Happy Trails to David and Marleth: a Marriage Proposal in the Saddle

I enjoy being a wedding photographer, but I get a kick out of working with a groom-to-be to arrange for the photography of what gets the party started: a marriage proposal.

David contacted me, a nice young man from Pennsylvania.  He and his lady love, Marleth, were coming to visit the Smoky Mountains and he wanted to propose during the trip.  He wanted two things: a view of the mountains and horseback riding.

Hmmm . . . I contacted the stables in Cades Cove first but their ride stays within the tree line and their liability insurance prohibits them from allowing riders to dismount during the ride.  But from them I got a tip:  Next to Heaven Mountain Adventures in nearby Wears Valley.  Donnie and Angie Heil run this establishment and after talking to them, they enthusiastically embraced the idea.  The plan was set - David and Marleth would go up for an unguided horseback ride and stop at the lookout spot where the Smokies would be spread before them, they would dismount, and . . .

How about I allow the rest of the pictures to tell the story?

Here comes the couple up the trail.  Suspicious of me?  No - I had been introduced at the beginning as someone from the Wears Valley Tourism Association, onsite to take pictures for the quarterly newsletter.  I even asked if I could take their picture and use it for publication.

And she thinks they are there just to admire the view.

I always make sure that I take some portraits of the couple - they may be sweaty, they may be dusty, but moments like this are unscripted.  Take them as they come and enjoy them.

And, of course, the new sparkler.

Congratulations to David and Marleth!  Thank you for allowing me to witness such a wonderful moment, and thanks to the help provided by Next to Heaven Mountain Adventures, especially their own David, their friendly and gracious stablehand..