Before you scroll through, you have to know the story of this session.
I received an email nearly two weeks before this epic adventure. Ed was researching photographers in the Pacific Northwest while working in Germany, and found me. His girlfriend, Liz, and him live in Michigan and she didn’t have a clue. I’m not exactly sure how things worked out so well, but I feel very fortunate to have made this connection. Ed had this list of expectations, visions of what he had in mind, web links even, to amazing proposals with breathtaking landscapes. He set the bar really really high! Haha. But I couldn’t have been more excited! So, on went a week of emails and phone conversations to find the perfect place. Labyrinth Mountain in Wenatchee National Forest was it! This would be at the very beginning of their 11 day vacation to the PNW. On the day, I would mark the trail so he would know I was there and know exactly where to go. Once at the lake, I would scout the area to find the perfect spot. It wasn’t an easy decision to make to say the least. When they showed up, my heart beating out of my chest, I stayed out of sight and anxiously waited to see them come to the spot I marked for them, hoping he’d find it well – it felt like forever. When the appeared, I literally felt like I was in a dream. Getting to witness and capture the moment was unreal, beautiful, and truly an honor.
Liz, “Our first date was on March 29, 2013. Our relationship immediately steadily progressed, and I found myself head over heels in no time. It became very clear to me around the one year mark that Ed is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. At times, I would imagine how he would propose, and more often I would wonder WHEN he would finally do it. That being said, when he and I woke up on the morning of June 29, 2015 in our romantic little cabin on the Skykomish River, a proposal was the last thing I thought I’d be receiving that day. I did, however, notice that it seemed to be very important to Ed that our day must go as planned, without deviation. It was apparent that he had put a lot of time, effort and research into planning our activities, so much so that I kept my mouth shut when I was tempted to suggest skipping the afternoon hike in lieu of staying in Leavenworth to sample more wine.”
Ed, “It was a while ago, a year at least, that I knew Liz was the one. At first I was reluctant, hesitant to admit to myself that this was the real deal. I sometimes joked around and pinched her just so she’d pinch me back, and I’d say, “just making sure this isn’t a dream and you’re not too good to be true.” I consistently catch myself excitedly blurting “never been better!” when someone asks me how I’m doing. Once I came to terms with the reality that deserving or not, my already fortunate life was now perfected by the unwavering love and companionship of my closest friend- the most beautiful, caring, and virtuous person I’ve ever met – it was obvious that I had to marry her. Just after Christmas, when we planned our late June vacation to the Pacific Northwest, I decided that this trip would be the perfect opportunity. I was hoping that a proposal idea would come to me, but it never did. Fast forward to two weeks before our trip, and I was beginning to panic a little. I should mention that my job threw a nice little curveball into the mix, and the two weeks leading up our vacation I would spend in Germany for work. Only 14 hours between the two trips! While this was a welcome and exciting surprise business trip, it also made the vacation and proposal planning quite stressful. I’d have to figure it out all from overseas.”
Ed,” The Cascades, Vancouver BC, Whistler, Victoria, the San Juan’s, Portland, Seattle… all seemed to be eligible locations to pop the question.. but it was an easy decision that proposing on the first full day, also our anniversary date, would make for an incredibly enjoyable and romantic remainder of our vacation. We had already planned to do a hike in the mountains, so it was a fairly obvious idea to ask Liz to be my wife on top of a mountain. But I really wanted something that would be memorable. Not just memorable, but that we would both be sure to remember forever. That’s when it came to me. What better idea than to capture it live, in the moment, with a camera. But how? My capable picture-taking buddy Ryan doesn’t know it yet (hey Ryan), but you were totally off the hook since you weren’t in town at the time. I needed to find a photographer. One who would spend all day climbing up a mountain neither of us had ever been on, scout and mark locations, sit there and wait in 90 deg heat for us to hopefully ever arrive, remain unseen, and be ready to nail it when I dropped to one knee. From my hotel room in Stuttgart at midnight, it sure sounded like a tall order.
I started emailing photogs I found via Google. This led me to some Facebook groups, and in turn to a couple promising recommendations. Plenty heard the idea and didn’t even bother to respond, or told me it probably wouldn’t work. I knew I found the right woman for the job when I had to wonder from our correspondence if she might actually be more excited than I was. It took many very late nights of searching locations, hikes, trail conditions, and Google Earth exploring potential camera angles and proposal locations. Ultimately, I knew it would be up to Rikki to identify a spot that would work best, I could only try to pick a hike that would maximize potential for the perfect backdrop, vantage points, and available cover. I couldn’t ask for a more accommodating person to work with. Rikki seemed to understand exactly what I envisioned, and our mutual excitement helped us overcome the 9-hour time difference to talk thru every potential detail and consideration, knowing communication later would be extremely difficult.”
Liz, “We had a little bit of trouble finding the Minatour Lake trailhead, but we knew we were in the right place when we saw the orange trail tape that I had concluded the Washington Trail Association had marked the trail with to make it easier to follow. The first mile of the hike was extremely strenuous – we gained 1200 ft of elevation, and it was a 95 degree day. At one point, I noticed that Ed was struggling more than a little, so remembering that he had just spent 12 days in Germany eating sausages and drinking beer, I suggested that we stop and turn around. Ed adamantly disagreed, insisting that he was fine and to continue.
When we finally made it to Minotaur Lake, I was SO relieved. The lake was beautiful, and I was proud of us for conquering the challenging hike together. I was also BEAT! Relaxing by the lake sounded perfect to me, I wasn’t interested in hiking any more. However, after taking in the scenery for a few minutes, Ed informed me that we had more climbing to do… we hadn’t reached the top yet. No way! Not interested. In an effort to not be difficult, I eventually relented and followed him up to a spot where we could view the lake from above.”
Ed, “Rikki’s idea of marking the trail was excellent. Every few minutes seeing that little orange tape was such relief that I can’t imagine the hike without it. I started going through my head all the things I would say to Liz. I made a conscious effort to stop and enjoy the moment a little, telling her how much she meant to me on the way up. One of the criteria I outlined in my plan was that the hike should be difficult, and the proposal should come after we had conquered a challenge together, enhancing the emotions that much more. By the time we set eyes on the beautiful Minotaur Lake, I definitely felt that component was fulfilled.”
Ed, “I almost blew it though. Next to the lake, I took a wrong turn and ran into Heather, Rikki’s assistant camera-shooter. I realized quickly and was able to turn back and play it off, and fortunately Liz was none the wiser. Then, at least, I knew we were close to the proposal spot Rikki had chosen. We came across it quickly, and the instant I saw the special marker, my heart began beating out of my chest with excitement. I tried to be cool. I started to hear the camera shutters from the trees. They sounded like thunder! I was sure Liz would hear them. Think fast, think smart – a youth filled with Macguyver episodes prepared me well. I whipped out my phone and played our song. The Dylan/Cash duet of Girl From the North Country. It’s probably a lot of couples’ song, and it should be, because its effing great. Liz melted into my arms when she heard it. Even if I wasn’t about to propose, this certainly would have been a very special moment between us. My heart was fluttering, I thought Liz would sense the adrenaline in my bloodstream.
We enjoyed the view from our outlook, and I slyly retrieved the ring from my pocket. I forgot everything I wanted to say, but it didn’t matter. While I didn’t deliver the heart-throbbing speech I intended, I at least told her how special it felt to be there with her. I felt a little funny flaunting the ring behind my back for the cameras. I turned my little bearcub toward the mountain view, took a deep breath, and got to my knee.”
Liz, “Ummmm….there’s some lady over there taking our picture…?!” Ed: “Yeah, I know!” “Out pop Rikki and Heather, the photographers that Ed hired to capture the proposal. I was completely stunned. Heather and Rikki had done the same hike we just struggled through earlier in the day. THEY were actually the people who marked the trail so Ed would know where to go to find the “spot” they had picked to get the best shot of the proposal. The amount of planning that went in to planning this day made me feel like a special princess.
After the introductions were made, we took some time for a photo session. Before we all walked down the mountain together, Ed and I took a few minutes to enjoy the snacks we brought and have some private time. I was unbelievably happy…honestly the happiest I had ever been in my entire life, and I told him so. The wait for him to pop the question was absolutely worth it!!”
Liz, “I was on cloud 9 during the “stroll” (meaning arduous decent) down the mountain. We stopped a few places to take more photos, but when we caught the first sight of the road below, we all rejoiced. Ed couldn’t have picked a better photographer for this event, Rikki and Heather were so awesome and made the experience even more wonderful.”
Liz, “When we returned to our cabin, it was close to 9:00 p.m. CT, but we (I) HAD to tell my family immediately…so we sent texts to everyone, though doing so woke them up. We spent the night celebrating, drinking wine, and talking about how happy we were. We had a whole trip in front of us, and I was soooo excited that we were going to experience it as an engaged couple. It was the most memorable trip of my life.”
Ed, “It’s funny how some moments stick with you. I can remember every time I crashed my race car like it was in slow motion. This was the same way. It couldn’t have been more than a couple seconds from when Elizabeth turned to see me and when she realized what was happening, but it seemed to last forever. I was studying her face intently, watching it change from content to confusion, surprise through elation. It was the moment that I’d been trying to imagine for the past year, but I never did it justice. Right now, nearly a month later, I remember it as clearly as ever. We’re definitely both still high from the moment. My memory of stuff like this has never been great, but thankfully, we’ll have the photos to relive our story for the rest of our lives.”
Ed and Liz, this has been the most memorable session. I am so honored to have been chosen to capture it for you and to be a little part of your amazing story. See you in Maine!!
A huge thanks to Heather for being my hiking buddy and second shooter for the day – I couldn’t have done it without you!
See their wedding in Maine here and here.