Once upon a time there lived a girl named Kristen. Kristen grew up in Maryland and met Lydia in middle school where they played basketball and started a cleaning "business" together. They named their Swiffers and sponges and thought it was normal. They became best friends.
And then there was Caleb. Who grew up in Oklahoma and met Lydia curbside at Reagan National Airport when he flew to surprise Kristen in January 2011. It was the second time he had flown on an airplane and he really liked all the trees. Lydia thought Caleb was nice.
"Hi, where do I wait in line for the princess show?"- "You can wait to MEET the princesses here. It's not a show." - "Ooh..."
Let it be known from the start that I know very little about Disney and their World or Land. I went about 18 years ago and all I remember are the long lines. So when Caleb told me that he would be proposing to Kristen at Disney World in Florida it felt like I was booking a flight to the Amazon, just with a lot more sparkles. And the mice wear polka dots.
But what do you know, the place is charming! I don't recommend going by yourself (haha) but it is a sweet little (and by little I don't mean little) place. I entertained myself for a few hours taking photos of the landscapes. As the day came to a close I started to get serious about my mission. To Kristen's knowledge I was still in Maryland texting her that I miss her and wish I could hang out with her. Really I was fresh off an airplane and wandering the magical streets of Disney pretending I knew what "confectionery" meant.
I had my game face on. A disguise too. I was determined not to be seen by Kristen. Because the only thing she ever asked was that she be completely surprised when she was engaged. She didn't care if it was public, private, skydiving or underwater. She just wanted to be surprised! There's something else you need to understand about Kristen: she has the most unnatural memory ever. She could tell you what I was wearing when she first met me in middle school. So I had to try extra hard to wear something she wouldn't recognize or think "Huh, that looks like Lydia." Which resulted in me looking like this. I looked like a middle aged soccer mom stalker with a camera and sunglasses. Hahah I still laugh looking at these photos.
So, you may be wondering how I found Kristen and Caleb at all in the sea of humans. Well, Caleb was taking a lot of "bathroom breaks" and updating me on where they were and what they looked like. His description of what Kristen was wearing was my personal favorite. "She's wearing a topless dress" - "TOPLESS? You mean strapless?" - "Oh sure. Same thing." - "No, Caleb, they are not the same thing."
At around 6pm he called me to let me know the had a dinner reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern at 6:45pm. He also told me that it was the last time he was going to be able to call me without suspicion and that if I didn't spot them leaving dinner I would never be able to find them in the dark before he proposed. YAY nerves! I was freaking out of my mind. I proceeded to lock my eyes on the front door of the Tavern for the next two hours (while hiding behind a trash can, of course) and text Courtney and Julie non-stop to keep me from passing out. Haha I have honestly never felt so much pressure during a shoot in my life. I was so worried I would mess it up.
At 8:15pm I spotted Kristen and Caleb leaving dinner and followed them around the corner. The parade started an hour later and Disney shut off all the street lights. In the cover of darkness I slowly crept closer and closer.
Finally the parade was finished, the light show wrapped up, and the fireworks portion of the night upon us! Or so I thought. A voice came over the loudspeaker and in a oh-so-calm voice informed everyone that the "Fireworks show will begin in just 5 minutes." Clinkblinkclickclink the park lights turned on and suddenly I was standing 10 feet away from Kristen and Caleb in the near bright of day. NO! I immediately dropped to the ground and pretended to tie the imaginary laces on my Urban Outfitters flats for the next 5 minutes. Those were the longest 5 minutes of my life.
And then it started. The most heart pounding, eye watering, insane moment I've ever experienced behind a camera. My best friend was swept off her feet by her soon-to-be-fiance and placed in a bed of flowers on the other side of the fence. I threw myself over the said fence and started shooting away in the near pitch black.
It's stupid for me to even try and describe the next 10 minutes. Kristen does a wonderful job of that on her blog here
! Let me just say between me throwing off my shoes and sprinting through the Disney soil, the audience spontaneously clapping and cheering, my best friend sobbing and smiling harder than I thought humanly possible, Caleb NOT dropping the ring (praise God), and those flipping insane fireworks, it was one of the most surreal, ecstatic moments of my life thus far.
I love these next five photos so much.
And Caleb's happy dance was one of my favorite moments of the night. ;)
Oh, bestie. I'm so happy beyond words you found Caleb and that you had your dream SURPRISE engagement that you sometimes wondered wasn't possible (or at least we didn't think was possible, you little sneak). Caleb, you are the man. I've loved these past few months helping you find the ring, etc. Both of yous, I will never ever forget that group hug.
Much love forever and always,Lydia