Colorado Proposal / Boulder, Colorado / St. Julien
Capturing a proposal is one of my favorite responsibilities I've been given as a photographer. For obvious reasons, it's also terrifying. Due to various requirements such as hiding in the bushes, standing far enough away that you don't ruin the moment but also close enough to get the shot, making sure it's the right angle and you get the moment of surprise, to even sometimes being asked to help a man plan the biggest question of his life...
Fortunately for me this go round, I didn't have to do any of these things. Kyle had every last detail planned and me having to hide was not going to be necessary. Kate & Kyle are some of the very best of friends and I'm so incredibly honored I was able to be a part of this amazing day, most importantly as their friend, but it was also pretty amazing to be trusted to capture it! So without further ado, let me tell you a story about Kyle proposing to Kate. Might want to grab a bottle of wine because it's a doozy!
And if there is one thing that will be abundantly clear about this entire day, it's that Kyle knows Kate. Like really, really well.
A few days before the planned proposal day, January 27, 2018, Kate's best friend Sarah reached out to Kate and asked if she wanted to take a trip to the spa with her. Sarah is a school counselor, you see. She very casually happened to receive a gift certificate to the St. Julien Spa as a teacher gift and YES it WAS the most generous gift she had ever received! Regardless, she needed a companion of course. So Sarah scheduled a morning massage for the two of them and Kate was none the wiser, assuming it would be a relaxing and casual day - not knowing that it was about to turn into something totally different.
After the two of them walked out of the spa mid-morning, the receptionist inquired if Kate was Kate Luthringer. Once Kate hesitantly confirmed, she proceeded to hand her a key to a hotel room at the St. Julien. Kate insisted it was the wrong person and she definitely did NOT have a reservation. I wish I had been there for this moment because apparently the look on Kate's face was completely priceless. Sarah reports that she immediately began to cry...in a state of confusion, panic, and perhaps realization that something was happening. Sarah very nonchalantly responds to Kate and says - I don't know what this is for, but if you have a room key, might as well go check out this room!! The two of them very slowly make their way to the room because apparently Kate is in hysteria...they walk in and there is a gift card to Kyle & Kate's favorite sushi spot, Japango, and flowers waiting for her.
In the meantime, I am waiting at Japango with two of Kate's closest friends, Kelsey & Caroline, and we are DYING from the anticipation. We finally get a text from Sarah that they are on the way. We order champagne, some glasses, and we very clearly shock Kate again as she walks into the restaurant.
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After lunch, Kate's only question was what do we do now?? We made our way back to St. Julien and when we walked into the room, there was a beautiful black cocktail dress hanging from the bed post along with 5 pairs of high heels because a girl needs choices. And Kyle knew that Kate would want choices! The dress had been hand picked by Kate on a recent shopping trip with Sarah, but she had decided she had nothing to wear it to, so didn't buy it. Sarah took note and bought the dress for Kate the next day!
There was another gift waiting for Kate as well as champagne and all the things she needs to pamper herself and get ready for a night out. Kate & Kyle have a huge love for Mexico and make frequent trips south of the border (which will also be their wedding location) so Kyle had picked out a Dia de los Muertos bride from their last trip to Mexico and gifted it to Kate that day!
After being told to shower, relax and spend some time on her nails, there was a knock on the door and Kate's friend and hair dresser walked in. Again...tears. Kate was so surprised to see her and couldn't believe all the surprises that kept coming. And it's not a terrible treat, getting a blow out in the comfort of a plush St. Julien robe and hotel room.
As Kate was putting on the finishing touches, it was time for me to meet Kyle downstairs. All this time, no one is mentioning the fact that Kyle is about to propose (although is it very obvious to Kate) but instead we're just playing dumb, having the best girls day, and letting the excitement build. I had met with Kyle a few days before to plan for the perfect spot and we chose the front gates of the St. Julien because the hotel is a special place for them, it's a long standing Boulder landmark, it's private with not many people gathering on that side of the hotel, and Kate wouldn't have to walk too far in the cold January weather!
We waited anxiously for the text telling us Kate was being sent downstairs. Once she made it to the lobby, Sarah pointed her towards the back doors where she could see Kyle standing at the end of a short (but probably felt like forever) walk way.
She made her way towards Kyle - a walk turned into a high heeled jog because of the anticipation. I stood far away, unable to hear, with my biggest lens on watching the moment. Kyle got down on his knee, asked Kate to marry him (I assume)...and Kate followed him to the ground. What a perfect moment.
After a few moments with each other and the beautiful new sparkly ring on Kate's finger, I told them I'd love to walk around Boulder for a few minutes to take some photos. In Kate's mind, we would be meeting the girls and Kyle's closest guy friends somewhere for dinner, since we all got dressed up for the evening as she was getting ready. We made our way from the St. Julien, walked down the alleys of downtown Boulder, and stopped for a quick picture in front of Centro, another one of their favorite Boulder spots where they often go for margaritas and salsa dancing!
And then Kyle told Kate he had ONE MORE surprise for her --- like seriously, it was the last one this time. Kyle opened the door to Centro, they walked into the back bar, and there was Kate & Kyle's family, visiting from Buffalo, New York, as well as far more friends than she probably expected to see. So many happy tears. It was so overwhelming to see the joy, surprise, and love oozing from that room. Kyle stood back just taking it all in as Kate was overcome with so much emotion from the day - I'm not sure exactly what he felt at that moment, but what he definitely should have felt was pride. He pulled off the most amazing day for Kate and he gave her everything she wanted - time with friends, small surprises along the way, the ability to get ready and pamper herself before such a huge moment, and her family all the way from New York to celebrate.
It was obviously a really wonderful evening and I'm so incredibly honored that I was able to be a part of it, capturing such genuine moments from the entire day. I always hope that my photos will be a reminder of these memories, especially as the years fly by. It can be really easy to forget details and the small things that shaped a day and a relationship. My favorite part of being a photographer is being trusted to capture those moments, giving people the opportunity to reminisce on life's big occasions 30 years down the road.