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Josh (Me) & Vanessa: Engaged!

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OK… I’ll try not to be too corny, but you know how much of a hopeless romantic I am.

Vanessa and I met a few years ago, in New York. She was visiting from Colombia, with mutual friends. We went to a party and danced.

I thought she was pretty for sure, but not somebody that I would date.

She thought I was a nice guy, and a good dancer (her words) but nothing sparked.

We exchanged perhaps a handful of emails over the course of two years, just keeping in touch by a thread.

What always struck me is how she was always telling me about something new she was doing with her life; Learning new languages and teaching the Bible to people that lived in remote places… A dedicated and adventurous girl. Somebody special. Somebody beautiful. But still not somebody for me.

Unbeknownst to me, she had started following my artwork and pictures that I posted online, seeing deeper meaning in my photography and noticing an artistic heart, yet never commenting on how the pictures made her feel. She felt I was an artist with heart. I was somebody unique. But still not somebody for her. “Never!” she says. Thanks honey. 😉

September 2010. After visiting the states a few times and either just missing me, or seeing me for the better part of an hour, and after I missed her going-away party on the previous visit, she came to the U.S. on what was likely her final trip on an expiring travel visa. Out of all the people she could have seen on that trip, she asked me to meet her in Brooklyn. I’m sure glad about that.

It was just to say hi and hang out for an evening in Times Square. That evening led to an invite to a small party that weekend. That party led to a nice talk over pizza and chess, hanging out in my room. That night led to tickets to a live jazz club. That night led to a hug, a knot in my heart and a lump in my throat. We’re both still unclear on what exactly happened, but our two-year friendship had just turned into something more in the look of an eye and a brush of the hand.

She went home to Colombia, and I felt a very odd kind of lonely.

After a few weeks of talking about what we both wanted, and what-in-the-world-just-happened… we started dating on October 21st.

Despite being from different countries, cultures, and languages, our unplanned love grew into something truly special. Amazing.
11 days shy of a year from the day we started dating, I made a promise to love her for all my life. 10/10.

That’s the short version, anyway. Here’s what happened a few weeks ago:

Oh, but first, I wanna say one of the most wonderful things in life I can think of is just holding her delicate hand. It may seem simple, but it’s so full of meaning for me.

So! On the week that she came to visit, she knew that she would be getting a ring. I still had a chance to surprise her, as she didn’t know where or when. On her first night, we visited the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. We took a walk through Times Square, on the same route that we took a year ago when she last came. The glowing lights and warm electric air were unforgettable as ever.

We toured the Watchtower Educational Center (WEC) in Patterson NY, one of the beautiful upstate locations of the U.S. Bethel Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our religion, based on God’s love and Bible principles, the foremost of which is love, is a huge part of what unites Vanessa and I wholeheartedly. Despite our cultural differences, we both grew up according to the same standards, beliefs, and love of the same great God. The afternoon light pouring into the main lobby of the WEC was also exceptionally beautiful.

Throughout the day, I would take pictures of Vanessa, her Aunt and Mom around the beautifully landscaped grounds. Then, I would hand my camera to Vanessa’s Mom so she could take a picture of Vanessa and I in the same spot. This subconsciously accustomed her to using my camera! 😉

We spent a beautiful day together, meeting lots of friends and taking lots of pictures! We had been wanting new pictures together for so long!

At sunset, (after I very awkwardly delayed for time) we found ourselves at the pond facing the west hills. A warm breeze and golden light made everything perfect. As I had been doing all day, after taking a picture of Vanessa’s Aunt and Mother, I handed the camera to Vane’s Mom to take our picture in this idyllic spot, next to the tall reeds and the weeping willow tree.

The light and the mood were absolutely wonderful, but the most beautiful thing… was standing next to me.

After checking that everything was perfect in camera (Yep, still a photographer) I said that I wanted one more picture. Mom must’ve had some kind of intuition about the situation, since she just kept on clicking. I asked Vanessa if she liked this place. “Yes.” She replied.

“Did you have a nice day?”


“…Do you love me?”

“…What? Of course I do…” Vanessa started to sense I was being weird.

Before I could finish saying “Vane, I love you and want to be with you forev-” She realized what was happening and pulled me close, “Wait! Wait! I’m not ready! You’re gonna do it now??”

“Yes,” I said, reaching for the bag that I had been slipping my camera in and out of all day, “And I have one more thing in this bag…”

She was genuinely surprised and started to tear up. Mom says she started crying too, but kept taking pictures! That’s my kind of Mother in law.

(The photographer in me says “Arr, I left it on center auto focus” Haha. But these are still my favorite shots.”)

Now, although Vane had told me her size, like, three times, I guess the measurements in Colombia are a bit different than the U.S. It was a loose fit! Vane wanted to keep wearing the ring, but we didn’t wanna lose it! So she slipped it onto an adjacent finger that fit.

The last picture of the afternoon… and a photo I’ll always cherish to remember the day that a single word changed my whole universe: “Yes.”

I’ve been in another world ever since we got engaged, and I finally know the joy of the couples that I photograph, because now it’s happening to me!  Wow, so this is what it’s like… We just can’t wait to start our lives together.

And yes, now the million dollar question everyone’s been asking…

“Josh, who’s gonna shoot your wedding???”

Jonathan Fleming, my cousin and photography mentor, took some wonderful engagement pictures of us, and you can see a preview here.
But… he’s my Best Man! So… Who wants to shoot a wedding with TWO wedding photographers in the party? No pressure. 😀

Anyway, love you Vanessa, my baby! Can’t wait to be with you forever. Muahhh!!! (Yeah, we’re mushy like that. And… I love it!!!)

74 Comments Post a comment
  1. AWWWWWWWW!!!! Congrats :’-)! Great pics!

    November 3, 2011
    • Thanks Nancy! I can just imagine you saying “Awww” for real, haha.

      November 4, 2011
  2. love it 🙂 congratulations to you both!! having your proposal documented was ingenious!!! so exciting! 😀 (and haha about the grrr left it on center focus.. happens to me all the time) 🙂

    November 3, 2011
    • It was a simple proposal! But memorable and special for both of us. Arg, center focus! Arg! haha.

      November 4, 2011
  3. Josh!! How thrilled I am for you!! Just wonderful! You two make a beautiful couple!! Congrats!!! 🙂

    November 3, 2011
    • Thank you Jenny! We’re so thrilled to be engaged too, although it makes being apart even harder! Thanks for the kind comments.

      November 4, 2011
      • I totally understand about how hard it is to be apart!! I too had my fair share of long distance relationship. My husband was at wallkill while I was here in Texas. We met through a mutual friend too! We did the long distance for a good year and 2 months. I thought I couldn’t take it anymore It was soo hard! But it was worth it. Now we’re going on 8 years of blissful marriage. Enjoy your engagement as it will fly by quick! Would love to do your fiance makeup! Just love how you two share a passion in serving Jehovah! It is what makes a beautiful couple even more special!

        November 4, 2011
  4. Mike and LaVita #

    Congrats Josh and Vanessa! You two look great together!

    November 3, 2011
    • Ah, thanks Mike! This had only started to blossom when you left, so I’m really glad you got to see where it went! Appreciate it very much. 😉

      November 4, 2011
  5. David #

    Josh & Vanessa, this is the best email I had this week. Thanks for sharing this. CONGRATULATION! I have never met you in person, but hopefully someday. Perhaps you can plan to visit Indonesia, we have lots of beautiful places for you to savor. (Try googling: Raja Ampat and Bromo)

    November 3, 2011
    • Thank you so much! Yes, I hope we can make it out there someday, it’s beautiful, and we are excited to travel many places together. Thank you!

      November 4, 2011
  6. Awwwwwwwww Josh I am really so Happy for you!! Hey I want an Invite if the Wedding is in SF.. hehehe 😉 I really Loved all the Picture’s but more the Picture’s your Future Mother in Law took, They are Definetly the best Shots of the Day!! 😀 You guys made such a great Couple, Congrats again and Much love to Both of you. Epecially on Planning this Special Ocasion!! 🙂

    November 3, 2011
    • Definitely the best pics of the day! Thank you so much for your sweet comments and congrats! We couldn’t be happier. Well, actually we could! Looking forward to the big day, for sure. Thanks so much Rosa!

      November 4, 2011
      • Yay! So then Now I hope you guys do get married in SF, Waiting for my Invite. 😉 Happy for you guys.. We are actually planning on going to SF for our 7 year Anniversary, on the 26th! but we will be going up on Monday instead the 28th when my Hun is Off! 😀

        November 8, 2011
  7. I will be your photographer Josh, but I am not a pro. Hahaha. Anyway thats just my dream. Congratulations again Josh and Vanessa.

    November 3, 2011
    • That’s a great offer my brother! I wish you could! 😀 Thanks so much.

      November 4, 2011
  8. GUUHHHH you guys are sooo cute!!!! lol I love romantic stories like that I am a hopeless myself ❤ Congrats to you both!

    November 3, 2011
    • I’m so glad you know how it is! Ahh, this mushy heart of mine. Thanks Jaclyn!

      November 4, 2011
  9. Congrats Josh and Vanessa! Such a beautiful story and awesome photos by your future mother in law :).

    November 4, 2011
    • Jasmine, thanks so much! Yeah, she did a great job keeping it steady, and kept clicking away!

      November 4, 2011
  10. Haha, so you to gush about all th details bro, haha. Man, who IS gonna shoot this wedding?! All I know is that my DSLR is staying at home that day 🙂

    November 4, 2011
    • Right? Maybe I’ll bring the E-PL2… Thanks man. Can’t wait.

      November 4, 2011
  11. Bro. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. You were always happy when I see you, but I’ve never see you this happy when you’re with her. And you gushed about your engagement day so eloquently. Do you all have a day set already for the wedding?

    November 4, 2011
    • Thanks so much A-LO! Yeah, funny thing is that we had been planning the wedding day quite a bit before engagement. Hopefully we’ll be able to tie the knot in May if the Visa paperwork works out.

      November 7, 2011
  12. Congratulations Josh & Vane!.. Thanks for sharing this happy moment.. it’s nice to know there are still hopeless romantics left in this cold world. I enjoyed reading your love story as i look at the the pictures.. very artistic.. very romantic.

    November 4, 2011
    • Thanks very much Joyce! Yes, the joys of mushy romantics are not lost! Thank you always.

      November 7, 2011
  13. Kenny #

    I don’t know you guys but I got to say that I loved the way you wrote this…so touching. Wish you well.

    November 4, 2011
    • Guess you know us now! Haha.
      Thanks Kenny! I really appreciate that.

      November 4, 2011
  14. That’s a really sweet story and great pics! Congratulations 🙂

    November 4, 2011
  15. Regina e Elimar #

    Parabéns ao casal! Linda história! Abraços de seus irmãos do Brasil Regina e Elimar

    November 4, 2011
  16. Lisaaaaaaa #

    I’m crying. This is so beautiful. I’m so happy for you Joshua and Vanessa and so glad you found each other. Lisa

    November 4, 2011
    • Thanks Lisa! Even when we met, we had no idea what this would turn into, and I’m so glad at how it progressed. ❤

      November 4, 2011
  17. C.j. Henriquez #

    Josh The Main Man Libatique… hatts off… the best of desires to both of you!

    November 4, 2011
    • Thanks man! Hope the DJing is going great for you!

      November 4, 2011
  18. Tim Lyons #

    I follow your photos on Flickr Josh. This is a gorgeous entry. Congratulations, and all the best. Christian love, Tim.

    November 4, 2011
    • Thanks Tim! I really owe a lot to Flickr, as that was the site Vanessa was always looking at my photos on. 🙂

      November 4, 2011
  19. Ruth #

    Beautifully done Josh! Congratulations to both of you. See you at the wedding.

    November 4, 2011
  20. Miriame Dorelien #

    CONGRATS!!!! I soooo fell in love with this story…had me smiling from ear to ear at work creeping out my coworker lol. You two are so beautiful together LOVE the pictures from your mother in law and cousin!! Hopefully one day I’ll be as good as you guys in photography. Can’t wait!! Ok I’m going a search for a mushy romantic fella for myself. Bye bye.

    November 6, 2011
    • And creeping out the co-worker. Nice! Haha. Thank you so much for the nice comment. Yup, Jonathan did a great job too!

      November 7, 2011
  21. Pia #

    Aaaww, the sweetest thing ever! Soo nice to hear your story. I am sitting hear with a big smile 🙂 So happy for you both (even though we´ve never met)!
    Take great care of each other, you look soo cute together:)
    Ec. 4:9,10,12 (I really like this one)


    November 6, 2011
    • Thank you so much Pia, I really appreciate it, and even if we’ve never met, I do feel close to the people I’ve been privileged to meet through my photography and brotherhood! I agree wholeheartedly with that scripture. 😀

      November 7, 2011
  22. Raluca C. #

    Oh,the pictures are simply wonderful!!!Vanessa is very pretty and sweet! 😀

    November 7, 2011
    • Thanks Raluca! Yes, I think so too! And she’s pretty and sweet on the inside too! 😉

      November 8, 2011
  23. Josh! I don’t know you personally but I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and this post was so sweet! I’m very happy for you to get to enjoy that warmth that every couple deserves and that soon your life together will begin. Congrats man, and I hope the best for you guys! You make a really cute couple 🙂

    November 7, 2011
    • Thank you so much for following and for your kind comment! I’m really happy and excited to get this thing going and I really appreciate all the nice things people have had to say. Really encouraging. Thanks again!

      November 8, 2011
  24. JayShep Photography #

    Congrats Bro!!! And as always great story telling, its nice to see romantic relationships that form out of good friendships. I think thats the way it should be! I’m sure that wedding will be a beautiful event. Keep us posted. 🙂

    November 8, 2011
    • Thanks Jay! I appreciate it bro. Never thought it would turn out the way that it did. She and I always wanted something that started as a friendship, but never knew how that would be possible. Now we know! Thanks again.

      November 15, 2011
  25. CONGRATULATIONS TO BOTH OF YOU!!!! Thanks for all the details and photos…and um…ME ME ME!! I would love to photograph your wedding – and we do travel! Here are some sample weddings I’ve done to help with the decision:

    Congrats again – Rob and I are so happy for you – you are truly a joyful person and will make a great hubby!

    November 8, 2011
    • Again, thanks so much Crystal! So cool of you to step up the the ‘challenge’ – Haha! We’ll be in touch. Thank you so much.

      November 15, 2011
  26. Veronica Lawton #

    Congratulations!!! You both look perfect together. Been following your work since Mike and Monica’s wedding and I must say you are truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing the beautiful images and stories. Can’t wait to see more.

    November 10, 2011
    • Thank you so much Veronica, that’s really nice of you! I can’t wait to share more either. Thanks again!

      November 15, 2011
  27. Michael Gietler #


    CONGRATULATIONS! Were very happy for the two of you. Thank you for introducing us to Vanessa through your pictures. She’s
    beautiful. May Jehovah bless you both.
    Mike & Becky

    November 10, 2011
    • Thanks so much Mike and Becky! It’s very nice of you to visit my blog, and I do hope you can meet Vanessa in person someday too. Thank you!

      November 15, 2011
  28. Martine A #

    Aye que linda!!! Congrats my brother and soon to be sister! Welcome to the hysteria of planning a wedding. It’s Par-Tay Time! 🙂

    November 16, 2011
  29. Aaron #

    DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so happy to hear the great, news. I must say I am very late. But a huge CONGRATS is in order. I haven’t checked out the site in awhile, actually my girlfriend all the way in ID, had to tell me to check out your site again, LOL. May Jehovah bless you and Vanessa in your further marriage and the building of that three fold cord. SUper happy for you man. Hope all is well.
    Aaron B.

    November 17, 2011
    • Thanks Aaron! You know you’re totally gonna be on a dancing feature here on the blog too. We’ve danced together at how many weddings now? At least four…. that I can remember. Hehe. Can’t wait to be dancing at my own wedding bro. Thanks so much for dropping by the blog. Much appreciated!

      November 20, 2011
  30. Gabrielle #

    Congratulations to both of you! Felicidades!

    November 20, 2011
  31. Eunice K. #

    Aw what a touching story!!!
    So glad that it FINALLY happened to you;)
    May Jehovah bless you both and I just can’t wait to see your wedding pics!!!
    Photographer for J & V….ANYONE? (lol)

    November 22, 2011
  32. Jenny #

    Congrats Josh! Such a wonderful love story couldn’t happen to a better person. You found the real deal, man! May Jehovah be the strongest of the three fold cord that binds you, now and forever!

    December 1, 2011

    December 7, 2011
  34. Eu sempre acompanho seu trabalho pelo blog, são maravilhosos!!! Estou aqui agora, para parabenizar você e sua amada Vanessa! Parabéns! Que Jeová, nosso Maravilhoso Pai os abençõe! e por favor continue fazendo este trabalho lindo! Concordo com sua amada noiva: “Você fotografa com o coração”!. Com certeza este dom seu será muito bem usado no paraíso!
    Parabéns e felicidades à vocês!

    December 13, 2011

    pls send me your wed invitation . . . . . .

    December 16, 2011
  36. Congrats Josh Im really happy to see you found love. I hope all the best for you two and your wedding plans

    December 20, 2011
  37. CUTE STORY JOSH, love the pics and so happy for you 🙂

    January 5, 2012
  38. amei as fotos…..lindas e já vi as do casamento tb…que Jeová os abencoe sempre………(brazil)

    January 24, 2012
  39. Hello Josh,

    I just came accrossed your website and been enjoying your photographs and stories very much. It truly shows in your work that you love what you do. Congratulations on your engagement!! I wish you and Vanessa continue success, love and joy!!


    March 20, 2012
  40. “Did you have a nice day?”


    “… Do you love me?”

    “… What? Of course I do … “Vanessa started to sense I Was Being weird.

    Omg, this is my favorite part of history!

    May 26, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Engagement: Aaron & Tamara | Josh Liba
  2. Sneak Peek: Aaron & Tamara’s Wedding | Josh Liba
  3. Sneak Peek: Aaron & Tamara’s Wedding | Josh Liba Photography

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