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
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