Tucked into the pages of photo books in a wicker basket in our living room are pictures of my husband and me, beginning with when we started dating and marching up the timeline through our wedding, the purchase of our house, the births of our children, family vacations, piano recitals, school plays, and a host of other precious memories. I have photos of my grandmothers holding my newborns, photos of each of the kids in high chairs covered in birthday cake, and photos of our first family trip to the ocean. There are parties, backyard barbecues and outings galore. Thumbing through the pages, each image brings me right back to that moment in time and conjures up crystal clear memories that over time have begun to fade just a bit.
But my daughter has already curled up beside me on the couch with our wedding album and asked me to explain how daddy proposed – where were we, what did he say, and how did I react? But those memories aren’t forever captured in a photo album. They reside only in the mind’s eye of both my husband and me.
Perhaps it’s because the fellas get so wrapped up in the details, and so nervous about making everything just as we ladies have always dreamed they’d be when the day finally arrives. Or maybe it’s because for so many, it’s a private event. Whatever the reason, so often photographing a marriage proposal simply falls off the radar. But not for high school sweethearts Rachel and Nick!
Last July, Nick Kaus staged the perfect outdoor proposal for unsuspecting girlfriend Rachel Gravley, and roped in a little help from Rachel’s older sister, professional photographer Heather Davey. With Heather’s assistance, Nick scoped out the perfect setting at Bluff Park in North Mankato in south central Minnesota.
After a day at the Mall of America, followed by supper, Nick suggested a stroll on Bluff Park’s beautiful winding, wooded walking paths. “My heart was beating really fast,” Nick remembers. “She asked if I was okay!” But with Rachel still suspecting nothing out of the ordinary, the couple came to a large envelope bearing Rachel’s name nailed to a tree. Surprised, Rachel opened the envelope and read the contents aloud. “It was a letter from Nick,” explains Rachel. “It was his best memories over the time we had dated.”
As Rachel finished reading Nick’s letter, the young man knelt down on one knee. “And I have one question to ask you,” he said, presenting her with a lovely diamond engagement ring.
And what was Rachel’s reaction? See for yourself! Hiding in the bushes the entire time was older sister Heather and her camera, capturing the entire event in a collection of beautifully shot photographs. See those smiles, that surprise, that love? Forever captured!
Nick reports that he asked Rachel’s dad for her hand in marriage a month before the event. The couple had done some ring shopping and Rachel had picked out a few she thought were just her style, but left the final decision up to Nick. The planning, prep work and creativity were all Nick’s hard work and forethought.
The couple is busy planning an August wedding in Mankato. Tiffany blue, champagne and gold are the colors they have chosen for their rustic chic wedding celebration. Heather, who owns HMD Photos, will be putting down her camera to stand as Rachel’s matron of honor, along with the bridesmaids, Rachel’s other sisters, Jen and Kiley, and a close friend. Nick will be joined by his two brothers, Ben and Jon and friends. Then it’s off to Cancun for the newlyweds for a warm weather honeymoon before they return to continue their studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where Rachel is pursuing a degree in business marketing and Nick is in the business management program.
“The most memorable thing for me about the proposal? The letter,” reports Rachel. Months later, she posted a photo of her letter on Facebook and added, “Reading this again brings back so many wonderful memories and just makes me smile and reminds myself how much I love my wonderful fiancé!”
As for Nick, he was happy and relieved that he pulled it all off flawlessly and was able to surprise his fiancée and capture the whole thing! “The ring became loose in the box. I thought it was rattling the whole way,” worried Nick. But based on those images of Rachel’s reaction, I think we can all agree she was none the wiser!
A cheerful congratulations to the young couple, and kudos to Nick and Heather for recording this momentous life moment for years to come!