Chris and Valerie - Undercover Proposal on Sunset Key's Private Beach
I got the call on an afternoon when Chris’s mom, Kathleen, was in full planning mode, helping her son make a memorable event of their upcoming stay in Key West, when he would be asking for her hand in marriage!
The family have been visiting the private island of Sunset Key every year since Chris and his siblings were kids, and so when they asked around and got my name from multiple sources, I was honored to be asked to be part of the plan, as it was only fitting that this would be where the proposal would take place. We set to work on dates, times, and logistics.
Mother nature, however, was not cooperating on our intended date, so at the last minute, we moved it up by a day, and we would laugh later that we probably extended her heart’s longevity by another full year as it meant one less day that she had to worry. :D
I arrived to Sunset Key, met at the dock by Chris’s dad, Jim, who had come over to meet me and show me where to go. While I’ve photographed weddings and proposals at Sunset Key before, this was actually my first time having access to the private side of the beach reserved for homeowners, so that was exciting. Having been a photographer since 2001, there pretty much isn’t a lighting setup or background or scene I can get into that I can’t immediately gauge what I need to do to get the shot, so it definitely gives a nice boost to the creative juices when you get to shoot in a new space!
As soon as I saw Crescent Beach, my mind raced with several good angles and compositions, and I sent a quick text with a photo from my phone, marking up where the ideal area for them to go would be. Kathleen passed this along, and off Chris and Val went from the house, headed my way.
Like any good proposal, there is always some funny little thing that happens that I get to laugh about later. In this case, we had planned to have Chris and Val come from the south end of the beach, and as they approached, I would shift my position from behind a big bush, to parallel in the seagrass, so they would be between me and the ocean in the background.
I was ducked down, trying to remain inconspicuous, when I suddenly heard some voices behind me. I glanced back and realized “Oh no! There they are! I hope she didn’t see me!”. Trying to not seem too alarmed and draw attention to myself, I quickly shifted into a nonchalant persona. “doo da doo…nothing to see over here….just a random girl taking some pictures of this…uh…bush…??…yeah!…the bush!….wooo cool bush!…such a photogenic bush!….don’t mind me!”
I shifted my position, clambering somewhat ungracefully through the landscaping, being careful to remain on the mulched portions of the ground, and managed to get to my shooting spot.
Just as I got my lens up, Chris went down on one knee, and I chuckled to myself when he had barely even gotten all the way down and Val lept enthusiastically into his arms!
A few minutes later, Chris then pointed out my position, much to Val’s surprise, and after introductions, we walked back to the house to greet his family and allow them time to change for more pictures.
It ended up being a beautiful day with so many amazing photos and memories. Thank you to the family and to Chris and Valerie for inviting me to be part of this special time in their relationship, and may many more years of happy memories be ahead!