Mindy and Travis; Surprise Photo Shoot Proposal

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Travis has been one of my best friends since the 7th grade. To say I have seen him through a lot would be an understatement, and his road to meeting the love of his life is no exception. As anyone with a best guy friend would tell you, it can be hard at times to keep that bond strong when his girlfriend lacks similar interests to your own…but although college kept us both busy with new interests and new friends, I always knew Travis would end up with someone I would love to claim as another best friend. Enter: Mindy.

In fact, my parents met Mindy several times before I ever did and they raved about her. She was so much fun, so laid back, and fit in with what we like to call our “lake family.” And she really does. Our “family” could certainly see where their future was headed, even before she caught dove for the bouquet at my little sister Sami’s wedding! It was only a matter of time before Travis broke the news that he had plans to propose to his incredible girlfriend. YAY!

On top of my excitement that another favorite couple of mine was about to embark on their journey as husband and wife (I’ve been married almost 4 years now!) I was completely honored that Travis asked for me to help him with his proposal plans. Knowing how much of a shutterbug his fiancé-to-be is, he knew that she would want photos of the event. I had recently sent out an email to close friends and family informing them of my plans to start my photography business and I was looking for willing subjects to “play house” and help me build my portfolio. Mindy, being the always-supportive gal that she is, offered herself up immediately. Travis’s wheels had been turning about how to get photos in the first place, so my email could not have come at a more perfect time. We decided we would plan the proposal around organizing a photo shoot with Mindy. I had gotten a new lens that I wanted to try out and I was on the hunt for shoot locations, so I asked Mindy to go with me up to Piedmont Park, a park that she and Travis frequented regularly, where she could show me around and I could get some images for my portfolio. What she didn’t know was that the ACTUAL plan involved her boyfriend sneaking up behind her and popping the question while I was “adjusting my settings” to take some test shots. The pieces were all falling perfectly into place. A little too perfectly, that is…

A few days later, Travis let me know that Mindy was trying to go out of town to visit a friend and take a “rain check” on the photo shoot – something that I couldn’t help protest because she was doing me a favor, after all. We were also told by a close friend of Mindy’s who knew about the surprise proposal plan that Piedmont Park would be the “base” for PRIDE that very weekend. In hindsight, it probably would have made for a really interesting and fun afternoon, but Travis was worried about the crowd and the “colorful” backdrop. So we shifted gears. A zillion texts between Mindy and I, and a few anxious conversations with Travis, he decided that in order to keep Mindy in town and have me take their engagement photos, he was just going to have to drag her there himself. (Did I mention she was being very difficult???!) We settled on having brunch before “our photo shoot” in the little up-and-coming downtown Decatur near his new house. While the dreams in my head of how it would go down had been all but squashed, I was excited for the morning and was anxious to see how it would all unfold.

The morning was beautiful. Warm and sunny with a cool breeze. We sipped mimosas and I resisted the urge to order a pitcher. We talked about normal things that normal friends talk about and after we finished eating, we started walking towards the railroad tracks that were just beside the restaurant. I had asked Mindy to bring her camera along with us in case she wanted some shot experience, simply another way to lure her into believing that we were actually spending the day hunting for shoot locations. I wasn’t keen on the bright lighting I was seeing and was hoping to find a shaded, quiet urban backdrop to watch my best friend drop to one knee. Only Travis started walking the opposite direction of where I was looking and turned his “act” on. So there he stood in the middle of the railroad tracks, as Mindy is behind me in the opposite direction taking different shots – and I just went with it. After a minute, he asked Mindy to put down her camera and join him so that he didn’t feel so awkward. I took a few shots and then decided to attempt a few poses, so I had them sit and I positioned Mindy in front of him, eyes on me. What came next was completely unexpected, exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at the same time. As I’m snapping away, I see Travis pull the ring from his pocket and wave the box over Mindy’s head, out of her line of sight. That’s where the butterflies in my stomach felt more like angry moths and I thought my new camera might slip right from my sweaty fingers. Before I knew it, Travis was holding the open box in front of Mindy’s face and she was covering her eyes and her mouth in that “I knew there was something fishy going on!” manner. I watched her turn to face him and watched his mouth move as he asked her the most important question he had ever asked in his life. Her body seemed to be frozen and shaky all at once, but she quickly snapped-out of the shock, as a huge smile stretched across her face and she said “Yes”! After they jumped up off the ground and hugged, I knew it was time for me to give them some privacy, so I walked away…only to turn right back around and catch the sweetest moments, as the reality of being engaged settled into their minds – Deciding against my previous judgment, I kept my camera shutter clicking away.

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Shortly after, we went steps away to an old building and shot a few more photos, since I really did want the practice for my new photography business, but we were all anxious for what was next – calling everyone and sharing the exciting news! Mindy was still in shock and did not know who to call & tell first, so Travis convinced her to let it all soak in until they got back to his house, where a “couple of close friends” were waiting… But, the surprises for Mindy were not over yet, as they pulled into the driveway to find dozens of familiar smiling faces! Travis had arranged a “back-yard engagement party”, complete with champagne, cake, & a low-country boil for all of their family and closest friends who were waiting to toast and celebrate their special day!

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The entire day was just amazing, despite going against every single plan we made. And being 4 years into the game of “married life” myself, I would say it’s only foreshadowing for what is to come for these two lovebirds. Life never goes as planned and it’s best to just embrace it because it’s usually more incredible than you had even thought to plan yourself, anyways. Travis and Mindy, I am so thrilled to be a part of your adventure and am completely honored that I was included in this pivotal day. The best is yet to come!

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Photos by Heather Carraway Photography