Get a photographer team who will camp all night with high winds and sleet in 30 degree temperature just to be the first ones on the mountain for your surprise proposal as dawn paints the sky.
Your Adventure Buddies
The day before the sunrise photo shoot, Colin and I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway of Western North Carolina soaking up all the extraordinary colors of Fall. We set up our tent right off the trail in the wooded area popular for wilderness backpackers and made dinner with Peak Refuel freeze dried meals. After putting our new 3-seasons Nemo sleeping bags to the test, we woke up at 5am to make coffee, bundle up, and hike to the top of a bald while the stars were still glimmering over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We sat alone on a rock watching the stars fade, creating a beautiful memory of our own, as other hikers began to make their way up the mountain. Before the sun rose over the sea of mountains, the couple and their parents made their way to where we were posing as fellow adventurers waiting for the sun come up. We blended in effortlessly with the few other people on the trail, but Jose knew to look for the red and blue headlamps and the bright yellow jacket.
Jose’s surprise proposal to Deanna was a perfectly executed dream come true. He and I planned the experience with one main goal (besides her saying yes)… keeping the moment an actual surprise!
Emailing between two countries and zero phone calls, we created a detailed plan A and alternatives for various weather conditions so we had the best chance at not blowing our cover and his very important question. Photos of what we all look like were exchanged and details of our car to spot at the trailhead parking area. We communicated about what to pack, time to arrive, road directions, and trail maps.
At first, my partner and I were suppose to be camping on top of the mountain near the proposal site and be positioned to stealthy capture the moment from our tent. However, Mother Nature had ideas of her own making us shift gears last minute and head back down the mountain for the night. In our original plans, I was to text Jose photos of our tent and the map I recorded on AllTrails so he would arrive at the exact place on the trail. Instead, the text was explaining the update that ended up flowing beautifully.
Mountaintop Proposal at Sunrise
When they reached the instructed point, Jose held Deanna in his arms like he had done on many other adventures around the world. But this time, just as the light broke the horizon, he got down one knee and asked her to be his wife.
kind words from the couple:
“I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect surprise engagement, thanks to the incredible talent of Julie. From the moment my boyfriend (now fiancé) began planning this adventure, she was there every step of the way, ensuring I had no clue about what was coming. She is a true artist with a gift for capturing the most genuine and intimate moments.
Her communication, attention to detail, and commitment to making everything perfect was evident in every aspect of the proposal. The entire experience was meticulously planned and executed flawlessly. I was so happy when I saw our pictures, she not only captured the moment but the connection between us.
I am incredibly grateful to Julie for helping make the proposal so memorable and creating stunning images that we will cherish forever. Thank you, Julie for giving us a beautiful keepsake to help us remember our special day!” – Deanna + Jose
Black Balsam Knob Engagement
After the YES! and lots of emotional embraces, the secret was revealed that there was also a surprise engagement session following the proposal. We explored around Black Balsam Knob, taking in the vistas and morning light—all while trying our best to stay warm! It was the experience of a lifetime for Jose and Deanna, and for us too. This particular trail has tugged at my heart for a few years now and is filled with deep synchronicity and personal meaning.
And, it is a beautiful thing to share the space in a way that it becomes sacred to others as well.