A Surprise Sedona Proposal

September 13, 2021

Dustin’s surprise Sedona proposal for Marissa was one of the most romantic moments I’ve photographed. When he originally reached out, I couldn’t wait. Especially since he was planning to propose to his lovely girlfriend of eight years at one of my favorite spots in Sedona.

I arrived to the location at 4:45 AM and started hiking with a tiny lantern to guide the way as the sky slowly began to light. Arriving at the top just before 6:00 AM, I scoped out my spot at the saddle points overlooking the stunning red rocks below, admiring the view while I waited. I walked back to the trail overlook just as Dustin and Marissa made the final ascent to the top

As they climbed up the last few steps and walked past me, Dustin and I shared a small smile. I took a few landscape photos as they made their way to the proposal spot. After a few seconds, I quietly followed (camera in-hand) ready to capture the big moment. Dustin took Marissa’s hands, then knelt in front of her. Telling Marissa how much he loved her, the two smiled, laughed, hugged, and cried with joy as he proposed.

As they began to celebrate, Marissa looked back down the pathway. Catching my eye, we smiled, knowing that their unforgettable moment was captured to look back on for a lifetime. I was so honored to be one of the first to help them commemorate their engagement!

I have to say Dustin put together a beautiful proposal and prepared for the day perfectly. Especially in that it was his first time in Sedona ever and their first time hiking this spectacular spot. Talk about an unforgettable experience! Dustin and Marissa moved to Arizona only a few months ago. Marissa had only been to Sedona once before, with family. On that trip her family did not have the opportunity to do much hiking. Walking amidst the red rocks before and after the romantic proposal was a breathtaking and beautiful experience for them both. A day they (and I) will never forget.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, we made our way back down to the parking area, stopping at some secluded spots for a short post-engagement session. Dustin and Marissa were glowing with happiness the entire time in the gorgeous golden light. I couldn’t stop smiling as I showed them the images on the back of my camera.

Walking the trail, I got to know both Dustin and Marissa a little bit better and hear all about Dustin’s planning. He had rented a gorgeous Airbnb with a bedroom window that overlooked Cathedral Rock. Dustin put so much thought into the entire experience: picking out the perfect gold-banded, radiant cut ring; planning their stay in Sedona; the proposal itself, and the rest of the long weekend. I had to know: How had he convinced Marissa to be up early and put on a little makeup for the shoot without tipping her off? Dustin had told Marissa one of their friends would be in town and had offered to take photos of their first time in Sedona together. So Marissa took the time to prepare and my part in the proposal was still a surprise. Way to go, Dustin!

After the surprise Sedona proposal and photo session, the rest of their weekend was well deserved and wonderful, celebrating with a number of friends and family (and their adorable year-old golden retriever Pepper Potts) exploring the area.

Dustin and Marissa, it was a pleasure working with you. You two are one of my favorite couples I’ve photographed. I loved helping document your special day. Eight years down, a lifetime of happiness to go!

Dustin knees while proposing to girlfriend Marissa at the top of Cathedral Rock at sunrise in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin slides a ring on Marissa's finger and the two hug after a surprise proposal in Sedona, Arizona
Marissa shows of her gorgeous ring while she and Dustin admire one another during an engagement session in Sedona.
Dustin holds Marissa close while she shows off her ring during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin smiles with tears in his eyes  at the top of Cathedral Rock while hugging Marissa during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Marissa and Dustin smile and kiss after getting engaged at the top of Cathedral Rock during an  portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Marissa and Dustin share a kiss and then smile at the top of Cathedral Rock during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa share a sweet quiet moment then smile holding one another during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Newly engaged Marissa holds her soon-to-be husband Dustin and shows off her ring during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Newly engaged couple Marissa and Dustin share smile while sharing a kiss during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa share a kiss and smile near the top of Cathedral Rock during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa snuggle close and smile while standing near the top of Cathedral Rock during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa smile broadly standing near the top of Cathedral Rock during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa smiling walking down the sunlit pathway during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Dustin and Marissa share sweep moments (kissing and hugging) while sitting in the sunlight during an engagement portrait session in Sedona, Arizona
Engaged couple Dustin and Marissa snuggle in the sunlight during an portrait session in Sedona
Dustin and Marissa sit in the sunlight during an engagement portrait session in Sedona

Want to read more sweet stories and see more pretty pictures? Check out the other adventures on instagram and the journal!

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