It takes a lot of work to pull off the perfect proposal — hours of planning, rehearsing the speech, and having to pick out a beautiful, yet affordable, engagement ring can put tons of pressure on a guy. Which is why we were SO excited when we found out famed photographer Gray Malin who we actually use for tons of beach honeymoon inspo (seriously, just take a look at his Instagram!) — is getting in on the proposal game. In the first round of his "proposal series," Malin helped two couples bring their perfect idea of a proposal to life. Here, you can read their adorable stories and see the amazing photos.
Couple #1 — Don and Nicole:
In Don's perspective — "We have been fans of Malin Gray's work for years, starting our collection the year that we moved to LA. We both take a lot of pride in our home and are always on the lookout for cool pieces that we'll be able to keep forever. Our first purchase from Gray was one of his classic beach scenes and we've since added several more. When Nicole surprised me with the 'I AM BUSY' print, I was inspired to incorporate our shared love of Gray's work into my wedding proposal."
"I reached out to Gray to ask if it'd be possible to shoot something with the phrase 'MARRY ME,' thinking that I was really setting myself up for disappointment given the demand for his work. But, sure enough, Gray responded and told me how much he loved the idea and that he could shoot it two short weeks later. I was able to curate the entire proposal around the print — which turned out absolutely perfect, I should mention, I decided to recreate the photo in person at our favorite celebration spot, Mr. Chow. Fast forward a few weeks and she said YES!"
As for what was going on in his head before he dropped to one knee, Don told Gray, "I remember pulling up to the restaurant with intense pain in my stomach, hoping that all of the work that I had put into this surprise would play out without any problems. Nicole and I spend all of our time together, so pulling everything off without her knowing was a HUGE feat. I also remember being absolutely speechless as I got down on one knee — fortunately the balloons and the print 'said' it all for me."
And Nicole's reaction? She told Gray, "Honestly, the fact that Don was able to pull it off is really impressive. He has the hardest time keeping surprises from me and there were so many fine details to the event that I really can't believe it! We have been dating for several years and grown so much in our time together that I was absolutely overcome with emotion when I realized what was going on. He always goes above and beyond to take care of me, but he totally outdid himself. Seeing the print was the icing on the cake — our shared admiration for Gray's work is even greater now than before."
Couple #2 — Jesse and Becky:
In Jesse's perspective — "Becky bought one of Gray's Prada Marfa photos years ago. It was really the only piece of art in her studio apartment. When we moved into a one bedroom together, it came along too and had a prominent place on our wall. Becky and Gray actually started to work together on a few projects and she adored him. She always mentioned their projects to me and how much she loved working with him, so I reached out to Gray to create the most special surprise and to be an important part of our engagement."
As for getting a picture of Becky from above (for the "MARRY ME" photo in Washington Square Park Gray would create), things proved more difficult. "It was easy to photograph me on a knee. I went home and had my dad take a picture of me from above on a balcony while I was across the street. But photographing Becky was hard. How do you take a good, clear picture of your girlfriend from several stories up without giving it away or feeling like a complete pervert? Not easy. So naturally, I decided the best idea was to get Becky drunk. There was one snowstorm that seemed like a good excuse, but the lighting and the depth were off. A few weeks later, I took her to brunch and then we walked along the High Line. I told her I was feeling 'artsy' and asked her to stand below the High Line so I could take pictures from above. That should have been a red flag, but she didn't oppose. Mission accomplished."
And Becky's reaction to this well-thought out proposal? "I was incredibly surprised and impressed! He thought about every single detail and crafted such a special proposal. We have always loved Washington Square Park — we live two blocks north and spend a lot of time there so it was very meaningful that he asked me to marry him in the park. I didn't know at the time that there was one more surprise, which of course, was Gray's beautiful photograph."
"After the initial shock wore off, Jesse told me he had one more surprise, which I would get that evening. I had no idea what he had planned. When I got to the bar and saw the photo, I was overwhelmed with love. It is, by far, the most thoughtful gift I have ever received and I can only image the amount of time and effort that went into creating such an incredible piece of art. Before I knew Gray, I loved his work and then when I got to know him, I absolutely adored him, so his involvement in our engagement means the world to me."
We can't wait to see more of Malin's incredible work!