“A match made in Catholic School Heaven…” There’s a joyful comfort in the benefits of a “hometown” romance. The familiarity, the shared favorite places, the discovery of mutual friendships, and knowing that “home” is already the same for you both.
Having been students at brother/sister Catholic high schools in the same city, Aliyah and Husain share all the wonderful benefits of hometown love, that will no doubt compliment their future life together as husband and wife.
Read all about their romantic Paris engagement surprise and endearing school-themed engagement session with photography by MunaLuchi Coterie member Nana Annan.
Bride & Groom-to-be: Aliyah A. Aaron & Husain A. Gatlin
Occupations: Program Coordinator || Attorney
Wedding date: September 9, 2017
Wedding location: The Venetian (Northern NJ)
Wedding Hashtag: #GatlinForeverAfter
Location of Engagement shoot: St. Benedict’s Prep. Newark, New Jersey
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal.
How We Met: To begin, we attended brother/sister Catholic high schools in the same city. So, simply put, our six degrees of separation are deep-rooted. In 2013, we blossomed into a relationship. This was shortly after meeting at a Thanksgiving-Eve event—one at the outset neither of us had planned to attend. One conversation led to another; another lead to “you hang up; no, you hang up;” and eventually to “will you be my wife?” three years later.
Groom’s perspective – The proposal was a lifetime in the making. A hopeless romantic, I envisioned that when I met the “one” I would propose in Paris—the City of Love. Well, the time was here. And in Feb. 2016, I put the plan into motion.
Each aspect of the proposal revealed a surprise—from beginning to end. Promoted as a summer getaway, Aliyah was told to pick five places in the world that she wanted to visit. Luckily, for me, one of them was Paris because plane tickets to Charles de Gaulle Airport were already in my office drawer.
Fast forward to August 17th, we’re headed to our local airport. At this point, Aliyah still doesn’t know our final destination. In her mind, we could be flying anywhere from the islands in Turks and Caicos to the Imperial Palace in Japan.
At the airport, I checked us in—nervous though hopeful that I could maintain the surprise until we boarded if I followed my simple steps.
Step one: Pass through security without TSA inadvertently ruining the surprise. Twenty minutes later, mission complete. #ThankYouTSAPreCheck
Step two: Operation Decoy. As we’re gathering our belongings, I check the board to see what flights are near the gate for Paris. And, bingo, London at Gate 95. We head there.
Step three: Don’t miss this damn flight, playing around. Sitting at the gate for Heathrow, Aliyah is thinking “London, here we come!” She called her mom and texted the “girls” to let them know. On the other hand, I’m thinking stay focused. See, the flight for London leaves at 9:45 PM; the flight to Paris twenty minutes earlier; therefore, I had to time it right. Laughing and discussing the places and the people we may visit in London, while intermittently chatting with the woman next to us, I had my sight set on Gate 92.
At 8:57 PM, I heard the words I had been waiting for, “Boarding Group 1 for the next flight to Paris.” Calmly, I stood up, grabbed our carry-ons, and begin walking towards it. Behind me, I hear Aliyah say, “where are you going?” and then I hear the woman sitting next to her say “Sweetie, I think you’re going to Paris.”
Saturday, August 20th was the day I planned to propose to the love of my life. But first I had to convince her to dress for the occasion, notably at seven in the morning. With this in mind, I explained to her that I booked a fancy “Murder Mystery” breakfast in which we all played a role and that we needed to “dress up” for the same. Hey, it’s Paris; anything is possible, right?
The day of, excited to solve this mystery, we left for Trocadéro at 6:45 AM. At this hour, it offered a breathtaking, uncongested view of the Eiffel Tower and, equally important at this point, the hired cameraman. After receiving his cue, I began to tell Aliyah a love story, which in the end, was our love story. When I made that revelation, I lowered to one knee and asked her to be my wife.
After the proposal, we had lunch at Guy Martin’s Cristal Room Baccarat in the 16th District. Although Aliyah was slightly disappointed that we didn’t partake in the “Murder Mystery,” she eventually forgave me and was smiling from ear-to-ear for the rest of the way.
Bride’s Perspective – Husain surprised me with a trip to Paris. I had no clue that I would return an engaged woman. On our third day, we arrived at Trocadéro. The view alone had me mesmerized, truly a beautiful site! We were supposed to attend an early morning “Murder Mystery.” So, once we walked directly in view of the Eiffel Tower, Husain said he had a story to tell. I assumed this was the first clue to solving the crime. And I was ready. To my surprise the story was our love story. He got down on one knee, and asked me to be his wife. I’ve been floating on Cloud Nine ever since.
Describe your engagement session. Our engagement session’s theme was: Made for Each Other—Newark Edition. After returning from our trip to Paris, we decided that we wanted to do a local, engagement shoot that highlighted the parallel aspects of our life.
To begin, we wanted to highlight our Catholic high-school connection. With Aliyah having graduated from Saint Vincent Academy and Husain from St. Benedict’s Prep, it was a match made in local, Catholic school heaven.
Prior to the shoot, we ordered customized school hoodies and “Chucks,” designed in our school colors and embroidered with our wedding date. We thought it would be a nice keepsake for years to come.
The morning of our engagement session, it rained. As a result, our ambitious venture to begin shooting at St. Benedict’s and then throughout the city was limited to only the school. Perhaps, that was for the best. With a narrowed focus, we explored many areas of the school that we may have overlooked. In the end, it was a wonderful experience, and we cannot thank Nana—our photographer—enough for bringing our vision to life.
What did you do on your first date? Husain took me to a quaint Thai Restaurant in a neighboring city. To this day, it remains one of our favorite places to eat. Husain is very detail orientated, and it showed during our first date. During one of our marathon phone sessions, I mentioned that I loved Blistex. To my surprise, he presented me with a gift bag at dinner filled with every Blistex lip-balm on the market. He said he went to three different stores and even ordered a few online. He also bought my daughter a Hello Kitty version. His thoughtfulness, along with the gift, blew my mind. I knew then that I had to keep him around.
What’s your favorite thing to do as a couple? Besides dine and explore the world, our favorite thing to do is enrich each other’s lives.
How has wedding planning been so far? Expensive(.) Besides that factor, it has been wonderful. We have met some insightful and brilliant minds along the way, including Nana and our event planner—Eliana of ellyB Events. She and my future husband both keep me on my ‘A’ game.
Tell us what you’re looking forward to most on the wedding day. Groom: The Moment and the Future. Bride: Building our life together as husband and wife. Sharing new experiences with each other and, most importantly, starting a family!
Engagement Session Photographer: Nana of Nana Annan Photography
MUA: Charlene Lee of MakeUpByCharlene
Hair: Danielle Pamplin
Swag: Our Parents!