Natalie and Giovanni

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Photographer | J&J Studios

Venue | Rittenhouse Square

Other Location | Cira Green

Natalie and Gio are a salsa-dancing, jet-setting, food-loving Philadelphia couple who are a match made in heaven. The couple met on a salsa dancing outing through Natalie’s cousin. At the start of the night, Gio snatched her up and wouldn’t let her sit down. The couple danced the night away and have been inseparable since. Natalie loves the urban city skyline so naturally, we wanted the photographs to showcase the epicness of Philadelphia.


Using wide-angle environmental portraits, we captured some beautiful cityscapes along Cira Green and the infamous Rittenhouse Square. It was a blustery winter day, but Natalie and Gio were troopers! We got some stunning images with breathtaking views of the city skyline. After dancing salsa for a few outings, Gio asked her to go with him to the Dominican Republic. In his own words: “One night, after having dinner, we decided we would take a walk along the beach, Natalie loves the crash of the waves crashing along the shore. I remember that night and will always remember that night. She had the most precious and unforgettable smile on her face. I remember I told her I wanted to take a picture of her, and it’s a picture I will always associate with me knowing in that moment she was the one. She was looking back, smiling at me. I could always and will always remember that look. That’s when I knew that I would always pray I could see this beautiful smile for the rest of my life.”


Gio started planning the proposal as soon as he got back. Knowing about her love for the Philly skyline, Gio immediately thought about proposing at the top of the Art Museum steps. With friends and family gathered, he got down on bended knee. According to Natalie, “Our families screamed so loud I never heard Gio ask me to marry him!” The ring itself is a unique custom made design: The band is a twisted pave style band. The diamond is a 0.83 carat G color Flawless clarity Radiant shape diamond.


Natalie and Gio are collaborating on the planning process for the wedding and narrowing down vendors. They are deciding on everything together and super excited. Natalie and Gio are set to wed May 23, 2020 at The Resurrection of our Lord Parish, Northeast Philadelphia with reception to follow at The Loews Philadelphia Hotel.


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

Giovanni and I first met when my cousin, who is his friend, invited me out for a night of salsa dancing. We first met up at a friend’s house where I was warned that Gio was a “hugger” and to expect a hug upon us first meeting. They were sure to warn me because they knew I am not the “hugging” type. Sure enough, when he walked in he reached out his arms for a hug. My first thought when I saw him was that the short guy knew how to dress well. We all left for the salsa club and before I could even sit down, Gio asked me for a dance. We haven’t gone a day without talking since. Natalie and I first met when we went out salsa dancing a few years ago. When I was told by my friend that she was going to be there, I began to smile and wonder what would come of this night. When I first laid eyes on her, I could not help but see how beautiful she was and her very gorgeous smile. I knew I was in for a special night. We got to the Salsa club and I didn’t even let her sit down, we danced the night away! It’s quite funny because before I even met Natalie, I told my friend, who is her cousin, “Don’t be surprised if I marry your cousin”. And here we are! A few years later, I am marrying my best friend. From that first night dancing, laughing, and smiling, we hit it off and I could not be a happier man!


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

What makes our relationship special is that Gio is everything that I’m not. He balances me out and points me in the right direction. He’s outgoing, organized and extremely timely whereas I’m more to myself, go with the flow and a bit of a procrastinator. Gio goes out of his way to make things easier for me in my daily life like making sure I have food to eat after working over 10 hours and ensuring I have enough left over for lunch the next day. He learned quickly that feeding me takes him a long way and I think we truly are food soulmates. We’ve been blessed to travel to various countries together and before we recover from 1 trip Gio is already plotting the next one. It is because of him that I have been able to have so many experiences that I otherwise probably would have never done. These experiences include traveling to Europe for my first time, going camping (tent and all!), snowboarding and skiing and so much more. He has opened so many doors in my life and I really don’t know where I would be without him. Our relationship is such a unique and special relationship. We began as mere friends, I mean to think Natalie didn’t even like me at first! haha! She thought I was too short! LOL! The power of laughter and perseverance! But I knew she was the one!


One thing that I noticed is me personally becoming a better man. She has pushed me and motivated me day in and day out to be the best version of myself I can be. She has really been a blessing in my life and I couldn’t picture life without Natalie. She’s been my rock and my everything! We love to travel… As crazy as it sounds, we went together to the Dominican Republic 6 months within us meeting! We’ve been to Paris, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, DR, we’ve been all over and that is just the beginning! She likes to say we were soulmates without even noticing because we both have the same great taste in food and that is a huge win for me! She’s always been there for me and Natalie always has supported me, especially when it comes to my love for playing music. I’m a Hispanic Choir Director in Philadelphia and regardless of the obstacles I’ve come up against, she’s helped me get through it by sticking by my side. I couldn’t have thanked God for a better partner for life!

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

I’m not quite sure how I knew Gio was the one. It was just something I felt. A few weeks after we first met I invited Gio out dancing again, this time for my birthday. As my group of girlfriends and I walked to the Salsa club I remember telling one of my cousins that he would be there and that maybe I would be a “Morales” someday. This was ironic because at this time, I had only seen Gio twice before and was convinced that he was NOT my type. A few months later we became a couple and a month into our relationship I was talking to a fellow teacher while on the school bus for a field trip for our school. We some how began talking about Gio and I asked her if she knew when her husband came along that he was “the one”. She answered back “absolutely!” and explained that it was something she just felt. I became terrified because I could not believe that within just 1 month of us dating I had found the person I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life. I never even told Gio about this until when we got engaged! After Natalie and I started dating, we had our first trip a few months to the Dominican Republic. One night, after having dinner, we decided we would take a walk along the beach, Natalie loves the crash of the waves crashing along the shore. I remember that night and will always remember that night. She had the most precious and unforgettable smile on her face. I remember I told her I wanted to take a picture of her, and it’s a picture I will always associate with me knowing in that moment she was the one. She was looking back, smiling at me. I could always and will always remember that look. That’s when I knew that I would always pray I could see this beautiful smile for the rest of my life.



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

Gio proposed to me at the Art Museum steps. I was somewhat suspicious because we watch the Eagles game each week with my family and on the day of the proposal, Gio wanted to watch the game at a restaurant because his friends were visiting. Needless to say I was not happy about the change and was even more upset when his friends wanted to stop at the Art Museum after church while the game was on! But I was trying my best to be a good girlfriend and kept my comments to myself while we drove to the steps. When we arrived, everyone else in the car jumped out before I could even ask if I could stay and listen to the game on the radio. But again, I was being a good girlfriend and went with it.


Gio’s friends walked past the Rocky statue which confused me because I thought that’s what they wanted to see. At that moment I became suspicious. However, when they began going up the steps they wanted to run up them like in the movie and then I thought that they were truly just being tourists. Gio and I walked behind and Gio asked me if I wanted to run up the steps too. Naturally I said no, I’ll walk and as we walked up I began to see members of my family and his family huddled together. It was at that moment that I knew the proposal was happening! Our families screamed so loud I never heard Gio ask me to marry him! I couldn’t believe I was engaged and had to get used to the weight of the ring on my left hand! I kept shaking my hand around saying, “It feels so heavy!” It was an unforgettable moment and luckily my nails were done! So I didn’t propose until October, but I had been planning this proposal since August!! First, I had to think of where to set up the whole thing. Natalie loves the city skyline so I began to think of different places that housed a great city skyline… and where else than the top of the Art Museum steps *Queue the Rocky Theme Song*!! I then had to find a way to get her family, my family, and our friends there without her knowing… probably the toughest task! We left church that Sunday and I told Natalie that we should go watch the Eagles game in Center city! My best friends pretended they were going to do some touristing running up the steps. They ran up and Natalie and I walked behind. We got to the top of the steps and she was surprised and smiling and happy! It was truly one of the best days of my life!


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

Months before the proposal Gio had taken me into various jewelry shops to see what styles of rings I liked. Gio is very meticulous so in each store we went into he would take notes on all of the “5 Cs” I think they call it. He could probably be a part time jeweler with all the time and research he put into the ring. I didn’t want a ring that looked like a lot of the other rings out there and therefore I chose a band that had the diamonds wrapped around. For the diamond, I was convinced that I wanted an emerald cut with a halo. Gio actually took 2 different pictures that I liked and merged them together to create a picture of the perfect ring for me. What’s really special is that he took it to the jewelry shop that my uncle works at to have it custom made for me! Before I had decided to go around looking for different rings, I had to naturally know what Natalie liked. I tried to be subtle… which I’m naturally pretty bad at haha! We looked around, browsed, she showed me what she liked, and I tried to take mental notes. I then was able to narrow it down. I knew that whatever style and diamond she liked, I would have to get custom made because she has a 3.5 ring size!! When I knew that she liked the twisted pave style band, I had to also take into account what style diamond she liked. It came down to two styles, emerald and radiant! She was so convinced that she would be getting an emerald when I came across a BEAUTIFUL radiant diamond! I ended up getting the diamond from a respected jewel company and the band and ring custom made. It honestly was such a beautiful outcome that I honestly couldn’t believe it when it was complete! The process took about 6-8 weeks to get done, from choosing a diamond, to the wax being made, to seeing the final product. It was truly amazing!


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

I am super excited and nervous to plan our wedding! I never thought that I would be married, so unlike most girls, I have absolutely no pinterest boards waiting with years worth of ideas for what I would want on my wedding day. Therefore, I’m trying to sort through everything now as we move forward. Having Gio by my side throughout this process is comforting though because as mentioned before, he helps to guide my decisions. So far we’ve decided on everything together and I know we will continue to. If he does not like something, its automatically out of the equation and he does the same for me. Its been a work in process but thanks to his timeliness and organization I’m confident that our wedding day will be absolutely gorgeous and as stress free as possible. I’m excited to meet Gio at the end of the aisle and take him on as my husband for the rest of my life! I am pretty excited to start planning actually.


Natalie and I have started planning and already have our venue picked for our wedding date of May 23, 2020! We’ve picked out a church for our ceremony and are going through the process of narrowing down all of our vendors. Despite what Natalie might say, she is a pretty detailed planner. She honestly is very meticulous and is definitely detailed oriented. She also is full of questions and wants to be very informed before making good sound decisions! I know that whatever we decide, we’ll be in this together, just like we’ve been since the very beginning, side by side. I know that she will have my back, and I will have hers. She takes care of me, and I take care of her. I cannot wait to be standing at the end of the aisle waiting to see her in her beautiful dress! I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life with Natalie!