As far as planning a surprise proposal photoshoot, Zach’s proposal to Vanessa was pretty straightforward. They had a room at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, and the proposal spot was to be at the Goat Island lighthouse, a short walk from the hotel’s lobby. And then mother nature intervened; well, it was March in New England!

The proposal was scheduled for Saturday; we spoke the Monday before; and were both concerned about the weather.

I sent Zach an annotated Google map with my plan, identifying where I would be hiding, the route to the lighthouse, the direction of late evening sunlight, and the proposal spot. It all looked good, but what about that weather? I proposed that we talk on Friday when we would have a much better idea of the weather on Saturday.

When we spoke on Friday, the weather wasn’t looking any better – a snow/rain mix but what concerned me was the north wind blowing at 20 to 25mph coming straight off the water. With no protection from the wind, it would not be very nice. Zach asked if I had an alternate location; I suggested the park in front of Trinity church because it is close to their hotel and would offer protection from the wind out of the north. While it was a good alternative, Vanessa and Zach’s room looked onto the lighthouse, she liked the view, and he wanted to make it happen there. I suggested we talk again tomorrow at 2 pm, 3 hours before the proposal when we would know what the weather had in store.

So, we spoke 3 hours before the proposal to finalize our plan, he wanted it to happen at the lighthouse in the wind and the snow! He suggested that he propose on the lea side of the lighthouse to provide shelter from the wind and with no direct sunlight this would be perfect; we had a plan.

surprise proposal at goat island ri march 2023

proposal shoot plan

Plan ‘B’

As I was driving over the Newport Bridge, 10 minutes away from the hotel, I received a text from Zach, and my truck narrated his text, “Sun is kind of coming out here. Let me know if we need to adjust the positioning.”

It was blowing hard, raining, and snowing, and the Sun was breaking through in spots.

After several texts back and forward (after I had parked), we agreed that if the Sun were out as he approached the lighthouse, he would propose at our original spot (plan ‘A’); however, if the Sun were not out, he would walk around the lighthouse which would give me time to shoot from plan ‘B.’

I got to my position about 30 minutes before the couple arrived; standing in the open was not wise, with the wind pounding me. I sheltered behind the Pineapple Club, and when Zach sent me a text to let me know that they were heading for the elevator. I set up my camera and hid it away in my yellow Helly Hansen bag. It is essential to avoid looking like a photographer!

As they passed the Pineapple club, I followed from about 30 yards. I wasn’t sure what audible Zach would call, but he stopped at plan ‘A.’

I reached inside my yellow bag and took hold of my camera, and waited while they shared a few words, then Zach began to drop to his knee with the wind and sea spray pounding them both, I pulled out my camera, adjusted the position of the focus point, the focal length of the lens and shutter speed to refine the exposure and photographed Zach’s, windy, surprise proposal to Vanessa.

Vanessa’s delight was unconstrained.

You know it is a real surprise when you hear, “if I had known, I would have gotten my nails done.”

Nicely done, Zach!