Corey and Lali began dating when they were just fifteen years old. Even at such a young age, she knew he would become her husband one day. 9 years later, he got down on one knee at the Palos Verdes Botanical Gardens, her favorite place in the world. The same gardens where she always dreamt of getting married. Little did she know, behind her was her family and the people that meant the most to her. He asked her four simple words and she said yes to forever. The surprise engagement was in every sense emotional as it was beautiful. I had such an honor to capture this momentous moment for such a gorgeous and deserving couple.
My fiancé, Corey, and I met in 2010 at just 15 years old. A church community, that my church associated with often, was throwing a luau fundraiser and had invited our church to attend. At the time I wasn’t in the mood to go but my mother insisted (thank God she did.) So I went to this luau with no intentions or expectations. At the luau the church’s youth group put on a show while dinner was being served. I remember glancing across the stage and I knew everyone up there expect one person. He stood out to me right away and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. I had mentally decided that I would just admire him from a far and not act on it. After the show a mutual friend came by to say hi before the luau ended and I decided to just ask who the mystery boy was. Right away the mutual friend knew I was asking because I was interested and I begged him not to say anything. Well, my begging didn’t work because he went and told Corey that someone wanted to meet him. As I’m walking to my car to meet my mom, this mutual friend stops me and says I can’t leave because he had something to show me. I was both confused and annoyed and ready to keep walking until I saw something from the corner of my eye. I glanced over and Corey was hiding behind a bush trying to get a look at me. He saw that I had caught him and he jumped out trying to act as if he wasn’t just hiding. I was mortified and had no idea what to say! He was such a gentlemen and introduced himself and shook my hand. I wanted to talk more and also redeem myself because I could feel my awkwardness oozing, but my mom was calling for me to hurry up. So we exchanged MySpace info and continued to talk from there.
Corey and I have been together for 9 years since we were 15. It was difficult because we lived so far from each other. He is from Orange County and I’m from the South Bay of Los Angeles. We were so young but so determined to make our relationship work. We never believed in “breaks” and we couldn’t ever imagine not being together. So throughout all the trials we’ve faced we’ve always pulled through because the foundation of our relationship is strong. Our love and commitment to each other outweighs any troubles we could face. We enjoy being in each other’s company. Going out to eat is our number one joy (super foodies) and we are Disney lovers! We find any excuse and time to go to Disneyland. What has to be my favorite bonding time is when we are in the car together. I love our conversations or sitting with the music blasting and just enjoying being together.
We both knew it was a for sure thing the first time we ate together. He had came over to my house for the first time to hang out and I didn’t want to stay in doors all day. We got hungry so we both decided to walk to Taco Bell. At the time Taco Bell was serving these spicy nacho burritos (with the real spicy Fritos in them) and we were raving to each other how good they were. We get to Taco Bell and he orders the food for us. He had gotten us 2 burritos each. It kind of just clicked that this would be our first time eating in front of each other. So we open our burritos and instead of biting into them we both started ripping it piece by piece and eating it like that. Later that day after he had gone home, we talked about our day over the phone and we both confessed that we were too shy to eat in front of each other. Also, I hadn’t finished my 2nd burrito so I took it home. He confessed he wanted to eat my burrito but was too shy to ask. We laughed about it for days and still remember that day to this day. It’s not romantic but that’s when we both knew we were in it for the long run.
The whole thing was a huge surprise. For over a month Corey had been planning with my cousins and my mom with out me having a clue! I still have no idea how they pulled that off because I’m very nosey. Corey has always known that my dream wedding venue was the Rose Garden in the South Bay Botanical Gardens. So he and my cousins had invited my whole family and his, via Facebook invite, to the gardens for the engagement. They were all aware it was a surprise. The day before the engagement he had told me that he wanted to go to Disneyland the next day and to get my Disney stuff ready. My sister-in-law had txted me and said before we go to Disneyland, she wanted to do this photo shoot we had been planning for months. I was excited to have such an eventful day! So the morning of, Corey wakes me up and says we have to go to the mall to get me something to wear for the photo shoot and I said I already had an outfit. He told me he wanted me to have a new outfit so I said okay fine. We go to the mall and I couldn’t find anything I liked so I got some pants and called it a day. We get home and my mom is in the living room dressed all fancy and I’m like where are you going?! She says she’s going to a church event so I didn’t think much of it and said okay. The whole time I’m getting ready, Corey is pacing back and forth and would not sit down. He was making me so anxious and I thought he just didn’t want to take pictures. Then he starts rushing me saying we have to take the pictures on time so we have time to go to Disneyland so I’m like okay okay! We get to the gardens and my sister-in-law and her cousin ( best Photographer ever, Kai More Photography) meets us at the car and we walk to the entrance. As we’re walking I see my mom’s car parked front and center and I turn to Corey and asked why my mom was there?? He thought quickly and said she was there to take photos with us. It sounded like something my mom would do so I bought it. We get inside the gardens and we start to take pictures here and there making our way to my favorite garden, the Rose Garden. Our photographer places us in the middle of the gardens and starts to give me directions on how to pose for each picture. Finally she says close your eyes and pretend like your having a nice dream. After she takes the picture Corey tells me to open my eyes and turn around. I see my whole family emerge from the sides of the garden and he had gone down on one knee. My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe what was happening! I screamed and I cried and I was just so in love with him for making that moment so special. I’ll never forget it!
Every time Corey and I would walk past jewelry shops we would go in and I would point out all the styles I liked. Even browsing on social media I would screen shot rings I liked for his reference. The ring I have couldn’t be more perfect! It’s has a Victorian antique look that I absolutely LOVE! He did excellent!
I’ve been waiting to start putting my wedding ideas into motion! I’m so excited! 5 years ago, we were browsing in target and I found the wedding planner book for $5!! I had to buy it. Corey thought I was silly but I knew one day I would need it. 5 years later here we are and I can’t wait to see what it looks like after the wedding planning is finished. I’m not going to lie, planning has been stressful but it’s a fun stress. My family has been so supportive so it makes things even better. I just can’t wait to marry the love of my life!