“With my knees in the sand, I ask for your hand...” -W.V.
The gentle lull of waves washes ashore on the beaches of Cyprus, stirring granules of sand in a silent swish that draws them back out to sea. The rising cliffs of Aphrodite's Rocks shine bright in the afternoon sunlight as gulls launch themselves off into the sky with a flourish of their wings. The two lovers on the beach notice none of this; they are too busy embracing in a flurry of tears and grateful sobbing.
Šarune and Matas have just gotten engaged, and neither could be happier. This happy meeting was arranged by my dear friend Ugne, an engagement planner who took the time to set up a picnic and guitar serenade on the beautiful beaches of Cyprus. Her attention to detail is unrivaled, and Matas could not have been happier with the results. Šarune was aware only that they would be stopping to look at Petra Tou Romini, otherwise known as the birthplace of Aphrodite. It was an incredibly fitting setting for a marriage proposal. Where else would you propose if you had the opportunity to do so in the birthplace of love?
It was a dawning realization that crossed Šarune's face as Matas pulled a custom engagement ring from his pocket; he had used his jewellery-making skills to craft it himself, and the love and care he put into it showed. How could Šarune resist so romantic a proposal? She fell to her knees to eye level with Matas, pressing her forehead to his as tears streamed down her face. The soft melody of delicately-plucked guitar notes played in the background as the two shared this moment together.
I would like to thank Andreas Nicolaou for his time and his guitar skills. The added touch of music to the scene made everything absolutely perfect. Ugne from Let's Be We-Marriage Proposals did a fantastic job with the picnic basket setup. Fresh fruit and wine by the sea helped the two fall deeper in love with each other that day, if that is even possible. Their romance is one that has a clear passion and depth that was so evident that I could hardly contain it in the pictures I took.
Being a destination engagement photographer is not all about planning, about carefully-staged shoots set in tranquil gardens and luxurious hotels. On the contrary, often the best gifts come to us photographers amidst the hustle and bustle of life, on busy streets crowded with strangers caught up in the whirlwind around them.
Recently, my work took me far away from sunny Croatia, into the foggy heart of London, one of the largest cities in Europe. Naturally, I could not resist doing some exploring, so on one fine Saturday when the sun broke through the clouds, crowning buildings and shimmering along the Thames, I went out for an adventure.
As on any fine summer day - rare in rainy England - the streets were packed with vivacious people, with tourists, families, young people, and of course, couples. The atmosphere was akin to that of a great carnival, with everyone out to worship the sun and revel in the joyousness of being alive.
I was therefore not surprised to hear lovely music emanating from Piccadilly Square: All Of Me from John Legend danced on the breeze, amplified by the voices of a choir which stood on the steps before a beautiful young woman.
Years spent working as a destination wedding photographer - along with having been born a romantic at heart - has given me a keen eye for love unfolding, so I immediately noticed the nine red roses in her hand. “Ah ha!” I thought; “Someone is about to get engaged.”
Everything after that moment happened in a flash of emotion and inspiration: As the lyrics crooned, "'Cause all of me loves all of you", a young man stepped out in front of the choir, and my camera found its way into my hands. Astonishment and tears dawned on the face of the bride-to-be as her handsome prince knelt down before her, professing his devotion for all the world to see. “Yes!” was of course the heartfelt answer to his question, and thunderous applause erupted all around - along with tears of joy dampening the faces of total strangers - as my shutter click-clicked away.
I felt on that day like I captured something too precious to be described in words - the moment love comes to full bloom, the moment it overflows its cup and spills into the souls of all those around it, a wave of joy rippling out through the great sea of humanity. I wished in that moment that every couple could preserve the memory of such beauty, create lasting impressions of something so perfect and so fleeting, so that it might never slip away.