Monday, March 21, 2016

Hillary Says Yes | A Surprise Proposal

The past few weeks have been fairly busy -- and this weekend was one of those reasons! I had the pleasure of being in on the surprise that one of my very best friends was getting engaged! Hillary's boyfriend Allen, whom I also consider a dear friend, called me before New Year's to tell me he wanted to start planning the proposal, and I was beyond elated.

Hillary and Allen have been together for close to 9 years, so it was no surprise that they would be getting engaged. We started by heading to a jeweler to get her Nanny's diamond set into a setting that fit her -- Allen chose a gorgeous yellow gold halo setting that complimented the diamond perfectly. Once that detail was confirmed, we started planning the surprise party for after the proposal along with their family and all of our friends. Allen had a very distinct vision of how he wanted to day to go, which was great because we could work ahead to plan all of the details. 
Allen knew that he wanted to propose on or right around his birthday, which would end up helping a lot of "excuses" for things along the way. He and Hillary also spend a good bit of their weekends on the river fishing together, so it would be unsuspecting for them to go fishing together for his birthday. As the proposal day approached, the chance for rainy weather increased which had us all a little more than worried. But on Saturday, though a little cloudy, they ended up on the river just as planned, and Hillary even caught a few fish to make the day a little sweeter.

While they were fishing, I met Allen's mom and sister at their house to start setting up. Our friends began to arrive with a variety of things to make the surprise party special -- including Kennedy Park, an acoustic duo, thanks to some of our friends -- and I headed down to the proposal spot with Stephen and two of our friends around 1:30. Soon I got the word that they were headed in our direction, and I have to admit, I was insanely nervous! Luckily, all went as planned - he proposed on the river overlooking downtown Wilmington, she said yes, and the crowd on the Riverwalk cheered!
This was my first time ever taking surprise photos of any kind, especially of this caliber, so it's safe to say I was a little nervous. I used a 55-200mm zoom lens, which worked well to get a few relatively up-close shots but stay far enough away that Hill wouldn't notice me. I took quite a few test shots in advance (and Allen, Stephen, and I all met at the location a few weeks before to scope out the best angles, timing, etc.)
Stephen, Emma, Austin and I rushed back to Hillary and Allen's, where friends and family were finishing with the set up. It had started to rain a little bit, but luckily we had a tent that kept the band and the goodies under cover. Before long, Hillary and Allen were walking through their back gate to a huge crowd of people, much to her surprise. The afternoon was filled with laughter, tears, dancing, music, and lots of friendship - a perfect day, if I can say so myself. 
I am so happy that all of our friends got to be a part of this special day! Hillary and I have been friends since we were 5, so it is such a blessing to be included in this next chapter of our lives! This is only a brief look into all the planning by Allen, family, and friends to make this day so perfect. P.S. a little tidbit on the catfish references -- Allen loves to catfish and a lot of his friends refer to him as such, so it's been a running joke for awhile that they are Mr. And Mrs. Catfish. 
From the bride:
I could not have imagined a more perfect engagement. It feels like a dream. The surprises just kept on coming all day! Allen did such an amazing job and caught me completely off guard! I thought we were just spending his birthday doing what we do best - catfishing! Little did I know that Allen had been planning since January to propose to me on this day. I can't thank my fiancé, friends, and family enough for all the hard work that went into this day. All the personal touches from my favorite band to the gorgeous flower crown made yesterday so special. A special thanks to you - Zelle - for helping Allen pick out the perfect setting for my Nanny's diamond. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect and special ring. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I can't wait to become Mrs. Hillary Wilkerson a.k.a Mrs. Catfish!
Another note on a few vendors who helped make the day special || Hillary has always loved flower crowns, so last minute I gave Wilmington-based Eco Chic Blossoms a call in hopes that they could create something for her engagement day. I loved the flower crown made of wax flowers and Hillary absolutely adored it. We also ordered the adorable cookies from Something Sweet - Emily went above and beyond, especially with the catfish cookies as it was one she had not made yet. Love our NC vendors who are so talented!

food: MOI Catering 
flower crown: Eco Chic Blossoms
cookies: Something Sweet
watercolor balloons: Etsy
Happy Birthday banner: Etsy
She Said Yes banner: Etsy


  1. What a sweet surprise! You are such a great friend for helping plan out the proposal and after party and getting those shots for her! It seems like you helped make it the perfect day for her! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  2. What an honor to be asked to be in on that surprise and the pictures you took will be cherished by them forever!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  3. What a special day! I love a good proposal story and I love when friends are sneaky and take pictures of the whole event :)

  4. Love this!! What an amazing friend you are!!! Such a sweet story and I love all of the details. Your pictures capturing the actual moment are wonderful too. Congratulations to your friends and I hope that they enjoy every moment of this exciting time because it goes by so fast! :-)

  5. What a wonderful surprise!! How nice that you were able to be a part of it! One of the perks of blogging is having awesome camera equipment to help out friends and family :) I am also obsessed with those cookies! I hope you had a wonderful time :)


  6. What a special moment!!! This sounds like the best weekend!

    xo, Shelby

  7. Ahhhh how special! It is so cool that you got to be so involved. I love your little behind the scenes pic.

    Sara Kate Styling

  8. How fun! I love being in on things like this! Looks like a perfect proposal followed by a lovely party.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  9. What a great story and how wonderful that he brought you in so that you could help out. They will cherish those pictures forever and the party looks adorable. The catfish reference is too funny!

    Whitney & Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  10. Gorgeous ring he picked out! This was such a well thought out engagement with you as a secret photographer to capture the moment.

  11. Congrats to your friend! This is so incredibly sweet - all of you pulled off such a great surprise. What a fun weekend!

  12. What a fun weekend for you! I love how much thought Allen put into everything...AND those catfish cookies are too cute!

  13. congrats to your friend.

  14. So sweet story, and I can imagine how excited you could be to be part of it.

  15. Engagement stories always make me so happy!! How cute are the cookies too?? ps: love the mumu :)

  16. I just love engagement stories! Thanks for sharing - all the best to the soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs.!!

    Lauren xo | The Right to Remain Fabulous

  17. Oh my goodness, what a special day!!! So sweet of you to set everything up, take pictures and throw a surprise party! Looks like everything turned out beautifully!

  18. How sweet and adorable everything is! The surprise party is absolutely stunning!!

  19. This is seriously so sweet! I love all the pictures you were able to capture. How sweet is that flower crown? xo, Champagne&Suburbs

  20. If you want not to get rejected then be brave and say soon before it is too late. Do not stammer.

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