Sedona Surprise Wedding Proposal
I’ve always loved the outdoors, and have been camping and hiking all around Arizona and the West since my youth. So when I got a call from Alex about a special proposal he was planning in Sedona, I jumped at the chance! I knew the views of the red rocks and Oak Creek would be awesome, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to witness and document Alex asking for his girlfriend Nelli’s hand in marriage!
It was foggy the morning of the proposal, giving way to a clear and slightly chilly December afternoon. Although for Alex and Nelli, who were vacationing from the Midwest, it must have been a pleasantly warm and dry winter day in the Arizona desert!
Alex and I exchanged text updates throughout the morning, so that he knew when I hit the trail, and so that I knew what clothes they were wearing, which would make it easier to spot them from a distance as they hiked up. Of course, Alex wanted to surprise Nelli, so to cover up all the texting and cellphone checking, he deleted our previous texts, and saved my number as one of his friends. From there, he had me text (as his friend) an elaborate story about how I couldn’t make it to the trail that day to join them for the hike.
I started up the trail 45 minutes before Alex and Nelli began their ascent, to allow time to document the hike, as well as scope out the perfect proposal spot at the end of the trail. The trail itself was mostly bare rock, the beautiful red sandstone that makes up the buttes and spires that Sedona is known for. Thankfully there were large rock and wire cairns to mark the way up in the absence of a clear path to follow. Although it was a relatively short hike at 0.7 miles one way, there were several steep areas, and a segment of near vertical climbing up a fissure in the rock. Add to that several pounds of camera gear and water, plus a quick ascent, and it definitely made for a good cardio workout!
Once I summited, it was a tense waiting game, watching each groups of hikers as they appeared below, as well as keeping track of all the hikers that explored the ledge that would be our photo backdrop.
Alex and Nelli soon reached the top, and checked out the various vantage points from the saddle along with snapping a few selfies. Then they ventured out to the ledge for a better view. Alex quickly took a knee, still wearing backpack and all, and presented the stunning engagement ring to Nelli, to her complete surprise! She said “yes!” and they shared a sweet embrace and kiss, to the delight of all the hikers watching nearby.
After a few moments of celebration, we exchanged introductions, and Alex revealed his elaborate plan to Nelli’s astonishment. We then took some fun engagement portraits to commemorate the moment and the epic setting.
Our hike down together provided tons of great photo opportunities as well—gnarled and weathered juniper trees, prickly pear cactus, and gorgeous red rocks. Alex and Nelli were all smiles the rest of the day!
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