Makayla and Payne

Point Clear, Alabama



Photographer | Justine & Wayne | @justine_cunningham

Venue | The Grand Hotel in Point Clear

Location | Saint Francis at the Point

Makayla is finishing her doctorate in South Carolina and Payne is finishing his doctorate in Auburn, Alabama. They traveled to The Grand Hotel to have their engagement portraits taken because the area is one of their favorites to visit.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?

From Makayla’s Point of View: My parents met in the Air Force. My dad was from Abbeville, Alabama and my mom was from SC. I love where I am from, but when it came time to go to college, it was very evident that the Lord was calling me to Alabama. I had softball scholarships to play other places in SC, but I came to Wallace Dothan. During my two years there, I was able to live with my dad’s two brothers and my grandparents. Dothan quickly become like a second home. One of the friends I made while living in Dothan used to tell me that a guy he went to high school with was such a great person and that he knew if we ever met we would be good friends! He was such a jokester and I didn’t think much of it.


When it was time to transfer, after much prayer I decided to go to the University of Mobile to play softball. That same friend came up to me the day after I signed and said “Mak, you know who goes to Mobile right? Payne Palmer, the guy I told you about.” Again, I just laughed at him, but later on, I did do some Facebook stalking.


What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together. What makes your relationship unique?

From the day we went on our first ice cream outing, until now Payne has always opened the car door for me. This is just one example of his heart for serving others. He always places me and others before himself and will bend over backwards to help you in any way he can. He is the quiet one between the two of us, but his actions speak volumes and the words he shares, carry so much weight because you know he thought through each one. I love hand-written letters. I believe that it is a lost art, and knowing someone took the time to write something to you is so special. Growing up my Daddy used to leave me, my sister, and my mom sticky notes in our cars, lunch boxes, etc. so I guess I get that from him. I began writing Payne good luck notes that I stuck in goody bags for him on game days before we started dating and we continue to write each other letters and mail them to each other to this day. After graduating from Mobile, Payne began pharmacy school at Auburn and will graduate in May of 2020. Although I was accepted at schools in Alabama and was set on staying, I felt the Lord calling me back home, and so I came back to go to the University of South Carolina for physical therapy school. I did not understand this at the time, but we have grown so much through this time of long distance. Instead of seeing this time of waiting so long to get married as a burden, He has shown us that it is a blessing. Long distance is hard, but each day I am thankful that the Lord’s plans and timing are always greater than our own.


We love to cook together and would rather eat a meal that we got to prepare together than eating out any day. Italian food and ice cream are definitely our love language. We love to find hole in the wall Italian places to eat in each town that we travel to.


How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship?

Payne- I knew Makayla was the one in not one exact moment but over the course of months. The moment she spilt ice cream all over herself to the numerous date nights that we shared together only strengthened our relationship. The night we started dating, we were at the beach and we stayed up what felt like all night talking about life and each other. It was one moment that I will always look back upon and think, “she is the one for me”. Makayla – I prayed for Payne and our relationship long before I knew that we would be more than friends. He quickly became my best friend, and I felt such peace when I was with him. I can’t define one single moment where I knew. It was a collection of moments where we prayed, laughed, talked, cried, and experienced life’s highs and lows together that I knew that he was the one that I wanted to do life with forever.


Give us all the details about the proposal. How and where did it happen? Was it a surprise? What was the planning process?

The Proposal – June 17, 2018 Seaside has always been special to us. It has grown so much since the first time we went. In June of 2015 it is where he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. It is where we shared our first kiss. In November of 2015, we had a day off of practice and we drove there for the day and he told me he loved me for the first time. Each summer we go to 30A with his family on vacation and spend hours just walking the beach and talking. So when he was ready to propose, he said he couldn’t think of any better place than the place that meant so much to us throughout our relationship. I go to school year round so I only get one week off during the summer, which was the week of the Palmer beach vacation. I wasn’t picky about all the engagement details. I didn’t even have a particular ring that I loved. I knew that I would love whatever he got me because it would be the one he chose just for me. The only thing I had always told him was that I wanted my family close by afterwards so that I could share that moment with them. It just so happened that my dad’s brother asked my parents and sister to come to Panama City that same week to watch my cousin play baseball. After much prayer, Payne felt that the Lord opened up this perfect opportunity to propose. He asked for my parent’s blessings and orchestrated all the details with them and his family. It was my birthday, and my Mema and I share the same birthday. My parents, sister, and Mema were driving down that day, and Payne told me that he was taking me and Mema out for our birthday. We pulled into Seaside to wait on my family because they were “running late.” Payne told me they had made some changes to the chapel that we should go see while we waited on them. As we began walking he went the wrong way and almost took me through the place where both of our families and close friends were hiding. We ended up walking through the bushes and behind some alley to get there and at this point, I am asking him what we are doing. As we came out in front of the chapel there was a bench pulled out with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a bible, and a letter. At this point it all begins to sink in. The Bible has Makayla Palmer on it, and then Payne got down on one knee. I am so glad that he wrote all that he wanted to say in the letter in case he forgot something because I was shaking and crying and cannot remember everything he said. After a few minutes alone, our families came out of hiding. It was such a special time to be able to celebrate with them. My dad tells everyone that ask that he couldn’t have hand picked a better man to marry his daughter. I couldn’t agree more.


Ever since the day that Payne and I began to become friends I knew that the relationship we shared was special. Long before we went on our first date I have prayers for him written in my prayer journal. I cry thinking about how faithful the Lord has been through our relationship and how much he has truly blessed us with.


We’re all about the bling… Tell us all about that ring!

I always told Payne that I would love whatever ring he picked out for me. It would be special because it would be the one that he chose just for me. Each time I look down at my ring I am reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness and that a circle lasts forever. My ring represents the commitment that Payne and I will make on November 14, 2020. Our commitment to live the rest of our days, good and bad, continuing to love each other, serve, grow together, and live the story that the Lord has so beautifully planned for us.


Are you excited to start planning your wedding day? Do you have any ideas in mind yet?

We are enjoying planning our wedding and have began reaching out to various vendors. The most important thing for us is that the Lord is glorified through each and every moment of our day. He has blessed us with far more than we could have hoped or imagined and has been so faithful through each chapter of our relationship.