Real Couple // A Fijian-Mexican Engagement Shoot in Oakland: Falisha + Jorge

"We are young parents to my 9-year-old son Isaiah, and we are Bay Area natives by way of the Fiji Islands and Mexico. We are trying to live the American dream. We are hardworking, fun and ambitious individuals. We’re homemakers, inspired and motivated by family. We’re modern people with old-fashioned values. We want to embrace our respective cultures and have our children know and respect where we’ve come from. As minority cultures, we don’t have the advantage of resources, but we are very blessed to live and have grown up in the Bay Area and to tap into the many resources that are available to us through hard work and God’s grace.

We met working at Wells Fargo. I started there in September 2013 and Jorge was my supervisor. We locked eyes the day we met. When I was hired, he was on a 4–week vacation in Mexico. The first day he got back, he opened the door for me. He struck me as a real gentleman with values like chivalry, courtesy and respect. 

That same day, his best friend came to the bank as a customer. This friend asked me straight out, ‘are you in a relationship?’ And said I wasn’t, and he said, ‘you should give my boy a chance!’ It was pretty awkward as I had just met Jorge and he was my supervisor! But something was sparked within us, if it hadn’t already. 

From then on we would flirt constantly with one another. He took me out to sushi in San Leandro and invited me on a proper date horseback riding on his uncle’s ranch in Los Baños. We set off at sunrise, had breakfast with Jorge’s uncle and aunt and then went horseback riding. It was so perfect! I felt so comfortable with Jorge - like I could be myself. This was about three months after we first met at the bank. Soon after that, he asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes! 

Our proposal was a fairytale! We had planned a trip to Mexico City for the three of us. First, we visited Jorge’s hometown, Tizapan El Alto, then flew out to Mexico City. We went to the Teotihuacán pyramids. We had been looking at engagement rings beforehand and he knew the setting, diamond and design I wanted, but I had no idea he had bought the ring. We were going up the Teotihuacán pyramid and halfway up we ran into Jorge’s friend from California, who was there with his son! Still I didn’t suspect anything. We took some pictures of one another. As Jorge and I were posing for a picture, he dramatically turned me around and got on his knees.

My immediate reaction was ‘what are you doing, there are people here!’ because Jorge always jokes around.

‘Great prank!’ I said. All of a sudden he pulled out the ring. I blacked out for 5 seconds. There it was, the ring that I had my heart set on was right there! I was in shock and disbelief for a few moments, covering my mouth the whole time saying ‘shut the fuck up!’ So he called me by my full name and said ‘I want to spend my entire life with you’. Then I fully blanked out – I was so overcome with emotion! I do remember him saying ‘will you marry me?’ All that time I hadn’t said anything. 

He put the ring on my finger and I bawled my eyes out! He got up off his knees and pulled me close and said ‘so… is that a yes?’ ‘Of course!’ All three of us hugged. 

That sounds incredible in itself. But Jorge went one step further. He knew that what I would want most during a moment like this would be to have all my family there but of course that wouldn’t be possible, so well before the proposal he had all my friends and family members record videos congratulating us on our engagement! 

They had sent their well wishes to a dedicated email address Jorge had created especially. The night he proposed, he said to me ‘log into this email address. Here’s the password.’ I had no idea what was going on! I then clicked on video after video of all our dearest ones wishing us the best on our engagement and I bawled my eyes out yet again. It meant so much to me!

We chose to have our engagement photos in Oakland because it's special for both of us. My grandparents migrated from the Fiji islands to Oakland, and his parents from Mexico to Oakland. It was the landing place for both our families – their first taste of a foreign culture where they longed to be and the start of the American dream. 

We chose Zoe because she’s so skilled! We connected, and she explained she was trying out a new lens she’d rented and wanted to experiment artistically and try it out, so she gave us a good rate. Budgets are always real (and tight!) for us, and honestly we didn’t think an engagement shoot was a splurge we’d be able to afford. It certainly wasn’t on Jorge’s radar (especially as we had a friend capture the proposal) and I began to think it probably wouldn’t happen. When we met Zoe, it felt like such fortuitous timing!

Never limit yourself when it comes to love. Jorge and I come from backgrounds that don’t mix much, even though they rub shoulders all the time in the melting pot we call home. Each culture generally sticks together. In this day and age however it’s wonderful to mix cultures. That’s what we celebrate and embrace in this shoot. If you love somebody, please don’t feel like you can’t be with them if they’re from a different culture from you.

Words by Falisha, as told to Amber Marlow. Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography
 A Fijian-Mexican wedding Engagement Shoot in Oakland California by Zoe Larkin Photography

 Loe Larkin

ZOE LARKIN

I am a San Francisco-based wedding photographer and fine art graduate from London. I specialize in photographing intimate weddings for joyful, free-thinking couples! I create raw, powerful images that evoke a range of emotions, combining documentary style with a stylized edge. My work has been featured on Offbeat Bride, Equally Wed, Love Inc Mag among others. I adore simplicity, kind people, Ted Talks, Earl Grey and odd socks. Reliability is my superpower. I am an equality-minded vendor that celebrates diversity, avoids hetero-normativity and promotes true marriage equality.

www.zoelarkin.com