Ready to Stare at these AMAZING Engagement Photos?!
You know those nights when you reallllly don’t want to go out but your best friend or family member makes you?
You might spend the rest of your life forever grateful to them, depending on who you meet that night. One year ago today, Ready to Stare’s Alysse Dalessandro’s mom made her go to a networking night for Plexus: Northeest Ohio's LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce to cheer her up after a break-up, and that’s where she first caught glimpse of Giovonni Santiago. Gio was also dragged out by his friend Gwen from Equality Ohio, who forced him to go even though he had a long day, having spoken on a panel that morning.
As soon as Alysse spotted him in the crowd, nobody else mattered. They shared a love of travel, shoes and working towards social change. As a plus size fashion blogger and a contributor to Qwear, Alysse aims to help people of all genders to learn to love and accept themselves and their bodies as a body positive advocate. Gio runs META Center Inc., his own non-profit for transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and is known as an advocate for transgender equality across the country.
They talked all night, and at the end, Gio asked her out on a date.
Sometimes when you know, you know. (I say this because their story reminds me a lot of mine and Rupi’s.) Gio doesn’t waste any time. After all, it’s not every day that you meet a talented yet humble femme who’s changing the queer and plus size fashion sphere — looking amazing while doing it!
They went to Philly together for the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, and for all Alysse knew, this was a normal trip.
I can only imagine Gio’s heart was racing, as he planned a proposal right after he gave a presentation. I mean, DAMN! How could you possibly concentrate in that presentation?
After his presentation ended, Gio, Alysse, and his two best friends walked to the Love sign to take pictures. Gio leaned in for a kiss, and then was suddenly down on one knee. His friends recorded the whole thing and it now has 106,000+ views on Alysse’s Instagram!
I am literally in tears of joy as I share this moment again:
View this post on Instagram
I spent a lot of my life believing that love wasn’t for a person who looked like me. It wasn’t until I went onto a journey of self love that I found an amazing person who recognized all those things in me too. Meeting @cockyflytransguy changed my life. He has taught me how to be compassionate in the face of hate. He is strong and resilient when I feel weak. He is silly when I get stuck in a negative thought. He is everything I ever wanted but never believed I deserved. Find yourself and love will find you.
Alysse, being the fashionista that she is, was even more excited about putting together a fashion-forward engagement shoot than the wedding itself.
This photoshoot was important to Alysse because when she searched for engagement photo inspiration on Pinterest, she saw mostly white, thin, cishet couples. “I didn't see anyone who looked like us,” She told me. “I also saw stylistically so many rustic shoots. Everyone was running through a forest or picking their partner up. That just isn't us. My idea was to pose in front of a mansion and we were super lucky that our amazing photographer, Gra Photography knew just the place! She brought a mix of traditional engagement photos and high fashion couples photos for us to re-create.”
I went ahead and got the scoop behind their outfits.
Look 1: Glitter & Glam
“I had been sent the shiny Rachel Roy dress from Macy's and I realized that it would actually be a perfect bold neutral for the engagement shoot. I knew I had the multi-colored glitter shoes so I wanted something that would match but not distract from that.” — Alysse
I ordered the rainbow tassel earrings on a whim and realized they were the perfect piece to tie it all together.” — Alysse
“The vibe I was going for was sophisticated, yet high fashion, with a mix of fun and authentic flavor. I definitely think I achieved it.” — Gio
“I love the color red, so it was an easy choice to wear the pants. Finding the the perfect red pants was actually the most challenging part. We looked everywhere in person for them but ultimately, we ended up finding them online at ASOS.” — Gio
Look 2: Super Heroes
“I wanted to do something very classy, but still with that “boss-like” feel to it. Most people do standard colored suit, so I had to be a total individual and go way left with the royal blue.” — Gio
“I have been a huge Spider-Man fan my whole life, actually just Marvel in general, so many years ago my friend made me the bow tie and I bought the belt to match it. Then as I was frantically looking for a tie to match my blue suit, this one came to mind and then I had to do the belt to tie it all in.” — Gio
“Sneakers are my passion, so I knew regardless of what clothes I was wearing that I was going to have sneakers on. Kevin Durant is my favorite NBA player, so that is why I decided on KD 11’s. ‘GS’ are my initials, 20 is my favorite number, ‘stare’ is a tribute to my soon-to-be wife. In my life I always ‘adapt’ and overcome.” — Gio
“We both place a large importance on love, whether it’s love of ones self or love for others, and we just want equality for everyone in all aspects of life.” — Gio
“Not only did I want to incorporate a piece from indie designer Ashley Nell Tipton, but I wanted to use that look to make a statement. Once I found the Love shoes, I knew that Gio had Equality sneakers and I thought we could use that as a way to make a statement about LGBTQ love and marriage. As most LGBTQ people know, the legal right to marry does not make us equal. There are still so many instances where we are not treated equally. This was our statement that that inequality needs to change.” — Alysse
See more info about this shoot on Alysse’s blog, Ready to Stare
TL;DR : Alysse Dalessandro’s and Giovonni Santiago’s engagement shoot provides stunning images outside the white cishet wedding narrative