Wth a Mountain View: Montana and Courtney's Marriage Proposal

The unsuspecting bride enjoys the view of the Smokies from Look Rock on the Foothills Parkway

Sometimes, something is so big that you have to step back to be able to see it.

Such is the case with the Smokies and Montana’s planned proposal. When I am contacted to photograph a marriage proposal, the first thing I ask is what type of setting is desired. After all, most of them take place in the Smokies and a wide variety of settings are available and with different means of access.

Montana gave me the challenge of “a view of the Smokies,” that is, a mountain vista. Now, when you are in the Smokies, you really can’t see the Smokies since the terrain of the land is high peaks and deep ravines, all densely wooded. To see a range of mountains, you have several choices: see them from below in Cades Cove; drive up to Clingmans Dome, the highest peak; or hike to one of our “balds,” a bald being a mountain meadow. Clingmans Dome means crowds and the balds, well, you are likely looking at a 4-hour roundtrip to hike up and back.

But there is another alternative: step back. Step back to a spot where the range lays before you and use it for a backdrop. Montana had gotten excited about a proposal I did involving such scenery and horseback riding, but alas, the stable was going to be closed. That did not mean I could not find an alternative in the Foothills Parkway.

The Foothills Parkway is a national parkway also maintained by the National Park Service. It offers exactly what was wanted: a view of the mountain vistas (on one side - there are also lookouts in the opposite direction and shows the cities of Maryville and Alcoa, as well as far off Knoxville). And to make it even easier to arrange this proposal, it has a convenient spot to meet up: Look Rock.

And that is where the story begins, when our beautiful couple arrived at Look Rocker to take in the sights. Courtney did not have a clue . . .

Man About to propose to girlfriend.jpg

I always tell my clients, “Listen, you’re going to start that speech that sounds like, ‘Honey, we’ve been together for some time now, and we love each other . . .’ and she is going to suspect that you’re about to propose, and then you’re going to pull a ring box out, and a trio of black bears could be doing a kickline behind you but she will be LASER focused on what is about to go down, so do not worry about her noticing me and the camera.” And I am always right.

This was my first time meeting both Montana and Courtney, and I found both of them to be absolutely lovely people: warm, down-to-earth, and very, very much in love. In fact, let me tell you what I, the crusty old divorce attorney, discerned: these two got each other’s back. Seriously, I am talking about a quiet and mature relationship of not only love, but respect for each other. And that will make their marriage successful.

After every proposal, I also do a short photo shoot with the couple. Across the parkway from Look Rock is a short hike up to the Look Rock observation deck, so we set out for that spot.

Montana did a heckuva job choosing an engagement ring for Courtney - just look!

I must say, people like Montana and Courtney brighten my work as a photographer (I am convinced I have the greatest job in the world). I wish these two the very best and may their marriage be blessed with happiness and good health!


Are you planning a proposal? It’s the first chapter of your life together - have it photographed!

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