ESSENCE Is Having a Baby! Inside the Surprise Baby Shower for Our Storybook Couple

First comes meeting through the pages of ESSENCE, then comes a Storybook proposal at Walt Disney World, then comes a baby girl named ESSENCE!  

Charreah K. Jackson Aug, 18, 2016

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After spotting artist Kurtis Watkins in the 2008 ESSENCE "Do Right Men" feature, art teacher Jennifer Mack reached out. The two creatives quickly hit it off and in 2012 Kurtis asked Jennifer to be his wife with a surprise proposal at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, as contestants for our Storybook Wedding franchise. Now the lovebirds who met, got engaged and shared their wedding story with us is expecting their first child – a daughter to be named ESSENCE. “Essence brought us together and has been a part of our entire love story,” Jennifer said. “Of course we were excited to share that with baby. And ladies, don’t be afraid to make that first move.” We threw a surprise proposal to celebrate this special moment! Thanks to Disney, TJ Maxx, Walmart, Cocoa Babies for gifts, Olive Garden and Welch's for food and Bcake Ny for the cake and cupcakes. Celebrate the beauty of love and new life!

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The couple got engaged at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park as part of our 2012 Storybook Wedding contest.

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Surprise! We told the couple to stop by to say hello – they walked into a baby shower.

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ESSENCE Lifestyle Editor Charreah Jackson welcomes Kurtis and Jennifer to their surprise ESSENCE baby shower.

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The couple take in the display including sweet treats from Welch’s fruit snacks, as guests dig in to Olive Garden catering.

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ESSENCE staffers congratulate the mom and dad.

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The Baby Essence cake from BCake NY is surrounded by delicious vanilla and chocolate cupcakes.

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Kurtis displays a custom onesie by Cocoababies, which features one of his art creation.

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Staffers write love notes to Baby ESSENCE.

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Walt Disney World sent a special Animal Kingdom gift bag to celebrate the couple who got engaged at the park.

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Say cheese! ESSENCE staffers smile big during the shower.

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Personalized Onesies & Bibs from Cocoababies stole the hearts of many at the shower, including mom-to-be.

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What’s a shower without games? Custom Baby ESSENCE bingo featured words from Do Right to Disney.

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We like to party.

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Jennifer strikes a pose with baby Janelle Monae, her favorite artist, from the Because of Them, We Can campaign.

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Jennifer checks out gifts from TJ Maxx and Marshalls, including this festive pillow for Essence’s nursery.

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Kurtis and Jennifer receive blocks from Walmart – and a subscription to their baby box for new moms.

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The gifts keep coming for Baby ESSENCE!

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Our team is super excited for our new addition!

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Congrats to Kurtis and Jennifer! This shower was possible with the generous donations including Activity Cards from 9SPR and Love Grows Here gift set from Yinibini Baby, colorful flowers from The Bouqs Company and more.