Mahalia and Antoine’s engagement session was so full of fun and life; they had me smiling and laughing the entire time. These two seriously have infectious smiles, and their love lights up when they look at each other. Just scroll and you’ll see how happy they make each other. We started their session at a local playground that had really unique wooden architecture, and spent some time playing like kids again. I think we all forgot how fun swings and slides are! We ventured to Rutgers Gardens next where we explored the grounds, and Mahalia brought us to this amazing hidden area under/inside a giant tree. Such a cool place to shoot! The last location was near an ice cream shop that sits next to an old railroad track. I love that Mahalia and Antoine chose to bring their own ice cream even though we were next to the shop! They know what they like ;).

They met on the first day of college at Montclair State back in 2011. They remained close friends that year while they both dated other people. After a year of Mahalia running collegiate track (that’s actually how we met! Mahalia and I ran track together in high school!) and Antoine working toward his Athletic Training education, they became much closer even with their busy schedules. Since they were always together, their friends kept asking if they were dating, but they continued to view themselves as just super close friends. Mahalia noticed that she was developing feelings for Antoine but would push them aside in fear of ruining the great friendship they had. What she didn’t know was that Antoine was pushing aside those same feelings for the same reasons. True emotions were came to light after a special Secret Santa gift that Antoine gave to Mahalia (a necklace that read: “Close to the heart, together from the start, best friends will never part”). A few days after that began a new chapter in both of their lives.

Soon after, they finally began their relationship which helped them both grow as individuals and as a couple within the Christian Faith. Mahalia said, “Antoine has been challenged to grow and dig deeper in His spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ since we have began dating. He believes he has been challenged and continues to be pushed to live out the authenticity of the Gospel!”

They told me that they are stronger together and help challenge each other to keep up consistent prayer life, bible study and evangelism about the power of the Gospel and Jesus Christ. Mahalia said, “Antoine is my best friend and I am beyond blessed to be able to call him my husband very soon!” How sweet! Antoine explains, that their story of best friends turned lifelong lovers “is a living testament of the power of Jesus when Christ is at the foundation of a relationship and two people decided to serve one another in sacrificial love.”

These two love to be anywhere outside, whether they’re riding their bikes together, walking through the neighborhood or park, or playing on the swings! No surprise that they chose this playground for the first engagement session location! My favorite part is that when I asked them to respond to a few questions about their relationship, Mahalia told me that they discussed them on the phone for about 6 hours! They got to take some time to walk back down memory lane and talk about all they have been through together. I got the chills when she told me that. I’m so thankful that I was able to photograph such pure love between two incredible people. Wishing you both all the best!


Locations: Lawrence Brook Elementary SchoolRutgers Gardens, Ice Cream Depot


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