I have always known that I wanted to marry Samantha. The harder thing to figure out was how I was going to ask her. In terms of a proposal I knew she deserved something big and that she would never forget, but that she also hates those tacky proposals (I see you stadium scoreboards and flash mobs) you see on Facebook. Lastly, I knew that nothing in this world matters more to her than her family, so they should be a part of the surprise. I needed a classy way to surprise her, while having as many people as I could get there to see it.
Photo by the wonderful Amanda Brisco Photography
What I ended up with was using her own business against her, and in my favor. As a member of the SMF team I know how important it is to have good video and photo coverage of a major event, and have access to the tools to do so. I figured that if I could convince Samantha that we were working a shoot, I could have all the equipment set up without seeming suspicious. Better yet, she would be so focused on doing her best work that she might never see it coming. So I knew that I wanted to set up a fake photo session, only for it to turn around and be focused on her.
To get started, I thought of how Samantha typically set up her shoots. She gets an inquiry and begins emailing the client to see what they would like and learn about them. Then she typically looks them up on Facebook and Instagram to see their personal style and what they look like (so we can find them when we meet up). I created a fake email account to pose as a recently engage woman, and basically 'catfished' Samantha.
I hit up Samantha through her 'Contact' section of her website and listed my new fake email address. We then began going back and forth for a few months to set up this shoot. In real life, I did not know exactly where to go, so I figured it would be great if Samantha picked out her own proposal location. Posing, I asked her for her favorites and offered a few, and Samantha and I even went location scouting for this client! (I had a place in mind, but Samantha didn't like my first pick and then recommended Settler's Cabin Park).
With the location and shoot set up, I then went to the park on a day where Samantha was out of town, and found the spot at the top of the hill where :
1. There isn't direct sunlight, so the pictures would look nice
2. There is a good cover for people to hide behind (or down the hill) so they could be there for the surprise
3. By doing it at the top of the hill both a photographer/videographer would be able to capture the moment without seeing the crowd down the other side
Also at the park it would be easy to get a pavilion and host a party to celebrate! So boom, the plan was born.
I reached out to our family and friends, some of which knew for months of the upcoming plan, and we had 35 people come into town to be a part of the big day. All I had to do now, was act cool, seem like it was business as usual, and get Samantha to the spot.
This is where Samantha started to make things a little difficult... A few hours before the shoot, she asked if we could now get there a full hour before the shoot (instead of our typical 30 minutes), so she could location scout (even though we had shot a session in the same spot earlier that week!). I had to agree, but knew that if we did go that early, we would likely run into one of the 35 people coming. We also couldn't look around the park, because I had a decorated pavilion with all of our family and friends' vehicles parked next to it. I couldn't let us get there early. I knew I had to stall to make sure we got there at our usual time.
Samantha's cousin, Shawna O'Dowd ALSO helped cover the proposal and took this picture!
As we packed up to leave the apartment, I got dressed and ready, and Samantha put on jeans and a t-shirt. I then began trying to get her to wear nicer clothes (for her behind the scenes, of course). We ended up going back and forth on a few options, and I made her change several times (sorry, lol). This was my best way to delay our arrival, and let everyone get into position.
As we left our apartment for the shoot, I got the text that everyone was now in position, and we were all clear. I drove us into the park and we got to the spot at 6:08pm, 12 minutes before we were to "meet our clients". Samantha was now in full freak out mode since we were "late" and didn't have enough time to go through the park and location scout. I tried to calm her down and get her to help me get the video equipment ready (that I was shooting with for "behind the scenes footage" of how Samantha does photo sessions), but after she set up the camera, she refused to let me check the microphone she was wearing.
She was in a hurry to run down over the hill, and down the path to pick locations. I could not let this happen! Just on the other side of the hill was a crowd of excited family members, and she would head straight towards them! I did all I could to pull her back and get her to the correct spot, but she was flustered, and almost ran away multiple times.
Luckily, just as she seemed to get away I was able to convince her to come back to me (even though she was yelling at me and asking what is wrong that I am not letting her go), where I could set down the video camera and get her into position. Right as she is shaking out of nervousness for this shoot, I grabbed her and told her why I brought her here.
Luckily, everything ended up going just about to plan, with a few added nerves by Samantha for us failing to location scout, and the microphone getting set up. In the end, she was completely surprised and everyone invited was able to see as I got down on one knee. And she said yes!! Probably the most important part, but honestly the thing I was the least worried about that day.
Special thanks to the people that helped cover this including our photographers, Mandy Brisco and Shawna O'Dowd, and our videographer, (who couldn't use any video equipment since Samantha keeps it all) Catherine. Thank you to all of our family and friends who were able to make it to the proposal (HUGE thanks to our friends, Adam and Charlie for flying in from Georgia and Oklahoma to be there) and to all of the family and friends that have been there for us for the past 6.5 years. We are so excited for this next stage of life!
Stay tuned to see the rest of our pictures from our photo session with Mandy!