Photographer Gets Surprise Proposal During Holiday Inn's "Journey to Extraordinary" Campaign

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How he asked, Laura’s point of view:

September 28, 2014 will always be remembered as the day the man of my dreams got on one knee and asked me to be his forever. However, the story of our engagement began years earlier as I sat in a 5th grade classroom doing a research project on Oregon. I was moved by the beauty in the magazine cut outs and even then as I stared in wonder at photos of Crater Lake, the Lord whispered in my heart that this place would one day be life changing for me. Nothing more than a feeling that somehow this place would mark a turning point in my life.

Fast forward many years to present day. About a month ago, I was offered an Instagram photography job with the Holiday Inn brand where I would travel across the northwest, from Vancouver to Klamath Falls, to take photos of my adventure and guests in the hotel for the Journey to Extraordinary campaign and #JourneyOn contest. Little did I know that Matthew was working diligently behind the scenes to make sure I got the northwest route and that it ended with Crater Lake. As I was planning my trip, he was exchanging emails and making conference calls with the crew at Holiday Inn, pitching his idea for a fairytale engagement story. They loved it and all was set in motion.

The very last day of the five-day road trip, Abby [Matt’s sister and also a photographer] and I were planning to visit Crater Lake for a photo-shoot of our own. Matt had been working for an outfitter in Colorado since August which meant I hadn’t seen him in two months. Before heading to Crater Lake, Abby surprised me with a beautiful Free People dress and note from Matthew telling me how sorry he was that he couldn’t be there but that he wanted to make sure I looked beautiful that day and to take a billion photos to share with him later. My thoughtful man.

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Abby and I got dressed and rushed out the door for the 1.5 hour drive to the top of Crater Lake. I was still clueless. We took our time racing to the top, hopping fences, laughing, twirling and taking hundreds of photos. The drive was intoxicating. The day was perfect. I wished more than anything that Matt could be there but was enjoying every moment with one of my closest friends on a journey to the one place I’d wanted to visit since childhood.

Abby gave me directions to the highest point, Cloudclap Overlook. We finally made it and Abby excitedly hopped out of the car but not before giving me directions to take off my beanie, jacket, tights, glasses and hair ties around my wrist. Then she skipped off telling me to meet her over the wall and would be recording a video for Matt because he wanted to see my face the first time I viewed the lake.

As she ran off, I sat in the car battling my thoughts. On one hand, I was so hoping to find Matt over that wall. On the other, I was preparing myself for disappointment in case he wasn’t. I had dreamed of being here my entire life and didn’t want to take away from the experience, even if it meant seeing Crater Lake without Matt.

I took a breath, stepped out of the car and as I took my first step the clouds started rolling over my feet and the fog started to rise, covering me. The atmosphere immediately became silent, almost mysterious but so full of peace. That’s when I knew. I approached the wall and looked over into a clearing a few hundred feet away and made eye contact with the most handsome man in existence, holding a huge bouquet of white flowers. And that smile. If you know Matthew you know exactly which one I’m talking about. I froze. I couldn’t move. He does that to me. Finally he broke the silence by saying – ‘Get over here!’ So I did! Hopped that stone wall and ran into the arms of my best friend.

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He led me through the trees towards a picnic he had set up overlooking the lake which included mini donuts, my favorite caramel candy, mixed berries and lavender lemonade. I asked to see the lake but the cloud cover was so thick we couldn’t see it. This still makes me laugh. The only thing I had wanted to see was already in front of me. He took my hand and brought me back to the blanket, a Crater Lake edition Pendleton monogrammed with our new initials. He thought of everything. He always does.

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We sat down and I can’t remember much of what he said at all except when from across the way Abby yelled – ‘Laura! Stand up!’ So I hopped up as the love of my life got on one knee to ask me to be his wife with a ring that had belonged to his great grandmother. I danced. I jumped. I screamed and twirled and got a ‘Yes!’ out somewhere in the middle. Then, as the clouds rolled over us, we kissed…and our forever began.

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How I asked, Matt’s point of view:

My part in this story begins in Colorado. I had taken a job working for an outfitter and was planning to be there for a total of 3.5 months. After two weeks of working and being away from my love…I came realized how much Laura really meant to me and how I wanted to start the rest of my life with her as soon as possible!

Ideas started flowing and new excitement began to build as I thought of different ways to propose to her. About a week later, I heard from Laura. She told me all about her Holiday Inn “Journey to Extraordinary” job and at first it dashed my hopes. She would be taking all her days off that I was hoping to use in my already-started engagement plans. After hearing more about the job opportunity I encouraged her to take it even if it meant I would have to make [our engagement] happen at a later date.

That night I remember talking to God and saying ‘Lord I put all of this in your hands you know the perfect timing for all of this and instead of me trying to make it all happen on my own I trust in you and know that it is all in your hands anyway.’ Right after that I had the idea to write the Holiday Inn team and pitch the idea of proposing to Laura and being able to make it a part of their story. That’s when the emails and conference calls began. After about a month of planning, everything was set. She would be sent to the northwest and Crater Lake and they would fly me up to Portland! So a little over a week before the set date I quit my job and headed back to Tulsa where I would catch my flights to Portland. There were so many little details that went into the planning– I mean the dress, blanket, letters from close friends, mini doughnuts, even figuring out how to get the ring from my family in New England to Oklahoma and then out to Oregon. At one point Laura was helping to transport the ring and didn’t even know it!

I was never really nervous until I got to Crater Lake and realized that it was all really happening and I would see the love of my life in just a few short hours and ask her to be my wife. After finding the perfect spot and setting up I took a moment to reflect on what was about to happen and what a total God set-up the whole thing was. I mean, everything from beginning to end I could see His hand on.

As she walked through the clouds and came into view my heart skipped a beat; a month’s worth of work and planning and anticipation now coming to its ultimate goal and point. I had never seen a more beautiful woman in all my life.

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Credits: Holiday Inn Journey to Extraordinary Campaign // Photo and Video by Abby Tohline of Her & Everything