Engagement Sessions

DTLA Studio Engagement Session | Maggie + Diego

This Studio Engagement Session was truly special. Maggie and Diego first met back in 2011/2012 through Diego’s brother while they all worked at LegalZoom.  According to Diego, the sparks weren’t exactly immediate, haha. I’ll let him explain:  “I like to joke that it was love at first sight, but the reality is that Maggie was not impressed by my lack of a reaction to her when we met.  While lots of other guys would have jumped at the opportunity to engage with a cute girl, I was pretty neutral when I met her.  Ironically, breaking that expectation apparently made me more memorable.

We didn’t actually strike up a friendship or bond until my niece was born in December of 2013. Maggie had been friends with my brother throughout her time at the company. So when my niece was born it became my duty to share baby photos and videos with Maggie while my brother was on paternity leave.  Through those conversations, we slowly developed a friendship that was centered around shared interests. Those included: Kanye West, Alan Watts, and most of all, Tim Keller, who would end up playing a major role in us both becoming Christians.”

From Friends To Their First Date

From Diego:  “After Maggie left LegalZoom, we kept in fairly regular contact, doing occasional dinner or coffee friend-dates.  Maggie would invite me out to her birthday celebrations not expecting that I’d actually show up. And I pretty much always did.  Throughout that time our relationship was completely platonic. While I don’t think either of us sincerely envisioned anything more, we would joke about our ‘hypothetical relationship’. And I would tell her all the time ‘I’m going to marry you’. This turned out to be prophetic. 

In 2017, I spent a brief period living in Santa Barbara. Maggie came into town for a work obligation and we decided to spend pretty much all the free time she had together.  We had lunch together and that night had dinner and went for a long walk near the beach.  I don’t think either of us can pinpoint why or how things shifted. But our chemistry and dynamic were different that weekend and we ended up sharing our first kiss on March 26, 2017. 

Our first official date was shortly after that.  I took Maggie to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant called Cleo Hollywood, followed by a Vince Staples concert at the Fonda.”

Their Favorite Things

Maggie: “My favorite things about Diego… he is well-spoken, funny and charming.  I admire his intelligence and ability to articulate.  I love when Diego prays with me, it’s so special and sweet.  And he makes me laugh a lot.”

Diego:  “My favorite things about Maggie… she is strong, loving, and fun.  Maggie is a strong human yet she has an underlying kindness that’s uncommon.  She’s the type of person that will persevere through someone’s worst seasons, help to carry others’ burdens and love hard in spite of their flaws.  I always say that my relationship with Maggie made me relational.  Because of being with Maggie, I’ve grown closer to my parents, my brother, my nephews, my best friend, and my church community.  Our relationship has always had an outward-facing quality where being together causes us to love people outside our relationship better.”

Are these two not just the cutest?  I can’t get enough of the way they talk about each other.  Talk about finding a true life partner!  Okay now before we dive into their beautiful Downtown Los Angeles studio engagement session… on to the last part… the proposal story!!


From him:  “When I started planning the proposal I had a really hard time figuring out just what I wanted to do. But one thing was clear from the start: it had to involve our families.

After deliberating on different locations throughout LA I finally settled on a date night with our good friends, Mike and Kim. It would take us through a few of our relationship’s early landmarks. Starting at Cleo for dinner and ending at the Urban Light installation in front of LACMA.  I spent weeks inviting people and coordinating everything.

About a week before I popped the question I got Maggie a gift card to a nice nail shop on my best friend Willie’s recommendation (“She’ll want to have a nice set of nails for photos!”).  Throughout that week I made a few gentle suggestions for Maggie to go get her nails done. But she was inundated with work.  After maybe the third or fourth time she asked me the first in a series of slightly confused and slightly irritated questions:

Question #1: “Why do you keep asking me to get my nails done?”

The day of, we had volunteered to help her sister-in-law, Lindie, with a charity event she was hosting. But to my complete dismay, Maggie woke up feeling under the weather.  Regardless, Maggie did what Maggie does and powered through it.  We arrived and set up as greeters (so she wouldn’t have to do a lot of moving around). When I got the chance I spoke to Lindie and asked her to try to nudge Maggie to go home and rest instead of staying through to the very end to help clean up like she normally would.  Luckily, Maggie agreed.

When I dropped her off at home, I started to feel the stress of what was going to unfold that night.  Maggie was almost completely out of commission and I was about to drop her front and center into a high-pressure situation in a public place with over 30 of our closest friends and relatives there to bear witness.  I thought, “What if her blood pressure drops?  What if she passes out?”  I started to apologize to her profusely which led to her next question. 

Question #2: “Why do you keep apologizing to me? It’s not your fault I don’t feel good.”

I left her at home to rest for a bit. Then called her brother Felipe to get some much-needed encouragement.  Felipe, being the gentle and diffusing soul that he is, managed to ease some of my stress and give me some practical advice.  At his suggestion I got Maggie a medicine bomb, some pain relief medicine and a few heating pads.  I also threw in a dozen red roses to try to make her feel special.  When I got back to Maggie’s to drop everything off she noticed that the flowers I’d gotten her were a bit different than the bouquets I usually got her. 

Question #3: “Why do I get red roses today?”

I left Maggie to rest and reached out to Mike and Kim.  At this point, there was no going back. So I asked them to please bring all their joy to dinner to hopefully lift Maggie’s spirits.  By the grace of God Maggie had started to come back to life by dinnertime. 

We arrived at Cleo just about the same time as our friends and sat down for our meal, and I was beyond grateful that Mike and Kim were able to deliver on my request.  The food was great, the company was greater and we were enjoying our time together.  Then toward the end of our meal, Kim asked if we wouldn’t mind taking a walk down to LACMA with them so that she could “get a selfie in front of those lights I always see on Instagram.”  Of course, we obliged, and on the drive there Maggie had a few more questions. 

Question #4: “Why are Mike and Kim so happy tonight?”

Question #5: “Why does Kim want to go to LACMA?  That’s so random.”

When we arrived we parked about a block down from the installation and made our way there. I signaled to a few of the people waiting that we were almost there. As we got closer Mike stepped back to “take a phone call”, and Kim stayed behind with him. Which Maggie found unusual. 

Question #6: “Why does Kim have to stay with Mike to take a phone call?”

As we made our way in front of the lights, I reached out for Maggie’s hand and she noticed that something was a little off.

Question #7: “Why are your palms so sweaty?”

Finally, Maggie started to realize that this wasn’t just another date night and that visiting these places from our first few dates wasn’t a coincidence. I positioned us near one of the corners of the installation and read Maggie a letter telling her that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.  As I did, all of our friends and family poured out from the back of the installation and formed a half-circle around us. When I finished my letter I pulled out the ring, got on one knee, and asked the last question of the night.

Question #8: “Will you marry me?”

To which Maggie replied, “Okay fine.””  (which they explained was a cute inside joke, aka: YES!)

From her:  “Diego managed to surprise ME!  It was so well planned, my mom and so many of my close loved ones were present.  I felt incredibly loved!”

Downtown Los Angeles studio engagement session

I am really looking forward to their fall wedding.  I can already tell that it’s going to be an incredible day – September cannot come fast enough!

Until then, I’m so excited to share just a few of my favorite images from their gorgeous Downtown Los Angeles studio engagement session at Concrete Studios!  I hope you enjoy them! 

Couple during in-studio engagement session
girl dressed in white looking at fiance during engagement session
engagement session by stefani ciotti

When Diego proposed, he gave Maggie this beautiful handwritten quote by their favorite pastor, Tim Keller. So, of course, we had to incorporate it into their session.  

engagement session couple on a white sofa
couple kissing during engagement session
hands cloesup during engagement session

They went to see an installation by James Terrell (Breathing Light) at LACMA for one of their first dates (which they loved). So they asked if I could recreate something similar for their engagement session – a memento of the beginning of their relationship.  It was an honor to be able to do so:

creative photo artwork engagement session

If you enjoyed this Downtown Los Angeles studio engagement session, you may also like Nina + Zak’s engagement session HERE! And Maggie + Diego’s wedding photos.

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