Anna and Emil's Amazing Proposal at Cinque Terre

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How We Met, Brides’s Version

We met when we were working in the same company. Emil approached me and girlfriends in the elevator and asked what we do. I didn’t even have a though we could be together at that moment. But after a couple of months we were a couple.

How We Met, Groom’s Version

I noticed Anya right away when I came back from a long business trip – she must have joined the company while I was away. I immediately made a move and approached her with colleagues in the elevator, then continued talking to her on TGIF (a social gathering we have on Fridays), kept communicating in business trips and we were dating in a couple of months. I like to tell the different story of how she approached me in the office saying ‘Hey handsome, let’s go for a date’ but somehow no one believes it.

How He Asked, Bride’s Version

It was something like a week or couple before my birthday and we randomly decided to celebrate it in Italy (originally we are from Moscow), quickly took the tickets for the plane and were ready for such a great weekend.

Before packing the luggage Emil told me that we need to take some good-looking clothes because there will be a surprise for me – love story photoshoot (usually Emil hates such romantic photoshoot things, hence this was a surprise for me).

On my birthday we were in Florence and Emil asked me not to ask questions – everything we do and everywhere we go is to be a surprise. We drove somewhere and stopped at La Spezia, left the car there and took the train. Only then did I realize we were going to Cinque Terre, which was the dream of both of us to visit, so I was the happiest person to understand that my birthday will be in the the most beautiful place in the world!

We took a train through the rocks (It was soo romantic) and came to Manarola to have a wonderful birthday lunch at a romantic restaurant with the view on the city and sea. Emil was nervous during the lunch and when I asked him why he was so stressed, he said that he is worried about the photoshoot, as the sky’s becoming cloudy and the photographer is stuck in train traffic, so we can miss the sunset.

So we had a bottle of wine and relaxed a bit. The photographer has finally arrived and we fell in love with him immediately, it felt like we’ve known each other for ages and we quickly started making lovely photos. In half an hour we decided to take some romantic photos near the sea and we went through a small harbor further away from the town. At some point Francesco asked Emil to step out of the scene to take photos of me.

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I was trying to make my best to be a model and then I saw Emil next to me with his arms behind him and his eyes full of emotions and love!

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That moment I realized everything, his unforgettable speech and emotions felt unreal to me, I felt as if we were somewhere in space and there’s no one but us.

Emil kneeled down and put the ring on my finger.

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What more can I say? I was the happiest person in the world because It was the place of my dream with the love of my life who asked me to be his wife. We have opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate it and totally forgot that Francesco was still making photos of us.

Such a romantic story full of surprises which I would like to tell our children and grandchildren :) Thank you, my love, for these unforgettable emotions and Francesсo for support and brilliant photos!

How He Asked, Groom’s Version

I actually had a crazy idea of proposing on the plane during the flight exactly at 12:00am on January, 1 (we had a flight booked long before the trip to Italy), but dismissed the idea due to too many risks like delays, Anya’s fear of long flights, and simply due to not wanting to wait till December.

So here we go: we purchased tickets to Italy and I already had a plan of how it’s going to happen (the proposal), the only question for me was the location as I had several options in mind: Tuscan hills (love Tuscany), location at sea, the spot overlooking whole city of Florence, etc. Then I remembered we had always wanted to go to Cinque Terre, even tried once but didn’t quite make it, so I started looking into the location while simultaneously looking for a great photographer.

I wanted this to be very intimate – just two of us, without friends or relatives – and to have it all in pictures by a truly professional photographer (although I do admit I hate doing love story photoshoots). I was super lucky to find Francesco after surfing through tons of websites and reaching out to different guys – Francesco got my idea on the spot and we planned the process together. I wanted us to take some time to take pictures and get ‘used’ to the camera, so that we wouldn’t look super weird on the pics and after that lead the way to the proposal spot (which I haven’t yet identified).

When I was surfing through Cinque Terre websites I located a so-called ‘Lover’s road (walk)’ or Via dell’Amore – just listen to how this thing sounds in Italian – I fell in love with the idea and a specific spot there, BUT discovered it’s been recently closed for access, so had to dismiss this idea as well (just like the airplane one). Luckily Francesco turned up with help and said he knows just the spot, so I trusted him – out of Cinque Terre (which stands for ‘Five Lands’ or five towns on the rocks) Francesco picked Manarola and a special spot somewhere there (now whenever I see a picture of Manarola I immediately see the spot I proposed at – how amazing is that?)

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So let’s get back to the day itself: we woke up at a hotel, had Italian pasta, pizza and a bottle of wine for breakfast (kidding – a ‘brioche and a cappuccino’ of course), jumped in the car and departed for Cinque Terre. Frankly I was super worried the whole morning and, moreover, my mom, who was the only one to know I’m about to propose, almost gave away the secret while congratulating Anya on the phone in the morning. So it’s fair to say I was quite worried of how the plan is going to play out. By the way, I told Anya that the birthday present is going to be the photoshoot in the secret location, so we should be wearing something beautiful.

Having arrived at La Spezia, we took the train to Manarola to have lunch and walk around before Francesco arrives. When we were having lunch Fra texted me that the train is being delayed and he’ll be late, which was not quite what I was expecting to hear as the sunset was about to happen pretty soon. Plus the weather was, let’s say, not ideal. Plus I had to propose in a couple of hours. Plus I didn’t have any particular speech in mind, just a couple of things I wanted to say. To sum it up, I was super nervous and Anya noticed that. So I decided to take a bottle of wine to calm down a bit (and distract her from my nervousness), meanwhile running back and forth to the restroom to practice what I was about to say. Looking back now I am surprised how she didn’t realize why I was nervous the whole time.

At last Francesco arrived and we started making pictures, which felt super natural thanks to his talent and professionalism. We spent like an hour taking photos in different locations (which still felt weird to me) and then went down to the small harbor with no people, just a couple of fishermen.

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We managed to relax in front of the camera and I almost forgot I was about to propose when Fra winked at me and said ‘Let’s take pictures of the Birthday Girl alone!’.

One note on the location for these ‘Birthday Girl’ photos: I don’t know how this happened but this location seemed so amazing and perfect for the proposal – it was a small square area in the rocks literally on the water (waves would hit above the level of the platform from time to time and wet your feet, which was beautiful). Thank you Francesco for this! As I’ve said earlier, whenever I see a pic of Manarola my eyes roll to the right edge of the picture and I see the exact spot I proposed at.

What happened next is the beauty of human organism: my heart rate went skyways, all my nervousness came back in a second, adrenaline levels got up, hands started shaking. But I managed to pull myself together, took the ring box behind my back and started walking towards Anya rehearsing what I was about to say. At first Anya glanced at me with surprise turned back and then turned around with quite a shock (I like to think with a pleasant one) on her face – I think she realized I was not hiding a birthday-present-teddy-bear behind my back at that very moment.

To my own surprise I managed to remember and say all the things I had planned (which I still believe Anya does not remember, although she says differently – she was not quite listening to me for some reason), then I kneeled down and opened the box and asked her to marry me! Then I put the ring on with the only thought in my mind: if I drop it down now, it’s definitely going directly to Mediterranean Sea and why the hell is that fisherman approaching us at this very moment (the funny thing is that Francesco had to scream at the guy as he was about to step into the scene when I was proposing).

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We totally forgot about Francesco taking pictures of us and realized his presence only after several minutes.

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And that’s how it happened! My dream of proposing to the best girl in the whole world came true that day – November 15, 2015 – in a truly unique and memorable place. We opened a bottle of champagne and went on with the photoshoot in a totally different state and mood!

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P.S. The funny part is that guys have to think of such interesting things when planning the proposal like ‘What the hell do I do with the box? So I open the box, then she takes out the ring herself? No, it’s me who should be doing that, then how long do I hold the box open? Till she says yes? Or not?’, etc. – this planning part is not less interesting than the proposal itself.

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P.P.S. And of course this all would not be possible without Francesco – grazie mille for being part of this precious moment and for helping me with the organization and, most of all, for the town of Manarola and location!

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Special Thanks

Francesco Spighi
Photographer