Fate kept bringing Sheila and Phillip together.
They crossed paths during their undergraduate studies at Stanford University, and later met fleetingly at a mutual friend’s wedding. But it wasn’t until 8 months later that Phillip would finally ask Sheila out on a date.
Philip soon realized that Sheila was the love of his life. With the help of his family, he planned a romantic rooftop proposal on July 14, 2019, a day that had much significance to Sheila. It was the ideal intimate proposal that she always wanted. Afterward, they dinned on vegan food prepared by a private chef and watched the classic movie “Purple Rain”– the same movie they watched on their first date.
They both are art lovers and wanted editorial-like engagement photos that could double as artwork in their home. Think Harlem Renaissance, but set in the middle of a dense jungle in a Caribbean Island. Over the course of their relationship, Sheila and Phillip bonded over their love of libations, collecting rare spirits from their travels and frequenting fine bars and lounges. So, their planner incorporated their affinity for a good cocktail by designing a custom bar cart for their shoot.
Cheers to this stylish couple! Read more about their love story, rooftop proposal, and wedding plans below.
- Couples: Sheila & Phillip
- Engagement Session Location: Downtown Los Angeles, CA
- Engagement Session Date: September 28, 2019
How did you meet?
We first crossed paths while undergrads at Stanford University circa 2004-2005, albeit fleeting. Sheila had just arrived on campus as a freshman, Phillip was on his way out as a refined senior. Despite a shared hometown, similar immigrant-family roots and loads of mutual friends gained through their brother and sister black Greek-letter organizations, we were mere acquaintances and just cordial during our time together at Stanford. A love story deferred…
Fast forward to September 2015 when our paths crossed once again at the wedding of a mutual friend. Having noticed Sheila at the wedding’s after-party, Phillip attempted to break the ice with her by referencing their shared Nigerian heritage (smooth right?). Wrong! Despite this awkward icebreaker, made even more so by the fact that Sheila is NOT Nigerian, Phillip persevered and the two went on to talk for hours into the next morning. A connection was established and numbers were exchanged.
A mere eight months later, while Phillip was visiting another friend a few blocks away from Sheila’s former hood in Harlem, New York, the two reconnected (again) and Phillip finally mustered up the gumption to ask Sheila out on their first date. He has been holding onto her ever since.
How did he propose?
Having known that Sheila was the one for some time, Phillip was just waiting on the perfect day: July 14, 2019. Many integral moments in Sheila’s life have occurred on the 14th and Phillip wanted to partake in the trend. Date in tow, and knowing that Sheila wanted an intimate proposal, Phillip opted to prepare his rooftop deck for the special occasion. His decoration dream team consisted of his parents, sister, bro-in-law and niece who helped put the finishing touches on the deck while Sheila was, none the wiser, out enjoying a spa day. Upon her return, Phillip asked Sheila to meet him upstairs for a quick drink before dinner and cue the bending knee. Sheila thankfully said YES, and the two enjoyed a vegan dinner prepared by a private chef on Phillip’s deck and a viewing of Purple Rain (a nod to their first date) to round out the night.
Describe your engagement session.
Our engagement session took place in a studio off of the historic Santee Alley in Downtown Los Angeles’s Fashion District. The studio donned a lush tropical foliage wall and vintage purple velvet chaise lounge. The designer, Belinda of Opus Events Co, organized and coordinated the whole shoot, choosing the venue, creating a bar cart installation, and adding additional vintage decor. The photographer, Shane King, provided us with great direction to capture our vision. Our favorite prop included vintage cut tumbler glasses from which we sipped pours of Macallan whiskey throughout the session
In short, we wanted our engagement photos to be a vintage, glamorous, whimsical vision… with a tropical backdrop: think Harlem Renaissance, but set in the middle of a dense jungle in a Caribbean Island. We like to say we fell in love in Harlem, so Harlem plays an important role in our love story. Additionally, we wanted our engagement pictures to invoke feelings similar to when we look at Archibald Motley’s or Aaron Douglas’s paintings. (They are indeed an ambitious duo.)
What did you do on your first date?
Our first date took place during Memorial Day weekend (2016) in Los Angeles. Phillip, the notorious over-thinker and planner, took his time deciding on a final itinerary, as he realized he only had one opportunity to impress Sheila. He cycled through typical LA date spots (think The Getty; a beach day) before settling on another LA favorite: street food cinema! It just so happened that Purple Rain was playing at Exposition Park and Phillip was able to snag last-minute tickets on Craigslist for the sold-out show. Exposition Park had played a big role in Phillip’s life as a child so he was very much looking forward to showing Sheila around the Park’s Rose Garden and local museums prior to the showing. Fast-forward to date night and despite a rose garden that was only in half-bloom and a closed museum, we enjoyed a wonderful movie night under the stars with a picnic basket full of Sheila’s favorite snacks and, of course, plenty of champagne. We ended the night with hookah and live music, and haven’t looked back yet
What’s your favorite thing to do as a couple?
Travel; laugh; enjoy a craft cocktail.
How has wedding planning been so far?
We’ve been taking wedding planning one task at a time. Although our wedding planning has slowed down significantly due to the pandemic because we had a bit of a head start, we’re enjoying our wedding planning journey, and the bumps in the road that may come along the way. It also hasn’t hurt to have a great local wedding planner to partner with.
Tell us what you’re looking forward to most on the wedding day.
Bride: Dancing with Phillip to all of our favorite songs.
Groom: Seeing Sheila in her dress, and just being able to call her my wife, finally.