Just Engaged: Leigh Ann and Darren's Engagement Photos

Southern belle Leigh Ann and her honey Darren found each other at a friend’s party in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and they’ve been madly in love ever since. We celebrate their engagement news!

Charli Penn Mar, 26, 2014

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Leigh Ann and Darren currently live in Washington, D.C., but this spring they plan to tie the knot in Dallas. Join us as we celebrate their love story like only ESSENCE can.

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"I didn’t want to let him know right away that I liked him," Leigh Ann admits. "But after our first conversation we instantly clicked and I felt comfortable. We talked for the rest of the night. It was three in the morning when the party ended and I planned to take the train home, but he insisted on driving my friend and I home. He walked me to the front door of my apartment building and he was a perfect gentleman."

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"The summer after we met Darren went back to Florida to complete his last semester of school at Palm Beach Atlantic University," says Leigh Ann. "He came to D.C. for Thanksgiving and invited me over to his family’s house. They were wonderful, and to this day, I tell Darren that the moment I met his family, they helped seal the deal. I was enamored with Darren and his family. They were so welcoming and loving."

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Did Leigh Ann have a hunch that her dream guy was about to propose? "I knew!" she shares. "When he started asking about my ring size and talking about 'our future,' I knew."

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"I love flowers and once Darren found out he started surprising me and giving me 'just because' flowers every month," says the bride-to-be.

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"Most of my friends say that they didn’t know who the perfect guy for me was until they met Darren," Leigh Ann shares. "So, it's safe to say that they like him."

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"Our wedding will be small and intimate," says Leigh Ann. "The theme of the wedding will be elegance and glam. Our wedding colors are cobalt blue with accents of purple, pink and silver."

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Darren admits that he fell in love with Leigh Ann on their very first date and her basketball knowledge blew him away. "We were at the diner and we began to quiz each other," he tells us. "I was very impressed that she knew where Dwyane Wade went to college and even more impressed that she stumped me; I didn’t know where Robert Horry went, and now I will forever remember that answer, the University of Alabama."

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"By the end of the first night we met, I knew that she was the type of woman I wanted to be with," says Darren.

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"It's cliché I know, but I most look forward to marrying my best friend," says Leigh Ann. "I look forward to experiencing our individual growth and continued growth together for the rest of our lives. I also look forward to our continued mutual support for our life goals and plans."

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Leigh Ann and Darren are tying the knot in Dallas on October 4th, just a few weeks before Darren begins his first season as a high school basketball coach.

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Leigh Ann's engagement ring is quite a beauty.

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"I was nervous about proposing because you never know what could happen, especially since I was surprising her," Darren admits. "But I am definitely not worried about marrying her."

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"I'm looking forward to having Leigh Ann by my side at all times through the good and bad," the groom-to-be tells us.

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"Our first date is one of our most special dates," says Leigh Ann. "Darren took me to the national monuments that evening and we talked and walked for hours. That’s why we took our engagement pictures at the monuments. After our romantic stroll, we didn’t want the date to end, but by then all of the restaurants were closed so we had an impromptu date at a local diner in my neighborhood and talked more."

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"I want to thank Leigh Ann’s parents for raising a beautiful and consistent, classy and sassy God-fearing woman," Darren sweetly shares. "Their parenting is a reflection of the great woman she is today."

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"We usually try out new restaurants in the area an end with movie nights at home," says Leigh Ann. "We’re both pretty active and we like to incorporate that into our dates by enjoying things like 1-on-1 basketball games, at home exercises, ice skating, amusement parks, bowling and laser tag."

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"I am a planner by nature so it’s just fun to embrace the overall wedding planning process," Leigh Ann says. "I’m also having fun meeting all of my vendors. They’re all really cool people and individuals that I see myself interacting with beyond the wedding. This planning process is also giving Darren and I firsthand practice in collaboration. I’ve tapped into his creativity and writing skills throughout the entire planning process."

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Leigh Ann and Darren still live in different places, but they can't wait to share a home together. In the meantime, she tells us every night they still talk on the phone like teenagers. Aww!

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What's not to love about this adorable shot? We love that Leigh Ann and Darren returned to a spot that held special meaning for them for their engagement shoot and in the process wound up having a wonderful time creating these memories.

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Darren recalls falling so in love with Leigh Ann and how comfortable she is in her own skin. "Everything about her seemed and proved to be very genuine," he shares.

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"I love everything about her, especially her character," says Leigh Ann. "She always remains true to who she is and I love that about her."

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We're in love with Leigh Ann and Darren's love story. If you are too, don't forget to leave the soon-to-be newlyweds a congratulatory message below.