Matt and Risa

How We Met

We met at a mutual friends’ summer barbecue. I had just moved to San Diego for grad school and looking to meet some new friends. I didn’t have any intention of getting romantic with anyone– I just wanted to take care of the school. She was born and raised in SD but wasn’t living there at the time. She was in town visiting. I remember seeing her and instantly being attracted to her. We had a short conversation as people do at such social events. I remember her having such a laid back personality like myself. I knew I had to somehow at least get coffee with her to find out more! I urged our mutual friend to set us up. When our friend told her that I was interested, she scoffed and had no interest in me whatsoever. Luckily our friend went to bat for me and said that I was “worth at least 10 minutes of her time” and that was enough to get her to go out with me. I sure am glad she was convinced that day because 3+ years later, we are now engaged!

How They Asked

I’m the simple type. I wanted to propose to Risa in a classic yet classy way. A way that would be memorable for both of us. To do that, I knew I’d have to build up to it and make the proposal the finale to what would be an epic trip to Hawaii. Mission: return to the mainland with a happy-teared fiancé.

Where to Propose in Maui, HI

We had been to Oahu before for her birthday a couple years prior. She loved it so I decided to plan another trip to Hawaii– more specifically to a place that is known to be even more relaxing and laid back than Oahu… Maui. Months leading up to the trip I was throwing out fake tidbits of information to masquerade this as a birthday trip. A key element to the ruse. To make sure she was photo-ready, I told her that we would be going to have a nice birthday dinner and urged her to bring some nice clothes. The day we landed, she got her nails done while I got a pedicure. The eagle has landed– the plan was a go!

Proposal Ideas Maui, HI

We did all the beautiful things Maui had to offer during the week: a Road to Hana tour, snorkeling, and we even watched the Haleakala sunrise on the morning of the proposal day. We had the time of our lives. Little did she know, it was going to end with a bang!

After we rested up, it was time to get ready for her “birthday dinner” at 1800 hours. What she didn’t know was that I hired a photographer to set up a heart made of orchid petals at a small, secluded, black sand beach that I had picked out and that an engagement shoot was going to happen right after I popped the question. I told Risa that there’s this gorgeous black sand beach a friend told me about and I wanted to stop by to take some pictures. She agreed unsuspectingly, falling victim to my deception.

We finally get there and at the corner of my eye, I see Angie and Sam, the photographers, acting like local visitors with a camera. At the corner of my other eye, I see the orchid heart that she arranged for me. Heart marks the spot.

I started taking pictures of the beautiful sunset and black sand backdrop to make it seem as spontaneous as possible. I then innocently “discovered” the orchid heart and said “Oh hey, what’s this? Someone must have made and left this? Let’s take a picture by it”. We took the obligatory selfie. My heart started racing– my gambit was about to unfold. I then slowly turned to her and looked into her eyes, grabbed her hand, and took a knee.

I told her how much I loved her, that I couldn’t see myself living without her, and how huge an honor it would be to her future husband and father to our future children and puppies (yes, we love dogs). I concluded by asking her the proverbial inquiry. We hugged in the sunset on that beautiful black sand beach to celebrate the commitment of love we just made to each other to the sound of the Hawaiian waves… and pleasant clicks of camera shutters.

While still in each other’s embrace, I motioned at Angie and told Risa that I had set this up months before our trip. Angie and Sam came up to us and shared our moment with us with that aloha spirit. We then had an engagement shoot for the ages.

Although she was over-filled with joy.. the funny thing is that Risa didn’t cry the moment I proposed. Mission failed? BUT BUT BUT… She did, however, cry a week later when we got the photos and saw how stunning of a job Angie and Sam did in capturing that special moment for us. I’ll take it any way I can get it: I’m the simple type. Mission accomplished.

Special Thanks

Angela Nelson
 | Photographer