When it comes to popping the question, you only get one chance. If you screw it up and you’re lucky, she’ll still say yes. But then … you’ll live with the burden of knowing that you dropped the ball right when it counted most.
One of the things I love about my job as a photographer and filmmaker is that I never know what kind of opportunity I might get to work on next. Last summer, Thumbtack, a San Francisco-based company that makes it easy to find and book local professional services online, reached out to us and described their idea about making a short video about wedding engagements that would highlight clever and interesting ways a guy might propose, I knew this would be a fun project. We brainstormed, pitched ideas, and ultimately landed on the concept of the “Do Over: She said yes, even though you botched the proposal. What would you do if you could do it all over again?”
You may remember us putting out a casting call on social media last summer to find married couples who had some kind of funny or interesting misadventure during the proposal.
We got a lot of interesting submissions and heard some funny, embarrassing, and just downright painful stories.
One guy, for some reason, chose to propose in the middle of a river, standing right the edge of a waterfall, a position he most certainly regretted when he fumbled the ring into the raging rapid (it was never found again).
Another guy was super worried that the ring he had bought was too small, so he tried to test it and see if it would fit on his girlfriend’s finger in the middle of the night while she slept. Of course, she woke up to see her boyfriend jamming a ring on her finger, which spurred a half-assed proposal as he popped the question. The ring, by the way, didn’t fit, and this couple ended that night in the emergency room to get the ring sawn off before she lost her purple, swollen finger.
The couple we ultimately chose, Travis and Kami, were great. Travis is the quintessential romantic, and he had wanted to give Kami a romantic night of a lifetime. However, because he had just moved to a new city and didn’t do his research, the restaurant he took Kami to was not romantic (more of a greasy-spoon cafeteria). He thought he could salvage the night at a quiet dessert shop, but when they got there, all the desserts were gone thanks to a mob of loud, hungry college kids. Finally, he brought Kami down a boardwalk to a beach he’d heard about. But it was mid-winter, snowing, and there was a squall blowing in. Even though her eyes were bleary from the wind and snow and her face was numb, Kami said yes when Travis got down on a knee and popped the question. Ever the romantic, Travis had always wanted the opportunity to make it up to his wife with the perfect proposal.
The Proposal & the Production
I think what made this production so interesting was that it wasn’t staged. We wanted Kami to be completely surprised, so a lot of planning and logistics were required to make this production as smooth and as seamless as possible.
Even though this concept was all about the “Do Over,” for us as a production team, there would be only one chance to capture Travis and Kami’s date. This was very much a one-take shoot. We filmed in a cinema vérité style, adding in higher production value when it was possible. The amount of logistics that were planned and juggled behind the scenes added to the challenge of this production in a really memorable way.
Thank you to Olivia Borsje, Julia Eger, Zsofia Solta, and the rest of your team at Thumbtack! It was a pleasure to collaborate with you on this project, and be inspired by your intellect, passion, creativity, and willingness to think outside the box.
Thanks to the entire team at Novus Select for all the hard work: Shawn Corrigan, Bligh Gillies, Canyon Florey, Lindsey Thompson, Josh Marianelli, Marshall Potter, Amy McCormick, Marina Rich, Bjorn Myhre, Dane Henry, and Andrew Bisharat.
Thanks to the pros featured in this video:
Also, thank you to Megan Sullivan for the recommendation.
Last but not least, thank you to Kami and Travis for inspiring all of us with your love and commitment to each other. It was a real honor to meet you and be a part of your special night.
I hope you like this video. Please share it, and please check out Thumbtack the next time you’re looking to hire and book a pro service online.
A special thanks to our partners: Nikon, FreeFly Systems, SanDisk, and our sponsors: AquaTech, Connex, G-Tech, Litepanels, Light & Motion, LitePro Gear, Lowepro, Kessler, Manfrotto, Patagonia, Sachtler, SmallHD, and X-Rite.