Photo: Dedzidi Ladzekpo
No matter how much preparation goes into it, proposing to someone is downright nerve wracking. Of course you want them to say “Yes!,” but you also want the actual proposal that you’ve carefully planned to go off without a hitch. Whether you’ve coordinated a grand gesture in front of all your loved ones or a private moment for just the two of you, the fact of the matter is that there’s a chance something could go wrong thanks to circumstances out of your control. For your own peace of mind, it’s smart to brainstorm a Proposal Plan B that you can fall back on if your original plan fizzles out for some reason. If something goes awry, you’re less likely to panic—and the moment might prove to be better than you ever expected!
Take WeddingWire's 2017 #JustSaidYes winners as proof. Would you ever have guessed that this amazing (and prize-winning) photo was the outcome of a backup proposal plan? We caught up with the adorable couple, Gaelle Sop and James Palmer, to hear more about how it happened.
If you’re about to propose, take a tip from this groom and have a backup plan ready to go. With any luck, your proposal will turn out to be a total win just like this one.
He chose the perfect, meaningful locationThey met in the fall of 2012 as undergraduate students at Cornell University through an on-campus Christian organization. Gaelle jokingly says she first noticed James because of his stylish clothes. “I think it was either the first or second large group meeting when I saw him and I was like, ‘Woah, that guy dresses really nice.’ So that’s basically how we met,” she says.
The couple eventually developed a relationship through their mutual interests and a volunteer service trip to West Virginia in spring 2013. Flash-forward to March 2016 when James proposed. Gaelle was enrolled in a graduate program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and James was in his senior year at Cornell. He was traveling to D.C. for another service trip and decided that it would be the perfect time to pop the question, since several of the couple’s friends would also be on the trip. Gaelle was scheduled to meet up with James and the group at the National Mall followed by a visit to the Renwick Gallery, where James would propose at one of the art exhibits.
The original plan didn’t go off without a hitchBut as luck would have it, it took longer than expected to find each other at the National Mall.
“They didn’t exactly know where they were and they would go to different places,” Gaelle says. “Before the museum, they were somewhere else on the Mall and then I got there and they had moved on to another place.”
Finally, they met up at the Renwick Gallery and James got to work scouting out a location for the proposal.
“There are a couple people on the team who are really good photographers,” says James. “There was one exhibit and it looked like a good choice, but then one of the photographers was like, ‘No, the lighting in here is awful. We should do Plan B.’”
Plan B involved visiting the Tidal Basin to look at D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms, but it was after 5 p.m. at this point and Gaelle was starting to wonder why they were still walking around instead of stopping to rest.
“I was confused and I was frustrated. And I was starving too. I hadn’t eaten lunch,” she says.
They finally had the picture-perfect momentAt the Tidal Basin, the city’s cherry blossoms were in full bloom at this point, which also meant that the area was swarming with hundreds of tourists. While James and Gaelle were posing for the photographer’s “test shots” to get the lighting just right, others in the group were discreetly ushering tourists out of the way. Finally, the moment was right and James got down on one knee to ask Gaelle to marry him. Their friend captured the prize-winning photo and the rest is history!
“I think one of the best parts is that we were with a bunch of friends,” James says. “It was really great to share the moment with other people.”
The wedding is set for this July in Long Island, New York, with a ceremony in Gaelle’s home country of Cameroon the week prior. The newlyweds will honeymoon in the Colorado mountains before returning home to Wisconsin.