James proposed to Rachel at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens

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James and Rachel in front of the main Christmas Tree at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens © Jenna McCarty Photography

Before I even begin to talk about the proposal, I would like to say that I love shooting proposals. The thrill of knowing that you get to be a part of the first chapter in someone’s love story is unlike anything else. The exhilaration when he gets down on one knee and waiting for her response… it’s amazing. Now, what we all want to know: How did James propose to Rachel?

James’ sister Amanda was put in charge of finding a photographer for the proposal. Through a series of emails, I was chosen both by Amanda and James to be a part of the special day. James and I set up a time to meet at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to plan out where he should propose. So, I, along with Andrew (my husband and second shooter), James, his mom, his sister and his niece (who was adorable), walked around the Gardens to plan everything out. Once we had settled on a location, we devised a plan on how he would get her back to the Butterfly release section in the Rainforest at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

First, he convinced her to go to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas lights. You see, last year they went to go look at Christmas lights around this time of year, so why not go here to see their lights?

On December 22nd, James and Rachel arrived at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens around 5:00 p.m.  He led her around the Christmas tree displays, which were pretty incredible. Then, around 5:15ish, he “dragged” her into the Rainforest section. I say “drag” because Rachel is scared of bugs and the rainforest is filled with butterflies.

While all this was going on, I waited for them by the Butterfly release area. When I saw them walk in, I cleared out the area so no one was around during the proposal. Proposing isn’t as romantic or special when they are a ton of people around. Then, the time came. As I hid around the corner, James and Rachel stood in the Butterfly release area (for what seemed like an eternity) until James got down on one knee and of course, Rachel said yes! Congratulations to the newly engaged couple!


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