One of my favorite things to photograph is a surprise proposal. Or, as my friend loves to point out, it’s really just a proposal because the “surprise” part is inherent…but still, I think the word “surprise” helps add to the excitement, don’t you? 😉
In the seven years since Kate L Photography was born, I’ve really come to value storytelling. One perfect image alone is always great to have, but it’s the value of 50 strong images together that really give someone a feel for what an afternoon looked and felt like. When I have the lucky opportunity to photograph a proposal, my role as a storyteller is kicked up a notch. I’m the third party, the view from the outside that can (mostly) (hopefully!) remember how everything from that day played out. And it’s my responsibility to tell that story as well as I can, in both photos and words, so that the couple can share it with their grandbabies someday.
SO, to the best of my memory, here’s the story of how Jarrett proposed to Elise:
Jarrett called me at my office to tell me he had a very special plan in the works to propose to his girlfriend of two years. Although they both lived in Washington, D.C., he was taking a “business trip” to Boston soon and planned to bring Elise along with him so he could propose to her. Since business trips are not uncommon for Jarrett’s job, Elise didn’t suspect a thing. Kudos to you, Jarrett 😉
After they arrived in Boston, Jarrett told Elise that he was going to a “business meeting” while Elise headed to a pedicure (it was a nice vacation weekend for her). In reality, the “business meeting” was my request– I suggested that we meet in person a few hours before the actual event on Friday, so that Jarrett and I would be able to recognize each other and pick a photogenic spot for the proposal. Jarrett hopped a cab to come meet me at Columbus Park, a place where he and Elise used to go on walks together when they first started dating (the two of them met while working on Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012). We picked a spot for the photos, reviewed our game plan a few times, and then Jarrett headed back to his “business meeting” to go pick up Elise and return to their hotel to get ready for “a walk and dinner.” I had Jarrett program my number in his phone as his friend, Tim, so that I could text him without Elise suspecting anything.
It wouldn’t be a proposal if something didn’t go slightly wrong, and as luck would have it, Elise’s pedicure ran over. While I waited for them, I wandered aimlessly around Faneuil Hall, hoping that everything would go as smoothly as possible. I couldn’t tell whether my fingers were shaking from the cold weather or from my nerves!
When Elise’s pedicure finally wrapped up and Jarrett brought her to THE SPOT. I saw them approaching from a distance, so I pretended to be a normal tourist with a backpack and turned sideways to start snapping photos of the waterfront. I didn’t want to give anything away or detract from the moment, so I waited until I saw Jarrett get down on one knee out of my peripheral vision. The second that happened, I began snapping furiously. Photos of the whole scene, closeups of Elise’s totally shocked face…my frozen trigger finger was moving about a million miles a minute. Hilariously, Elise didn’t realize I was there until a full TWO MINUTES into the proposal. Not because this “random tourist” was taking dozens of photos of her, but because she heard the sound of my camera shutter. The face when she realizes that I’m in on the whole thing is priceless (see if you can find the photo below).
After the proposal itself, we spent the rest of the available sunlight taking engagement photos in all of the spots that were meaningful to them. Because they both lived in the North End while they dated in Boston, we spent the evening hopping from one Italian place to another. The neighborhood had enough Christmas lights to brighten the whole city! We stopped in one of Jarrett and Elise’s old favorite places, Florentine Cafe, which graciously let us take photographs there. We also visited Romney’s old campaign headquarters, a nondescript concrete building by the water that brought back so many memories for them. While we walked between locations, I explained to Elise how thoughtful, careful, and brilliant Jarrett had been with the whole proposal plan. Not surprisingly, she was shocked in the best way possible.
We ended our afternoon at the Faneuil Hall Christmas tree, one of the best pieces of holiday magic in Boston. I can only imagine how much fun J & E will have will have when they visit that tree in holiday seasons to come. That’s where it all began, and I feel honored to have been a part of their story in the making!