The Plan

When Kevin and I first discussed his surprise proposal shoot, he wanted to do it in the beautiful tulip fields of the Wicked Tulip Flower Farms. Excellent for me – was my initial thought – because I live next door to the farm in Exeter, Rhode Island, but I had thought it had closed down for the season, which proved to be the case, unfortunately. There is a second Wicked Tulips Flower Farm in Preston, Connecticut ( a 30-minute drive for me). We could make this work, but I informed Kevin that there would be an additional fee because the farm has a professional photography site fee, that plus admission would b $70. The farm has a significant investment (and risk) in their flower fields, and a small fee seems reasonable. A more significant issue was that the farm entered its last week before closing for the season, and we were not sure how grand it would be. Kevin would call them in the morning and talk things through.

After talking to the flower farm and looking at photoshoots on my website, Kevin opted for a ‘Plan B’ and booked a table at the Newport Vineyards. Good choice! After a photoshoot there last year, which was exquisite, my wife and I went there for lunch during our stay-cation, and it was a superb experience. So, good choice, Kevin!

Kevin reserved the table for Saturday, and coincidentally, I had another photoshoot a couple of days earlier, permitting me to report back.

The Thursday photoshoot was rainy – check out the Newport Vineyard photos – it was fun; it was wet, and we produced an excellent set of images. While at the vineyard and having spoken to Kevin, I figured that the baby vines – far from full bloom – may not have been what he had imagined. I sent him a photo; I was correct; we need a ‘Plan C.’

Plan ‘C’ was Newport’s wonderful Goat Island, a location where I both like to work and dine.

Being a beautiful Saturday night, I informed Kevin that I would probably bring my wife, whom I could use for cover, and afterward, we would go out to dinner. We discussed the ‘surprise’ strategy, and I suggested that he book a table and, after dinner/cocktails, take a stroll out to the lighthouse, where we would be waiting.

I informed Kevin that if there were an outdoor wedding going on at the time of his proposal, he would not be able to use the lighthouse as a backdrop. But not to worry, the second option would be a photo with the Newport Bridge and Narragansett Bay in the background. We reviewed pictures from prior proposals on my website, and Kevin was good to go!

After the call, I annotated a Google map that showed the path to the lighthouse and the second location, should there be a wedding.

The Proposal

On the day of the proposal, my wife joined me, and I sent a text to Kevin to let him know I was en route and another when we parked at the Gurney’s resort. It was a beautiful evening with temperatures unusually high, 90 degrees inland, and the high 70s at Goat Island; Newport was very busy due to the weather and graduation day at many colleges.

Kevin sent me a text and informed me that there was a wedding on the property, but when we got there, the wedding party and guests moved on to the reception phase of their big day, leaving the lighthouse open for our intended use.

location Mags and I decided to stand at the information map depicting the final resting place of Captain Cook’s Endeavor. It was a perfect location to conceal my bags and step out at the right time. Due to the earlier wedding, and the remaining guest chairs, there was only one workable location for the proposal. I took a photo, annotated it with the location, and sent it to Kevin.

Kevin sent me a text that they were coming our way, I looked at my photo of Kevin and Colleen and looked at the resort, and I could see them coming.

Game on!

Of course, as they were walking to the lighthouse, a group of four Italian tourists walked to the light to take photos – who could blame them? It was a beautiful night.

When Kevin and Colleen arrived, the tourists were still taking pictures, and my couple walked past our designated spot. “Did Kevin see my text with the location?” I asked myself. But it became clear that Kevin was playing for time, waiting on the picture-taking folks to leave, and as they began to leave, another couple was arriving. Mags stepped into action, she informed the arriving couple of our plan, and they were only too happy to take a detour. Kevin and Colleen moved to ‘the’ spot; I picked my camera up and hid it behind Mags while Kevin spoke to Colleen. Mags and I were out in the open, and as they hugged, we hugged (hiding the camera); eventually, Kevin dropped to his knee.

After the proposal, there was a nice moment where a hotel guest popped down with a video they had taken of the proposal.

If you would like to learn more about surprise proposal photoshoots, pop-over to the Proposal/Engagement web page for details on pricing and lots of information for planning the perfect surprise proposal.


After photographing many, many, surprise proposals…

Never do anything different. A behaviour change will give the game away!