A Sultry By The Sea Malibu Engagement Session

Nubia and Brian are true childhood sweethearts. They met each other popping milk bottles as 3-month old babies at Mrs. Hunter’s daycare on the Southside of Chicago. They often glamorize their meeting by saying, “Our mothers touched bellies and our fate was sealed!” When actually, their older brothers, who are both four years their senior, attended the same elementary school and it was logistically easier for both sets of parents to put them in daycare nearby. After Brian’s family moved out of the neighborhood in 1992, they reunited as middle school frenemies at the Whitney Young High School Academic Center. Their distaste for one another was actually neither of their doing. Brian’s childhood best friend made a hurtful joke about Nubia, claiming that she looked like a Nubian Goat. While she applauds the said friend for their keen historical research about Eastern Africa, especially as a seventh grader, it was a cruel statement. And thus, she disliked Brian by association. 

The angst didn’t last long as Brian and Nubia dated in the eighth grade and a bit during the summer between Junior High and High School. They attended Winter Formal and Senior Prom together and were basically inseparable during the summer leading up to college. Despite Brian going to college in Tallahassee, Florida, and Nubia going to college in Washington D.C., they vowed to stay together. And while they had the best of intentions, the distance between them and teenage immaturity led them to break it off during sophomore year in college. However, by May of 2006, they rekindled their love into a permanent flame after graduation. Nubia went on a short girls’ trip to Miami right after walking across the graduation stage and Brian picked her up from the airport in Chicago when she landed. Again, they were inseparable that summer until Nubia left for her full-time job in New York while Brian stayed in Chicago. They suffered through the distance for a year before Brian took a leap and moved to New York to be with Nubia. And it’s in that home they shared in Harlem that made their romance blossom. Now this destined pair is ready to cement their relationship for good and are planning to do so with a fall wedding. To celebrate their upcoming nuptials, Nubia and Brian arranged a beautiful shoreside engagement session in Malibu. Check out their sultry shoot, captured by Dana Scruggs.

Bride’s full name, age and occupation: Nubia Murray, 33, Global Marketing Manager

Groom’s full name, age and occupation: Brian Davis, 34, Research and Development Chef

Place of residence: Chicago, Illinois

Engagement Shoot Location: El Matador State Beach and Leo Carillo State Beach, Malibu, California

Wedding date: November 4, 2018

Engagement story:

On Friday, November 4, 2016, Brian asked me for my hand in marriage. We will wed on Sunday, November 4, 2018, exactly two years later. He proposed after we attended a comedy show at The Apollo Theater and were settling into a nice quiet
evening at home. We were able to fully take in the moment and spend the remainder of the evening sharing the good news with our family and friends. I absolutely hate surprises, so and could not believe this was happening. But, I’m so happy it did. I was in a state of shock and didn’t share the news publicly for about a week!

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

Throughout our time living together, we often joked that if we received a dollar for every time we heard, ‘When are you two getting married,’ the wedding would be paid for three times over. And although we were fairly comfortable with the structure of our relationship, I knew that if I didn’t take the next step, I may have lost Nubia. Although she enjoyed filling her time with her career, volunteer activities, and endurance events, she wanted the assurance to add me to the top of her priority list and didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable doing so until I set things in stone. And together, we also knew how important our union was to our parents, especially as they respectively approach the sunset of their lives.

So, I decided I wanted to surprise Nubia and propose to her on her birthday, but the ring I custom designed with KatKim Fine Jewelry would not be ready in time for the big day. So, I lied and said the gift I planned to give her from Crate and Barrel was back-ordered and wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks. When the ring was finally ready, I knew what I had to do. I purchased a very lovely glass jewelry box from Crate and Barrel and decided to put the ring inside. I printed a fake shipping label, damaged the outside of the box a bit to make it look worn from the ‘shipping’ process, and pretended that it had been delivered and left it downstairs with our doorman. 

That night, we attended a comedy show at the Apollo Theater. Nubia is on the Young Patrons Board of the Apollo Theater and didn’t consider the outing a big deal, so she actually came to the show after a session at the gym, fresh-faced and “no-frills” as she says. Because we lived in Harlem, we walked home after the show, stopping briefly to pick up some takeout on the way. When we got to our building, it was game on! I said to the doorman, “I think I have a package”, which he confirmed, and gave me the box since he was in on the surprise as well. When we got up to our apartment, Nubia changed into her pajamas, turned on Netflix, and began eating her takeout. 

I said, “Hey, do you want to open your birthday gift?” She agreed, and when she saw the Crate & Barrel box, she sarcastically exclaimed, “Oh! You got me a gift from your job? How sweet!” In full transparency, Nubia’s birthday is the first week of October and I proposed the first Friday in November. So, I think the timing also added to her unenthusiastic response. When she opened the box, her reaction was minimal. “A jewelry box…That’s nice…Oh wait, there’s something inside.” 

At this point, I began to get down on one knee while she looked a little closer. I took her hand in mine. “Is this a…..wait…..are you serious?” She asked. I took the ring from the box and said, “Will you marry me?” She said yes, of course, but sat there a bit shocked. There were no tears, but more of a perplexed look as to how I planned all of this — including how I figured out her ring size, found a ring designer, purchased it, and etc. — without her knowing. I actually had to explain the planning process in order for her to finally enjoy the moment! After sharing the good news with our parents and siblings, we made a video dancing around the apartment to Outkast’s “Int’l Players Anthem” to commemorate the big day! 

What makes your love special? 

Our love is special because we’ve been toge
ther as long as we have and are actually best friends. Brian and I are literally polar opposites of one another and we often say that the only thing we have in common is our love for one another, which is most important. 

We are truly grateful that there isn’t a point in our lives where we haven’t been connected — in space, time, or spirit. And we look forward to making November 4, 2018, the most beautiful and sentimental celebration to honor our lifetime of love…34 years in the making!


Our relationship timeline:

Fall 1984: Popped our first ‘bottles’ together at Ms. Hunter’s daycare.

Fall 1992: Brian’s family moved out of the neighborhood.

Fall 1996: We reunited in Junior. High, first as frenemies, and finally as boyfriend and girlfriend in eighth grade.

Summer 1998: Out of sight, out of mind! Back to frenemies.

Fall 2001: Brian called me out of the blue after my performance in the Senior Talent Show. 

Spring 2004: Lasting through the end of high school and a bit in college, but we fizzled once again.

Spring 2006: A congratulatory check-in call from Nubia before graduation reignited our permanent flame.

November 4, 2016: Brian asks for Nubia’s hand in marriage, forever ever.

November 4, 2018: Exactly two years after our engagement, we will wed!

What was the theme of your shoot? 

Before we even had a theme, Nubia knew she wanted fellow South Side Chicago native, and remarkable photographer Dana Scruggs to shoot our engagement pictures. She actually contacted her shortly after we got engaged in November 2016, but a few twists and turns in our lives forced us to push back the timing of the shoot. Nubia began her career working in fashion and beauty journalism, and has always been drawn to strong imagery, dating back to an old coffee table book her parents owned, “I Dream A World – Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.” This book, which chronicled the achievements of trailblazing African American women, inspired Nubia to seek bold, striking photos for our engagement series, which was right in Dana’s wheelhouse. 

Also, since we’re getting married in Malibu, we wanted our engagement session to be on the beach to give guests a preview of the beauty of the area, as well as showcase the intensity of our love. We felt that Dana captured the balance between our childhood love, dating back decades, but also our present-day maturity. We flew to Los Angeles, and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to El Matador State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach, which are literally one mile from one another. 

For the groom looks, we were inspired by classic, cool tailoring and confident masculinity: A linen navy suit, solid knit tie, cotton cashmere sweaters and linen slacks. For the bride looks, we were inspired by the boldest, most powerful and beautiful women in America: think Rihanna, Beyonce, Serena. Additionally, her attire was in our wedding colors: white, black, bronze, and nude. After getting dressed, we were able to get over the awkwardness of PDA (which we never do) and managed to get some great shots, as well as some incredible drone footage that captured the beauty and majesty of the SoCal shore.

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot? 

We were initially afraid that we would be kicked off the beach by park rangers for not having official permits to shoot, but our fears were eased once we actually made it there and witnessed a few amateur music video shoots in progress!

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

We had a beautiful engagement party on February 18, 2017, which gave us a good blueprint for the number of guests we wanted at the wedding, as well as the preferred timeline, and overall feel for our big day. At the wedding, we are most looking forward to seeing all our family and friends looking their absolute best, celebrating our union finally happening, loving on one another, and being wowed by the very special day that we’ve planned. Nubia specifically is most looking forward to the fashion! We’ve given our guests a strict but purposeful dress code. There’s also live music we plan to feature throughout our ceremony. 

Have you started planning your wedding? 

Absolutely! We’ll be getting married in November of 2018!

Congratulations to the happy couple! We wish you a fruitful marriage and many years of wedded bliss.


Dana Scruggs|Thien Nguyen|Amor in Motion

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