Adair was led to believe that her weekend would be spent feral hog hunting from a helicopter outside of San Antonio, TX with Robert and his Dad. Check out Hog Wild Aerial Outfitters if it sparks your interest, but If that doesn’t set romantic undertones for what was really going on behind the scenes for the past few weeks then I don’t know what does.
Robert was brilliant. Granted, we know that he is an intelligent fella, but for his 007 (double-0-7 for those not inclined to N64 and James Bond) like stealth we’ve advised him to open his own practice in proposal planning. If you think that planning a wedding day could amount to some stress, let Robert explain the intricacies of getting himself and his now fiancée from Branson, MO to her parents’ house in San Antonio, TX along with their entire immediate families without Adair knowing what was going on. He created an alter-ego as their hunting guide, an e-mail alias for said guide, had all of the family members in on the alibi, wrote [very detailed] fake e-mails to legitimize the plan, and yes, they even packed a gun with them to check bags from Dallas to San Antonio for stalling time (the gun flew free, thanks to Southwest Airlines!). More important than the plan he was a master delegator to his family and friends, had maps of Adair’s house drawn for his mom for where each note should be placed, and timed out each step of the way.
Now, enter one of the most incredible moms ever to ‘execute’ the plan. Mrs. Neely arranged everyone’s flights and any detail you could imagine from the candles, to the flowers, to using scotch-brand painter’s tape so as not to damage the ceilings to hang the notes. You’ll see further down the post in her armory of details: engage-mints (punny, right Lincoln?) MOB/FOB engraved champagne flutes, personalized deserts (cake balls and decorated cookies), bridal magazines for Adair and the list goes on… she was the master organizer and had all hands on deck to set the scene: Robert’s sister Randall and Adair’s brother Michael, grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Meaden, all hung notes, set candles, cut and arranged flowers… it was crunch time before Adair and Robert arrived. If there’s one thing from last night that came the closest second to Robert’s love for Adair it was their families’ love for both of them to make this happen.
Before I get too longwinded, because there are truly too many incredible details to expound upon… let’s get to the good part. Robert has me send him a well-wishing text “from Missouri” hoping that they have a fun weekend hunting and I ask him to bring back some bacon from the hunt. This was so he could respond with, “Thanks man, we are just now leaving the airport…” for basically a 5 minute warning. Their plane was a little delayed and I was getting nervous for daylight because it was quickly approaching 6:00pm and getting dark. I even asked for someone to be ready to use a hunting spotlight from the second floor to be able to capture the proposal on camera. Luckily the text message came at the perfect time before that became necessary, and all the set up crew scattered across the street to wait for Robert to give the go-ahead to come back after they left to set up the surprise party. Even after Robert would propose Adair would have no clue who came into town to celebrate. So everyone left, minutes were left to capture the details and my heart was pounding for Robert. I hid behind a cracked door where I could barely see the last note before Adair walked outside to Robert, my cue to move into place and capture the moment.
Hidden, I waited… and listened. After a few minutes I heard the front door open over the muffled playlist that Robert and Randall put together playing from the kitchen. Through the window shutters I watched Robert move into place, waiting for Adair to read her way through the house. Before you scroll down, there are a few things that these photos are limited to capture. As I waited I got to listen to Adair realize that Robert was about to ask her to marry him. It was the most joyful mixture of tears and laughter as she read through notes from friends, family, and finally– Robert. I could hear shallow breaths and sniffling that were met with short laughs and sighs, sounds that even words fall too short of describing the deep level of emotions.
And here it is. After the trail of notes left by friends and family Adair walked out to Robert and met him in the light drizzle. As soon as she opened the sliding door to her backyard I sprinted from hiding to the first position to watch Robert drop to his knee. I wonder sometimes who is the most nervous at this point… because I could literally feel my heartbeat in my fingers clenching the camera. Robert said he hadn’t thought about getting down on one knee until moments before doing so, and for all the forethought that went into this day this is the pinnacle of his planning. It happens so quickly, but the reactions that follow are easily the some of the most climatically joyful moments that are ever experienced in life… accompanied maybe by your wedding day itself and having a child.
I am convinced that I have at least 32 more uses of the word ‘joy’ or ‘joyful’ in this blog post because of how it characterizes Robert and Adair so perfectly. Robert puts the ring on her hand and Adair is glowing. You might even say literally– boy did GOOD on that ring!
I want to write at least 7 more pages and think that I could easily write 15 for all that was happening and captured yesterday. For instance, you probably didn’t notice the flower arrangement Mrs. Neely brought for the table to place the ring under. Or below, you’ll see Adair wiping her mascara off of Robert’s shirt… When I experience the opportunity to personally witness and document moments like these, I sense God’s smile when His intentions are realized by His children that He loves and desires to bless.
Robert, thank you. Thank you for your friendship and for the honor of being present yesterday. This is why I love my job. I feel such a weight of gratitude and responsibility, and above all– privilege, to be able to tell this story for you in images and words. Adair, take in all that you can from this weekend. The more you see how the ‘behind the scenes’ unfolded, you will be all the more amazed by your man. He loves you (you already know that) and he set a high bar to begin the rest of your lives together which I’m sure will only be continually raised. To the soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Robert Neely, the love of Christ that each of you clings to will be continually evident in your love for each other and soon to be marriage. What a joyful season of life you have been blessed with to experience and share. I count myself blessed to call you friends.