Shalan and LeBraun
How We Met
Shalan: My siblings and I switched from public to private school in Nashville during the summer of 2000, right before my fifth grade year. The school was closer to downtown and I only knew one person also switching to the school at the time. Somehow I was invited to a birthday party for a kid in my grade a couple weeks before school started. Among the guests were three brothers who lived across the street from the birthday boy. The oldest of which was LeBraun, who was cute, but was the grade above me, so obviously completely out of my reach as an awkward fifth grader. All three brothers were very sweet and I was excited at least to know a few more people at this strange school. Fast forward over the next couple years—My family and LeBraun’s family ended up running in the same circles—our parents had similar friends, our younger siblings were in the same grades, our brothers were on the same hockey team, and since it was a small private school and Nashville was a smaller city we ended up seeing each other a lot. We especially bonded over hockey.
My family is Canadian (hockey runs through our veins), my father worked for the Nashville Predators—the NHL team in town, and we would meet up between periods at games multiple times a week. During 2004-2005 season the NHL experienced a player lockout leaving my father with time to volunteer. He decided to help coach our high school’s hockey team, of which LeBraun was a member. LeBraun had always been more reserved and quiet than his friends. He enjoyed everything computer-related, but was also one of the most athletic kids in school. His kind and genuine heart was evident in all his actions and his eyes were the deepest, most beautiful brown you had ever seen. My friends and I would attend the high school hockey games with homemade signs, banners and cheers. We loved wearing the players secondary jerseys in support and I always made sure to wear LeBraun’s. His parents have always said that they knew I really liked him when I called him at his house to wish him a happy birthday!
The next week we had started dating. From there it spiraled. We were hanging out every chance we got, calling/texting each other nonstop and scheduling our classes at school together. He even became manager of the high school girls’ soccer team so we could hang out during practices and games. My family instantly loved and trusted him and he was amazing with my youngest brother who has Down Syndrome. At LeBraun and I’s apartment in college, the three of us would have sleepovers on our couch, watching movies and hanging out. We started-and-still-do call ourselves “The Best Friend Club.” As we continued to grow up, we especially bonded over a love a travel and decided in 2015 to spend a year living, working and playing in Australia.
LeBraun had never moved out of Nashville, but jumped at the opportunity as soon as he saw how excited I was. It was one of the best, most memorable years of our relationship, especially after dating for 11 years. You learn so much about someone when you travel with them and there is no one else I would rather share every crazy moment with than LeBraun. He is my rock, my comfort and the love of my life. Sometimes you just know and even though it wasn’t a love-at-first-sight-lightning moment that brought us together, it was electric from the first moment we held hands when he picked me up in his black Mustang and drove me to the movies!
How He Asked
Shalan: In July 2017 my family and at-the-time-boyfriend of 12 years traveled for three weeks in Russia to visit my brother who has been living and teaching English outside of Moscow for the past 2 years. On the way back we stopped in Paris for a few days to break up the long trip. I studied French in school and love everything about Paris, how could you not?!? LeBraun and I jumped at the chance to explore the city with my family and then had planned to stay an extra week, because…PARIS! Little did I know of a secret plan…
LeBraun: My fiancée Shalan has loved Paris since she was little and I somehow always knew that was where I wanted to propose. In the Fall when we were planning our trip to Russia, our flight required a layover in Paris and I knew it was meant to be. Shalan’s parents suggested we stop for a few days in France on the way back to break up the flight and the plan quickly came together. On our first day in Paris, we explore the Louvre. I was immediately awe-struck of the beautiful architecture, especially the glass pyramid entrance. I had always loved Math and geometry and therefore pyramids are one of my favorite shapes. The juxtaposition of the ornate, original architecture and modern, slick pyramid was a perfect representation of our design aesthetics. I messaged the secret photographer I was talking to and let him know the Louvre was going to be THE spot.
Shalan’s sister Tiana and I suggested we wake up early on Saturday, get dressed up and take photos at the Louvre to get some nice photos before it got too busy and crowded with people. Nothing unusual to what Shalan and I have done countless times before on our travels, so she thought nothing of it. We had been going nonstop for three weeks straight at this point so when Saturday rolled around we were all exhausted and wanted to sleep in. Shalan is not a morning person, but since her family was leaving the next day and it was the only day to get the pictures done she didn’t complain. Her sister who is a hairstylist (Check her out: @tianatrotz) curled her hair and we were off. I was certain she was on to me as our Uber drove us to the Louvre. I was worried she would see the ring box bulge in my pocket or notice something odd about my behavior, but thankfully she was oblivious.
Tiana took a few photos of us as we walked around the pyramid. Shalan even was a bit grouchy with me because I wasn’t posing, but all I could think about getting to THE spot and secret photographer around the corner. As we were walking, Shalan noticed an X made out of duct tape on the ground ahead (the photographer had marked the spot for me to stand). She playfully said “Oo a X, let’s stand on it,” unknowingly making my job of getting her to it ridiculously easy. The moment had arrived—all 12 years of kisses, laughter, calls and texts, travels, and growing up swelled as I bent my knee and slowly said “Shalan Tennille Trotz…”
I definitely caught her off guard and she told me that everything went quiet and still as she looked down at me on my knee, watching my mouth move but not catching the words. (Don’t worry, I wrote them down so she could read them after.) She cried a bit, jumped a bit and hugged and kissed me a lot! I was nervous I would be shaky and stuttering as I asked her, but I everything came out so simple and smooth. When it’s meant to be, it will be! Always! Shalan’s outfit—Shoes: @aldo_shoes | Romper: @zara LeBraun’s outfit—Shirt: @topshop | Pants: @ydaustralia | Shoes: @aldo_shoes | Blazer: @zara Photographs: Federico of @iheartparisfr