AJ and Madi have been good friends of mine for years now. They met at my parents 25th anniversary party back in 2013, and began dating a little over a year later. They've always been extremely affectionate and everyone they could see the love between them.
Madi came from Australia and had been staying in Canada for about 2 years when she applied for a renewal on her visa - but was only given a 6 month extension, meaning she was going to have to leave Canada and her boyfriend behind.
Knowing that they would soon be apart for some time, I offered to take some photos of them!
"Where should we go?" they asked.
"Why don't we climb Mt. Benson?" I suggested - because summer was coming to an end and I hadn't had a good hike in a while.
"That's on my 'before-I-leave' bucketlist!" Madison informed us. So it was decided.
3 days prior to our hike, AJ informed me there was going to be a little surprise on top of the mountain. I was filled with joy to learn that he was planning a proposal, and hearing of Madi's sooner-than-expected departure made him realize he needed to propose soon.
So in the early afternoon, we started our "hike", casually making our way up the mountain. The entire time, AJ had the ring in his pocket. He was sneaking selfies with it in the car and on the trail, dangerously pulling it out of his pocket behind Madi's back. Madi never suspected a thing.
We kept climbing, and after a few short hours, we reached the top of the mountain.
AJ stopped at the top for a quick celebratory smoke of the pipe. They brought a nice change of clothes because Madi believed these were just going to be some nice photos. I positioned them looking out over the mountains, locking in my settings and composing my photo.
"Where do you like us?" AJ asked me, hinting that he was just about ready.
"THERE - that spot looks amazing" I said to him, doing my best not to give anything away.
Madi turned to look out towards the hills and AJ shot me a quick glance that said 'are we good to go, buddy?' I nodded in confirmation.
He leaned over her shoulder with the ring on the tip of his finger, whispering into her ear. He held her from behind as she listened to what he had to say.
"I have a dream... and I want you to be a part of that dream, Madison"
AJ got down on one knee, tears in his eyes, tears in MY eyes, and barely got the words out:
"I have a dream, that you will be my wife."
Cue me losing it. Finger held down on the shutter, tears filling my viewfinder,
I was an emotional wreck but I kept snapping the pictures. Of course, she said yes.
Now it wasn't enough that I had just witnessed the most beautiful engagement between to friends who were young and in love - but the sun began setting. The most brilliant valley of gold was created in seconds as the clouds parted and the sunlight burst through. This was mostly followed by me freaking out and shooting about 600 photos in the span of 15 minutes. It was if God himself opened heaven, spilled a little bit down onto the mountain and said "hey, I'm happy for you guys."
We hiked down the mountain in the pitch black using headlamps and flashlights to light our way, but this newly engaged couple probably could have illuminated the path with their smiles.
Best. Day. Ever.