Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
As wedding photographers, one of the best parts of interacting with so many couples is hearing their stories. Each engaged couple has such a unique journey that’s brought them to where they are, and it’s one of the first questions we usually ask when we sit down to talk wedding photography with new couples. If you follow our blog, you know that we love to share stories as we show off images from our sessions – both our clients’ stories and stories from our time together.
However, it occurred to us this fall that the story that’s featured the least on our blog and social media is our own! Now that the cold weather is settling in and we won’t be shooting sessions three times a week, we finally have space on our blogging calendar to tell our own love story! As high school sweethearts, it’s a long one, but we hope you’ll join us each Saturday this winter as we share our story.
On our second dating anniversary, Hunter gave me a photobook filled with pictures, ticket stubs, and other trinkets that we had collected since we had begun dating. He called the album, “Remember that Time?” and it was filled with little reminders of fun dates and adventures we had had. Unbeknownst to me, just a few months into our relationship he had been making small notes on his phone anytime we went somewhere new or had a fun adventure with friends so that he could one day give me that book. When we sat down this fall to talk about this blog series, we couldn’t think of a title that was more true to us than “Remember that Time?”
“Can we hurry this up? I’m really hungry!” Those were the words that Sarah said to me as we approached the spot where I was going to ask her to marry me.
Although, in her defense, she was really hungry. It was late on a Friday evening in October, and Sarah thought that we had made a quick stop at Pen Park so we could practice for a photoshoot the following afternoon. I had promised to take her out to a nice dinner as a thank-you for letting us work on our anniversary. I had the perfect plan – I had asked her to be my girlfriend exactly 5 years before, so dinner got her all dressed up without tipping her off. Likewise, the “practice photoshoot” was the perfect excuse for us to head to a beautiful location just before sunset without making her any more suspicious.
I set my camera bag down in the field, and walked her to a spot that I had pre-arranged with our dear friend Anjali who was hiding in the bushes at the time. Noticing that I didn’t even have my camera out of the bag, that’s when she asked me if we could hurry things up. But instead, I stood facing her and grabbed both of her hands in mine.
My heart was pounding out of my chest – I was pretty sure she could actually hear my heart beating from where she was standing. But I gathered up my nerve and in my least-shaky voice, I asked her if she remembered where we were five years ago that day.
She smiled – “We were in the front seat of your Jeep parked in your driveway, and you asked me to be your girlfriend.”
That was an easy one. I asked her a second question, a bit harder this time: “Do you remember where we were two years ago today?”
This one stumped her for a second. She had to think about where we had spent our third dating anniversary. Eventually she got it with a look of triumph on her face, “Oh! We were at the beach with your family!”
It was now or never. It’s go-time.
“That’s right.” I told her. “And it was that weekend, two years ago, that I decided that one day I was going to ask you to marry me.”
The smile immediately disappeared from her face and she stared at me in confusion, trying to interpret what she had just heard. Then in an instant I saw that everything suddenly fell into place: her nice outfit, the beautiful mountain backdrop at sunset, painting her nails with her friend Clara the night before. She immediately knew what was happening, and as the overwhelming emotion of what was about to happen hit her, she let go of my hands and stared at me in shock as tears began to well.
With the biggest and most comforting smile I had, I got down on one knee and said a few more kind words. To this day I have no idea what they were – I basically blacked out at this point because I was so nervous – but I’m sure they were sweet. I do know one thing: they ended with something in the realm of, “Sarah, will you marry me?”
It was hard for her to respond because of her profuse tears of joy, but I definitely heard a “yes” in there somewhere. We embraced as the moment sunk in and my heartbeat returned to normal for the first time in what felt like days.
A few moments later, Anjali emerged from her hiding place with one of our cameras and our longest lens. She had brought a friend to keep her company while she hid in the bushes, and her friend snapped this pic of her while I proposed!
Anjali took a few photos of us to commemorate the moment, then I kept good on my promise to Sarah and took her out to a nice dinner. I had a reservation at a restaurant in Charlottesville situated on the ninth floor of a hotel that overlooks parts of the Corner, Downtown and the University! We enjoyed the dinner, dreamed of our life to come, and she got to hear the full story about how I had been saving for the ring for the last two years. At this point, her heart was full and she was probably ready to call it a night.
However, the night was still far from over. It was time for part three of the proposal surprise.
We left the restaurant and drove back towards my college house. While we had been at dinner, all of our closest friends in Charlottesville had teamed up to throw her a surprise engagement party! Although I had recruited them the week before and sent out invites, I had left the planning largely to them. So even I was surprised when I pulled onto our street and saw that our front yard had a live band made up of a bunch of our friends, bistro lights strung across the trees, plates full of food and drinks, and almost 70 people who had come out to celebrate with us!
We celebrated for hours before finally turning in late that evening. Sarah didn’t sleep a wink that night – overwhelmed and excited about everything that had happened. I, on the other hand, hadn’t slept will in days because of the anticipation, and probably slept harder than I had in months! From start-to-finish, it was truly a night to remember. We felt overwhelmed with love by our friends and family, and were beyond excited for what lay ahead of us…