Hayden & Hope: The Proposal + Wedding Update Personal

Where in the world do I even begin!? The last 30 days has been the most incredible whirlwind of my entire life. Hayden proposed on May 27th and, for anyone who hasn’t seen, I said a the biggest and easiest “YES!!!” I’ve ever said. Since then, things have been busy and crazy and nonstop – but in the most wonderful way. We had a surprise engagement party, we chose our wedding venue, date and priority vendors, we signed a contract to build a house (!!!) and have been trying to manage our usual workloads in the meantime. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down and truly type out everything that has happened in the last few weeks…and I’m so excited to catch you all up!! Plus, this blog serves as a “diary” for me to come back and read in the years to come…so I can’t wait to have this recap to look back on 🙂

The Proposal: Hayden and I have known each other since 4th grade (CRAZY!) and started dating in August of 2020. From the very start, we knew a huge chunk of the beginning of our relationship was going to involve him studying for the CFA (a 3-part finance exam that’s known as one of the hardest tests in the world). He had spent the last 3 years studying for the first two exams, but level 3 (the last exam) was in May 2021. So, he started studying in January…and we only saw each other a handful of times from January-May. Leading up to his exam, we didn’t see each other for the entire months of April and May…our workloads just didn’t allow it because we’re long distance right now. This is an important proposal detail, because the first time we saw each other after that long stretch apart was the day of his exam on May 27th. We had both been counting down to that day for SO long…but a proposal was not ANYWHERE on my radar. Hayden studied for over 400 hours between Jan-May on top of his full-time career in finance…I was positive there was absolutely NO way he could’ve planned a proposal in the middle of that!

I woke up on May 27th and flew to Atlanta to meet Hayden as soon as his exam was over. We had an entire weekend of fun things planned, including both planning surprise date days for the other person (this was Hayden’s suggestion – SO smart because I was clueless of his plans either way!!) and we had tickets to the Botanical Gardens in Atlanta that night. Hayden had suggested this MONTHS before May, and even dropped comments a few times leading up to this trip how excited he was because they had a special display going on and he thought it would be the perfect way for us to have quality time after his exam was done. I literally thought nothing of it!! He planted so many seeds to make me clueless about the fact that this was a piece of a proposal!! He literally took one of the hardest tests in the world in the morning and proposed to me in the afternoon. I don’t know how he pulled it off…and he knew I wouldn’t be expecting it!!!

I landed around noon, got an Uber straight to the hotel and waited for him to finish up. I’ll never forget the moment he walked in because it felt like an ETERNITY to not see him for two months! We spent a few hours catching up and getting ready for the Botanical Gardens at 4. He even asked me what I was wearing and had me help him pick an outfit, then casually sent a selfie to the photographer from the bathroom so she’d know what we were wearing…he was so sneaky!!

We drove to the Botanical Gardens, talked to his parents on the phone, jammed to some country music…I was completely clueless. We arrived and he asked the front desk for maps, but he had already been to the gardens two days beforehand to choose the perfect spot. He played it off so well!! We walked around for awhile and I kept stopping to look at flowers with ZERO idea that there was a photographer waiting for us around the corner! He had me help him find “this really popular overlook he read about” on the map…aka the place he had chosen for the proposal two days before.

We walked up to the beautiful overlook and were just snuggled up looking at the view. I looked up at him and he looked super serious…so I said “what are you thinking about?” He started talking about how crazy it is that “in life you work so hard for something for so long, but then the final decision is out of your control…”. I looked up at him and noticed his lip was quivering like he was about to cry…so I blacked out and forgot what he was even saying because he just looked so worried!! I thought he was talking about the huge exam he finished that morning (which is exactly what he wanted me to think!!) but then he said “but, I know this choice is in the best hands possible…because it’s in your hands”. I felt him reach back to get something out of his pocket and I just yelled “NO YOU ARE NOT!!!!!”

He dropped down to one knee and all I managed to say for a full 30 seconds was “holy sh*t!!! holy sh*t!!! holy sh*t!!!” HAHA!!! It will be a running joke forever that it’s all I could muster up!! No one has EVER successfully surprised me (ask any of my friends…it’s impossible!) but he worked SO hard to make sure I would have NO idea this was coming. I was literally in shock!! I finally stopped freaking out and he asked me if I would marry him…I’ve never said YES so fast in my life!!

He had my ring custom-designed with my dream designer, Heidi Gibson, who I’ve followed for YEARS. He also hired an INCREDIBLE photographer, Eve Yarbrough, to capture every moment. I’m so excited to share all of the images she captured!!! She made all of my dreams come true with these images – I’ve re-lived this moment over and over and over thanks to her!

We spent the rest of that evening calling each other fiance, FaceTiming all of our friends and family and going to a wonderful dinner together in Atlanta. I literally never went to sleep that night!!! I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since and I don’t know if I’ll ever come down!! I truly feel like the luckiest girl on the entire planet. Here’s a few iPhone pics from that night and the date day we had the next day:

To Hayden: You have made all of my dreams come true just by being by my side the last 10 months. But, the amount of thought, time and effort you put into this proposal goes above and beyond anything I could have dreamed up on my own. Neither of us could have known that meeting at Parkside Elementary in 4th grade would lead to me being your wife and us building a home together in Savannah…but goodness gracious I’m thankful. I’m on your team, forever and ever, and I love you endlessly.

Wedding Planning Update + Vendors:

I know this is the part most of you have been waiting for!! SO many of you have messaged, emailed, texted and commented wanting wedding updates…so here it is!! Hayden and I both instantly knew we wanted a long engagement. Because of being long distance, we’ve had very little quality time together for the majority of our relationship. And, we knew from very early on in our relationship that I would be moving to Savannah with him once we got engaged. So, we wanted to allow for tons of time to make the move, get settled and physically be TOGETHER for the majority of wedding planning. We booked our venue, photographer, band and planner (our non-negotiable vendors we knew we HAD to have!!)…and now wedding planning will be taking a back seat while we focus on building our home (a post coming on that soon) and living in the same state!! Here’s the deets:

Wedding date: May 6th, 2023

Venue: Ford Field & River Club in Savannah, GA

Photographer: Lauren Fair

Band: Midnight City

Planner: Social Graces Events

A few comments on each…

Venue: I have always planned on getting married in Charleston (it’s actually SO funny because I pre-film my YouTube videos, and the one that goes live next week is a Q&A where I  say I will for SURE get married in Charleston!!) But, when I toured the Charleston venue I thought I always wanted…it didn’t feel like “us”. Something about it just wasn’t the perfect match. We stumbled upon Ford Field & River Club by accident (a mutual friend showed me photos of her friend getting married there in passing!!) and we fell in LOVE. It is absolutely gorgeous, a hidden gem we had never heard of and it allows for our families + bridal parties to all stay on property together the entire weekend. It’s going to be SO special to us! Here’s some pictures from when Hayden and I toured it together a few weeks ago:

Photographer: This is, of course, the number one question I have been getting asked since we got engaged!! Lauren has been someone I’ve followed and admired for YEARS and years, and for the last 3 years especially, I knew I wanted her to photograph my wedding someday. Her style is so soft, artistic and different from my own…I’m SO excited to see how she captures our wedding + engagement through her lens!

Band: Midnight City is my absolute FAVORITE local Charleston band, and their shows have become one of Hayden and I’s favorite date nights!! We see them play pretty much any time they are in Savannah, and as often as we can in Charleston. They are SO much fun and so special to us – we can’t wait to have them be a part of the big day!!

Planner: Katie is the lead planner at Social Graces (based in Maryland), and she was one of my BRIDES a few years ago!!! I always remember her wedding day as one of my favorites I have ever photographed. Not just because it was beautiful…but because every single detail was thoughtful, intentional and a surprise for her guests. Since then, I’ve worked a handful of other weddings with her team and they are always SO well done. I’m so excited to have them on board to help make Hayden and I’s wedding dreams come true!!

Whew! This may be one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever typed!! I’m going to do a separate post about our engagement party…but for now, here are the amazing proposal photos taken by Eve!!!

Just imagine me yelling curse words this entire time.

I LOVE the one on the left!!!

This one is my favorite!!!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also love:

Flower Truck Proposal at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island 

Top 10 Photo Spots in Charleston, SC 

Romantic Surprise Proposal in Downtown Charleston, SC

POSTED

June 24, 2021

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hi, y'all!

I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!

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