Real Engagements {Virginia}: Noelle & Keith! –

For Keith, it was love at first " like," when he spotted Noelle on a mutual friend's Instagram page. "I was minding my business, scrolling through my timeline, when I came across a picture of a distant friend of mine with some of her girlfriends. She had Noelle tagged in the picture and I instantly looked her up. Her page was private but I made sure I put in a follower request," recalls Keith. Keith made it his business to make sure that he would be a follower that Noelle would remember. "Once I was approved I started liking pictures from 544 days ago until I finally gathered the courage to send a direct message, to find out if she was in a relationship or not. Once she said "No," I knew I was in there," saith Keith.  Noelle and Keith decided to take their conversation to the phone, where they spent 7 hours straight talking about everything. However, after a couple of weeks of talking on the phone, Noelle was still not ready to call Keith more than a friend. "For the first couple of months, I insisted that we were just friends and should see other people. We talked non-stop, and would meet halfway between our homes in Richmond, VA for dates almost every weekend, but I still wanted to be cautious," said Noelle. It wasn't until Keith actually went on a date with someone else, that Noelle began to see their relationship differently. "One weekend after I reiterated how much we were just two friends hanging out, he actually went out on a date with someone else. Who did he think he was, treating me like a friend?!," said Noelle.  The next time the two met they hung out for hours at a Chickfil-A. It was there, that Noelle realized that she was falling in love with Keith. "I finally admitted the truth and made sure to let him know that all that dating other people stuff was over. We haven't looked back since," said Noelle. Check out the happy couple's vintage themed engagement session captured by Crystal Vandegrift of Crystal Image Photography .

Bride: Noelle Miller, 28, Physical Therapist

Groom: Keith Drakeford Jr., 32, Sales Consultant and Barber

Place of residence: Virginia

Engagement Shoot Location:  Anderson Wright Garden in Portsmouth, VA

Wedding date: 12/31/2015

Wedding location: Norfolk Waterside Marriott

Wedding theme: Simple, elegant and classy


Engagement story from the bride-to-be:

I had a feeling something was going to happen soon, so I'd come to visit Keith with hair and nails done for probably a month straight. I joked to friends that Keith would go to tie his shoe and I would hyperventilate, thinking he was going to propose. After a month of being on edge, I was convinced that I got myself worked up for nothing and that the proposal was a ways off. That particular Thursday, I drove down after work and immediately washed my hair, so it was a mess. In sweats and a t-shirt, I sat on the couch with Keith to watch the anniversary video collage he'd made for us, thinking nothing of it. At the end of the video, the words "Will You Marry Me?" popped up on the screen. He caught me completely off guard! The best part was, Keith found a way to record the whole thing without me knowing. I love having a video of the most exciting moment of my life thus far, to share with family and friends! I may or may not have jumped up and down screaming, before rolling on the floor just a little. I'm so excited to be marrying the love of my life!


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

I still think about it to this day. I was so excited about the whole process. She had a slight hint that it was coming soon, but didn't know when. Lets talk about that Tacori ring. I'm a very anal person, and always do my research before I make a big purchase but I would say I was over the top this time. I was on google images, I was hash tagging Tacori on Instagram, reading reviews, and googling proposal ideas at the same time, because I wanted to make is special for her. Once I finally bought the ring you would have thought it was for me because I was more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve. When I figured out how I was going to propose, I starting prepping the scene a few weeks prior at my house. My then girlfriend, now fiancé, who missed her calling and should have been working for the CIA, would have known something was up otherwise. I started placing my iPhone on a stand when we were in the house so that Noelle wouldn't think it strange on the day of the proposal. We were coming up on our 1 year anniversary and I told her I wanted to make some kind of collage that we could keep for memories. I put the collage together with Sam Smith "Stay with me" playing in the background. Little did she know that at the end of the collage I added 4 more slides with the words "will you marry me?" She comes down for the weekend and I can tell her guard was down because she had on sweats, ready for just a chill night, or so she thought. I check my iPhone messages (code for turn the video on) and as we are watching, she is already in tears because of all the memories from our first year together. The picture collage slide show ends only to continue with the final 4 slides, after which I got down on one knee and asked the woman of my dreams the most important question of our lives; "will you marry me?"

What makes your love special?

We were a match made in heaven, we clicked from day one. We both have a solid foundation in our relationship with God, which makes this marriage walk to come more promising. We really have become best friends and can talk about anything and genuinely enjoy spending time with each other.

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

Everything, but mainly no longer being in a long distance relationship. Now we only see each other on the weekends and we take turns traveling. It’s only a 3 hour drive but "I do" means so much more for us. We will becoming one in every aspect. Traveling together is going to be great and building a home is going to mean so much to the both of us. Going into the new year as a married couple is going to be awesome. New year, new life.

Have you started planning your wedding?

We have 6 more months so we have definitely been planning up a storm. Our guest count will be around 180 and we have an evening wedding that will start at 7 pm and will conclude around 1 a.m. It’s going to be so exciting. We are making the table numbers and doing a significant amount of the decorating.


Congratulations to Noelle and Keith! We wish you a wonderful wedding and a happy marriage.


Photographer: Crystal Image Photography 

Beauty: Candice Raunch

Curated by our Wedding Features Editor, C.K. Alexander. C.K. is the owner and founder of  Love Ink and Brownstone Bridal. Keep up with C.K. on Twitter here: @Love_Ink

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