Justin & Jenna | Proposal Under the Christmas Tree

How we Met: Justin and I met through our church Antioch back when it was based in Temecula. He played music there, and I would sometimes photograph events that he played at.


The first time he saw me, I apparently ignored him. His story is that I was “the girl with red hair and a tattoo,” as he always recalls with a grin on his face. I remember seeing him that night, but we didn’t speak. Hours later he added me on Facebook, and to this day I joke that his internet stalking is the reason we’re together now.


Months went by, and we would say hello in passing. He’d always bug me and ask, “When are we going to hang out?!” My aloof reply was the same every time, “I’m too busy with school for a social life.” But I found his persistence charming.

Eventually he asked when school was out, and so I agreed to spend my Thursday afternoon with him. He had a day planned at the beach with all his friends, so I met them there. It was that day that I knew I wanted to be around him all the time, and a month later we began dating.


About a year and a half has passed since that day at the beach, and all that time in between has been a great adventure.

how they asked: It was a Saturday morning. Justin arrived at my house at 12:00 on the dot to pick me up for our date. The cutest part? We accidentally color coordinated our outfits. I was wearing a black long sleeve v-neck with a salmon-orange necklace, and he wore a v-neck in the same color along with a black peacoat.

Here’s our cute iPhone picture to prove it.


I didn’t know where we were going, but that was usual. Normally the way our dates work is that I will set the date, and he does the rest!

So off we went to our first destination. We both love simplicity, so we drove down to Harveston Lake just to walk around. My brand new camera (5D Mark III) had just arrived a few days prior, so I was showing him how nice it was. We stopped to take a couple silly photos and then slowly walked back to the car.

Next stop – a delicious afternoon brunch at The Pancake House, a quaint little hole in the wall place in town with fabulous food. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so it didn’t hurt that we got to enjoy a delicious omelette and OJ together. We sat, and ate, and laughed like we always do together. Then he walked me to the car and refused to tell me where we were headed next. When I asked if we were going ice skating he smiled and didn’t answer. (We had been talking about going since the previous winter, so I hinted that we should go during our date.)I was right!

We skated around the rink for a while, and it was definitely one of my highlights of the day. And when the music and crowd of children became enough for us, we detoured for a glass of beer.

Inside the bar was a dashing old man singing 1940′s hits (we love the Frank Sinatra era). This guy was amazing, let me tell you. As I sipped on my Bluemoon, I asked Justin what time we were staying until. He was in a daze at this point, but looked up and smiled as he said, “about ten ’till four.”

During the drive to our next destination, I enjoyed my minor buzz and watched the sun begin to set in the hills. We winded through the roads in the wineries and past the open fields. When we pulled up to his house, I was confused. Had our date ended? “Why are we here?”

He smiled and said, “You’ll see.” When we walked inside the house was empty of people and full of decorations. The Christmas lights were twinkling around the house, the furniture was moved around, there was a table with cake and deserts out, coffee and drinks on the counter. I asked him what was going on, and he muttered that his mom was having a party later on. He quickly changed the subject and started telling me about a song he had written for me. It was at that moment I realized what was going on. He played his Taylor acoustic guitar so intricately and sang in a sweet, soft voice the lyrics written just for me.

Then he and I climbed under the Christmas tree like we did the year before and laid on the floor there looking at the lights. He pulled a ring off the branches and asked me to marry him, and I thought I was dreaming. We had about ten minutes alone and then the doorbell rang.



When I answered it there was a crowd of twenty-something people – our closest friends and family. Justin had secretly planned our engagement party, and I had no idea the whole time (I mean, after seeing the cake table and realizing why he was singing me a song, I might have had a hunch someone was coming!). It was still a complete shock when I opened the door to a crowd! Not only was everyone in on the surprise, but he asked my mom and all of my brothers for permission before asking me (since my father isn’t with us any longer). Poor Justin had so many people to go through, but I guess he passed all of their requirements.


We’re so excited to begin a new journey in life together and can’t wait to see what comes next! With all of this planning, I am seeing the world of weddings now through the eyes of a bride and not just a photographer. It’s interesting to learn things from a whole new perspective. Although I may be a bit overwhelmed by the options that we have right now, I’m also very happy and eager to see how I can use this season in my life to better the experience of my clients. Most importantly, I’m excited to share life with my best friend who constantly motivates me to become a better person.


Photos courtesy of Jenna Joseph Photography