Before deciding to travel the world together, Imani and John met at Duke University.

The outdoorsy couple quit their jobs and embarked on a period of extended travel in attempts to start a small business of customized travel itineraries.

“While we were beginning to plan this adventure, I realized that I couldn’t and didn’t want to do this with anyone else. I realized that Imani was the one,” said John.

For Imani, the realization came in a moment of comfort when John was the first person she thought to call during an anxiety attack. After he shared a story about sea lions, Imani knew.

“I was home from college and having a particularly rough day, and I immediately thought to call John.” – Imani

“Perhaps not ‘forever,’ but as odd as this sounds, I had the feeling right after that this relationship was going to last a very long time,” said Imani.

This forever feeling turned into a promise when John proposed to Imani in Toronto.

The couple, who plans to wed in southeast Asia or Central America, shared the magical moments of their surprise engagement and spontaneous photo shoot.

Imani + John’s Top Advice for Engagement Sessions

+ Be yourself! Location and clothing can be important, but we believe that the way you look at each other impacts the photos way more than how you’re dressed or where the photo was taken.

+ Pick a place that fits your “couple style.” If you go hiking a lot, pick a hiking spot. But if you typically dress up nicely, put on heels and a dress for the shoot.

+ Pick the right photographer for you. After knowing us for a just a few hours, Kristine was able to make us feel so comfortable and relaxed. Photo shoots can be a bit awkward if you’re not used to it, but if you have the right photographer, it can turn from awkward to extremely fun in a matter of seconds.

Who proposed and how did they do it?
I proposed to Imani in Toronto. I had originally told Imani that I was going to propose to her sometime while we were traveling abroad next year or the following. I changed my mind, and I wanted to do it earlier so it would be a complete surprise. We have always loved to travel and this was our last trip before leaving Washington, D.C. I planned out a beautiful date. We had dinner at Blu Ristorante in Toronto. After dinner, we went to the Aga Khan Museum for sunset where I proposed to her.

What did you do to get ready for you engagement session?
To be honest, we didn’t prepare for our engagement photo shoot with Kristine at all. We met serendipitously at the Lake Agnes Tea House in Banff. Kristine and her husband Josh had gone on the same hike that Imani and I had gone on. We got to talking and decided to spend the rest of the morning together. As we went our separate ways, we decided to meet up later at Emerald Lake where Kristine suggested we take some photos. The outfits were 100 percent practical; it was raining when we got to Emerald Lake, so we were wearing rain jackets and hiking clothes.

“The water was perfectly still, so there was an epic reflection of the surrounding mountains, and due to the rain, we had the lake to ourselves.” – John

What was a special or memorable moment during your engagement shoot?
The shoot was full of special moments. We met the photographer at 6 p.m. and it rained consistently from 4 until 6. Right as we met up, the rain stopped, and there was a gorgeous rainbow. It was a surreal experience.

Photography by Kristine Elisabeth Photography.