Courtney and Tate were an absolute joy to photograph. I caught them soon after he had taken her on a romantic hike through the woods, found a quiet spot, shared a devotion, poured out his heart, and asked the biggest question that either of them had ever asked or answered in the history of their relationship.


She said yes without hesitation. Their experience was the easiest thing to re-create. Courtney practically radiated sunshine–her smile was so big and her joy effervescent. She couldn’t stop smiling for even a moment. The ring was customized, unique, and special just like this special moment.


Tate I am so proud of you for making this moment so true to the two of you, so pure, and so intentional. Courtney your smile inspires me, your joy doesn’t stop, and the best is yet to come! Many blessings during this special season of being engaged.


Forest Proposal | Courtney & Tate


If you had told me that my backyard was going to be the feature of my latest blog post this year, I would have laughed! Little did I know, it was destined for a beautiful moment.

Meet Josue.



My roommate, Josue, had been dreaming about how to best pop the question to his best friend in the whole world–his girlfriend Alicia.


Alicia is a kind, caring, kick-fire woman who is also a middle school teacher. She is willing to go the distance for her students, even if it means playing the messy game known as egg roulette!



Now Josue is often times like a little brother to me. Other times he is like an inter-dimensional clone of myself (that’s real life – people confuse us all the time). Anyways, he is a treasured friend.


What Alicia didn’t know is that Josue, my beloved roommate, had been diligently planning for months.


Josue’s first question – where to do it? It had to be just right! So where did he do it? Our own, humble backyard!!


His mission was to turn it into a secret garden. He spent two months trimming overgrown bushes, mowing the lawn multiple times for appropriate texture, checking sprinkler timing for appropriate water coverage, and administering plant food for appropriate greenness. He had to be sneaky though. When Alicia would come over, he would close the blinds exactly ¾ of the way or strategically leave giant piles of raked leaves so it looked like someone started a ‘house chore’ and didn’t finish.


After he nurtured our backyard to be all lush and beautiful, it was time to light up that garden like the stars from heaven came down to visit. He would buy lights and wrap them around the tree to test them. (The solar powered string was good but not bright enough so they were demoted to accenting the porch). Multiple options were researched and tested for the floating candles. (It was discovered that bedazzled jewels did not not have the same romantic effect as naked candles which would last a good 30 minutes to an hour – and they did pass the wind test too!) Every week he would come home with more lights. My favorite were the tiki torches and the string bulbs he borrowed from his mentor/boss at the Anchor House.


Finally, it was time for the test run to get the photographic lighting just right, which is why we have this picture of Josue proposing to our other roommate Cameron with his retainer case!! And yes, Cameron is right in the middle of playing X-Box.



Finally, on April 14, 2018 the day had come. After spending the entire day with Alicia, Josue treated her to an eight-course meal with a paired wine tasting for every course. (Yes, that is a real thing.) Meanwhile, I had just put in an 11-hour shift at work so I was excited to come home and get ready for the big moment. His amazing family had come that afternoon to finish cleaning up the backyard and string all the lights. The speakers were set for their first dance, the torches were ready to go, and all the tea candles were placed perfectly. Now, we just had to wait for the signal to light everything. Alicia’s closest friends came over and we all laughed and talked and waited and waited. And waited some more!! Five minutes felt like five hours!!


And then we got the signal!! It was all hands on deck. We literally ran around the yard, laying tea lights in the pool, lighting candles, shouting excitedly. (I was checking camera settings one last time).  It was a beautiful mad dash. Here is one last picture I took of the set-up crew before we bolted upstairs to hide.



The next few minutes literally felt like a scene from friends. We had completed lighting the candles so efficiently, we had 15-20 minutes of waiting and hiding. We were all crouched, hushing each other, tapping our feet, and pacing. Every time a car passed down our street was a false alarm. “Is that them?! I think that’s them!! Oh, wait, that’s not them. Stupid Ford!”


And then they did come. (One of my dear new friends did light the tips of her hair on fire without realizing it for just a brief moment as we prepared our last candles). We walked in a circle around our beloved couple. Alicia’s family was dialed in through FaceTime so they could be there too. We cried and laughed and hugged and ate cake. And she said yes of course 😉




And here is the play-by-play video. I dare you to not tear up 😉



Alicia & Josue Get Engaged | My Backyard


His sweaty hand clutched the object in his pocket. She thought it was just a styled shoot, but he had delivered hundreds of pizzas to surprise her. It was all about timing – the secret was to follow him around snapping photographs until he scouted the perfect location and gave the signal. Then he would ask the question that would change both their lives forever.

He had been saving up for months and she had no idea. The weather was beautiful, the trees were gorgeous, and the outfits perfectly fit their personalities. Now he just had to find the right spot and give me the sign. We traipsed through the woods, meeting people who congratulated them after seeing Kristyn’s styled white dress. They kept asking if they had been married today. “Not yet,” he thought.

After we circled through multiple locations – he wanted the spot to be just right – he settled on a field overlooking a breathtaking gorge. The rest is history. Their smiles were huge, gleaming, non-stop. And I don’t think those smiles will ever fade.

Kristyn and Kyler, I am blown away by the way you care for each other and the happiness you bring each other every day. I can’t wait to see what happens next. The best is yet to come!



Check out behind behind the scenes!

Kristyn & Kyler | Surprise Forest Engagement

Engagement, Proposal

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