Anna and Vinnie

How we met: Vinnie and I met while working at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Baton Rouge. I was a hostess, he was a manager — it was against the rules, but love blossomed. It was easy, it was fun. We went dancing, we went bowling, we went out to eat a lot. I left for the summer to go to Italy, and shortly after, Vinnie left to take a job opportunity in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout these trials, we never for a second doubted what we had found in each other. Vinnie decided to put a ring on it on August 18, 2013, and we can’t wait to share in our love with all of our family and friends on our wedding day!

Image 1 of Anna and Vinnie

how they asked: Vinnie and I have completely opposite schedules. We cherish our rare date nights and plan them well in advance! So- this was one of those occasions. Now sit back and relax, because I have a little too much fun telling this story.

We had a date night planned: dinner at Commander’s Palace and we were dressed accordingly. The entire time we were driving there, Vinnie (in an attempt to throw me off and make sure I didn’t know what was coming) was acting completely grumpy. He kept saying he was tired from working all day (he actually had been setting up the entire proposal) and upset about getting two tickets on his way to come pick me up (this, unfortunately, was actually true). First, we had to go check in to the hotel and quickly drop off our bags (or so I thought).

When we arrive at the front desk, the receptionist informs us that there is an art exhibit on the second floor of the hotel that we should go check out. “Really?” I ask, “What kind of exhibit is it? Who is the artist? What kind of art is it?” Luckily I don’t notice her nervously glance around as she answers and hands me two iPods and programs entitled “Life Imitates Art”, “The exhibit is by a local artist. It’s a guided tour, so when you get up there these headsets will tell you everything you need to know.”

At this point, I am being completely uncooperative. “Are you sure you want to go do this? Do you want to grab a drink before dinner instead?” “Well, she already gave us these headsets so I feel like we have to,” Vinnie says. OK, now some red flags are going through my mind “Oh my gosh, I think this might be it!… But wait, he was being so grumpy …”

We get off the elevator at the second floor and see a poster on a door that matches the image on our program. “There it is!” Vinnie points out. “I guess we should start our headsets.”

“…Art imitates life” a song is playing in the background followed by a voice on the headsets, “Welcome to the art imitates life exhibit…” and then Vinnie’s voice comes on the headsets: “Hi, I’m Vinnie and this is the story of our life together. Please hold all questions until the end of the tour.”

This is a shock.

Simultaneously we walk through the door of the exhibit and I realize what is going on. All of the artwork we’ve collected through traveling together—mostly postcards, street art, and photos of our travels—are displayed like an exhibit across the room.

Now I’m shaking like a leaf and I know what’s happening. “Oh my God” I keep repeating in my head. Vinnie’s voice continues and I’m half listening to headset-Vinnie as he guides us chronologically through our time as a couple. I look up at Vinnie, who has tears in his eyes, and that does it—we both start completely sobbing.

Headset-Vinnie touches on everything: when we first met, working at Sullivan’s in Baton Rouge; college parties together; when I left for the summer to travel in Europe; when he left for a job opportunity in Phoenix for almost a year; when he decided to move back to Louisiana and we took a three-week road trip across the country and didn’t kill each other—and then we got to the end of the gallery. “…New Orleans, where you are from and where we will make our home. This last piece is very special; it was painted by locally renowned artist, Anne Morvant, also known as Gran (my grandmother). It has never been seen before and was painted especially for this occasion…You may now remove the headset and reveal the painting,” Headset-Vinnie says.

I remove the headset and turn to the easel on my right that has a cloth draped over it. I remove the drape and gasp—it is a painting of Vinnie and me. More specifically, it is a painting of Vinnie down on one knee, proposing to me, in this setting, with miniature representations of all of the paintings and photos included in the display. I turn around and Vinnie is kneeling behind me in the same position—“Will you marry me?” he asks, and obviously I said “Yes!” At that moment, a photographer popped out (from where, I’m not sure) and captured the moment! He followed up with an impromptu (for me) photoshoot with pictures that we will cherish forever.

Image 4 of Anna and Vinnie Image 2 of Anna and Vinnie Image 3 of Anna and Vinnie

Photos by J. Mott Photography