I audibly squealed when John shared the news with me that he was planning to propose to Hannah. He was going to talk to her parents soon. The ring would be ready in a few weeks. It was time to ask her to marry him. And he wanted me to be there to take pictures! I was over the moon. He asked if I had suggestions and the planner in me couldn’t wait to map this out.
Hannah’s friend Tara was also behind the scenes plotting a fun weekend in West Chester with the couple. To kick off the weekend, their friends were planning to enjoy a Friday night at a murder mystery dinner in Philly. John shared with us later that when Hannah wasn’t around, the group of friends enjoyed talking about their grand plans for the weekend. They would quickly change the subject when she would come back to the table.
John wanted to go to Longwood Gardens with Hannah on Saturday and let her think it was her idea. He knew that would be a great place to pop the question. John and I text back and forth about the various options, locations and routes to take. His favorite spot was the stone gazebo by the lake. Hannah wanted this moment to be private. This location was perfect because it was tucked away in the woods. The architecture on the “Love Temple” just screamed romance and old world charm. The forecast also said it was going to be nice and cold, so the crowds would take care of themselves.
Scouting Out “The Spot”
During the planning process I “Googled” and studied Longwood Garden’s map meticulously. I wanted to know the best location to stand, where to hide and what would happen if they spotted me too early. There was only so much I could figure out virtually. My game plan was to arrive early to scout out the location and surrounding landscape. I wore a dark coat and boots to ensure I blended in with the environment. I even left my usual bright teal camera bag at home to avoid being spotted through the dull winter tree branches. If you couldn’t tell, I like to be prepared.
When I arrived my heart started beating fast. My nerves were all over the place. I’m sure John was a thousand times more nervous than I was. I walked straight to our destination and started planning. There were two main spots that I could stand to take pictures depending on how everything went. I walked down the same path that they would use to make sure when they looked up that I was hidden. Thankfully, in the midst of tall bare trees there was a thick holly tree that would act as my cover when they got close. My gear was ready and my settings were locked in. Now all I could do was wait.
Each couple that walked in my vicinity made my heart jump in anticipation that it was them. I text John once more and asked what they would be wearing so my poor heart could relax until navy and gray coats were visible. I’m sure that each couple that passed me as I wandered around the same area trying to stay warm thought I looked sketchy. One couple even asked me, “Are you new to Longwood?” because I guess I looked bewildered.
The moment was finally here! John text me that they would be leaving the Pierre House and walking toward the lake. I anxiously waited. I saw Hannah and John veer off, away from the designated route. John said that he really wanted to get a good view of the lake. She thought how that odd since they just passed it on the other side. As they walked closer to the gazebo, my heart started beating faster with each step.
I stepped out of my hiding place to capture John down on one knee. He had the biggest grin on his face as he held the ring box open for Hannah. I was too far to hear her answer, but assumed it was a resounding “YES!” as she cupped his face and kissed him. They sweetly embraced and then he slid the ring on her finger.
John turned Hannah around and pointed toward the holly tree. Hannah’s jaw dropped and then laughed when she saw me holding my camera in their direction. John had thought of everything! I walked over to the gazebo to see their joyful expressions up close. We shared excited squeals and hugs all around. Except John, he didn’t squeal. I explained to Hannah that John’s plan was to take pictures anywhere she wished. They shared their first photos as a newly engaged couple in between the hand-carved pillars of the gazebo. They were beaming! It was so beautiful to capture their sheer joy and excitement.
Congratulations Hannah and John!! I am sooo excited for your engagement!! You two are perfect for one another in every way. I am so honored that I was a part of your proposal story!
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of such a special time in your lives! I’m so excited to see what God has in store for you!