Knowing his girlfriend's passion for capturing life's moments through photography, Ben knew he had to have his proposal moment caught on film! Taking her to their favourite winery in Los Angeles, Ben gave Ali the surprise of a lifetime when he asked her to be his wife - with Flytographer Liz behind the camera capturing every moment.
Ali: "I'm the lucky, lucky fiancée of Ben McGill, who was ridiculously thoughtful enough to think of not only proposing to me (!!!), but also hiring a secret proposal photographer! He gets all the girl points for that move! But if you know Ben, you know that's just something he would do, go the extra mile to look at your embarrassing Pinterest boards (for my birthday he knew the exact gold dinosaur earrings of my dreams that I forgot I pinned 3 years ago), and he saw that I had a pin board for 'Rules For Proposing To Me,' and 'making sure someone catches it on camera' was of course on this list.
"Ben had to know this wasn't an accidental pin; I'm a big 'mom-in-training' for all things photo-op and being sure we always capture the moment, like 'Just give me one picture so we remember! Just one, but look natural, it's gotta be CANDID!' I'm the biggest fan of the unplanned and all-the-feelings photos, as seen in any Christmas card or photoshoot I trick him, our dog, and tortoise to take part in. So is it that weird to always dream of having a sort of creepy friend hang around with a camera, capturing your real-life moments? (It is weird, until I found out about Flytographer!)
"Needless to say, when I found out what Ben was up to post-proposal, hiring a secret photographer who had already begun capturing this life event, I was beside myself! And we had an hour left to play around the area in our post-proposal bliss, which is a perfect state to be in. Smiles plastered on our cheeks (ouch!), constantly gazing at my new ring bling, for the most surreal moment in our lives to be captured and able to look back at is something I can't really begin to put into words. Everyone asks me 'Did you have any idea? Thank goodness you dressed up! How were you able to have a photo shoot following that?', and I say, 'Yes, thank goodness I didn't show up in my pajamas!'
"Our amazing photographer Liz showed us a few perfect spots around the Malibu wine club that we had no idea existed (hello BEACH, didn't see you there!); she gave us very simple moves and direction, but really she encouraged us to be natural in these positions, which worked great! Having the cheesiest smiles and love pouring out of us in this magical moment had to be guaranteed great photos.
"Ben had been commenting on how he's had to miss the last wine club outings and was eager to go to the Tasting Room at some point post-holidays. As it got closer, he suggested 'Why don't we go on January 2nd, just the two of us - we never do that!', not thinking anything of it. Honestly, I was assuming if he was going to propose, he was going to do it New Years' Eve leading into our anniversary, or not until a few months into the new year to throw me off. We had been dreaming and scheming over the last year, about how happy we are, how 'easy it is,' how we like being fun roommates working off the same respectful page, and with my older sister getting married earlier in the year, love and weddings were on the brain! So to de-stress me from wedding anxiety (it wasn't even my wedding, my sister is just my favorite person in the world!), we'd drink wine and he'd get me to casually show him my dream Anna Sheffield ring. When my sister, dad and I went to New York in October to celebrate his birthday, we may have 'accidentally' stumbled into Anna's incredible ring shop and did some research. My sister, Sara, sneakily sent that info to Ben, and she told me, 'Oh Ali, don't even waste another thought on it! Nothing is happening until later next year; Ben won't propose any time soon. I'll give you the heads-up a month in advance so you can have your nails done!', and that was the last it was spoken about.
"So Saturday, January 2nd comes around; all our big celebrations are over, today is a casual fun day as we move back into a regular post-holiday life. Though today we would get a little dressed up, but only for the fun of it as we would meet at our wine club Tasting Room to relax outside in the sun, eat some hummus and veggies, and probably nerd out and talk about X-Files (all of a sudden, after 14 years, the show is getting RE-BOOTED? What are the chances!). This Saturday morning, he 'gets called into work', which is known to happen on weekends, so he tells me he will meet me at the winery in a couple hours. So I move to the couch, watch X-Files and relax until the last minute. IF I HAD KNOWN I was about to be proposed to, I would have probably done ANYTHING except lie around casually watching TV!
"For a millisecond, right before I get out of the Uber at the Tasting Room, I thought, 'Wow, I did curl my hair...a girl can dream big if she takes the time to curl her hair, right? If I get out of the car and it looks like no one's here, I'll know something's up!' So I get out, and all is normal. Okay, THAT'S IT, I have to stop talking myself into these thoughts! I move past the packed Tasting Room, I see my handsome Ben across the grassy back patio in the cutest little spot under a tree, and he waves and shows me he bought a bottle of our favorite wine, the good stuff! We settle in for twenty minutes or so and talk about X-Files, so all seems completely normal.
"After a bit, Ben suggests we go to our secret little spot on the balcony of the Tasting Room, our dreamy sneak-away from the rest of the world. I agree that's always a great idea, and we head over, only to see a couple of guys are out there bro-ing it up! Ben seemed concerned and I said, 'Oh come on, how long can these dudes stay out there in our romantic spot, I mean really! And oh my gosh Ben, do you see those flowers out there? Are those always out there?! Daises and wildflowers? How cute! Must be from the holidays?' (Spoiler Alert: They weren't!)
"After a short minute, the dudes leave, and we get right in there. Little did I know Ben was worrying because he had our secret photographer, Liz, ready to roll at 3:00pm, and I'm sure he didn't want these guys to steal our session! We get on the balcony, and I'm taking it in as always, looking at the lush green nature all around us, the Topanga Creek leading to the ocean on our right, my man, and these adorable flowers that happen to be here - what a coincidence that they're my favorites, daisies and wildflowers galore! Ben is probably so relieved I am paying absolutely no attention to Liz across the creek in the tunnel - snapping the moment away. I never look in that direction; it was a perfect plan.
"After we get out there, he gets into the proposal, and it doesn't hit me until far too late! We love talking and reminiscing, so when he starts to tell me 'So Ali, when I first met you...' and starts discussing when he first knew he loved me, and I was just agreeing with him and adding my two cents, which was probably horrifying for him and his pre-planned speech! He presses on, saying, 'When we road-tripped back from that ski trip with my friends not even a month after our first date, that must have been intimidating for you. But you and I rode home together and sang at the top of our lungs! Ever since we met, it's been a steady progression of amazing moments' ... and he is smiling so nervously cute, looking up as if trying to remember a few important pre-planned thoughts. All of a sudden, I get a little nervous! IS THIS HAPPENING or am I psyching myself out for the 100th time? He and I both get a little nervous then, as he moves on with the final part of his speech. He drops to one knee, pulls out that little white box with black wax - Anna Sheffield! - to reveal the ring of my dreams, and says, 'So Ali Oremus...will you marry me?' I tear up and say, 'Always, I will always marry you, Ben.'
"He gets up from his knee, we kiss, and I say, 'Wait! We should probably get this ring on, right!?' We had forgotten to put it on! Once I lift the box up to take the ring out, sure enough I see a lovely lady across the creek with a camera. I say, 'Ben...IS THAT A SECRET PHOTOGRAPHER?!' He says it sure is, and he's got big plans for us with Liz over the next hour if I'm interested. I am, and I'm still in shock!
"He starts to tell me about how during Thanksgiving break when we visited his family, he was such a secret nervous wreck (he was about to make a life changing purchase without being able to see it - the Anna Sheffield ring from her New York store!), that when we left his family's house in Indiana to head back to California, his mom and her BFF snuck to New York the NEXT DAY for a 24-hour trip to see the ring for themselves to give Ben peace of mind. I keep randomly turning to Ben and saying, 'Ben!!! Ahhh!' with a giant smile plastered on my face, and he returns with the same smile. We meet Liz with big hugs, and we get to it, love exploding out of us, and Liz is there to capture our bliss!"
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