Linwood Donald are preparing to save the date for their May 2016 wedding. Just shy of becoming college sweethearts, the two ultimately connected a few short years later on campus as Syreeta took a chance on love and Linwood, who had been pursuing her for awhile, finally got his chance to show her what it’s all about.
Photography: Terri Baskin Photography
How did you meet?
It all began in 2002 at Virginia State University (VSU) in Petersburg, VA. Linwood always hung out in front of the VSU bookstore with his brethren of Omega Psi Phi. On numerous occasions we locked eyes. Linwood would always motion for me to cross the street and come over. I, too focused on my studies and nervous to talk to a man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, always kept it moving. Two semesters passed and Linwood graduated. Although he left me behind, little did we know our paths would cross again.
After graduating in 2006, Linwood reconnected with old friends at the 2009 VSU homecoming. I had no thought of the Omega and enjoyed a blissful weekend of homecoming festivities. After leaving homecoming, myself and two of my college roommates headed to the gas station to fill up for the road home. As I headed back to the car with snacks, an old familiar voice called out "Hey yo, excuse me, don't I know you!" I looked over at the Omega in his head-to-toe Omega paraphernalia, posted up on his Buick. The thought of ignoring him immediately crossed my mind – but in retrospect, I had déjà vue of reacting the same way to a similar looking guy back in 2002 on campus. Low and behold I realized it was Linwood from my freshmen year. Our lives were forever changed, when I decided to put my ego and fears aside and finally walk over to Linwood.
What did you do on your first date?
One Sunday morning in 2012, after checking out what was new in my life from time-to-time via social media, Linwood rounded up the courage and texted me, "Hey, did I see you at club Café Asia last night?" knowing good and well that he and I were never there. That single text message sparked a flame, but I was still very hesitant and guarded. The first unofficial meetup was an invite to see the new home he purchased. I didn’t believe him and tried to convince him that I was under the weather. After much pleading, I decided to make the visit. When I pulled up to the home, I was floored by his new 20 pound weight loss. After viewing his new home and chatting in the living room for a while, I was amazed by how God brought him to where he was at that time. So, I agreed to an official first date.
Linwood took me to a Japanese cigar bar. The weather was rainy and cold and he tried to blame his nervous sweat on it. We were both nervous to be honest and hardly ate. However, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other! Our conversation was intellectual, deep, and fluid.
Tell us how he proposed.
We were unable to make our alma mater’s 2014 homecoming and football game, as Tyler, Linwood’s son, made the little league football playoffs. So in November, Linwood mentioned the Virginia State University (VSU) football team made it in the NCAA Division II and we were excited to take a day trip out of the DC area to see a good ol’ VSU game; and hopefully run into old classmates.
Little did I know, Linwood had been planning to propose all along. He discussed the decision he came to and the secret game plan with Tyler to receive his blessing. The game was full of excitement and intensity! As the half-time performance was wrapping up, Linwood pulled me in close to him on the bleachers and said “Babe, I want to take you down to the field and introduce you to some of the players.” I immediately wondered, how in the world do you know these boys, you graduated in 2003! But then again Linwood is a PE Teacher and maybe he taught some of them.
As we walked down the bleachers, I got nervous, seeing campus security at the bottom of the bleachers. I changed my mind saying, “Linwood, now is not a good time, the game is about to start and who do you even know down there?” He was persistent and told me to follow his lead. As we walked right over the symbolic Trojan head he stopped and said, “Stay right here.”
Linwood took 3 steps away from me, turned around, got down on one knee, the crowd on one accord murmured “Awwwww”, and he grabbed my left hand. He whipped out a Jared ring box, began to confess his love and I honestly blanked out! He squeezed my hand tight and asked if I would love him for the rest of our lives and be his wife. Was this real?
I turned around and walked away from Linwood! Tears immediately filled my eyes as Linwood laughed and said “Syreeta, you have to come back, you have to say yes!”I did eventually turn around, and realized it all was not a dream. That moment was ours forever.
How has wedding planning been so far?
The wedding planning has been a whirlwind of excitement, challenges and small victories. Planning your own wedding is not for the faint of heart, it’s serious business! We’ve become very skilled in researching the market for quality deals, negotiating stellar rates and learning “do it yourself” project for our wedding decor that just take a little creativity and time. Linwood and I are both very creative. We want our wedding to be unique and be a reflection of our dynamic relationship. That being said, we are learning the art of compromising more than ever.
Tell us what you're looking forward to most on the wedding day.
As Christians, we are most looking forward to doing God’s Will and becoming one union. We also have built up anticipation to see one another at the end of the aisle as we plan to not have any face-to-face contact two whole weeks leading up to the wedding. We also look forward to making our parents’ hearts melt, seeing the final product of the event decor and performing our dance routine for our guests!
Congratulations Syreeta, Linwood and Tyler! Many blessings to you and your new family!