Dakota and Jose

Dakota and Jose's Engagement in Nature Coast Botanical Garden

How We Met

Jose and I met in college back in January of 2015 (my sophomore year & his junior) in the cafeteria thanks to him losing in a round of “the odds” game. Although initially, I was under the impression he wasn’t interested in me during the cafeteria conversation, the friend I was with and I still ended up inviting him and his friend to go to the pool at a nearby hotel, where yes, we had to sneak in to use the facility lol. I learned he was from Florida that night which was a hard pill to swallow as I was from Kentucky, so I knew if anything came out of this, it would mean long distance. However, shortly after that night, the thought of long-distance didn’t seem to matter anymore as we very quickly fell for one another. We both played a sport for our university (baseball for him, soccer for me), so any free time we had outside of class and our sport, we spent together, which meant hanging out until 4 or 5 a.m. most nights.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Nature Coast Botanical Garden

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Nature Coast Botanical Garden

Our first official date was on Valentines Day where we went out to dinner and roller skating and on March 6, 2015, we officially started dating! The semester came to an end and the day I was dreading the most was happening: saying goodbye for the first time and having to start our long-distance relationship. Although that was one of the hardest days of our relationship so far, one of the biggest steps happened that day also, the first “I love you” was said. We ended up doing long distance for the next two years off and on between semesters until we both graduated together in 2017. After graduating, we did another full year of long-distance until we made the decision that I was going to be moving to Florida to live with him. We have now been living together since May of 2018 with our two cats Chapo (who we rescued in college together) and Escobar!

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Nature Coast Botanical Garden

How They Asked

About a week before the engagement, one of his sisters texted me telling me the photographer that did her wedding photos texted her asking if her and her husband wanted to do a free mini session but they were unable to on the dates they were given due to her husbands work schedules, so she had asked the photographer if Jose and I could participate in their place and she said yes (they’ve done this before so I believed it 100%). I called Jose all excited and to talk about which date would work better when I realized the closer of the two dates was already one of my days off! So I get in contact with the photographer and schedule the date we chose, which was September 10th. A day or so went by and I remembered that I was also already scheduled to get my hair done that day! I had started a hair transformation the week prior by cutting off a foot of my hair and was going back the 10th to get it highlighted and trimmed up a little more. So not only was I going to be getting professional pictures with my boyfriend but I was also going to be showing off a new hairstyle that was professionally styled for the shoot! I was shocked at how everything was turning out to be timed so perfect but yet I was still oblivious as to what was happening.

Where to Propose in Nature Coast Botanical Garden

We finally arrive at the location and start pictures like normal, we’re walking around stopping at different locations of the gardens taking pictures and getting to know the photographer. She then tells us to have a seat because she was going to go check if a certain spot was still there as they had done some removals and renovations of the gardens and she didn’t want me walking all over the place (it was hot and I was in wedges). I fell for it completely and I still suspected nothing. She calls us from across the gardens and we walk over to where she is and start taking more pictures. Then we walk over to a section that was titled “The Secret Garden” and she told us to let her walk in first so she could picture us walking in underneath an archway, I was still clueless.

We walk in and she has us turn facing her with the proposal set up in the background behind us. I somehow didn’t notice what the rose petals on the ground were for and kept my attention on her instructions for pictures lol. So after a few more pictures she puts her camera down and says to us, “I think it’s time for you all to turn around.” As soon as I turned, Jose was already reaching for his pocket and I finally knew what was happening. He took my hand and started walking me towards the laid out rose petals and candles and neither one of us could hold back the tears any longer. He got down on one knee and all I can remember is him telling me how much he loved me, everything else was a blur because I couldn’t believe it was finally happening! He asked me to marry him (with a helpful reminder from the photographer lol) and of course, I said yes! We then had a mini engagement session before leaving.

I go to call my parents, who still live in Kentucky, to tell them about what just happened but they weren’t seeming as ecstatic as I was expecting them to be so I was a little confused. We told them we were going to stop by his moms house and got off the phone. We arrive at his moms house and to top it all off, my parents answered the door! They were trying so hard not to spill that they were in town when I called them that it resulted in them having short, sweet and to the point responses on the phone ?we ended the night with an engagement dinner with all his family.

Proposal Ideas Nature Coast Botanical Garden

For him to be able to keep this from me and for me not to suspect anything at the same time was a miracle alone. I know everything before it happens and he can’t keep anything from me ?

After 4 1/2 years of being together, September 10, 2019 has been one of the best days of our lives! We are so excited and can’t wait for this next chapter to start! #AlonzoAdventure

Special Thanks

Laura Alina
Photographer