Oh, Internet! Do we have a blog for you today! We just have one condition before you start scrolling through this sweet, surprise proposal: don’t skip to the end. Don’t do it. Fight every temptation. Each little urge. And the devil on your shoulder who’s egging you on. It won’t be worth it. You’ll regret it later. This post, like a fine wine, is meant to be consumed one sip at a time. One little bit of cuteness after the next. Like every good story — and this is a great one — the big moment is made bigger by the small moments that built it.

So, now that we’re all agreed, and without further adieu, here’s one of those blog posts that, even as we type it, still doesn’t feel real, because it involves people that knew us before we even knew each other, friends who walked the halls of middle school with Amy in matching overalls and glitter eyeshadow, friends who remember her braces and birthday parties, friends who cheered on the track with Amy when we first started dating in high school, one who took the first ever photo of us a few months later on the night of the homecoming dance, girls who spent their college days sitting desk-by-desk, swapping notes and stories and heartbreak, girls who walked the aisle at our wedding, visited our classrooms when we were elementary school teachers in next-door classrooms, and were the very first to spend a Saturday driving around town scouting new locations with Amy and modeling for her before she even owned her own camera, when this business, this life, and everything that’s transpired over the past few years was still a distant dream. They were there through it all, behind the scenes with their figurative (and literal) pom poms and smiles, encouraging us to take risks and chances, to chase our dream, because no matter what the outcome, regardless of if we failed, they’d be there, just like they always had been.

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Since college, these four girls vowed to stay connected, so ever quarter, we all get together with the husbands and boyfriends at someone’s house for a pot luck and board games, although, the older we get, the less we seem to play the games and the more we spend the nights in a bottle of Costco’s finest $7.99 wine and deep conversation, reconnecting and filling in the gaps that Facebook and Instagram can’t fill. Earlier this year, we found out that the first of our friends was pregnant. And we screamed and cried and celebrated together. And then we planned. We plotted. We found one free weekend on the calendar, marked it off, protected it with iCal barbed wire, fences, and barking dogs, and headed up to the pines of northern Arizona for a babymoon together, one last hurrah! before our group started multiplying! We found a cozy cabin in Flagstaff, nestled in the woods, a little piece of escape for all us, and a place that would soon become part of a legacy for two of us.

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OF COURSE, we couldn’t spend a weekend in some of Arizona’s most beautiful scenery without taking Erin and Aaron’s maternity photos. This was their first baby! It felt like everyone’s first baby! And we figured, hey, if we were going to do their photos, we might as well do everyone’s! So, we sent out a mass message to all three couples the week of the trip to plan outfits for a quick mini-session in the woods. Since Erin and Aaron are pregnant, we made it clear that they were going to be the priority. “They’ll go first and we’ll spend most of our time with them,” we explained to everyone. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing!”

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All weekend, we talked about how important it was to get these photos of Erin and Aaron. They’re expecting in December, and we really wanted to preserve this special time for them. Everyone agreed: it was the most important part of this little mini-session adventure.

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With the weather forecast predicting rain, we warned our friends that we might not be able to get everyone in before the storm came. Since Traci’s boyfriend, Jared, was visiting from San Diego, we told everyone that they should be second in line after Erin and Aaron. “That way, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll at least have maternity photos of Erin and Aaron and a few pictures of Traci and Jared, since he came from so far away. If it starts raining and we don’t get to you, Melissa and Braedon, since you both live here, we’ll just drive up together another time and do your photos.” Melissa was sweet and patient and nodded. She didn’t know she had seven people lying to her face.

So we took some photos of Traci and Jared. Our friends even snapped a few photos of us, too!

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What Melissa didn’t know (and everyone else did) is that they were scheduled last because they were actually the real priority…

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… because Braedon had called us earlier that week to plan something for Melissa that she’d never see coming…

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…something she told everyone the night before she’d know FOR SURE when it was going to happen… “He’s going to have a really hard time surprising me,” she told us, just hours before…

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…so she went along with the photo shoot idea not expecting anything… letting us “do our thing” and take some photos for her and her boyfriend… because when your best friends are professional photographers, this really isn’t an unusual thing to do…

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…we guided them into posing, just like we would for anyone else…

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And, then, when she least expected it, Amy gave Braedon the signal, and in the middle of the session, prompted Braedon to whisper what he loved about Melissa into her ear. But he didn’t. He whispered an apology. He told her that he was sorry for lying to her the week before when he said he was one place, but was actually at her parents’ house asking her dad for permission…

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To do this.

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 We held our breath and didn’t dare exhale.

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When Melissa finally looked up, and had a second to breathe and process that THIS WAS REALLY HAPPENING, Braedon pointed to all of us who’d been in on his master plan! Melissa was in total shock, and soon the celebrating began.

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Their first portrait as FIANCÉS!!!

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And their first kiss!!!

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Among squeals and tears, the team that helped us surprise the girl who just a few hours before said “she could never be surprised” wanted to see what they’d just seen from our perspective.

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Melissa couldn’t stop her hands from shaking — or looking at her shiny new diamond ring!

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Melissa couldn’t believe we were ALL IN ON IT! It was too much! Surprise Proposal Arizona_0025

The whole time he was proposing, you could only hear four things: Braedon’s faint voice, Melissa yelling, “What?! No! This isn’t happening!”, our shutters clicking at rapid speed, and the sniffles and tears from the cheering section that watched everything unfold.

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We couldn’t have been more honored to freeze this moment for our dearest friends. The ones who have been with us before we ever held a professional camera in our hands, and the ones who have been with us every step of this journey. It was a surreal moment for all of us. It’s safe to say our hands were shaking as much as Melissa’s!

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The look on her face says it all. This is REAL, ya’ll!!

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Us with the future Mr. and Mrs. Thomson!!! We’re pretty good secret-keepers when we need to be!

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On the long walk back to the car, we smiled and celebrated together…

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…and snapped just a few more pictures when they weren’t looking. Their first moments as the future Mr. & Mrs. Thomson. Their first steps on this new journey together. Our marriage has been the greatest blessing in our lives, and now, it’s their turn, to walk hand-in-hand for the rest of their lives.

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We love you, Braedon and Melissa. Thank you for letting us be a part of the newest chapter of your lives. This really was the best. weekend. ever.

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If you liked Melissa and Braedon’s proposal story, you might also like Courtney and David’s desert engagement session or Nikki and Paul’s glitz and glam beach wedding.

the GEAR USED for this SURPRISE…

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50 1.2
Canon 70-200 2.8
Entire Gear List

10 comments
filed in: Engagements

    Lisa M.

    Beautiful post!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, Lisa! Means so much!

    robin akers

    i love this story….you truly captured the 'moment"!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, Robin!!

    Melissa Jill

    Yay!! Perfect!! xo

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, friend!!

    Angela Patterson

    You guys are the best! Melissa I am so happy for you Beautiful! :) Love that you guys have been able to stay so close and connected throughout the years. Still as gorgeous, sweet, and genuine as ever!

    Amy & Jordan

    Melissa and Braedon are the best!!

    Ashley Durham

    This is so sweet!!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, Ashley!!