ALYSSA AND TAYLOR | MISSION BAY ENGAGEMENT

"He was like a God walking amongst mere mortals.  He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr.  And suits so fine, they made Sinatra look like a hobo.  In other words, Ron Burgundy was the balls..."

But then one day, Ron saw her.  Dressed in that white 70's pant suit strutting her way through the party, Ron exclaimed, "By the beard of Zeus!"

Okay, this isn't the love story of Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone, but it does take place on a boat named "The Beard Of Zeus" and it's hard to describe how happy that makes me...  When Alyssa and Taylor told me they wanted part of their engagement session on their boat in Mission Bay and at some point I would be able to cast off in a dingy to get some shots from a bit further away, I knew I was going to like these two a lot!

During their engagement session we took the boat out, drank a few Pacificos, quoted Anchorman and Zoolander a lot, and laughed ourselves silly!  Being around these two will just make you smile, you can’t help it.  What I connected with most was how fluidly they flowed from tender moment to silly laughter.  With the sunlight behind them, Alyssa and Taylor would stare into each others eyes, share a kiss, and then one of them would do something goofy and both of them would crack up laughing together!

It was the greatest and it’s what I strive to achieve with all of my couples.  I want them to feel comfortable enough to be romantic, feel deeply, but then also dive into the goofiness that makes their relationship unique.  Alyssa and Taylor were totally open, completely comfortable, and fully welcoming to let me in to capture their love story.  It’s one of my favorites to date, and I cannot wait to be there for the day they say I do...

 

David Manning is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer based in San Diego, California and shooting throughout Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and traveling internationally to create imagery that tells stories.  Focused on authentic moments, David strives to create a comfortable atmosphere in which his couples can feel completely themselves, laugh openly, and reveal their most true story for his lens.

FIVE TIPS TO ACE THE PROPOSAL

The proposal can be one of the most daunting tasks about the entire wedding experience for the man.  Because we all know that as soon as word gets out, the first question that will be asked is, "How did he ask?"  It's become a part of our YouTube culture these days to see over the top proposals like "Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal" or the even more over the top "Justin and Emily: The Proposal".  While these are super impressive, you don't have to know a choreographer or be a movie producer to give her a proposal that she'll remember for life.  Here's my story and Five Tips to Ace the Proposal.

#1  KNOW WHAT SHE WANTS

This tip is not only super useful for the proposal, but also a really great tip for your relationship and the health of your future marriage.  Hopefully you’ve been listening.  Hopefully you know her as well as you think.  Although you may have grandiose ideas of an over the top public proposal (I know I did), that’s not going to land with her if what she really wants is a romantic private proposal.

I knew that Morgan would want friends and family to be involved in some way, but nothing that was super public where she would be put on the spot.

#2 - GET HELP

If you read yesterday’s, “Choosing the Perfect Engagement Ring - 25 Days…” you’ll notice a trend here.  I know what I’m good at and what I’m not.  When I’m not, I partner with an expert that is!  Enter again, Krystel and Karina from Couture Events.  These ladies are incredibly talented at design and coordination and I knew that in order to pull off my plan, I would need their help. 

Over coffee in Little Italy one afternoon, I explained to Krystel that I wanted to setup an inspiration shoot much like the one that Morgan and I met on.  I thought it would be really special to have Morgan back in wedding dresses and me behind the camera for what would be the most important day in our lives so far.  At the end of the shoot, I would setup Morgan for the classic bouquet shot, get down on one knee to take a photo of the flowers, then switch my camera for an engagement ring from my camera bag.  Krystel was thrilled and jumped at the idea!

We found the date that would work and booked the shoot.  I knew Morgan’s schedule was open, so after a couple months went by, Krystel reached out to her to ask if she wanted to model for our “Boots and Bowties” inspiration shoot.  The title of the shoot was a 'wink' as Morgan is a country singer and I wear bowties to all the weddings I shoot.  I can remember Morgan getting off the phone and hesitantly asking me, “Hey, Krystel asked me to model for your shoot in November.  Are you okay with that?”

I tried my best to nonchalantly answer, “Yeah, that would totally be cool,” but then had to leave the room because I couldn’t hide my smile for long...

#3 - LAND THE PLANE

This part is going to be different for everyone, but for us it was absolutely perfect!  John, my assistant from the shoot that Morgan and I first met on was in town and came along for the day.  When John and I arrived at The Estancia Hotel, Krystel and Karina were already almost done with table decor setup on the Olive Lawn.  They freaking nailed it and I was completely blown away!  So many amazing vendors were a part of this and I cannot thank them enough!

David Manning and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal The Estancia
David Manning and Morgan Leigh Boberg table scape The Estancia
David Manning and Morgan Leigh Boberg florals The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg cake The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg wedding cake The Estancia

Morgan’s call time was a bit earlier, so I dropped down to the bridal suite to visit her during hair and makeup.  Erin Luce was doing her amazingness as always and Morgan looked stunning.  It was such a surreal experience to look at her, knowing that she didn’t have any idea what we were really there for, and realizing that soon she would be my fiancé.  Before I totally blew the secret with my uncontrollable smile and teary eyes, I slipped out and waited for her on the lawn.  When she arrived, I was speechless...

David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal images The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal Couture Events
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposal farm table rentals The Estancia

It was so incredibly fun shooting together again, but then Krystel gave me the cue that it was time.

David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposes at The Estancia
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg proposes one knee The Estancia

Just as I had planned, I got her into the perfect spot so that John could get a shot, and I got down on one knee to shoot the bouquet.  I nervously took a few shots of the bouquet and then put my camera down to my side.  The moment I did that, she immediately realized what was happening.

David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg Reaction to proposal
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg Reaction to proposal

I had planned all of these amazing things to say, but the gravity of the moment blanked my mind and I could do little else but smile.  I managed to get out a few sweet words before I asked, "Morgan, will you marry me?"

David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg Reaction to wedding proposal
David Manning Photography and Morgan Leigh Boberg Reaction to wedding proposal

She said yes, kissed me and then immediately hugged me.  It was a few minutes and still hadn't put the ring on yet though!  I had to remind her that she got to wear it now!

David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg

Then I told her to turn around.  She asked why and I said, "Just turn around."  When she saw our parents walk out from behind the hedge, she lost it.  It was the most special moment.

David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography proposes to Morgan Leigh Boberg

#4 - HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER TO CAPTURE IT ALL

Obviously I'm a little biased on this point, but your lady will THANK YOU for thinking of this!  I've hidden in plenty of bushes to secretly shoot proposals so many times and after the question has been popped and I come walking up, the newly engaged always turns and thanks her guy for thinking to hire me!

In this case, our photographer in the bushes was my friend and amazing photographer Sara.  She was there to capture it all and after the tears subsided a bit, we did a little mini-shoot around The Estancia to get some pictures of the two of us newly engaged! 

David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg
David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg

#5 - HAVE AN AFTER PARTY PLAN

You found the ring, planned the proposal, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry you; you're done right? Not if you really want to do it right.  This "after party" can range from just the two of you on a rooftop romantic dinner, to a full on party waiting for you, but have a plan of what you're going to do afterwards.  Have a way to soak in the moment and capture all of the excitement in that night!

With started off by having dinner and drinks with just our parents at The Estancia, but I had a little something extra planned for later that night back at the house.

David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg

A huge thank you goes out to all of our friends and family that showed up that night and partied the evening away with us!  We are so thankful to have all of you in our lives!

David Manning Photography puts ring on Morgan Leigh Boberg

Some of the highlights from the Red Photo Booth that we had running that night :)



CHOOSING THE PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING

Alright gentleman, the next few posts are for you and this one is all about the engagement ring!  Ladies reading this, you may want to share these posts with a certain gentleman in your life... *wink wink*

You've found that special woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with and now it's time to find the ring that she will wear for the rest of her life.  Wow, huge moment!  I went through this with a lot of help from my family, a good referral from a friend, and a ridiculous amount of research online!  Definitely learn the Four C's of Diamond Quality, but there's a few things that every guy needs to do right away!

Talk to her.  Get help.  Find a jeweler through a trusted referral.
 

If you haven't already talked about what sort of ring she likes, then you better start dropping little questions now.  This decision is huge and she should be a part of it.  I understand the desire to have the whole thing a surprise, and you definitely still can, but if you're comfortable enough to talk together about marriage, then you should be comfortable enough to talk together about what type of ring she wants.  She's the one that will be wearing it for the next fifty or so years!

Mine was a bit easier because I got a huge hint early on!  Just a few months into dating, Morgan and I were at the mall and dropped into a few jewelry stores (avoid these stores when you buy).  We obviously weren't seriously looking and just sort of having fun, but then Morgan saw it... the one... her dream ring.

Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring David Manning Photographer

About three months into dating, Morgan and I visiting a jewelry store for fun

It was so amazing to watch her light up and her jaw absolutely dropped when she put it on.  This dream ring came at a price though; like I could buy a pretty sweet car for that kind of price.  Then my jaw dropped.  I knew and she knew that I would be getting her something quite a bit smaller and not quite so nice for when that day finally came, but we were totally wrong...

I got help, and I found a great jeweler through a trusted referral.
 

Help came in the form of my mom talking me through a lot of info on buying a diamond and help came in the form of a great referral from my good friend Jeff.  Through him, I found The Diamond Source in Old Town.  Jeff always said that when I was ready, that we would have lunch, eat tacos, drink tequila, and visit his diamond guy.  Best choice ever!

David Manning Photography San Diego Engagement ring
David Manning Photographer San Diego Diamond

Looking at raw diamonds with Jeff that first day at The Diamond Source

The Diamond Source is an incredible family owned business that creates all sorts of custom jewelry.  They made me feel completely comfortable and walked me through everything.  Another huge point was how upfront they were with me.  I found out that buying jewelry can be like buying a used car with negotiations going back and forth (you'll find this a lot at those mall jewelers).  Fanny at The Diamond Source was totally upfront, I told her my budget and she told me what they could do for me. Easy and comfortable.

Months after we had seen it, I went back to the original jeweler that had Morgan's dream ring, took some photos of it on my phone and brought them The Diamond Source.  They then custom made her ring with the raw diamond that I picked out.  Long story short, not only did I get Morgan's dream ring for HALF the price, but Morgan's is slightly larger and more importantly, a higher quality diamond!

Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring
Morgan Leigh Boberg seeing engagement ring

And here's the reaction every guy is hoping for when she sees the ring

I wanted so badly to give Morgan her dream, but I thought it was completely out of my reach.  By figuring out exactly what she wanted, by getting help, and by getting a great referral from a trusted friend, I was able to get Morgan her perfect engagement ring.  Your story will be different and your lady's dream ring will be different, but with these three tips, you can make sure that she gets her dream too!

PS- INSURE THE RING IMMEDIATELY!  As soon as you have that thing in your hands, get it insured.  I went through Jeweler's Mutual and they gave me a great rate.  The Knot has some good info too so you can learn more about it.

David Manning Photography Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring

Morgan's dream come true

***COMING NEXT: "FIVE TIPS TO ACE THE PROPOSAL"***