Brianna and Damien

Image 1 of Brianna and Damien

How We Met

Damien and I met while attending The University of Southern California. During rivalry week, USC throws a pep rally called ‘Conquest’ to celebrate the upcoming football game against hometown rival UCLA. While enjoying the concert, a few of my girlfriends started to chat up the cute football boys they knew (…naturally). Damien and I waited politely for our friends and made small talk while the others finished their conversations. He struck up the nerve somewhere during our shy casual convo to ask me to hang out with him…that same night after the concert had finished. I figured that if I didn’t take the opportunity now to get to know this charming handsome guy, I honestly probably never would. I was nervous (growing up, as the daughter of a retired NBA All-Star, my dad only had one rule for me: NO DATING ATHLETES…lol oops) but I agreed… BEST. DECISION. EVER .

Image 2 of Brianna and Damien

The more we got to know each other the more infatuated and nervous I got. I told my mom I was scared. He opened every door, he never let me walk on the busy side of the street, he bought me ‘just because’ flowers- and not just the grocery store kind but the kind from an actual florist (I’m a self-proclaimed flower snob) tied up with ribbon in crisp brown paper. Damien was a tried and true gentleman and I was scared that the happiness I felt with him was a type of euphoria that wouldn’t last. I was scared because every moment spent with him felt entirely too good to be true. I was scared because I was already falling in love with him and he hadn’t even officially asked me out yet…but he always somehow made my worries feel obsolete. He finally asked me to come meet his family after a big game and I agreed. Right on time my nervous doubts came flooding back. What were they gonna think of me? What should I say? Was I acting weird because I was nervous? How do I introduce myself? What even are ‘we’? I waited around nervously after the game thinking I was gonna meet his parents and maybe one of his siblings. Boy, was I in for a surprise. He didn’t tell me it would be almost all of his siblings, parents, uncles, aunties, nieces, and nephews. He introduced me to each one individually and told them all I was his girlfriend (LOL I still make fun of him for this- homeboy skipped the whole ‘give her a choice and ask her if she wants to date you’ and went straight to ‘She is mine, like it or not’…obviously I liked it). If it had been anyone else I would have been completely overwhelmed, but because of Damien everything felt just right. His family made me feel beyond welcomed. Hearing the word girlfriend come out of his mouth made me feel giddy in a way I had never experienced. He made me feel like I was finally home.

Image 3 of Brianna and Damien

how they asked

Before Damien departed for Kansas City to report for his rookie year of training camp, we decided to take one last vacation. We settled on Asheville, NC so I could show him where I grew up and introduce him to some of my dearest friends. We had such an incredible time together – hiking into the mountains, spending time with friends, playing on the lake. I was sad to see it coming to an end, so on our last day Damien suggested we go meet up with my friend Darien and take some pictures. Darien’s family owns a few beautiful wedding and event venues around the Asheville area and he does a lot of the in-house photography. Since I had yet to see his newest property, Darien suggested we come by so he could give us a tour and shoot some footage of us because ‘one of his brides requested something he hadn’t done before’. I didn’t think anything of it, since Darien is always using his friends as his photography media and ‘practicing’ or ‘playing’ with some new toy. We took a tour of the immaculate property and I reveled in being able to share the gorgeous sweeping mountain views with some of my favorite people. When we got to the ceremony site, Darien launched his drone and picked up his camera. He asked Damien to ‘play’ the groom and stand where the alter normally was. Once he was in place, he asked me to walk down the imaginary aisle and pause at the end with Damien so he could make sure his filming had gone smoothly. Easy enough- I started my walk.

Image 4 of Brianna and Damien

I was beaming, playing pretend like this was so much fun. Looking at Damien, I could see my entire life in front of me. I knew these pictures were gonna be beautiful and that I was gonna be able to look back on this day and remember the amazing time we had making these last few memories before football separated us for a few weeks. I made it down to Damien and paused when I got to him (as requested by Darien). He took my hands and looked me in the eyes. I melted. I told him I loved him. He started to kneel and struggle at his pocket, what is he doing? I thought. Was this apart of the photoshoot? He pulled the ring box out of his pocket and looked up at me. “IS THIS REAL?” I squealed. “SERIOUSLY?! REALLY?” I beamed down at him. He tilted the black velvet ring box open while simultaneously saying my full name. OMG, I thought, HE USED MY FULL NAME – THIS IS REAL.

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He asked me to be his forever. I said, YES!!!

Image 8 of Brianna and Damien

After slipping my beautiful ring onto my finger, my fiancé spun me around and revealed my best friend approaching with a bouquet of fresh cut flowers. She had been standing in the distance and was there to witness the entire thing. I was absolutely overcome with emotion. It was the best moment of my life.

Image 9 of Brianna and Damien

We went down the hill and had celebratory champagne before we took off to go see my parents and break the news to some close family. We capped off our trip watching the stars on Darien’s downtown asheville rooftop, surrounded by friends. The amount of love I felt in that day was indescribable.

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I look forward to every single day I get to love you, my fatu. You’ve always been my person.

Special Thanks

Darien Bodenhorst
 | Photographer
Sydney Coggiola
 | Planning