Shelly & Mark’s Surprise Proposal | China Beach, San Francisco Engagement Proposal!


They told her they were having “guy time,” and the three of them, Mark, Joe, and my brother Albert, ran off to conspire at the beach, leaving her behind with Nikki for the day. Shelly imagined the boys were hanging out a bar somewhere, watching the game. She certainly didn’t suspect this. She was on vacation with her boyfriend Mark, visiting some of their high school friends in San Francisco. The forecasts had been gloomy and rainy the entire trip, but actually, the skies seemed rather gracious on this day, the clouds beautifully scattered across the blue sky.

When the sand sculptures were built and the pieces in place, Nikki set off the chain of events by giving Shelly the first piece of the puzzle/scavenger hunt. The first envelope then brought her to Albert with a second envelope at the California Academy of Science. As she solved the puzzle, she realized this cute little thing that Mark was planning was much bigger than expected, and she had the mounting fear that maybe she had forgotten an anniversary of theirs or something important. But a proposal? She still had not an inkling.

What happens next is sheer surprise and joy and love and overwhelming emotion. Everything went so amazingly well for this proposal, from the setting to the weather to the surprise, and yes, even the “yes”. I am so incredibly thankful to have been there to document the whole thing (thank you to my wonderful little brother Albert for including me =P). Now, see for yourselves:

The setting was China Beach, a small little strip of sand tucked next to the beautiful neighborhood of Sea Cliff.

Joe and Albert set to work building the lighthouse while Mark started on his sea turtle which would later hold the ring.

Albert and I went to the California Academy of Science to give them the second envelope, but they wouldn’t hold it at the gift shop for us, so I left Albert there to deliver it to her by hand.

When I got back, Mark and Joe had completed the sand masterpiece, including two checkboxes at the bottom declaring “YES” or “Maybe later.”

And then we waited. Mark and Joe check on her progress with the puzzle as Albert reports via text. When she arrives, Mark walks Shelly down to the beach while Nikki and Albert hang back and Joe and I hang out in the corner, unspotted.

The very first moment of realization!

After several moments of shock and disbelief, Shelly surveys the sand message and declares her answer with the YES checkbox!

There’s more! The ring! Mark reaches down to the turtle’s back and proposes again with his grandmother’s ring.

I had gone completely unnoticed lurking right overhead on the embankment, but I finally said hello at sand level and captured a few more images for Shelly and Mark. I love the photo of Shelly on the right. Sheer joy!

And with the entourage/peanut gallery /cheering squad in the background!

Congratulations, Shelly & Mark!

And with that, we headed back to Nikki’s so they could freshen up and change for some more engagement photos at the Palace of Fine Arts. That, my friends, will be seen another day.

I love love. Best job in the world.