A Picture Perfect Philly Engagement Session

Paris and Vernon grew up in Delaware, where they both played sports so they were vaguely familiar with each other prior to actually meeting. Paris and Vernon officially met in 2008 when Vernon transferred to Wilmington University and Paris had just finished her freshman year of college at Brown University and was home in Delaware for the summer. Vernon and Paris, shared mutual friends and would see each other at various social events. However, it wasn’t until the summer of 2010 where sparks began to fly. “Although we didn’t officially date at this time, there was always undeniable chemistry and even a little “fling” during that summer and into the fall of my senior year (he even sent me flowers to my college apartment!),” said Paris. Unfortunately, there summer fling cooled off and the two lost touch. But as fate would have it almost 5 years later in December 2014 the two would meet again. “I was in my third year of law school in Washington, D.C. and I received a random text message from Vern at 7 am on a Saturday morning which read: “Just thinking about you, hope all is well. And sorry if I woke you!” Well, he didn’t wake me as I actually happened to be on a train heading back to Delaware for winter break!.” The two chatted over text and they both discovered that they would be attending the same open mic night at a local bar in Delaware a few days later. “We met up at the open mic night and made plans to have lunch the next day, which was Christmas Eve,” recalled Paris. “We had lunch and what was supposed to be a quick lunch turned into several hours.” That lunch would be the moment they both realized that there was something special between them and the two have been inseparable ever since. Check out their picture perfect engagement session captured by Kanayo Adibe. 

Bride: Paris Shavelle Waterman, 27, Corporate Lawyer

Groom: Vernon Lee Dupree, Jr., 30, University Recruiter and Men’s College Basketball Coach

Place of residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Engagement Shoot Location: Old City, Philadelphia

Wedding date: May 18, 2018

The Proposal Story:  

Last October, Vern turned the big 3-0, so I planned to surprise him with a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew had greater plans and the weather forecast indicated rain and high winds during our entire trip. Fortunately, I had booked with Southwest, so with just two days to go until the trip I was able to switch our flights to Mexico. Vern and I both happen to be Libras and share birthdays just a week apart, so even though this trip was to celebrate him, he made plans for a candlelit dinner on the beach on our first night to celebrate my birthday. It was gorgeous. About 30 minutes into dinner a photographer stopped by our cabana and asked if we wanted pictures, of course I said yes. So we took a few pictures and then suddenly Vern turns to me in a very serious voice and drops to one knee! I was shocked, so shocked that my initial response was “are you sure?” quickly followed by a big YES!  Little did I know, Vern had squeezed the details surrounding the trip from my mom so that he could plan his proposal and had made arrangements with the photographer so that our moment would be captured for us forever. We immediately facetimed our parents who were so excited and had the best vacation ever. I can truly say it was the best night of my life and the happiest trip ever.

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

I really wanted to catch Paris completely off guard. We often talk about our future, so I had a pretty solid idea of the type of proposal that Paris might love. I knew she wanted a romantic and intimate engagement, so it was my job to make it happen while keeping everything a surprise. For my 30th birthday, Paris planned to surprise me with a trip. I knew when the trip was, but I didn’t know where we were going. In order to pull off the perfect proposal, I needed to somehow find out where Paris was taking me (without Paris knowing, of course). I asked my future mother-in-law, Robyn, for a little help. She was initially reluctant to give me any details of the trip (not wanting to ruin the surprise her daughter had planned), but she soon opened up after learning that I planned to propose. I had met with her parents a few weeks before the trip to ask for her hand in marriage, so they knew it was coming, just not when. Paris’ mom told me only what I needed to know: what country we were traveling to and where we were staying. With that information and some help from the resort, I was able to plan what I thought would be the perfect proposal. So here we are, two days out from my “surprise” birthday trip. I’ve got the ring and a solid plan in place. I then get a call from Paris asking for my airline account information, which I give to her and immediately texted her mom to find out what’s going on. She tells me that Paris has changed our trip from the Dominican Republic to Mexico because there was a hurricane headed straight for the DR. At this point, I’m glad our vacation won’t be a total washout, but also a little frustrated that my plans for the proposal weren’t going to happen as I had planned. We get to Mexico and arrive at this amazing resort. I told Paris that even though it was “my” birthday trip, I wanted to thank her and celebrate her birthday on our first night at the resort. The weather was a bit unpredictable so I didn’t want to chance poor weather later in the week. I didn’t have much time to pull things together once we arrived but I somehow managed to escape Paris for just enough time to plan a three course, candlelit dinner on the beach for the two of us that evening and hire a photographer to capture the proposal. That evening, we are seated for our dinner on the beach and shortly after the photographer soon appears to ask if we would like our pictures taken. Paris had no idea this was all a part of my plan as she thought the photographer was just there to take pictures of people staying on the resort. We took a few photos seated at our table and then the photographer asks us to stand, and that’s when things got real. I turned to Paris, got down on one knee and asked her if she would spend the rest of  her life with me. A very surprised Paris said yes and the rest is history!

What makes your love special? 

We are great
teammates and we love to have fun with each other. At the very beginning of our courtship we asked each other about the type of relationship we envisioned for ourselves and also what we wanted to bring to our relationship. It may have something to do with our athletic backgrounds, but we both said we wanted to be good teammates and wanted to make good partners. Our love is special because we value each other’s strengths, we make up for each other’s weaknesses, we try to push each other to keep improving and never become complacent, and above all else we make sure that each other is always “good.” Life is so much better that way.

What was the theme of your shoot? 

Philadelphia: Old and New. Philadelphia is such beautiful city with so much rich history so we wanted to capture the elegance and natural beauty of this city. Philly is also a city known for its authentic art culture and is a city filled with brilliant creative minds so we wanted to take advantage of having such amazing backdrops and canvases for our pictures. Philly is also special to us because it’s where our wedding will be and is the first city we’ve lived in together after spending the first two years of our relationship long distance.

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot? 

We scheduled our shoot for May as we thought we might have a pretty good chance of good weather and as the saying goes, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” right? Wrong. Our pictures may not show it, but it was very cold the day of our shoot and we also enjoyed a few rain showers. But it was okay, we were good sports and made the best of it. It also helped to have my parents as our personal chauffeurs to for the day to help us stay dry! Our photographer, Kanayo Adibe, was also amazing and made things really fun for us. It was his first time exploring Philadelphia so we had fun showing him around and finding some new hidden gems ourselves!


What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?  

We are so blessed and eternally grateful for the things God has done in our lives so we are most excited to commit ourselves to each other before our family and friends in the eyes of the Lord. We just can’t wait to celebrate this blessing with our tribes! With us both coming from large families and having lots of great friends, one thing we enjoy the most is bringing people from various facets of our lives together. Our wedding will be an amazing celebration of our love  and we are so excited to create memories with the people who mean so much to us and will continue to support us long after our wedding day!.


Have you started planning your wedding? 

Yes, we began “planning” about a month after we got engaged. “Slow and steady wins the race” has been our motto. Once we decided to have a somewhat longer engagement (17 months), it took tremendous pressure off of us to just “get things done.” Instead, we’ve been able to take our time and really enjoy all the different aspects of planning without the pressure that can come with planning. We also have an amazing wedding planner, Tiffany Chalk, who makes our lives easier. We’ve locked down most of the big items but we’re still undecided on a few things like whether we’ll have a band, a DJ or both! And I still have to “say yes to the dress,” but I’ve planned a girls trip to New York with both of our moms and a couple of my bridesmaids so hopefully we’ll find a winner!

Congratulations to the happy couple! We wish you a wonderful wedding and marriage.


Kanayo Adibe|Tiffany Chalk

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