Branden & Kendelle’s Surprise Proposal on Kiawah Island

When Julia told me Branden & Kendelle’s story, and explained that he was going to propose to her beautiful daughter the day before Thanksgiving, I knew right away that Cami and I needed to delay our travel plans by a day so that we could capture this moment!!!

Julia and I concocted the ruse that she hired me to photograph family portraits during their visit to Kiawah Island. We all met up at The Ocean Course.  I loved the colorful outfits they had all chosen.  And we had a blast, capturing a variety of shots, including their Christmas Card photo. Then towards the end of the shoot, I suggested some candid “walking on the beach” photos of each couple. When it was Branden & Kendelle’s turn, he took her hand, led her down the beach for a little privacy, dropped to his knee, and ask her to be his wife. It was SUCH a special moment!!!

Afterwards, everyone congratulated the newly engaged couple with hugs and high-fives. The others went inside for drinks at the Ryder Cup Bar while Branden & Kendelle did some engagement photos with me before meeting up with them in the Atlantic Room for dinner. As soon as the rest of the gang left, the overcast skies cracked open a sliver of light at the horizon, allowing the AMAZING sunset to shine through for the amazing couple!

CONGRATULATIONS Branden & Kendelle!  You have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!!! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together…

Alex & Hannah’s Surprise Proposal at White Point Garden

Alex’s heartfelt email arrived on my desktop back in July: “I’m looking to propose to my girlfriend on the evening of either 11/11/22 or 11/12/22 and would love to have the surprise proposal photographed.”. (I owe my good friend and amazing photographer, Michael Cyra, a HUGE Thank You for recommending us to him!)

This contact sparked a wonderful series of emails and phone conversations with Alex, in which we concocted a secret plan of action. Alex & Hannah were going to be visiting Charleston that weekend. We decided that after a fun tour of The Aquarium, he was going to let her know he had arranged for a private walking tour around historic Downtown Charleston for the two of them. And they had to meet their “tour guide” under a certain tree at White Point Garden.

When the big day arrived, I got to the park ahead of schedule, and set up my spot. Due to the wind (remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole that had passed through days before), Alex and I had to call an audible. We needed to reverse their positions so that Hannah’s hair wouldn’t be blowing in her face! 🙂 Alex handled the change of directions with confidence and discretion…expertly guiding Hannah to a beautiful spot on the lawn, underneath the avenue of oaks that line the edge of the park.

Dropping to his knee, Alex delivered a beautiful speech, and asked Hannah to be his wife. SHE SAID YES!!! The park was filled with tons of tourists, who all noticed what was going on, and broke out in applause afterwards! It was such a special moment.

Following their surprise proposal, Alex, Hannah, and I enjoyed a wonderful stroll through the park, into the surrounding old historic district, ending up along The Battery for some dramatic shots with the sun setting in the distance over the Ashley River!

CONGRATULATIONS Alex & Hannah!!! We wish you all the best as you begin this new journey together…

Nick & Nicole’s Secret Proposal at The Sanctuary

After weeks and weeks of planning every detail for Nick’s secret proposal, we had to call a last-minute audible!!!

Nick and I had worked so hard to come up with the perfect plan for him to ask his beautiful girlfriend, Nicole, to marry him. We had picked a pristine beach at the northern end of Kiawah Island as the backdrop. We had chosen the perfect time of day to catch that “golden hour” light before sunset. But all our plans fell apart minutes before our scheduled time when the skies opened up, pelting buckets of rain down from the sky!!!

Fortunately, Nick and Nicole’s parents had secretly flown in to surprise the couple after the proposal. Since his parents were staying at The Sanctuary, they quickly scouted out a secluded spot indoors and out of the rain. They even placed a trail of rose petals leading Nick to “the spot” where he would do his magic. It worked out PERFECTLY!!!

Arriving right on cue, Nicole said later that she could sense Nick was acting a little strange. But she wasn’t sure why? Then Nick hit his mark, turned to face the love of his life, and dropped to one knee. It was a truly magical moment. Nicole burst into a HUGE grin as she realized what was going on…and she couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the night!

Afterwar she said “Yes”, we were able to incorporate the beautiful hallways, archways, and grand staircase of the famous hotel into a fun authentic engagement shoot. I got some neat candids of Nick & Nicole’s parents surprising them and checking out Nicole’s AMAZING ring. And of course we captured a few nice family portraits to commemorate the occasion.

CONGRATULATIONS Nick & Nicole!!! We wish you all the best as you begin your new journey together!

Tyler & Melody’s Surprise Waterfront Proposal

Melody got a new Fuji XE4 and has turned into quite an amazing photo buff. So Tyler thought hiring me to give her one of my private photography mentoring sessions (https://chrisandcami.com/workshops/private-mentoring/) would be the perfect ruse for his proposal. HE WAS RIGHT!!!

It’s been so much fun secretly scheming with Tyler over the last few weeks to come up with the perfect plan to surprise the love of his life. Finally the BIG DAY arrived! I met up with Tyler & Melody at the famous Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park. After going over Melody’s camera settings, and practicing a few techniques, we went on a fun walk-about around the picturesque back alleys and colorful walkways of our historic city. Melody and I would stop periodically to shoot photos together. And I would suggest they do a nice portrait in front of whatever backdrop had caught our eyes. Since they are moving into a new house soon, and wanted photos to decorate it with, the “let me get a shot of you guys here for your house” excuse was a natural part of Tyler’s plan.

Now let me back up here for a minute. Believe it or not, Tyler & Melody got together because of the pandemic! Originally from L.A., Melody moved to Dallas, where she enjoys her career as a financial planner. Tyler travels a lot for his work as a medical consultant.  Originally from Michigan, he lived in the same apartment complex as Melody. In fact, they were neighbors on the same floor, and kind of knew each other in passing. When the pandemic shuttered a lot of travel, forced everyone to quarantine indoors, and curtailed extra curricular activities, Tyler & Melody began hanging out and became good friends. Then they began hanging out a LOT MORE!!! Until…well…here we are today.

Tyler really wanted to propose with the gorgeous Charleston Harbor behind them. So we had planned to conclude our photo walk down at the dock with the soft glow of twilight. Arriving at our location, it was miraculously void of all tourists and fishermen! Tyler and I had a secret sign arranged so that he would know when to make his move. Right on cue, as we stood on the open dock with the famous Arthur Ravenel Bridge standing as witness, Tyler NAILED IT!!! Melody was so surprised!  It was a beautiful moment I’ll never forget.

Some heartfelt words were spoken by Tyler. A GORGEOUS ring was placed on Melody’s finger. And SHE SAID YES!!! Please help me in congratulating this amazing couple! 🙂

Ben Proposes to Paulina at the Holiday Festival of Lights

I had so much fun photographing Frank and Sommer’s wedding last year. The Kordonis’ and Peterman’s are such wonderful families! So when Ben called to ask if I would photograph his Surprise Proposal to Frank’s sister, Paulina, I was ECSTATIC!!!

Ben had come up with a really unique but challenging idea for his proposal. He wanted to do it at the James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights. There were two major obstacles against us…there is no light…and there is no privacy! However, I loved the idea and went out to the park on a scouting trip. Soon a plan began to take shape.

I reached out to my friend, Gary Coleman, who is a good friend and has been Santa’s private photographer at James Island County Park for 13 years. Since Santa doesn’t make appearances after Christmas Eve, Gary was free to come with me and help out. He was able to let the park staff know what was going on, and ask Laura, one of the kind staff members, to help us with “crowd control”.

Arriving early to set up, we mounted a flash on a Manfrotto Magic Arm on one side of the “Tunnel of Lights”, and a second flash on a light-stand in the forest on the other side. Both were dialed way down to 1/128th power so as not to over-ride the beautiful ambiance of the festival lighting. I hid a Nikon Z6II with a 24-70 f2.8 under the “mushroom” display, which I triggered with a WR-R10 remote control. And I hid back behind the “woodpecker” display with a Nikon D5 using a 70-200 f2.8. Both cameras were set to ISO 2500, f2.8, and 1/60th sec.

After a nice dinner together, Ben & Paulina arrived at the Festival of Lights for what she thought was just part of their date night. Secretly staying in touch with Ben via text, he let me know when they were approaching the “Tunnel of Light” that we had selected as the spot to do his thing. Once I got the word, Laura helped me ask the crowd on my side of the tunnel to wait a moment for him to have a little privacy (and a clear shot from my cameras). Meanwhile, Gary, who was stationed at the far end of the tunnel, asked everyone on that end to wait a moment for them. By the time the tunnel was clear, there were probably 30 people all hiding behind me and holding their breath in anticipation of the big moment!

Ben rounded the corner exactly as planned, took to his knee, and asked Paulina to be his wife. Of course SHE SAID YES!!! And the crowd of people that had silently assembled all broke out in thunderous applause and loud cheers of encouragement for the happy couple! 🙂 Following this special moment, Gary and I took Ben & Paulina on a fun little mini-shoot throughout the Festival of Lights, before leaving them to enjoy their roasted marshmallows and celebrate this special moment in their lives.

CONGRATULATIONS Ben & Paulina! We wish you all the best as you begin this beautiful journey together…

Noah’s Surprise Proposal to Meredith

A few weeks ago I received a call from Noah. The voice on the other end of the phone was so kind and sincere. I was struck with how much he wanted to make everything absolutely perfect for his girlfriend of three years. Noah and I had a great time going back and forth and figuring out an awesome plan for his secret proposal to Meredith!
This morning, the Big Day finally arrived!!! Because Meredith loves all the beautiful trees in Charleston, we had settled on the proposal taking place under the cathedral of crape myrtles, draped in Spanish moss, lining one of the paths at Hampton Park. Everything turned out absolutely perfect! And SHE SAID YES!!!
The three of us then enjoyed a wonderful stroll around Hampton Park, photographing a variety of authentic engagement photos for them to remember this special day. I had so much fun getting to know them as we captured these images together! 🙂
CONGRATULATIONS Meredith & Noah! We wish you all the best as you begin this amazing new chapter of your lives…