Our Love Story & Laguna Beach proposal

I want to begin by saying thank you again for all of the congratulations and well wishes! Chris and I could not be more grateful for your love and support. We’re so excited to spend the rest of our lives together and to now share some of our story with you! I cannot believe we have already been engaged for 4 months!

So, without further ado… here’s our love story.


Who is Chris?

“I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover.” 

To start, Chris is the most loving, hardworking, and loyal man I’ve ever known. He was born and raised in northern New York, where his family still resides. Not only does Chris host Airbnb cabins in the Adirondacks, but his career in civil engineering and his multiple real estate businesses have taken him to San Diego, California, where he’s lived for over a decade.

With a passion for history, Chris is constantly seeking knowledge and sharing all kinds of fun facts with me. He loves backpacking, hiking, camping, and visiting as many National Parks as he can, and is admittedly and ashamedly a new Bachelor fan (just kidding, he rubs my feet while I drink wine and watch reality tv). Chris has the sweetest six-year-old golden retriever whom I now get to call my fur baby, too!


How did we meet?

“Once upon a time, the planets and the fates, and all the stars aligned. You and I ended up in the same room, at the same time.” 

Chris and I met at Satellite Bar & Lounge in Wilmington, NC on October 21, 2021, as we were both there for a “welcome gathering” the day before a wedding we would both attend as guests! We didn’t communicate much in the months that followed, but fast forward to spring of 2022 and we were on the phone all day every day as we began our cross-country long distance relationship. When I finally flew out to visit him in San Diego, we became official while on an incredible roadtrip along the coast of California.


Why didn’t I share about our relationship on social media?

“Privacy sign on the door, and on my page and on the whole world. Romance is not dead if you keep it just yours.” 

The bittersweet challenges of a long-distance relationship are plentiful enough, and there was no need for the pressures of involving the social media world. Of course, those closest to us knew about our relationship, and we’ve spent wonderful quality time with both of our friends and families.

It was never about being mysterious or keeping my relationship a secret, but rather protecting my peace and allowing my relationship to flourish privately. And honestly? It’s been so refreshing to keep some of our life’s best moments just for us and not for the world to see on social media. It’s been incredibly special to strengthen our bond and watch our story unfold so beautifully without feeling the need to post about it. Though, I am excited to begin sharing more of the sweet memories we’ve made and the experiences we will continue to cultivate with one another!


How did Chris propose?

“He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring…”

I believe that love should be beautifully (and professionally) documented in all seasons of life (even just because!), so I had been wanting to do a couples portrait session with Chris. One day, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw photos taken at a location that looked straight out of a fairytale. I showed Chris the post, sharing that I would love to do a session there one day, whether I was taking the photos or we were in them!

A few weeks later, Chris surprised me with a getaway to Laguna Beach in California, complete with a portrait session he had planned on his own. While I was slightly suspicious (hello, I’m a photographer!), I truly did not think Chris would propose just yet. On March 12, 2023 we arrived in Laguna, had brunch, and explored the town before getting ready for our shoot. We got dressed in our coordinating outfits, and at the last second, I grabbed a white lace maxi dress I’d been wanting to wear, just in case I wanted to change halfway through our session. Conveniently, our hotel had a “wine hour” so we both enjoyed a small glass to loosen up and calm our nerves. Despite being a professional photographer, no matter how many times I’m in front of the camera, I still get a little anxious!

If you’ve ever been in a car with me, you know I should not be the DJ. I always play the slowest, sappiest songs, and this day was no exception. The glass of wine not helping, I was overcome with emotions as I played Taylor Swift’s “Sweet Nothing” in which she sings, “All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing,” a line I had recently quoted in my Valentine’s Day card to Chris, expressing my gratitude for him and the unconditional love he gives me. I began to cry, lifting my face to try to stop the tears and gently blotting my eyes. Chris reminded me that we’re so lucky to have what we do. I pulled myself together, determined to not have puffy eyes or tear stains in our photos (LOL).

Just minutes later, Chris and I were walking along Victoria Beach during our portraits, when Chris turned to me and began reciting Taylor Swift’s “Mastermind” lyrics, saying, “What if I told you none of this was accidental? I laid the groundwork…” Next thing I knew, Chris was on one knee asking me to marry him, and my head was spinning. It’s like everyone says… I’m pretty sure I blacked out! Stunned, I froze in shock, until Chris asked me if I was going to answer. And of course, I said yes!

Talk about a DREAM proposal! I’m still swooning. The beach, a castle (ok, it’s a tower), and Taylor Swift lyrics? PLUS the sweetest photos of the moment? It could not have been any more “me,” and I am forever grateful to my FIANCÉ for planning the most thoughtful proposal ever. Somehow, four months later, it still feels surreal!


What are our wedding plans?

“All’s well that ends well to end up with you.”

We’re eloping NEXT MONTH in San Diego, and I can hardly believe it’s happening so soon! Chris and I didn’t want to wait until next year to be married. I had a gap in my calendar in which we planned to visit Europe, so we figured we might as well say “I do” the week before and turn our trip into a honeymoon! All of our elopement plans have come together beautifully thanks to an incredibly talented team of vendors that we’re thrilled to have as a part of our intimate celebration! I won’t share too many details now… you’ll just have to wait to see the photos!


So, where are you going to live?

“Your eyes look like coming home.” 

Home is wherever we’re together. We don’t know where we will live just yet as we’re honestly torn! We both grew up on the east coast, where our cherished family members remain — his in northern New York, mine in northern Virginia. We could move to NY or VA to be close to one set, or we could settle somewhere like Pennsylvania, sort of in between. But, we greatly gravitate towards year-round nice weather and being within a few minutes of the ocean. San Diego life has us feeling like we’re always on vacation with its palm trees, breeze, and the beach. For the remainder of 2023, we’ll be part-time in Philadelphia and part-time in San Diego, with visits to family in NY and VA mixed into our schedule. After that, we’ll see. “Day by day” is the motto! Sacrifice will be inevitable, but when we know, we’ll go where our hearts call us! We feel blessed to have such flexibility and to choose where we will live.


Lessons Learned

Planning a wedding as an industry professional has been eye-opening and challenging! I’ve learned that some vendors are easy to book — you may even know you want them for your day before you’re even engaged! Other vendors are harder to choose, but simply because there are truly so many talented individuals out there, making the decision feel impossible. There are some aspects of a large celebration that I dreamed of, but I have always been more introverted and value intimate and intentional quality time, so I think an elopement will be perfect for the two of us, and we can celebrate with our loved ones in smaller gatherings that allow us to not feel pulled in so many directions. As a wedding photographer who still has much work to do this year, my goal was to try to minimize stress during this crazy season of our life!

For our nuptials and life in general lately, we’re just going with the flow and taking things as they come. We want to leave space for spontaneity and change that feels natural. We want to listen to our hearts when they pull us in a direction. Sometimes decisions take time. Sometimes they keep you up at night. Sometimes you change your mind (for example, I switched my wedding dress the day after I bought it). Sometimes you throw your hands up in defeat. Sometimes things fall into place beautifully and with ease. I believe things work themselves out the way they’re supposed to, and we just do our best along the way. Overall, our focus lies in loving one another fiercely, staying true to ourselves, and saying yes to the things that bring us joy.

All that said, I hope you enjoy sifting through some of our favorite proposal photos below! A huge ‘thank you’ to Camila for beautifully documenting this memory for us!

love always Avery

Couple portrait at Laguna Beach

Surprise Proposal on Laguna Beach

Engagement Ring

Guy and girl on Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach portrait in black and white

Couple holding hands on Laguna Beach




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