This past July a mystery person using a pseudonym posted an ad on the Salt Spring Exchange, three people sent it to me, I had to know more…
The first person who sent me the mystery classified ad requesting, “a photographer for a surprise proposal,” was my Mom. And like all things your Mom sends you, I smiled and thought ‘nahhh.’ But within seconds of confining this thought to the recycle bin, my Aunt emailed it to me too. Things were getting serious. I decided to read the ad and reach out to the mysterious person (all the while wondering if I’d become the publics ‘go-to’ photographer for weird requests after the last surprise wedding I’d accidentally been a part of… [Being the impromptu photographer at a strangers wedding]). Given that the ad was under a fake name, I was forgoing the fun part of being able to look up who the request was coming from before saying ‘yes or no….’
A few days later I found myself standing out in our yard on the only patch of grass with cell reception talking to a guy named ‘Paul.’ And yes, by this time our neighbours had sent me the ad too…
Paul was dating Samantha and had been for the past six years. They were college sweethearts. Their anniversary get aways were his domain and would be the only time of year he might have total control over plans and catch Samantha with her guard down.
It sounded too fun, so I said yes.
We spent the next few weeks exchanging anxious emails trying to ensure we were talking about the exact same spot (we were reduced to dropping pins on Google maps and referring to landmarks) before ‘The Day’ — August 8th.
The day came. I recruited Renée and our mutual friend Alex to come with me so that I wouldn’t be the massive creeper sitting alone with a huge camera aimed at them (Paul and I had progressed from an earlier suggestion of, “maybe you could stand in the woods out of sight kind of thing?” which I was worried might get me arrested).
We got into position and waited. I could see the point of land they should walk out to. But I couldn’t see anything on the trail behind us (right, I forgot to mention that this is all happening 1.5km down a trail on an island that neither Paul or Samantha have ever been to before).
I also didn’t know what they looked like.
Time dragged on. A young couple appeared. Was it them? They didn’t go to the point. Other people were on the point. Fack. Was it them?! I didn’t know.
Ten or fifteen minutes later I get a text from Paul (who at this point probably doesn’t realize I’m more nervous than he is) that reads, “I think I’m gonna do it here, can you sneak up behind us?” It was them. They were right behind us.
In my head all I could think was, “sure and just sit in the moss right above you and be so obvious that I’ll blow everything?”
Outwardly I noticed that Alex’s excitement was too great, she had to stay put by the water.
I asked Renée to come and cover me.
We walked nonchalantly from our spot in plain view right in front of them, to a spot above and sat down in the moss in plain sight. I balanced the camera on my leg, turned the LCD screen on and locked in the focus. All we could do was try not to get noticed, pretend to look the other way and talk about mountains, while I nervously peeked down at the LCD screen on my camera (which was zoomed in on them) to see if Paul had dropped the fateful knee and started down the “Will you marry me?” path or not.
Eventually it happened.
And she said…
We blew our cover. Walked down and congratulated them. They were both in shock, tears streaming, blissfully happy. I suggested I might go for a swim and catch them in little bit for a photo and we left them to it.
A few photos later, we walked home and left the newly engaged to bask in the island sun and happily ponder their future together.
Happy travels Paul and Samantha, thanks for letting our island be part of your special day.