Back in 2002, marriage was the least of Latonya's concerns. The young, bright 27-year-old left her boyfriend Jason in Washington D.C. to pursue a career as a TV reporter. But no matter where she reported the news from, Latonya knew her heart was still in D.C. with Jason. They vowed to make their long-distance love work, and eventually reunited for good. Realizing that nothing could keep them apart, the two lovebirds said "I do" in a breathtaking garden soiree. Share their love. Here's what you had to say: Christopher commented via Facebook: "As log as you are open and honest with each other and are moving in the same direction, no distance should come between two people." Cathy wrote via Facebook: "This is beautiful! I can't wait 'til my big day. Two more months to go!"
Bride: Latonya Stephens, 37
Groom: Jason Banks, 41
Occupations: Latonya — Producer for Sirius XM Radio, Jason — Software Engineer
Hometown: Bowie, Maryland
Wedding Location: Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Wedding Date: July 24, 2010
It's a Set-Up
When her good friend told her she knew the perfect guy for her, LaTonya was skeptical. But as soon as she met Jason, all of her resistance melted away.
"I kept saying, 'I don't want to be set up,'" LaTonya says. "Then when I went out and met him we instantly clicked."
Kiss and Tell
For their first official date, Jason took LaTonya to Union Station in Washington D.C.
"From then on, I pretty much knew that I really liked him," LaTonya giggles. "He took me back to where I was living at the end of the night and we had our first kiss. I was happy. It was a good kiss."
He Said, She Said
"I found him attractive right away. He seemed really even-keeled, he was smart, but he wasn't a nerd and we just got along really well," LaTonya says of her first impressions of Jason. "It was definitely really intense at first."
"She was beautiful," Jason states of what he first thought of LaTonya. "She was unlike any other girl I had dated. She wasn't focused on a lot of the things that the young ladies I had met until that point were. She wasn't even focused on marriage."
"I think I knew I loved him from the very beginning," LaTonya says sweetly, "but I wanted to go and be a reporter."
Let's Stay Together
LaTonya did become a reporter, picking up a position in Atlanta, where she is originally from, that would send her and Jason into a long-distance relationship. It was difficult at first, but they worked it out, LaTonya says.
"We had a couple of issues here and there, but eventually we decided to stay together."
LaTonya moved on to work in Kentucky and Indiana and Jason would take trips to see his lady as often as he could.
When her contract at the TV station in Indiana was ending, LaTonya and Jason had "the talk."
"I said, 'either we're going to get serious or I'm going to look for a job in another city,'" LaTonya explains. "That's when we decided, let's get married."
"Once you get older, the surprise isn't that important anymore," LaTonya says. "We had been together for so long we went to pick out rings together."
They found their ring at Tiffany on a Monday afternoon in July 2009 and agreed that they would return to pick it up that Friday. Little did LaTonya know, she would get the surprise she never knew she wanted.
On Thursday evening, Jason took LaTonya to their favorite tapas restaurant in Downtown D.C. called Zaytinya. They sat at a secluded table, outside relaxing and enjoying each other's company.
"All of a sudden he got down on his knee," LaTonya remembers, "And he just asked if I would spend the rest of my life with him."
The answer was always, "Yes."
After 11 years of dating, including years of long-distance, LaTonya and Jason tied the knot in a breathtaking garden wedding. Share their love.