“Is this really mine? I get to keep it?” Marianne said looking at the ring on her finger before clasping her hand across her mouth in surprise again.
“It is! And you get to keep me with it!” Clark said to his new fiancé.
“That’s the best part!” she giggled with joy and leapt into his arms. The next hour I spent with Clark and Marianne was filled with the same level of adorable excitement. The love splayed across their faces was so tender and true I found myself tearing up for the majority of the shoot. Even though I’ve photographed a number of proposals, sharing in the joy of a such a momentous event in a couple’s life never loses its novelty.
When Clark first approached me to photograph his proposal to Marianne, he let me in on a touching proposal plan. He was going to lead Marianne on a scavenger hunt starting near her house Uptown, weaving to spots of significance in their relationship, with the second to last stop being the place they shared their first kiss and the last stop being him waiting for her. I jumped at the opportunity to help him plan out the final stop making sure his proposal in New Orleans City Park was flawless.
With my experience as a New Orleans Proposal Photographer, I know that there are variables that we cannot control but we can have contingency plans for. The biggest hurdle is always people enjoying the space where the proposal is planned to happen. To deal with this inevitable eventuality, Clark and I discussed him leaving a trail of flowers from the destination of the final clue to the spot where he would stand so that he would have wiggle room as to where it would go down. When we arrived Sunday morning on what was a beautifully cool Fall day, the spot we were planning on using had folks lounging in hammocks and other photographers doing portrait sessions. But that was not a problem! I scoped out another spot and my assistant (thanks, Sam!) helped Clark leave a perfect trail of roses for Marianne to follow. I positioned Sam at the start of the trail to make sure nobody picked up the roses (a few people tried!) and one of Clark’s friends also stood there to make sure Marianne didn’t miss the first rose. And then we waited.
Clark enlisted the help of some of his and Marianne’s friends to get her to the proposal. A few of them were in on the surprise and communicated with Clark via text to let him know when to expect her, using ridiculously cute code-names like “Snow Bunny” and “Black Hawk”. I adored watching Clark waiting expectantly for Marianne to arrive and hurried him behind a tree when he saw her pull up. Standing in a good position to make sure she wouldn’t walk the wrong way and see the roses too soon, I pretended to photograph a fountain (but really I was snapping shots of her headed to the final clue). The look on her face when she saw him at the end of the rose trail was one that will leave me in tears for a long time to come: she knew then what he had planned and even though she was still in disbelief, she was overcome with love. She sprinted the last few steps to him, incapable of waiting a moment longer to be near him (she later told me that he said he was going to grab something from the car that morning and never returned, leaving a rose and a clue for her on the nightstand).
The best part about photographing Marianne and Clark was the candid moments in between poses. In fact, most of the images I created during their engagement session were completely unplanned. Clark could barely take his eyes off of Marianne long enough to look at the camera; capturing her face changing from unbridled joy to such deep love she could barely fight back tears was an immense privilege to document. They made each other laugh almost constantly and frequently forgot I was even there, falling so deep into each other that the world very clearly ceased to exist around them.
It was a real task to choose favorites from this shoot as they all bring such a huge smile to my face. But here they are! Congratulations to Clark and Marianne!