We get a little giddy for wedding industry weddings... how could we not? It's so rewarding to see the girls and guys in this biz finally tie the knot themselves! Aislinn Kate captured one of Penscacola's best and brightest, Sara Gilliane, and her beau Damien in a romantic and fun-filled e-sesh in a few of their fave Pensacola downtown and bayside locales. How could you not fall for the love between these two?
In a twist of most perfect fate, the two met - where else? - at a wedding that Sara was coordinating. Damien describes the moment he first saw her as one in which time stopped, and when he finally knew the meaning of love at first sight: "I thought about her the whole ceremony, how could I not? After the I do's, as soon as I could pull my friend away from the other guests at his wedding I asked him who that girl was, as I watched her from across the room. He smiled and said, "Her name is Sara and actually she asked me who you were too."
Once Damien knew he'd found his princess, all that was left was for the prince to give her a ring to match... and a fairytale proposal, of course! During their relationship, Sara had shared her childhood dreams of escaping to a secret garden; for Damien, the Keys were the closest adult version of that: "I spent two years living in the Virgin Islands and knew well that lifestyle that I describe as Peter Pan, where adults don't have to grow up or can at least postpone for a while. One where hopefully times slows a bit with Hemmingway and hammocks, trade winds, flip flops, popsicle blue water, and sunshine." So, he planned a surprise trip to Key West, flew Sara down to Miami, rented a yellow convertible, and they took the paradise drive down to Key West.
And here's the rest of the fairytale engagement story, as Damien told it to us:
I pulled down the drive, eased past the houses directly on the street, back under the old trees that created a canopy so thick it seemed to cool the air until we got to a dead end of privacy fences. "Here we are," I said looking for a reaction.
"Where do we go?" she asked.
"Through that gate," I said pointing the right of the fence where a little lever sat just below a single Key hole as if hidden.
Before I opened the gate I stopped and looked at Sara. "Do you remember when you told me when you were little you always dreamed of having a secret garden and still do?" She nodded and smiled. "Welcome to your secret garden," I said as I opened the gate. Watching her was like seeing a little girl meet Cinderella in Disney World. No doubt she found magic in that moment. The place that I had reserved was called the Secret Garden and had belonged to a local artist in Key West. It had just recently became a place one could rent out before they turned it into an art conservatory. The privacy fence surrounded the compound of lush tropical plants with a little brick walk that wound through it all eventually taking you to a little cottage that sat in the middle of it all. And it was all ours for the next few days.
Once the dancing around finally ended we noticed it was starting to get dark as the afternoon was giving way to evening.
"Should we just hit the town or get ready for dinner," she asked. I knew she would want to take pictures soon so I recommended we shower up and get ready for dinner. I got in the shower first so I could prep for the big moment. As she showered I took out the bottle of champagne that we had picked up on the way down and put it on the front porch of the cottage. It had a single light that only gave way to illuminate the small porch with its two rocking chairs but did little for the tropical darkness that surrounded the cabin. It was perfect. I took out the ring one last time and gave it a little polish knowing this was the last time I would see it without her seeing it. This big moment I had waited 35 years for, I still wanted to be more perfect for her than myself. Deep breath, then I put the small box under the pillow of the chair I would sit in. Finally she was ready and looked amazing as always. I told her that I wanted to toast first before going out as it was a big step in our lives that she was finally moving to Atlanta with me. In the background I had some music playing, Marian McParland with a jazz quartet. Her music always reminds me of the charm of a Cary Grant film. So I popped the bottle and poured our glasses. I let her start with a toast which she did. Then it was my turn, so I began. Just what I said entire is for my Sara and I to know only but as I eased down to one knee I did say... "Taking the oversea highway to the keys has been a dream of mine as far back as I can remember, as was finding your secret garden has always been one of yours. From now forward, there's no reason we can't live every dream together." A few moments later she said "of course" and the rest of this story will be left to what dreams may come.
It's pretty much the very definition of swoon-worthy, y'all! Here's to true love - congrats, you two!