A few weeks ago I got a message from Josh, a coach at Crossfit Sierra Vista where Mike and I workout. Between a sinus infection that wasn’t wanting to go away and getting my second COVID vaccine, I hadn’t been to the gym for about 2 weeks. I thought to myself, “He’s calling to give me crap and ask if I’m ever coming back or if they should just cancel my membership. I just know it.” So I called him back, ready to get scolded, and he said, “Hey, Jen’s birthday is coming up. I’m throwing her a big surprise party at Pizzeria Mimosa.” Awesome! What a fun surprise. But then he said, “There’s going to be another surprise. I’m going to propose and I want you there to photograph it.” Oh heck yeah! Let’s do this!!!
I know I instantly bombarded Josh with about a million and one questions as to the proposal. Who else knew? Did he think she had any idea? How long had he been planning to propose? Did he have speech planned? Tell me everything!
He said that he had originally wanted to propose in July on their anniversary. But when he realized Jen’s milestone 40th birthday was coming up, he figured it was too good of an opportunity. I mean, why not layer on all the great things at once, right?! He said that whenever the topic of getting engaged came up, he would give the standard excuses: “It’s not the right time.” “Money is too tight.” Dodge dodge dodge.
Secretly, though, Josh had been paying close attention every time he and Jen were remotely close to jewelry. A color she mentioned. A certain shape that caught her eye. He gathered whatever hints he could to make sure he picked out The One.
I woke up Saturday morning with butterflies! I told Josh I must have had sympathy nerves for him. There’s nothing like going into a situation with a group of 30 people and not being able to tell a soul. No spoiling the surprise. Luckily for me, Mike was in on it too. He volunteered to come with me and shoot– anything to try and cover as many angles at once. After all, this is such a huge moment for Josh and Jen! You have to get it right. The lights. Your positioning. Camera Settings. Ready. Set. Go.
Jen thought she was going to Chili’s to have drinks with her girlfriends then heading to Pizzeria Mimosa for dinner. Her birthday party guests started arriving at the restaurant’s event space, eager for the surprise. There were photo displays of Jen with her friends and family along with a Harry Potter birthday cake by Bridget Buchanan, an incredible cake artist local to Sierra Vista. Josh got the text that the girls had left Chili’s and were on their way. Here we go, people!
I think this might be her “Oh no you didn’t. I hope you know you’re in trouble” face for Josh…
Jen was stunned, trying to take everything in, and say hi to all of her guests. Josh pulled her up to the front of the room to make a speech. Ya know, thank everyone for coming… 😉
He told me earlier in the week that he had been practicing exactly what he wanted to say. He hadn’t been able to get through it all without crying. I stood in the back of the room, watching everything unfold through my camera’s viewfinder. After apologizing to Jen for putting her at the center of attention and throwing a surprise at her, he figured there was one more thing he needed to do while all of the people closest to her were there.
The moment I had been waiting for!!!
This is one of my favorite moments from the entire evening. All 3 daughters were crying happy tears that their families were finally going to become one big one.
That “newly engaged” euphoria is THE BEST!
Jen’s friends were absolutely thrilled for her!
Gotta show off the ring to your future mother and brother-in-law!
Once Josh and Jen had a few moments to themselves and their kids, I asked them if they’d like to go outside for a few photos before the sun went down. We had less than 5 minutes until that glow that I love so much disappeared behind the mountains.
Josh, I am so honored that you asked me to be there for his tremendous moment in your and Jen’s love story together. I am so happy for you both! It’s time to make one big, happy family for you and all your girls.
Engagement Ring: Helzberg Diamonds
Venue: Pizzeria Mimosa in Hereford, AZ
Are you planning to propose to your sweetheart? Want to have photos to remember when you popped the question? Let’s work on it together!
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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