As a photographer specializing in the representation of LGBTQ+ relationships and a gay woman myself, I find myself getting extra excited for sessions with members of our community as well. This session was just the same – the minute I received the inquiry, my heart jumped with excitement. Rebekah first emailed me in July inquiring about photography for her upcoming proposal plans for October. She had everything planned out – it was going to be the day of their anniversary, and they were going to be finishing the final chapter of a book they were working through called “8 Dates” by John and Julie Gottman. She was going to be set up in a classic picnic fashion with snacks and tequila and even a blanket. After the book they were to then start packing their stuff up, which is when Rebekah would propose.
As the day got closer, our correspondence got more exact. We both knew that there was only so much planning to do, and that the only thing left was excitement. When I arrive onsite, I was drawn to how picturesque the location was. Rebekah had laid out their blanket right on the edge of the St. Johns River, and had timed it perfectly with the early phases of sunset glowing in the background. The golden light was streaming in and amplified the romantic setting. Right on cue, as Rebekah started getting up, I moved in. As I snuck in closer, I saw Rebekah speaking quietly and slowing to Chasity as warmth emanated from one to the other. They were so locked into each other and as Rebekah got down on her knee, it was clear that Chasity’s dream was coming true. People were clapping and I had moved in closer to them to capture the details but they never broke their eye contact, still whispering to each other in a moment of pure and utter love. I was so shaken by this powerful feeling. As a photographer, my job is to convey human emotion in an authentic and beautiful way. However, I had never felt so swept up in a moment with a couple like this before. I was crying right along Chasity!!
Love is beautiful, love is pure, and love is a gift. I walked away from the shoot feeling like I had learned something. It is easy to get discouraged with the day to day life, especially as a gay person. Love can be more complicated and the public’s response can be hurtful. However – there was nothing negative about this love. Every moment was joyous and no one could be said otherwise. These are the feelings we harness and these are the emotions that keep us going. I will be forever grateful to Rebekah and Chasity for letting me into this gorgeous moment and changing my life for the better. I love my job and will never take for granted what an impact it can have on the world.
Q1: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?
A1: We met on a dating app! Chasity totally swiped right past me thinking I looked too intimidating, but thankfully I reached out and she gave me a shot so I could show her I’m really a softy, especially when it comes to her.
Q2: What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together. (example: pushing each other to new limits, love to travel, huge comic book fans, foodies, etc.) What makes your relationship unique?
A2: I had always heard you’ll know when you know, and that a big part of the knowing was that it would just “be easy”. I had no idea what that would feel like until I experienced it with Chasity. From the beginning, we just clicked and flowed effortlessly. My heart, mind and soul were being met in unison with hers like nothing I had ever experienced. In the times I would think, “hmmm, I wonder if that’s too much…” or “maybe I shouldn’t have said that…”, she gave me immediate validation signifying “give me more!” and “I couldn’t have said it more perfectly!” The compatibility we experience being together, no matter what we’re doing, creates the most satisfying feeling of peace. We see the best in each other first, and don’t hesitate in calling one another forward when we see one of us can do better. We also really love traveling. After only a month of dating, we vacationed in England for 10 days with my parents and had the best time!
Q3: How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship? (these may often be the same moment, but aren’t always)
A3: After putting in lots of work to live more consciously and having just come up from a deep-dive into a 12-week book study on Deeper Dating, I knew from our first coffee date that I had something very special with Chasity. I knew she was the one when shortly after we became “official”, she told me she loved me and every cell in my body danced. We then went into this deep conversation (we have a lot those!) and I brought out my list of things I was looking for in a spouse. We shed some tears when realizing her list matched mine. A few days later, I had my first consult with Jen, the designer of her engagement ring.
Q6: Are you excited to start planning your wedding day? Do you have any ideas in mind yet?
A6: We’re beyond excited to start planning our wedding and we’re already well on our way even though we just got engaged! Sunsets on the water are one of our most favorite experiences, so we’re hoping to get married at my family’s beach cottage overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in November of next year.
Venue: Private Residence
Photographer: Celeste Burns Photography