Elena and Mark

Image 1 of Elena and Mark

How We Met

I am thrilled to introduce you to Mark and Elena, whose surprise proposal I had the pleasure of photographing this summer. Elena and Mark met as students at the University of Maryland. In Mark’s words, “I had just finished undergrad and was transitioning into grad school. Elena was finishing her last year of undergrad. Elena was leading an Alternative Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic and I was attending as a participant. We spent a lot of time together on the trip and became really good friends afterward. A year or so later, our relationship evolved organically into something more!” ***Please note, I am not sure of a definitive wedding date yet. Still in the planning process.

Image 2 of Elena and Mark

how they asked

When Mark finally decided to ask Elena to marry him, the planning began. Though Mark and Elena live in Washington DC, they are huge fans of New York City, and had a weekend vacation planned for August. With the date of the proposal set, Mark and I discussed where to hold the proposal. To keep the proposal a surprise, I (and my large lens) needed to blend in with the crowd. As such, we decided on a tourist-friendly spot. In Mark’s case, we chose Brooklyn Bridge Park because it has a beautiful view of the NYC skyline. As luck would have it, the weather cooperated fully and we had beautiful light and the park entirely to ourselves.

Image 3 of Elena and Mark

While the park was a tad empty for me to hide in, there is a bar on the ferry dock of Brooklyn Bridge Park that I was able to jump behind. Mark’s shoot was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. both to catch the morning light and to avoid the afternoon crowds at the park. I had prearranged with Mark that I would be sitting on the bench in front of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Image 4 of Elena and Mark

He was to walk past me, onto the deck, and ask Elena to marry him. Great plan, but bad Uber driver. Unfortunately the driver took Mark and Elena to the other Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory located in Williamsburg (about fifteen minutes away from where they needed to be).

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Everything ended well, however, and Elena said ‘yes’!

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Some final notes on the planning of this surprise proposal: in addition to our initial phone call, Mark and I met in person so both of us knew what the other looked like. As with all my shoots, I always check in the night before via email and included a detailed description of what I would be wearing so I am even more easily identifiable.

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Special Thanks

Kelly Wlliams
 | Photographer
Blue Nile
 | Ring