This is a (not so short) story of a gem of a man named, Matt. He has a passion for music, the outdoors, good food and whiskey. He often graces strangers (and his friends) with his sweet, sweet dance moves and never fails to impress with his skills in the kitchen and from behind the bar (old fashions – oh yeah). However, amongst his many passions, one surpasses them all. She is a beautiful goddess named, Elyse.
Even after two years of dating, falling in love and moving to Oakland to be with her, Matt knew from the beginning that there would never be anyone else. So, the plan for proposing to Elyse began. I would fly in from LA to spend the 4th with them and say I had a shoot that Sunday, July 5th, 2015. This is not uncommon since I stay with them often due to my travel schedule (and also because I miss them so much and can’t stay away).
Sunday came. The DAY had arrived. Per usual, Elyse made us breakfast and a couple neighbors stopped by to join us. I kept glancing over at Matt to see if he looked nervous and miraculously he looked calm just like any other day. I mean, impressive doesn’t even cut it. After the neighbors left I stayed in my pajamas (because I like to stay in them as long as possible – duh) and Matt and Elyse began packing for a couple days away in Petaluma to celebrate “Elyse’s belated birthday.” Since I wouldn’t be leaving until 4pm to pick up my rental car for my “shoot,” I helped Elyse get ready and kept her distracted so Matt could pack for their trip (including hiding the ring).
Elyse jumped in the shower and immediately Matt and I checked in with one another. He admitted he was getting a little nervous and I assured him it was all going to work out perfectly. “I got you.”
They left. I napped. I packed. The door rang. It was 4pm and time to set everything in place.
I opened the door to find Eddie waiting for me. We smiled at each other excited for what was about to happen. We jumped in the car and the hour long drive began. We caught up on life and talked about how crazy it was that Matt was about to be engaged. After a few wrong turns, lost reception and sweaty palms, we arrived. As we pulled into the driveway, there stood the most magical tree house, including the most ridiculously charming wooden swing you ever did see.
That’s where it would happen.
That swing would be where he would get down on one knee.
That is where he would tell Elyse he knew from their very first kiss she was the one for him.
Eddie left to hide that oh so familiar Saturn he drives and I hid in the trees with my camera. I payed no attention to the spiders crawling around me or the beetles staring at me from the rocks below my feet (I totally payed attention). My heart raced as I waited for Matt and Elyse to arrive. It was quiet and all I could here was the wind blowing. Suddenly, there they were. I watched them get out of the car and start walking towards the house. I took a deep breath and stood sideways against the tree (sniper style), careful not to give myself away. When they were far enough in the distance, I exhaled and got into position to capture what would be one of the most special moments in my friend’s life.
Just like we had discussed countless times, I saw everything come to fruition and it was incredible to watch. Matt held Elyse’s hand and walked her to the swing. My heart kept racing, nervous that I was making too much noise with every crunching step. I could hear her giggle from a distance, but that quickly faded as they got further and further away. What happened next was over in a second and to be honest, I kind of blacked out so I’m not really sure how these photos exist.
Elyse sat down on the swing and pushed herself off the ground. Matt stood behind her as he took the ring out of his pocket. He then walked around the swing to face Elyse. Her feet touched the ground and everything stood still. He got down on one knee and there was a moment of silence. Suddenly, there was a scream then laughter then crying. Success :)
I could see Matt was looking for me so I stepped out of the brush and began walking towards them. Elyse pretty much went into official shock. We hugged, we cried, then we hugged some more. It was the most beautiful day.
I will never be able to explain what if feels like to watch something so personal and so intimate. When I was hiding in those trees and everything was still quiet, I kept thinking what an honor it was for Matt to put all his trust in me like that. What a beautiful thing to do for the person you love. They will have these images forever and I’m so happy it was me that got to share in that moment with them. Just the three of us in the middle of a field with the trees, the swing and the wind.