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FIANCÉE: Katarena Hall, 22, Senior, B.S. BS: Psychology and Christian Counseling 

FIANCÉ: Shawn Benjamin, 22, Groundsman 

DATE: February 16, 2024

LOCATION: Kent SquareBlacksburg, Virginia 


Shawn and Katarena grew up in Elliston, Virginia. The couple has known each other since kindergarten. They dated on and off throughout high school. In March of 2020, Shawn and Katarena reconnected through Snapchat. Because of COVID-19, the couple continued to chat online until August 2020. 

First Date

After months of online chatting, Shawn and Katarena decided to venture out for a first date. “Since few restaurants were open during the pandemic, we met in Christiansburg, Virginia at a Sonic Drive-In,” said Katarena. “Sonic was always our spot when we previously dated in high school.”

I Love You

Katarena was the first to say “I love you” and Shawn reciprocated immediately. “I always knew he was my soulmate from the moment we met in high school,” Katarena said. “We always seemed to find our way back to each other.”

When I asked Katarena what she loved most about Shawn, she said, “I love his calming nature.” “And he always makes an effort to spend time with me.”

Shawn told me, “I love Katarena’s smile and how her smile lights up her eyes. “She has a never-give-up attitude.” “It is great how we work as a team.”



Kassie Reese Photography captured the digital memories of Shawn’s surprise proposal to Katarena.

In February 2023, Kassie advertised a contest on Facebook offering a discounted photography session. Shawn and Katarena entered the contest and won the photography session.

Katarena booked the photography session with Kassie for February 16, 2024. After the session was booked, Shawn contacted Kassie to discuss his plan to propose to Katarena during the photography session. Kassie was instrumental in helping Shawn plan and pull off the surprise proposal.


The theme for the photography session was romantic. And Shawn and Katarena dressed accordingly. The location for the session was the top garage floor of Kent Square, a retail, office and residential building in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The session started about 25 minutes before sunset. After a series of poses and much laughter, the golden hour and proposal moment approached. To set up the proposal, Kassie positioned Shawn and Katarena with their backs to each other and turned on her phone to video the proposal. Shawn lowered his right knee to the ground and held out the ring as Kassie told Katarena to turn around. Shawn popped the question and Katarena said, “Yes.” Kassie continued to take photos while the couple hugged, kissed and celebrated the moment. “It was a perfect sunset and proposal, said Katarena.


Katarena wore a long and flowy red color dress she found on Amazon. “I picked red because it is Shawn’s favorite color,” said Katarena.

She was adorned with several pieces of jewelry. On her left hand, she wore a promise ring Shawn gave her in the Spring of 2021. The square-cut ring was sterling silver with sapphire and diamond accents.

Katarena also wore a silver cross necklace given to her as a high school graduation gift in 2020. It was a gift from a special woman in her life. For Valentine’s Day 2023, Shawn gave me an opal charm I added to the necklace, making it even more special to me,” Katarena said. “On my right hand, I wore a friendship ring from my best friend.”

She finished her look with silver heels. “They added the perfect amount of sparkle, said Katarena.

Shawn was dressed in black attire. And he wore his signature hat and boots,” said Katarena. “He wore a gold chain necklace gifted to him after his father’s death.” “It is a family heirloom.”


Shawn selected a yellow-gold diamond engagement ring for Katarena. “The ring has lots of bling and the diamond cut is square,” said Katarena.


Shawn and Katarena are planning to marry in the fall of 2025. The couple will tour wedding venues in Virginia’s New River Valley region (Floyd, Giles, Montgomery Pulaski and Radford) in the coming months.


The couple offers the following advice to engaged couples, “be sure you know what is most important to your partner and make wedding decisions together. “It will be good practice for when making future life decisions together, said Katarena. 


Photographer: Kassie Reese Photography – @kreese_photography

DRESS: Amazon – @amazon

SHOES: Shein – @Shein_us

FORMALWEAR: Belk – @belk

New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg, VA

PROMISE RING: Pandora – @theofficialpandora

Valley View Mall, Roanoke, VA


Saslow’s & Henebry’s Diamond Jewelers – @SaslowsHenebrys

New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg, VA

HAIR & MAKEUP: The Hot Seat / BeautybyJustine – @JustineJettaHope

If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville/ Lynchburg Va. we can help with your wedding planning and ideas.

The author: Debra Shepperson

Debra is a native of Virginia, having lived in both Roanoke and Richmond. She is the co-owner of Relish – Say I Do!! Officiant & Photographer. She is an artist who aims to create ceremony scripts and capture photos that evoke positive emotional responses, inspire others, and deliver nostalgia. Debra holds a graduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth and an undergraduate degree from Saint Leo University, Florida. Before gaining more than ten years of wedding-related experience, Debra was a human resource executive. She has been happily married to the co-owner of Relish for more than 20 years.