Leandra and Marcus initially connected in 2006 during a United Negro College Fund meeting for Historically Black College and University fundraisers. At the time they were both happily married. However, while talks during the meeting, the two discovered that they both shared the title of Alumni Director and Advisor for the Pre-Alumni Council at their respective universities. From there, the pair developed a friendship and later found themselves working for the same university a few years after. In 2014, after a divorce and the unfortunate loss of Marcus’ wife, God saw fit to grant them with another opportunity for love. The rest was history.
Marcus selected New Year’s Eve as the evening he would propose to Leandra. The pair had planned a trip to Asheville, NC to bring in the new year with their closest friends months ahead, but little did Leandra know, Marcus had another plan brewing. That evening the couple and their friends cruised in a stretch, Hummer limo and headed for dinner and dancing. After sharing dozens of laughs during dinner when it came time for dessert – Leandra was the last one to be served. But, because she was so busy laughing and talking with her girlfriends that she didn’t even notice.
When the waiter arrived with her dessert, he was holding a covered silver tray and said “I apologize but we are out of the strawberries and champagne that you ordered so the chef made you something special”. But of course, it didn’t register to her that something else is going on. Leandra understandingly replied, as he placed the tray in front of her. And once he uncovered the tray, a small box appeared. Leandra immediately covered her face and began to cry because knew it was a ring.
Once she opened the box, she received another surprise because it was the ring she had admired a few weeks earlier with one of her best friends. When she looked up, Marcus was on bended knee asking her to marry him. And naturally, she said yes!
Later she found out that Marcus had coordinated with her best friend to slyly (but sweetly) have one of them take her to a store to peruse over rings a few weeks earlier, so that he could have a sense of the style of ring she would like. So cute! “He really knows how to woo a woman. It was definitely a night to remember and a great start to a new year and chapter in our lives.” says Leandra.
The couple selected the scenically gorgeous Vizcaya Gardens are the setting for their engagement session to showcase the beauty of Leandra’s home-state and showcase Marcus’ love for the outdoors. Scroll on for more from this lovely pair while viewing their engagement photos captured by coterie member, AJ Shorter.
Bride: Leandra Hayes
Groom: Marcus Burgess
Wedding Date: 7/2/2016
Wedding Location: Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, FL
What did you guys do on your first date?
On the first date Marcus and Leandra shared dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse and later headed to a John Legend concert. It was a wonderful evening filled with great conversation, lots of laughter and great music. “I knew I wanted to continue dating Marcus after that night because we had such a good time together” shares Leandra.
Describe your engagement session experience!
Our engagement photo session with AJ was absolutely wonderful! AJ is very creative and has an amazing eye for capturing the most beautiful spots to take pictures. He was extremely professional and he made the day fun. We were blown away by the final results.
AJ definitely inspired us to be ourselves during the entire shoot. At times we forgot he was even there with a camera, that’s how natural it felt. After the shoot, Marcus said he had a lot of fun which was great because he typically doesn’t like to take a lot of pictures. Having the right photographer made all the difference for us – and the right photographer was AJ.
AJ definitely went above and beyond the call of duty. He brought props, recommended hair and make-up artists and gave us wardrobe tips prior to the shoot. Most importantly, he made us feel very comfortable during the shoot which really helped us showcase our personalities in the photos.
Interesting commonalities: Marcus and Leandra share several commonalities; Both are graduates of an HBCU and members of a Black Greek organizations (Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated). In addition, they are both are higher education fundraisers, they love football, and they love to travel. They also enjoy trying out new cuisine and places to eat.
What advice can you share with future engaged couples?
Our advice to engaged couples is to definitely schedule an engagement photo session. Your engagement is an important milestone and memory in your lives that you should document. These photos help to tell your story as a couple and they are wonderful memories to share with your loved ones now and in the years to come.
Our engagement session has greatly prepared us for our wedding day. We now know how to pose together and most importantly how be ourselves in front of the camera. We excited and eagerly awaiting our wedding day photo session with AJ.