Fated Birmingham College Sweethearts Engagement Session

Shalitha and Thomas met the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The year was 2012, and the class of 2016 was anxiously settling into the next phase of their lives: new school, new people and no parents. Upon settling into the campus, the first thing new freshmen do is find friends to hang out with. There were five friends who needed a sixth, and who better than the ever friendly Thomas Bailey. Through, a miraculous aligning of the stars, Thomas was a part of the infamous “Bham Crew.” The Bham Crew did everything together: random Sonic runs, playing frisbee on the green, and piling into room 303 of Blazer Hall to watch Love and Hip Hop on a TV the size of your average smartphone today. 

Spring came and Thomas didn’t get to hang out as much as the previous semester. By the time April rolled around, Thomas was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and back like he never left, but this time Thomas and Shalitha found themselves hanging out without the rest of the crew. They officially started dating in November of 2013 and the rest is history! Check out their engagement session down memory lane, captured by J and S Photography.

Bride’s full name, age and occupation: Shalitha K. McLean, 26, Volunteer Coordinator for Community Foodbank of Central Alabama

Groom’s full name, age and occupation: Thomas J. Bailey, II, 25, Biomedical Engineer 

Place of residence: Birmingham, Alabama

Engagement Shoot Location: University of Alabama at Birmingham and Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Wedding date: January 4, 2020

Engagement story:

November 2, 2018, was the fifth anniversary. Thomas knew he had to make this day special. Two weeks later would be Shalitha’s twenty-fifth birthday, so it had to be extra special. To her surprise, when she arrived home on that Friday afternoon, there was no Thomas, but a note instructing her to get all dolled up and put on her favorite dress for a special evening. 

Thomas picked Shalitha up and took her to one of their favorite restaurants, Brio Tuscan Grille. Upon arrival Shalitha realized that this was more than an ordinary anniversary dinner, all of her family and friends just happened to be at the same restaurant, along with some of Thomas’s family. Thomas told her that with her birthday around the corner, why not combine both events into one big celebration.

Dinner was served, jokes were told and now it was time for presents. Thomas’ gift was last, a big box wrapped in shiny gold paper. Inside the box was another box accompanied with a photobook and five roses to represent each year they’ve been together. As Shalitha opened the last box, she revealed a picture of the couple’s beloved dog, Cairo, pictured with a sign that read, “Mom will you Marry my Dad?” Thomas was down on one knee right behind her.

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

Shalitha is very family oriented, so I knew that when it was time for me to ask the big question, everyone needed to be there. I originally wanted to do a big party for her twenty-fifth birthday, but our fifth anniversary seemed a lot more fitting and less expected. I wanted to make sure that the love and commitment that I have for Shalitha was expressed in every way possible and I think I accomplished that. 

What makes your love special?

Our love is genuine. We started off as friends and we have kept that friendship as a foundation in our relationship over the years. It’s such an amazing experience to do and create moments with a partner that is truly your best friend. 

What was the theme of your shoot?

I would have to say that the theme of our shoot was, “Humble Beginnings Can Turn Into a Lifetime of Love.” That is why we chose to start where we met, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and ended in downtown Birmingham, which has really played a major part in cultivating our love. 

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

Thomas loves to tell corny jokes. He definitely made sure that the smiles were authentic. Shalitha is a beautiful person to me inside and out, so seeing her all dressed up and really enjoying her time meant the world to me. Also, our photographer and his wife caught on to our energy and positioned us in poses that really capture our love.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

Our wedding is the first Saturday of the new year, so we are literally starting the newest most exciting phase of our lives at the beginning of the year. The most exciting part will be taking this major step into the rest of our lives with our closest family and friends as witnesses of the power of love. 

Have you started planning your wedding?

Our wedding planning is well underway, while there are a few loose ends that need to be tied up we have majority of this special occasion planned. Our colors will feature a blend of steel blue, maroon, light gray and champagne, to create a really warm and inviting winter wedding. 

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


J and S Photography

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