Most people would agree that set-ups rarely work, however for Nicole and Kamal, a happy ending was reached They were set up by Nicole's older cousin and Kamal's dad, and while skepticism was high at the beginning, it ended up being one of the greatest things that could have happen to either of them. With both in their mid-thirties, they placed their trust in God to do what he does in his own timing. They officially met on February 14, 2017 via text message. Neither of them were really feeling, it but decided to engage in small talk anyway. They met in person that April, started dating officially in May, got engaged in July and well the rest is history. Check out their city-inspired engagement session, captured by LaJoy Photography.
Bride: Nicole R. McCarty, 36, Sports Chiropractor/Integrative Wellness Doctor, Adjunct Faculty
Groom: Kamal K. Malik, 35, Senior Network Engineer
Place of residence: Marietta, Georgia
Engagement Shoot Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Wedding date: April 6, 2018
Those who know Nicole, know that she is a person who likes to know everything. To keep her distracted without her asking a ton of questions, I decided to propose to her during her family reunion weekend. She'd decided to take her grandparents, which required additional time and care, so planning in between the activities was a bit challenging. I consulted with her mom regarding different scenarios on how to plan a beautiful proposal in the midst of the reunion activities while making it memorable as well. The end result was that I knew Nikki loved nature and flowers, so what better place to propose than at the Botanical Gardens? Navigating a proposal in an unfamiliar city also added a bit of a challenge, but as fate would have it, the botanical gardens was not far from the hotel in which we were staying. The window we had was small to say the least so I had to move fast without setting off alarms in the person who wants to know everything!
I asked Nicole if I could have some personal time with her during the weekend to which she replied, "Why? We are spending time together." She eventually followed up with an "Ok, tell me when." Per our wedding planner, Brian Green, I had to make sure she was dressed appropriately for our proposal without setting off yet another alarm. I told her I wanted to practice taking some pictures with a camera my dad had recently given to me. So I chose a dress for her and the two of us set off to an undisclosed location for our "photo shoot." She was a bit relentless in trying to figure out where we were going, but I resisted. When we arrived at the Botanical Gardens, she was surprised to find one of her dear friends waiting in the parking lot. As we entered the gardens in the stifling heat of South Florida, my father and stepmother greeted us with hugs. My father had already walked around and scouted places while Dorothy and Nicole to found a shaded spot and began to chat. When my father returned, he began taking pictures of us on this bridge near the waterfall. Afterwards, we walked back to the shaded spot to rest, regroup and prepare to leave when my father presented a gift to Nicole, due to her appreciation for Moscato. However, unlike normal gift bags, this one included a very shiny special gift, which she completely did not see! As she admired the bottles of wine, I began to drop on one knee. I expressed my love and devotion to her and asked if she would make me the happiest man in the world and agree to marry me. She said, "yes!" We smooched, family and fellow onlookers applauded and gave their congratulations.
For the Groom: Walk us through the behind the scenes of creating this special day.
I honestly knew I wanted to marry Nicole from the first day I met her, therefore, I began to ask her many questions about her passions, beloved hobbies and anything that inspired her. In the weeks leading up to this day I began to refresh my memory on my favorite subject, Nicole McCarty, and gather additional feedback from my relatives, Nikki's mother, and other individuals that would offer advice into the world of Nikki. We'd visited jewelry stores in passing so I knew exactly what she liked and wanted. Once, I had the ring chosen, I began the delicate and anxiety-rich task of researching various sites to pop the question. Of course, this was the source of a lot of anxiety during this time since I wanted to make sure it was perfect. Fortunately, the timing could not have been better because Nikki's family reunion was approaching in the next few weeks and would be a prime opportunity to ask the question. In terms of creating the perfect scene, the light bulb finally turned on as I realized that Nikki loves nature, flowers and all things peaceful. With a botanical garden nearby, I enlisted the help and assistance of my father, stepmother, and her close friend Marion to help pull this event together. The week prior to the engagement I experienced many sleepless nights trying not to ask any questions that would lend to exposing the surprise proposal. The night prior I was up all night trying to prepare my proposal speech, nothing seemed good enough . Finally, I had the bright idea to simply speak from my heart. I presented a bag to her with wine and a gift wrapping paper and a shiny object slid over the paper. I bent down on one knee to ask my fiancée for her hand in marriage with the understanding that she is the woman of my dreams, the sunshine of my life and that I would never stop growing, and spending my life striving to make her the happiest woman alive.
What makes your love special?
Our love is special because it's honest and raw. There are no expectations of having to meet society's view of a man or woman. We are both accepting and refining, meaning we challenge one another daily to be the best we can be for one another, our families, and those we encounter. Our love story is beautiful and a whirlwind but it is not without challenges. We simply choose to take those stumbling blocks and make them stepping stones so we can grow and live together.
What was the theme of your shoot?
Unapologetically us! We wanted our shoot to be a reflection of who we are now and who we desire to become. I love football and Kamal loves basketball. We decided to rep our favorite collegiate teams. I am an avid Alabama football fan! Roll Tide! And Kamal repped Gator Nation. We also wanted a formal scene that would be very different from the wedding, and then we wanted a "grown and sexy" scene which was a ton of fun roleplaying "how do I get the girl?" Our photographer, LaJoy, was amazing! We took an adventure around the city with lots of laughs and created the most memorable moments to date.
Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?
Man! There were so many! First, we were chasing daylight! Trying to get shots at specific locations as planned while the sun was setting and traffic was crazy. Next, we got lost in Piedmont Park looking for a specific shot, which we'd only seen in internet photos. Working off of intuition and inherent navigation, teamwork made the dream work and we found it after gathering our exercise for the day. Then, we took on our fun alter egos while at the Georgian Terrace as we roleplayed. I became "Icia" and Kamal became "Kk". That was fun! Lastly, our DIY props for the engagement photos broke so we had to improvise, but it turned out perfect!
What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?
In two words, "I do."
Have you started planning your wedding?
Absolutely! We took the advice from those who had married before us and chose to invest in a wedding planner. God sent us a phenomenal one! Between living in two states, a home, a wedding, and life transitions, there was no way we were going to try to do everything on our own. Wedding plans are in full swing and that's actually the lightest thing on the agenda at the moment. We are both excited about April 6, 2018 and life thereafter!
Congratulations to the happy couple! We wish you a wonderful wedding and marriage.