Talk about orchestrating the most epic surprise proposal ever! Leslie had an elaborate plan to propose to Mel, and with the help of a crew of excited friends and family, she executed the surprise perfectly.
Mel said yes! Leslie and Mel are engaged. So read on and enjoy the photos. This is how you pull off a proposal with style, grace, and a dash of (very!) sneaky planning.
Leslie gave Mel a “gift” of a mother/daughter weekend at their favorite vacation spot at Broken Bow in Oklahoma. Mel was so hyped to spend a weekend at the cabins with her daughter Kelsey who lives in LA, as they hadn’t seen each other for a long time due to Covid.
Leslie contacted me to photograph her surprise proposal, but we didn’t talk about a game plan as it was all still “a work in progress”. Instead, we talked about how they met, about my work, a few potential ideas. I knew the event was in Oklahoma, and she was ready to book me over the phone. Frankly, with how well we clicked – I didn’t even blink booking with her. Months passed after her booking me; it was almost “the day,” and I had no idea what we were doing.
At last, we connected with Leslie, and she gave me a rundown of the events. My job as “the family photographer” was to start the session at Mel and Kelsey’s cabin, do the “mother/daughter session” and then find a way to lure Mel to the cabin where everyone was hiding for the surprise proposal. Within six months, with secret messages, shopping trips, and travel arrangements made without Mel suspecting a thing- everything was set and ready to go.
Photographing proposals makes my heartbeat 1,000 times faster than usual. I’m super talkative and outgoing, so I have to hold my chatter. I guess, like many photographers, I have a fear of ruining the surprise. Proposals are the one time I feel any nerves during shooting. Even after being a Dallas surprise proposal photographer for all these years, they still get my palms sweaty. You have to tell so many lies to the person you are photographing – there’s no way you won’t blush! I think I got better at lying over the years LOL! She wasn’t making it any easier for me either – asking me all sorts of questions:
“So, do you guys (me and my assistant) live around here?”
“Umm, actually no – we live in Dallas. We have a wedding here tomorrow, and it was a total sweet coincidence Leslie found me. I travel all over for photos ^^.”
“Where are y’all staying? How long have you been a photographer?”
so many more questions I can’t remember from my heart beating as I was pulling one lie after the other! But I think I did well because she didn’t suspect anything at all, hahaha!
We started the session with Kelsey and Mel making cocktails together. Then they played tabletop/board games and then continued with a fun session outside by the firepit.
My final whopper was how we got Mel and her daughter to the proposal spot.
“I think we had enough photos here,” I told Mel. “I want to make sure the session is efficient, and you have a good variety of photos in your gallery when you receive them. The owner of the cabin we’re staying in mentioned one other cabin he owns has a nice waterfall/fountain behind it. Let’s go there, so we have a change of backdrop.” She took the bait. Sorry Mel! (Not sorry – one bit, hahaha!)
The truth was a long and romantic aisle of friends holding sentimental signs, then loads of candles lead to her love, who was waiting outside for the surprise proposal. Leslie was holding a sign that said, “‘Mon over here and says yes.” Leslie explains, “We say ‘mon as a substitute for “come on” in our house. As Mel walked through the doors, passing our friends all looking and giggling at her (some of them crying happy tears), holding framed photos from our favorite memories, I almost passed out from excitement – waiting for her. I said some sweet things, and she said yes.”
Mel couldn’t believe it, and then she turned to me asking, “So you knew about ALL OF THIS, and you didn’t say a thing? “
“Umm… Yes? Hahaha – Leslie hired me for this whole thing! But I’ll admit, you did give me a hard time at the other cabin, asking me a gazillion questions from where I didn’t study! 🙂 “
Leslie says having 25 of their peeps waiting to surprise Mel, her crying happy tears on her way to say yes, partying the night away at the cabin with their loved ones was the best part of the whole thing.
“We are super fortunate to have amazing friends and family who showed up and worked so hard to decorate, tell little white lies, and care so much about us and our relationship.”
It was such a joyful time. A massive celebration of love and life continued all weekend. Thank you, Leslie, for trusting me to document this important day.
Drop me a line if you need a Dallas surprise proposal photographer. Or if I’m too late for that and you already have the bling, I would love to photograph your wedding! I’m happy to travel anywhere for photo shoots, especially ones as exciting as this epic occasion.