Proposals have to be the most nerve twisting event to shoot. You wouldn’t think so. Yet, with all the spur-of-the-moment, take it truly as it comes, nail-biting anticipation, it is a much loved honor to be a part of that moment, whether active or passive in role, I and am touched when we get a call to do so. When thrust into the role of a documentarian one can’t help but play the “What ifs” over and over in the mind, not knowing what is about to unfold before us. In the proposals we have shot, sometimes we play a more active role, such as Bill and Dawn‘s proposal, and others times we are more practitioners in the stealth “ninja” style arts, hidden in a distant bush quietly waiting as love plays its part in front of us. In the case of Brett and Erin, it was a little of both.
From the moment I received Brett’s email, immediately following his voicemail, I knew he had something special in his mind, and someone special in his heart. Brett is a Corporal in the Marines, stationed in Okinawa, and had just returned from Iraq for 30 days of post-deployment leave before he had to return back to Okinawa. With such a short time home, plans had to be made rather quickly. Erin, his girlfriend of almost 3 years, didn’t expect a thing.
The plan was to have a nice dinner where Brett would propose between dinner and dessert at their specially reserved table at Farmington Hills’ Ristorante Cafe Cortina, right in front of the fireplace. I would be there prior, in “Ninja Mode” waiting.
Let me take a moment to tell you about Ristorante Cafe Cortina, and its owner Adrian Tonon. Never have I walked into an establishment of any sort, and been made to feel so at home, and so relaxed, like I was an old friend, an invited guest, as I was in Mr. Tonon’s restaurant. When I arrived I was greeted by Adrian himself, and after introduction, he took immediate interest in Brett’s proposal, and wanted to make sure it was something incredible. Wanting to offer something a bit more intimate, Adrian took to making the moment happen outside on one of their two beautiful courtyard decks. Though it was a cooler day, he made sure there was a small table, champagne, an outdoor heater, and a nice privacy wall, to give it a little sense of intimacy. After the couple were seated, Mr. Tonon cleverly escorted Brett out to the patio, after he asked to be shown the “Restroom”. I had positioned myself in perfect view of the area, hidden to the side, my heart racing. After several minutes Adrian asked Erin to come with him to a new table he had prepared for the couple, leading her outside into the courtyard, where the following moments transpired:
I think you can tell Erin said YES!
I think the story tells itself without words. I can almost feel my heart race again, every time I relive this afternoon. I should mention that I had to go this one alone, as Lynn couldn’t make it, so I was extra nervous. Afterwards, Adrian Tonon fixed me one of the finest meals I have had, including one of his signature deserts. You can read more about Adrian, his contagious kindness, and his show, “The Culture Cafe Show” here.
Congratulations Brett and Erin!
Special thanks once again to Adrian and the Ristorante Cafe Cortina.
EXTRA special thanks to Brett and all the brave and courageous men and women in the United States Armed Forces.