One of the things I love most about sharing engagement sessions is the magic of it all, and today's oh-so-Miami session, from our Fave Elaine Palladino, is no exception. For their session, Christine and Reinaldo showcased both their Cuban roots and the date explorations of Miami's neighborhoods that led up to Reinaldo's epically romantic proposal... and every bit of their story is more charming than the last.
Although Christine and Reinaldo both grew up in South Florida, and attended University of Florida at the same time, they may never have met if it weren't for online dating. They are one of those "eHarmony success stories".
Both sets of their parents and grandparents came to the US in the 70's, and Christine's family lived in Little Havana for some time after moving here. The Calle Ocho area was the first place they explored together while dating, on what Christine calls 'a neighborhood date fieldtrip': "We both have a deep yearning for the Cuba that belonged to our grandparents, so documenting such a special stage in our lives on Calle Ocho was a nod to the deep cultural ties passed on to us by them."
As their relationship strengthened, they continued to explore Miami's neighborhoods. Coconut Grove is another favorite place for the two of them, and a church discovered on another "date fieldtrip", Plymouth Congregational, will be where they say their vows. Says Christine, "The reception is a block away at a building that stands out with its New Orleans architecture - another one of our favorite cities to explore. The two things I knew I had to have on my wedding day were that specific church and Elaine Palladino Photography."
When it comes to romantic engagement stories, theirs is right there at the top. Reinaldo planned a weekend away, and told her to pack for St. Augustine, but Christine knew something was up when he turned the car in the opposite direction: He looked at me and said "all I ask is that you relax and don't ask questions." Eeek! He drove me to the spot where seaplane tours take off in Miami. We put on our noise cancelling headsets for the flight, and Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon" was playing. I think I cried the entire way out of nervousness. Once we got to our destination, the pilot turned the plane in a way so I couldn't see exactly where we were landing until we docked. When I walked out onto the dock, a woman welcomed us to Little Palm Island. I had mentioned the island once in passing and he had noted it down and planned our weekend around it.
They walked around and explored the private island until sunset, when they settled into a set of beach chairs and the main event began: He said "by now you've probably realized this isn't a regular weekend" and handed me a card along with the little flashlight that came with our room keys. He wrote a beautiful message about why he loves me and why he wants to marry me. I was crying while reading the card, and when I was done, I looked up to find him down on one knee proposing. Once we kissed, we looked over to see one of the Key Deer that roams the island staring right at us! The surprises weren't over, because dinner was a private table on the sand overlooking the water. There were rose petals and candles everywhere (and we later found out the Key Deer love to eat rose petals and walk right up to your table and try to take your food!). We spent the rest of the weekend on the island relaxing, and once we got home there was another surprise waiting - he had secretly arranged for our families to greet us at a celebratory engagement dinner at his parent's house.
Amazing, right? Congratulations, you two - here's wishing your life together is every bit as magical as that proposal!