Engagement Sessions

A Classic Engagement Session in Philadelphia

Cheri and Tracey’s adventure began online on Match.com in 2020.  It was beginner’s luck for Cheri because no more than a week after joining the site, she gets a message from Tracey welcoming her to Philadelphia.  The two talked often and because of the pandemic restrictions on the east coast they had FaceTime and Zoom dates for almost two months.  Their first in-person date  was on May 22nd where they were able to enjoy a romantic dinner prepared by a personal chef whom Cheri knew, along with some live music in Cheri’s home. When Tracey walked in, he was blown away! The couple have been together ever since! Check out their engagement session captured by Collins Oluka Photography.

Bride: Cheri Spigner 51, Sales Director, and host of The Leader and Lover Podcast

Groom: Tracey Syphax 58, Entrepreneur, Author, and Motivational Speaker 

Place of residence: Cheri currently resides in Mt Airy, and recently purchased a home in Southwest Philly.

Tracey resides in Trenton, New Jersey.

Engagement Shoot Location: Broad Street City Hall and Stenton Studio in Philadelphia.

Engagement story:

It was New Year’s Eve and as I usually do for holidays; I plan an experience I want to have.  We were still limited to the restaurants we could go to and the experiences we could create, but with it being our first NYE, I wanted it to be memorable.  

I was able to get reservations at Rats Restaurant and planned for us to spend the weekend at the Four Seasons where we could view the city and any fireworks that would take place. We packed up for the weekend and headed to Rats.  We ordered drinks and appetizers and Tracey went to the bathroom. When he got back, he was a bit nervous and used the phrase we use when we need to have a serious conversation with each other which is “Baby, you know I love you right”….

I looked at him with a slow “Yeeessss”. He said it again and I got nervous. I was thinking, is this man about to say, I am not ready for this relationship? WELL…quite the opposite! He came around to my side of the table and got on his knee and told me how much he loved me and wanted to share his life with me and asked me to be his wife. Of course, I said yes! He had called ahead to the Four Seasons and had balloons delivered with rose petals, champagne and a cake! All to celebrate the new year and our engagement.  He did good!

For the Groom: Walk us through the behind the scenes of creating this special day: 

It became crystal clear to me in September that Cheri was going to be my wife. I knew I wanted to marry her before my birthday, but her coordinating my surprise birthday party and bringing my family and loved ones together without my knowledge was just the icing on the cake.

I had a lot of options to propose: Christmas, New Year’s Eve and her birthday are all within 30 days of each other.  I figured she would think I would ask on her birthday; so I decided to do it on New Year’s Eve. Planning is not my forte, but I wanted this to be special.  I called the restaurant and hotel to make sure everything was perfect and a perfect surprise that evening.

What makes your love special? 

We dated virtually for 2 months. This shows our commitment to each other, and our flexibility to do what it takes to make this relationship to work successfully. We work hard, we make deals, we have fun, we love to travel, and above all we are blessed to have each other. We support each other every step of the way.

What was the theme of your shoot? 

Philly is a vibe. It’s crazy, sexy, cool with a bit of an east coast swag. It is also the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.  We’d like to think we have a bit of that swag and wanted to represent Philly and our love in the pictures from our engagement photo shoot. 

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot? 

Unlike Tracey, I have never done a professional photo shoot so he was coaching me a lot during it.  He was making sexy jokes that had me laughing so hard and he was telling me to keep moving, always pose, they will eventually get a good shot. Also, our photography, Collins Oluka, was super amazing. He helped us with our poses, directed us, and encouraged us to just be ourselves and enjoy the moment. It was truly amazing.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding? 

Our wedding is May 22nd, which is a year to the day of our first in person date.  It will take place at the National Constitution Center.  American history is Black History so we thought it would be appropriate to hold our ceremony at the NCC a symbol of integration of American and Black History.

The wedding weekend includes a Kentucky Derby styled Gospel & Jazz Brunch.  The brunch will take place at Akwaaba Mansion in West Philadelphia. Akwaaba means “welcome” in Ghana which is our honeymoon destination.  In addition to being a small female Black owned business (we try to support, small, local, Black and female owned businesses), another significance of Akwaaba DC was that it was the first “hotel” we stayed in for our first weekend getaway.  

The theme of the Kentucky Derby also has meaning.  We visited Kentucky on our first rode trip, we stopped by Churchill Downs while we were there. The weekend will be one that showcases our dating journey and will be a celebration of our love and the love of our loved ones who have been on this journey with us. 

Have you started planning your wedding? 

Yes, the planning has started, and it is progressing very beautifully. Our planner, Melissa Brooks has been super amazing. Our wedding is on Saturday May 22, 2021, and we cannot wait.

Congratulations to the happy couple! We wish you many years of wedded bliss!


Collins Oluka Photography|R 7 Studios|Enchanted Allure Events|Sheena Marie Make-up Artistry

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