Usually, when I photograph a proposal, it involves a couple taking the first steps on their life journey together. When Kate called me, she explained that the undertaking would be a little different; a vow renewal, a surprise vow renewal for her parents.

Now, this was exciting!

After 38 years of marriage, Michael would propose to Christine, after which there would be a marriage ceremony to celebrate their many years together.

The vow renewal would coincide with Christine’s 75th birthday, and to ensure that this would be a surprise for Christine, the family would host a birthday party.

My role was pretty simple; I was a photographer documenting a 75th birthday party.

For an hour or so, the guests mingled and celebrated Christine’s birthday with joy. And then Micheal whispered to me that it was time! He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket in preparation for his emotional speech. He had no formal address; he was going to speak from the heart.

I had been photographing guests for the last hour, so my camera and strobe settings were dialed in and ready for the magical moment. For equipment, I used a Canon  EOS 1DX camera body with a 70mm – 200mm (being a large room) paired with a Canon 580EX II strobe fitted with a Gary Fong modifier.

When Michael asked for the room to be quiet to talk to the guests, for a few moments, his beloved wife thought that the dialog was about her birthday, and then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring box.

What unfolded was beautiful to both watch and photograph.