The trip wasn’t supposed to change my life. In January 2010, I went with Jayde, Candice, and Kira to Las Vegas for Kira’s birthday. Candice found out her friend was also in town for his Kappa conference (or should I say Konference?! No. Dionte hates that). We met up with him and his frat brothers at the Golden Nugget (which until that day, I had only known as my Papa’s favorite hotel). I didn’t know how to play poker so I turned to talk to Dionte. After grilling him on his college major and career goals, I challenged him to a game of War. Vegas also had me feeling a little bold so I tried to flirt. The next night we met up and talked until sunrise. Then we went our separate ways.

Though years passed, I always felt there was something special about our time together—it wasn’t love at first sight, but it was trust.

In September 2012, we had our first date. We met at a food festival in Oakland’s Jack London Square. After sampling the food truck cuisine, we ended our evening with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. I was baffled that he hadn’t seen “Gangnam Style” so we sat against an orange bridge post, I pulled out my iPad, and we watched the crazy video while keeping each other warm under the stars. That moment pretty much captures us a couple: Dionte brings the cool, anchored structure and I bring the whimsical, colorful sparkle (literally, glitter is my favorite). Together it just works. We made it official in January 2013, exactly three years from the day we met (Dionte is meticulously thoughtful in that way, and I’m the dramatic one who revels in it).

Ever since then, we’ve had so many adventures and I’ve been blessed to develop such deep love and respect for the man he is and the man he is becoming. On February 15, 2015, Dionte pulled off the surprise of a lifetime, when he proposed during our rooftop brunch at Perch. I’m so excited for the many more adventures we’ll have as husband and wife.

I was excited for what would be a weekend full of work, fellowship, and even some fun in Las Vegas. I was headed there for my fraternity’s winter board meeting and Founders’ Day celebration with the Las Vegas Alumni Chapter. The night I got out there, I caught up with some of my brothers who were also on my undergraduate leadership board. One of them, Miles from UCLA, knew of some people who were in town celebrating a birthday.

Both sets of friends were introduced, but I remember sitting back and just being observant. I am far from the most outgoing, and the encounter seemed a little awkward from the beginning. I remember being bored. Because a couple of people in the group were under 21, we went to the hospitality suite our fraternity was hosting. We ended up playing cards and watching Sports Center highlights. That’s when I met the bright and entertaining Ashlyee.

After letting her win in War (she didn’t know how to play much else) and trading a few smart aleck comments, we exchanged numbers. She was actually the one who facilitated the exchange. After a while, Ashlyee and the rest of her friends called it a night. So did we, as we had a meeting and dinner the next day.

The next evening after our dinner and Founders’ Day celebration, a few of us ended up meeting with Ashlyee and her friends again. On that night, we ended up talking the night away. We talked about everything from pop culture, careers, goals, etc… I was tired after that night, but could definitely tell there was something different about her—so much so that I wasn’t even that upset when I had trouble staying awake for the NFC championship game later that afternoon. Expecting what happened in Vegas to stay there (because what would a Vegas story be without that line), I was surprised when she reached out to me a few days later to keep in touch.

A few years later in 2012, we connected again and went on our first date. Now in 2016, Ashlyee will become Mrs. Freeman.

The Proposal

As Told By Dionte

A few weeks before Valentine’s Day, I had asked Brandon (Jayde’s husband) if he could convince Jayde to come to Los Angeles for the weekend. Once Brandon said yes, I knew that Jayde and Ashlyee would be ecstatic to see each other and would plan out their time to see each other. That time most likely would include brunch with some of their best friends on Sunday. Why you ask?! Because bougie black women love brunch! Oh… You didn’t ask? Really?!

Nearing the end of brunch at Perch, I built up the courage to start a small confrontation over whether Ashlyee is controlling. We went on tit-for-tat for a short while until I said, “You like to be in control so much, that you believe this brunch was all your idea!” She was stunned. I revealed my plan and after what seemed like forever and day (probably just 15 seconds), I pulled out the diamond ring…

She Said Yes!

(After she said “OK.”)

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