Scoring points

proposal1 Devising the perfect game plan for a proposal

It was love that sent Matt Jackson on his biggest life journey. Not love for a woman, but love for a game — hockey.

Matt was a standout on the Apple Valley, MN varsity hockey team and advanced to the collegiate level before a snowmobile accident sidelined his aspirations of going pro. It was during his time on Eagles high school team, however, that would change his life. It was then that he first crossed paths with Lori Taormina, the squad's team manager.

While the two never spent much time together, they obviously made an impression on one another. Years after their brief high school encounters, Matt and Lori easily noticed each other while socializing with friends at an area sports bar. A connection was made, and the two quickly started dating.

Two years later, Matt had purchased an engagement ring, had asked Lori's father for her hand in marriage, and was already plotting the perfect proposal.

Matt had treated Lori to a full-day spa treatment at the Oasis Salon in Lakeville while he was off deer hunting in Southern Minnesota. Well, at least that's what Lori was led to believe. Matt had actually postponed his trip a bit to surprise Lori as she neared the end of her day of pampering. The salon had requested me to produce photos for marketing materials so I would be on hand during all the action. Plus, we needed a model for the brochures — that's where Lori came in.

As Lori luxuriated in each phase of the treatment — hair, make-up, massage, manicure and spa pedicure — she had no idea Matt was anxiously counting down the minutes until he'd be cued to make his entrance. Matt stacked the deck and brought along champagne with personalized flutes, chocolates and strawberries, and a sushi platter on top of the stunning ring he had selected.

Finally, Matt's moment came and he was able to catch Lori completely off guard as she relaxed with a glass of wine during her pedicure. A traditionalist, Matt got down on one knee and asked Lori to marry him. In between tears of excitement and joy, she said yes.

Congratulations, Matt and Lori!!


Flowers, candles and a baby boy

Tyler plots the perfect proposal

Since proposing to my own wife eight years ago, I’ve relished the idea of capturing that significant moment for another couple. Today that idea became a reality.

On Thursday, Tyler contacted me to let me know he was planning to propose to Ashley on Friday night - make that Saturday morning - after her shift got off and wanted to see if I’d be available to record this event for their family. (I have been documenting their family history since July 2008. You may recognize them from our “Miracle of Life” portfolio).

I was thrilled and honored that Tyler would have the pressence of mind to contact me for such a momentous and deeply personal occassion. Of course I would be there, the challenge was how to pull this off at 3 a.m. with sparse ambient light and without Ashley noticing me as I in no way wanted to interfere with what happened and with respect to their privacy.

My first question: “How are you going to do this Tyler?”

He wanted to involve their son Logan. Tyler shared with me at the hospital shortly after Logan’s birth that he knew he wanted to marry Ashley and that life’s events simply came at them out of traditional order. Thus, he had the opportunity to allow their 8-month-old son to be a part of a milestone typically reserved for two.

Tyler had a T-shirt made for Logan saying “Will you marry my daddy?” on the front with a “yes/no” on the back. They both wore tuxedos and Tyler flooded their home with tea candles and flowers for Ashley’s arrival — sorry ladies, Tyler doesn’t have brothers.

Tyler further set the scene by creating a path that would lead Ashley to the dining room (the same dining room where I began the couple’s 9-month maternity photos) where Logan would be encircled by candles with the box for the engagement ring at his side. From there? Tyler didn’t have a plan.

It’s just something that he would figure out as it happened, he said.

All that remained was for Ashley to come home.

After much pacing and some comforting to Logan who had been up way past his bedtime, Tyler finally received word that Ashley was on her way home. I made my way out into their backyard where under the cover of darkness I would be able to peer my lens through a break in the curtains that Tyler had arranged for me.

At long last Ashley came home and discovered Tyler and Logan waiting on the dining room floor. I sensed she figured out what was going on as I could hear her cyring through the walls. Luckily, I was behind glass so that what was said between Ashley and Tyler was completely private as Tyler got down on one knee and put the ring on Ashley’s finger.

I could then hear Ashley struggle through tears to excitedly say “I can’t believe this is happening!” and “Yes!”

After a few short seconds I was gone and Ashley had no clue I was even there — until now!

Congratulations Ashley! I’m so excited for you both.

I was able to interview Tyler as he waited out the final moments before Ashley’s arrival so look forward to a complete story and more photos soon.