When Colin and I first started planning his surprise proposal is was pretty straightforward; Kate and Colin would have lunch at the Newport Vineyards; after lunch, they would walk through the vines, and Colin would propose. It seemed easy enough.

Newport Vineyards have an online booking system that only opens up 7-days in advance. Unfortunately, this did not fall into Colin’s ability to plan this day, and so Colin called the Newport Vineyards outside of this booking window. Trisha, a 5-year employee of the Vineyards, stepped up to the plate booked Colin and Kate in at 3 pm on Saturday, June 19th.

Perfect, we were all set, or were we?

On a personal level, I lead a group bicycle ride every Saturday, which finishes around noon-time. Plenty of time to get home cleaned up and be in Newport by 3 pm. And then Colin sends me a text on the Wednesday before the proposal:

“My girlfriend made us a two-person reservation at the vineyard this Saturday at noon (because it was Colin’s birthday weekend). She didn’t know I had already done the same thing. I spoke with the vineyard, and they were able to merge the reservations, so we get there at 12 now.”


“…the best laid plans of mice and men.” ~ Robert Burns

I reached out to my riding group and informed them that I have a scheduling problem. No sweat, we will ride a little shorter, starting a 7 am, to permit me to get to Newport on time. Sorted!

On Friday night, I charged all my batteries and prepared my equipment so I would not have to do that on Saturday morning. I also sent a text to Colin to let him know that I would be on my bike and would not respond until after 10 am on Saturday.

At 10:30 am, Colin started texting me with photos of Kate and himself and a description of what they were wearing, and confirmation that the reservation was set for 12:30 am. We had a plan.

I left home at 11:45 am with an ETA of 12:30 pm (Colin had asked that I be there by 1 pm); I always build in 30 minute traffic time into my travels…just in case.

During my travels, Colin sent me a text to let me know that they were running late. So I parked at 12:35 pm and walked into meet Trisha, and she informed me that my couple had not arrived yet, but she took me out to their table so I would know where they would be sitting. I returned to my truck to wait because the mid-day sun was searing.

At 1 pm, Colin texted me to inform me that they were seated at their table.Unfortunately, this was going to be a long wait!

While waiting, I walked over to view their table so I could recognize them, and then I returned to my truck. While killing time at my truck, as luck would have it, I saw Colin return to his truck to collect the ring, which permitted us to have a quick chat and go over his proposing strategy.

It seems simple enough, but it is an awful lot of information to process for a person about to offer a proposal of marriage.

At 1:50 pm, I received the 10-minute warning, gathered my cameras, and positioned myself. My plan was straightforward; after my ‘target’ couple left their table, I would follow them. As I did so, a group of people approached me to ask me what I was doing in loud voices, in possible earshot of Kate and Colin. And so I put my finger to my lips and ‘Shhhh’ed’ them. I whispered that there was about to be a proposal, but they all had to be quiet. Which they did, and they positioned themselves on a stone wall to watch the upcoming action; meanwhile, I was out of sight, hiding.

At the right moment, Colin dropped to his knee, and I dropped to my knees for the best shot angle and caught a beautiful image of the proposal and the peanut gallery (all the folks who I had asked to be quiet earlier) cheered!

After the proposal, we had a mini-engagement shoot, and I hope you enjoy the images we made together.

Before I close, I would like to give a shout-out to Trisha and the Newport Vineyards. Just as we were wrapping up our shoot, Trisha showed up on a golf cart with two flutes of champagne and a complimentary bottle of wine for the happy couple.

It was a wonderful shoot.

Should anyone read this and is considering a proposal, do not schedule a proposal for mid-day in the summer because when the sun is directly above you, it is not very flattering due to harsh vertical shadows.