Proposal shoots are my favorite!
Okay, let’s be honest for a second here. I probably say every shoot is my favorite, but this one will always have a special place in my heart.
I’ve known Jess and AJ for at least three years now, but it’s felt like decades. They are two of the most caring, godly people with the biggest hearts I’ve ever met.
Getting to see their love story bloom since the beginning has been the sweetest.
I still remember all of us swing dancing when Jess turned to me and said: “Danni, I think I have a crush on AJ.”
*Cue picture circa 2014 of one of our group shots on swing night with AJ and I*
It wasn’t long before Jess pulled me aside to tell me they had started dating.
A little over a year later, Jess and I headed to Israel for a school trip!
On this amazing trip we had plenty of girl talks about the future of her relationship with AJ.
I kept making the joke that he was going to randomly show up in Israel to pop the question. Though her dad said it wasn’t likely since he hadn’t asked for their blessing quite yet.
A few short months later, a text popped up from AJ asking if I’d be willing to help set up his proposal to Jess. Between squeals, I enthusiastically agreed.
After much planning and processing, and a little divine inspiration, he nailed down the location: the gardens at my home church, Church of the Saviour in Wayne, PA.
I made sure to discuss that she had shared how she had wanted a few things for her impending engagement including: getting her nails done, having a photographer and the proposal being quiet and intimate. And, of course, keeping the engagement a surprise.
With some creative collaboration from a few key people, the final pieces began to fall into place. Though that would be a VERY brief summary of weeks of planning.
A few hours of bringing things together, the stage was set! The best part? Jess was still absolutely clueless.
Under the guise of a “girls day out” while their boyfriends did something “manly,” Lydia did an excellent job keeping Jess distracted during the set up.
They got their nails painted, enjoying some girl time at the mall. All the while Lydia was keeping us hilariously updated via SnapChat!
Finally, we got word that Lydia was on her way over with the Fiancee-To-Be!
Back at the church, the stage was set for a wedding planner’s dream proposal.
And the gardens were filled with lavender scented candles and the air of excitement.
As we waited for Jess to arrive, I got to witness this sweet moment between brothers.
AJ and two of his close friends, Jarred and Nate, shared a (very manly) group hug as the big moment approached.
It just goes to show the amazing support these guys are to each other and the brotherhood they share.
Finally, as the end of their girls-date (aka diversion to get Jess’s nails painted and stay in the local area) drew to a close, Jess and Lydia pulled into the parking lot and the moment we’d all been waiting for began to unfold.
Note the careful preparation of tissues in the right corner of the gazebo.
From my hiding spot in a tree, I watched the realization cross Jess’s face as she remembered the things she had casually noted in the previous months that she wanted for her proposal:
I had to keep myself from tearing up as she made her way up to her beloved with confidence and excitement.
The proposal was everything I could have ever dreamed and more as a beautiful new chapter for these two amazing friends of mine.
It was definitely one of those moments that make you tear up!
I personally cannot wait to watch their love story grow into a lifetime of love together.
Of course, I can’t leave out the other awesome helpers and their ecstatic reactions:
I’ll never forget such a beautiful proposal. Thank you AJ and Jess for letting me be a part of capturing your love story on film.