A Proposal in Paris
The sun was setting on a perfect Parisian day. Think warm croissants, coffee and cafe hopping in the rain. As we watched the Eiffel tower glisten along the Seine, I couldn’t help but reflect on the events that transpired earlier that day.
Alexa, who is one of my best friends, said yes to the rest of her life with Phil, a gentleman who couldn’t be more perfect for her. But let me start over and bring you to the beginning of this Parisian fairy tale most people only ever dream of.
Bienvenue à Paris – Welcome to Paris
“Can I interest you in a cup of tea while you wait for your room?” The hotel receptionist asked as she showed me an array of teas to choose from at check-in.
I arrived in Paris at approximately 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 10th, and navigated the metro to my hotel near the Eiffel Tower. I added an impromptu detour to my European trip last Fall to accommodate a very exciting event happening in Paris: Alexa & Phil’s Surprise Engagement.
Phil reached out to me in early October, detailing his plan to propose to Alexa during their week long trip to Paris in November. Since I was already traveling Europe at the time, we arranged a detour to Paris, unbeknownst to Alexa, so I could capture this special moment for them.
Aside from celebrating this special moment with my friends, I wasn’t looking forward to being in Paris. I’d visited the city twice before, years ago, and thought it was overly romanticized by too many people. As unpopular of an opinion that might be, I just didn’t see the allure. However, five years later, I found myself back in Paris, but this time on an important assignment.
“I’ll have tea please. No cream or sugar.” I replied with a soft smile. She poured me tea and handed me a warm croissant to welcome me to Paris.
A Spoiled Surprise?
As I sipped warm tea from inside the hotel lobby, I was tempted to take a seat along the windows and ‘people watch’ as I waited for my room. However, I decided to sit on the couch about 10 feet from the windows instead.
I looked down to take a bite of my croissant and when I looked up, my heart stopped. Through the window directly in front of me was Phil walking by nonchalantly.
I trailed his movements with my eyes, sitting as still as stone. Then, in front of him, I saw someone with a bright red coat, brown hair and a white beret. I was positive that was Alexa, but only because I thought I saw Phil. I didn’t manage to see her face unfortunately.
However, the odds of running into Alexa and Phil in Paris were slim. So naturally, I began to doubt myself immediately.
“Was that Phil though?” I thought to myself. “There’s no way. Paris is HUGE! What are the odds that Phil and Alexa would be walking through my neighborhood? Better yet, walking along the exact street my hotel was on right as I was checking in.”
In my shocked and bewildered state, I considered going outside to get a better look at them walking away, but thankfully I refrained. If that was in fact Phil and Alexa, I could’ve ruined the surprise engagement!
I wanted to text Phil and confirm my suspicion but was too afraid Alexa would see our text messages about the surprise proposal. I just hope he encrypted them in some way!
The Happy Couple Near The Eiffel Tower
The Grand Lady In All Her Glory
I shook it off, gobbled up the last bits of my croissant and polished off my tea. My room was ready.
After settling into my room, I glanced at my phone. It was 3:00 pm. With approximately 3 hours of daylight left in the day, I knew I had to get moving and explore Paris for the perfect photo opportunity. Phil gave me detailed instructions on where he wanted to propose, so I thought I’d start my journey there.
My hotel was about a 15 minute walk from the Eiffel tower. As I emerged the Champ de Mars from the west side, I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time in five years. I forgot how glorious she was, standing there among the trees overlooking the Seine. There, I thought, is a piece of history that I never really appreciated in my youth. For the first time in years, I was able to appreciate Paris and all of her glory.
Alexa & Phil in front of the Eiffel Tower
I forgot how glorious she was, standing there among the trees overlooking the Seine.
I ended up taking a lot of photos that day and saved a few spots I really liked on google maps to send to Phil later. I went to the exact spot Phil told me he wanted to propose, but found that there wasn’t a great hiding place to set up and take photos during the surprise engagement.
However, there was one location that simply swept the others away. It was far enough away from the tourists but close enough to enjoy the Eiffel Tower in peace. This spot was along the Bir Hakeim Bridge and made for the most beautiful photos of the Eiffel Tower along the Seine.
That evening, I sent a few photos from different spots around Paris to Phil. He ended up liking the Bir Hakeim Bridge the best and chose that for his new proposal location.
The Bir Hakeim Bridge was a beautiful location for a proposal, and there were also plenty of places I could hide so Alexa wouldn’t see me snapping photos.
It’s A Small World Afterall
I grabbed dinner for one from a local grocery store that night and used the hotel facilities to cook. On my grocery run, I picked up two baguettes and a bottle of champagne to celebrate with the happy couple the next day. I remember being so worried I’d run into Phil and Alexa while grocery shopping in the neighborhood! If that was really them after all…
I strolled along the street and back to the hotel to make my dinner. After retiring for the day, I began texting Phil to see how we would coordinate in the morning. I knew where and when to meet them at the Bir Hakeim Bridge, but not much else beyond that.
To ensure I was prepared and camera ready to snap their special moment, he came up with the brilliant idea to share live locations.
He shared his location with me and I nearly dropped my phone. I saw his location dot hovering two streets away from me, which meant the man and woman I saw earlier today was most likely Phil and Alexa! I kept calm, however, and asked casually, “Was Alexa wearing a white beret today?”
I held my breath as I saw him typing. His response stopped me in my steps yet again.
“Oh my gosh,” He exclaimed. “It WAS you! Alexa saw you through the window and said, ‘That girl looks so much like Megan.’ To brush it off, I said, ‘Megan who?’ and Alexa responded, ‘No, that can’t be Megan. She would’ve told me she was in Paris knowing we’re here.”
After exchanging a few more messages and details for tomorrow’s proposal, Phil and I hoped Alexa hadn’t put two-and-two together and realized it was really me she saw through the window that afternoon. We unfortunately wouldn’t find out what she thought about the situation until tomorrow after the proposal. I kept running scenarios through my mind of how bad it would’ve been had Alexa and I made eye contact!
I packed my bag with the essentials for tomorrow’s early morning, which included my camera, extra batteries, memory cards, and, of course, the celebratory champagne and baguettes.
Be There In A Prosecco!
I woke up before my alarm, which isn’t surprising given the excitement that was to ensue that day. Prior to my departure, I wished Phil good luck and told him my estimated time of arrival at Bir Hakeim Bridge. He informed me earlier that Alexa’s cousin would be meeting me at the bridge to surprise Alexa after the proposal as well.
As I was getting ready to leave, I realized the champagne bottle was a cork. I needed to either bring a wine opener with me or uncork it now beforehand with the wine opener from the communal kitchen. I opted for the latter, but little did I know, I was unable to re-cork the bottle and had to figure out an alternative way to prevent the champagne from spilling inside my backpack.
The champagne bottle let out a loud “POP!” as I uncorked it in the lobby of the hotel at around 7:30 am. Everyone enjoying their complimentary continental breakfast looked up immediately with all sorts of expressions on their faces. I didn’t want to know what they were thinking…
As I shamefully tried to find a way to cork the bottle, a man eating breakfast gave me a nod and lifted his glass as if to say, “Cheers”. I embarrassingly gathered my belongings and scurried back to my room to figure out a way to cork the bottle. As I was doing so, another man whispered, “A little early for that this morning, isn’t it?” I laughed it off and ran up to my room to devise a last minute, make-shift bottle stopper.
At this point, I was behind schedule, so I stuffed the bottle with as many paper towels as I could find and wrapped it in a plastic bag I received grocery shopping.
The newly engaged couple enjoying champagne and bagettes after their engagement.
Cheers To Phil & Alexa!
The Proposal Story
A wave of crisp, cool air greeted me as I exited the hotel and walked briskly to Bir Hakeim Bridge. I remember it was an overcast day but the fall leaves contrasted so beautifully against the gloomy sky.
I reached the bridge and the point Phil would be proposing to Alexa, set up my camera and waited for Alexa’s cousin to arrive. The entire time, I was constantly refreshing Phil’s location to see how close they were to this exact spot. Phil couldn’t have picked a better time, day or location for the proposal. It was around 9:00 am, if my memory serves me, and a French holiday. The streets were empty and it looked as if it were about to rain.
I peaked my head out from behind the bridge pillar and saw them. They were walking side-by-side and admiring the Eiffel Tower from across the Seine. I was shaking from excitement and nerves!
A flood of emotion ran through me. There she was, my “little” sister getting proposed to by someone who was absolutely perfect for her. I met Alexa in 2015, but I feel like we’ve known each other forever. When she told me about Phil in 2018, I knew this was something special.
As Phil got down on one knee, I saw everything happen in slow motion. I immediately knew the surprise wasn’t ruined; Alexa’s mannerisms and facial expressions said it all.
I snapped photos every few seconds to capture the proposal and their reactions in real time. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face even if you tried.
I had no idea what dialogue went on between Alexa and Phil, but before I knew it, he was pointing directly at me and surprise swept over Alexa’s face once again. I went across the street to give her the biggest hug and we shared the excitement and stories behind this successful, surprise proposal.
It began to lightly rain, but among the excitement, we barely noticed. I snapped a few more posed pictures of Phil and Alexa until we decided to take shelter in a nearby café for breakfast, coffee and more celebratory conversations.
A Perfect Parisian Day
The rest of the day was full of an overwhelming sense of excitement, happiness and pure joy. I didn’t want to impose on their special day however and offered to leave the happy couple so they could enjoy themselves after breakfast. However, Phil and Alexa were so kind and insisted I stay with them to explore Paris and celebrate their engagement for the rest of the day.
We bought a metro day pass and explored all sorts of Parisian sites: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Gardens of Luxembourg (where we were finally able to celebrate with the champagne and baguettes I packed).
As we weaved in and out of cafes and restaurants throughout the day, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness for the two of them.
As this perfect day came to an end, I realized my entire perception of Paris changed. I could see why people romanticized it so much. After all, it is the City of Love. Sitting there next to Alexa & Phil and watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle against the night sky made me reflect on how incredible life is. I can’t wait for Alexa & Phil to share life’s most precious moments, challenges and daring adventures together.
Congratulations Alexa & Phil
Nov 11, 2019
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