Tess & Mathias // Surprise Joshua Tree Proposal // Destination Wedding Photographer

Having the amazing opportunity to be a part of Tess & Matthias’ Joshua Tree proposal and engagement was truly a wild ride and one of the craziest experiences I’ve had as a wedding photographer. Tess emailed me back in February and told me she was planning on proposing to her boyfriend, Mathias. Her email was so thorough and detailed with personal stories and tidbits about their love. We hopped on the phone and clicked immediately and, before we hung up, we joked about Covid-19 and whether it would reach the US. It’s such a crazy moment to look back on now, knowing how naive I was to what was about to happen and the reality of a contagious virus that could affect all of us. We planned to meet in Joshua Tree in May and I created a fake giveaway announcing they’d “won” a photoshoot so that I could take photos of Tess proposing to Mathias at sunset. Plane tickets were bought. Airbnb’s booked. And then… Covid.

Seattle shut down first, where these two live, and then Idaho followed a few weeks later. Suddenly all my shoots were postponed or canceled altogether. Tess and I talked on the phone about possible B, C, and D plans. What would life look like in even 1 month, let alone 2 or 3?

In the meantime, we plotted and stayed optimistic we could safely venture out to California. Tess decided to teach herself how to do her own makeup and hair for the shoot and learned through Youtube Tutorials on how to make herself look glowy and glamorous. We swapped photos of our pets and we picked out outfits online that they got shipped to Seattle to try on. It was so special to me, as a photographer and a person, who was isolated at home alone, to develop friendships and relationships even when I was stuck at my house. Our phone calls and emails were a bright spot in my week.

Then, after changing the date again, we found a clear window in the middle of June when California opened up again and cases were low. I decided to do a combination of flying and renting a car one direction to limit my time in public. Tess and Mathias drove from Seattle. We stopped once in Palm Springs to get groceries separately and stayed at our own Airbnb’s. It was the first time in over 2 months we’d truly left our homes, and I can’t even describe the peace that washed over me once we got to Joshua Tree and I got to wake up with a view of the desert the first morning there. The colors from the sunrise that emerged over the desert mountains with Joshua Trees dotting the horizon is an image I’ll have ingrained in my memory forever. We texted one another on the second morning at sunrise from miles apart enjoying the peace of the desert. It was magical!

On our third day in Joshua Tree, we made a plan for me to drive out to their Airbnb and then caravan together to the park for photos. We hung out while they finished getting ready, getting a feel for talking to real people in real life again and laughing about how crazy the events of the world were. We then adventured out to Joshua Tree National Park and visited Jumbo Rocks Campground and stopped along the highway for amazing views of the desert to take photos! 

Around sunset, Tess pretended to have forgotten something in the car and Mathias ran in his wool suit in the 100-degree weather to fetch it out of the car. Together, Tess and I set out LED candle lights and she set up a framed photo of their cat with a keychain that said “will you marry me?” When Mathias came back from the car, he stumbled upon the scene in front of him completely surprised. Tess got down on one knee and asked him to marry her. And all at once, Mathias jumped up again and said he’d be right back and ran back to the car again. He returned with a ring he’d had ready for this moment. It was perfect. They each got to have their Joshua Tree proposal for one another. They exchanged rings and we laughed and drank champagne and watched blue hour turn the sky dark blue. It was absolutely perfect.

Every part of this experience reminded me how much I love my job and how much I cherish the connections I get to make with new people. Thank you so much Tess & Mathias for such a wonderful trip and inviting me into your lives on such an important day!

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Congrats again to Tess and Mathias on your engagement! Photographing your Joshua Tree proposal was such a wonderful and magical moment.

For more couples with incredible style, check out this moody rooftop engagement session in Downtown Boise!

Author maggiegracephotography

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