Why these Disney princess-inspired engagement photos went viral

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Moya Crockett
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Walt Disney has a lot to answer for – not least in terms of our expectations of romance. As children, many of us watched classic movies like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and assumed that that was how the world really worked: that one day, we’d meet our one true love, fall head over heels, and live happily ever after. Simple.

Of course, things aren’t always that straightforward. But for one American couple, it was. 

And Kayla and Yalonda Solseng turned the heteronormative princess-finds-her-prince trope on its head in magnificent fashion with a Disney-themed engagement photo shoot.

In the pictures, taken by Taylor Snyder and Erin Hollingsworth, the couple are seen frolicking through a wooded glade, wearing dresses inspired by their favourite Disney princesses. 

Kayla wears a yellow off-the-shoulder dress à la Belle from Beauty and the Beast, while Yalonda dons a Cinderella-style blue ball gown (though no word, so far, on whether any local mice had a hand in creating it). 

The Solsengs, from Glyndon, Minnesota, were married earlier this September after two and half years of dating.

They first met on dating site Plenty of Fish, and quickly bonded over their shared love of the TV show Once Upon a Time, which has been critically lauded for giving traditional fairy tales a feminist spin.

“That show rewrites fairy tales and this was our modern-day fairy tale,” Kayla told the Huffington Post

But their reasons for wanting a princess-style engagement shoot went beyond their love of fairy stories.

“Gay marriage has been legalised in the US for over a year and we hardly have gay or lesbian characters in children’s movies – let alone them being main characters,” Yalonda told HuffPost.

“Kids want to be the characters they grow up with but when none of the characters represent you, then you feel alone,” she added. “I want our photos to be shown to kids and families as a way of saying it’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to be with the person you love.” 

Kayla said that she experienced Disney-style love at first sight when she first met Yolanda in real life, in a nightclub in March 2014.

“Our connection was like no other,” she said. “We then hung out every single day from that day on for the next three weeks. We couldn’t get enough of each other!”

Yalonda asked Kayla to marry her after the pair had been dating for nine months, during a skiing trip to Switzerland. She told the Huffington Post that she proposed with a fairytale book she wrote and illustrated, based on the couple’s own story.

“At the end I asked Kayla, ’Will you be my happily ever after?’” Yalonda said. “Of course she said ‘yes’ and cried.”

Since being shared on the Facebook page Have a Gay Day earlier this year, Kayla and Yalonda's engagement photos have gone viral, racking up over 17,000 likes and comments. Mazel tov, ladies. 

Images: Taylor Snyder Art & Photography and Sun & Moon Photography

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Moya Crockett

Moya is a freelance journalist and writer from London, and a former editor at Stylist.