I had the pleasure of photographing this adorable couple from Iowa at the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. He had just proposed the evening before and she said yes! They wanted to take engagement photos on the beach, so we decided to meet at the beach by their hotel.
When I asked how they met, she told me they’re both from a very small town where they went to the same school, but never liked each other. Fast forward to a few years later and they both ended up in the same bar. Someone said to her: you should talk to one of those guys. She didn’t end up talking to him, but he did text her the next day: Sorry I was an asshole last night. She thought: you weren’t an asshole, we never even spoke! And that was it…. they became a couple from that point on 🙂
I have to admit their life in Iowa made me a bit jealous: living in a beautiful, serene area next to a river with rolling hills, on a farm with 5 goats who are like her dogs, and other animals as well. Sounds pretty perfect to me!
Sunny Isles Beach is a nice spot to stay in the Miami area, but is far from South Beach (about a 45 minute drive depending on traffic). The beaches there are pretty though! Check out some of my top photography locations in Miami, including spots in several different neighborhoods.
Spencer reached out to me wanting to have his surprise proposal captured. He is a talented filmmaker and wanted this special moment documented. He mentioned that the beach is Megan’s favorite place in the world, and Key Biscayne was their favorite spot to spend time. So we set up a day and time, and made up a specific meeting spot by the beach near the Cape Florida lighthouse in Bill Baggs State Park. Once I saw them walk toward the beach, I followed them from a distance and captured the entire proposal including her surprised reaction! Photographing their proposal was a joyful moment for me. Here is Spencer’s story of how they met in his own words:
I met Megan when I was 18 years old, three weeks into Freshman year at the University of Miami. I moved 1500 miles from home and was regretting my decision. I felt alone and was homesick.
I decided to venture out of my comfort zone to go to a Foam Party at a now condemned nightclub in Miami. I wore a bathing suit and my new memory foam flip flops. I met this beautiful girl who made me laugh and I asked her to dance. I Serenaded her with my rendition of sweet child of mine and eight years later here we are. (Those flip flops were destroyed by the foam. A worthy sacrifice)
From painted faces at football games to playing quidditch to late night walks home from TCBY we did it all at Miami. We even studied… Well at least she did.
Then the biggest test of our relationship. 2 years apart from each other. It was tough but we had Skype dates, cooking dinner together and late night phone calls. Always looking forward to that moment where we would be together again. It came two years ago when she moved in with me (and Vinny) to our own place in Boston. We picked up right where we left off and have been living the dream ever since. When we arrived on campus the day I was going to propose to her I took one step out of the Uber and started to cry. And not just a tear, like a full on meltdown. It was not attractive. She asked me what was wrong and I brushed it off saying that I was just so happy to be back on campus. In reality it was because deciding to go the U was the best decision of my life because it led to her.
As I’m writing this she is passed out on the couch next to me after falling asleep during the bachelor and I’m just smiling at her because soon I’ll get to call her my wife.
I love you so much @meggiegray124 and I can’t wait to get home and cook some Mac and cheese for you and finish the bachelor.
As for the day of the proposal, Spencer says it best:
I took Meg through a tour of all our favorite places in Miami to arrive at the beach around magic hour.
I walked her down to the water and then eloquently gave a beautiful speech I prepared. The End… Actually I blacked out once we got to the water and bumbled through my speech. I couldn’t remember if I even got down on my knee until @tovaphotography showed me the evidence. 😂
Anyways despite my lack of consciousness she still said yes! Happy First Valentine’s Day as my fiancé Megan ❤️ Here’s the little speech I wrote: Megan, asking you to dance at nocturnal was the best decision of my life. The next eight years with you have been the most amazing adventure I could ever ask for. You are my partner in crime, adventure buddy and best friend. I love you so much. Will you marry me?
Being under an official stay-at-home order, I am left to contemplate how to spend this extra time now that I have no jobs and no photos to edit. It’s quite a surreal world we’re living in right now, but I try to take a few moments each day and think about how much I still have to be grateful for.
For awhile now I’ve been wanting to share some sort of Miami travel guide from a local’s perspective, as someone who has grown up here and continues to find this city an exciting, vibrant and culturally diverse place to live.
While I appreciate city life, from the diverse array of restaurant’s to choose from, to having movie theaters and libraries and stores close-by, I also consider myself a nature girl at heart. Give me some wide open spaces, replace the car horns and sirens and incessant construction sounds with a gently running stream and chipper birds however tripe that may sound. Heck I’ll even take a meter’s worth of grass under a tree – just please, please, a break from all those city sounds. (I certainly am getting my wish right now with this coronavirus movie-like reality we’re current living it – albeit I wish it was that minus the horror of death and illness and economic devastation hitting nearly every part of the earth right now.)
With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite nature spots in the city. Check ahead for any potential closing times or events. Tip: Bring along mosquito repellent and sun protection. Umbrellas and ponchos might come in handy too 😉
Fairchild is a wonderful respite from the city. It is expansive and beautiful and well taken care of. This is truly a nature’s paradise, replete with an abundance of tropical plants. If you get lucky, you might get to see one of it’s resident alligators. Keep your eyes out for iguanas and birds as well. They have a wonderful butterfly conservatory next to a cafe if you need some food, refreshments or just some cold AC. Their gift shop is pretty awesome too!
Fairchild is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. We are one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
As we work around the world, Fairchild’s level of dedication to native plant conservation in South Florida remains unparalleled. We also have one of the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads. This year we will reach over 150,000 students with The Fairchild Challenge, Explorer and Discovery programs and more than 3,000 adults will participate in our Life Long Learning education courses.
While this garden is quite small and is good for maybe a 1 hour visit, it is centrally located in South Beach and a relaxing place to unwind. Also: it’s free to the public! It is very well maintained and has a wonderful variety of plants. You can take a self-guided audio tour using your mobile phone or attend a guided tour on Saturdays at 11am. If you meet one of the staff or volunteers – say hello! They are very friendly and kind. They recently even added an apiary to the garden run by Plantman Dan. There are events that take place here as well, so check out the events calendar if you might be interested in attending. The garden is closed on Mondays.