Chao and Tej | A National Arboretum Surprise Proposal in Washington, DC

Yall, I could CRY (Happy tears, of course!)!! Not only was this the world’s SWEETEST surprise session (more on that in a second), but it was my first in-person project since MARCH! I cannot tell you how amazing it was to be back behind the camera photographing joyful couples, and when it comes to JOY, these two definitely take the cake. I couldn’t have thought of a better session or couple to welcome me back to work!

Tej reached out to me about photographing his and Chao’s surprise proposal a while back, and as we began discussing locations, he really centered on the beauty of one spot in particular. Chao and Tej are local to Baltimore, so we went back and forth about a few spots local to them and local to DC before deciding that the National Arboretum was absolutely the perfect spot. The only problem? It was closed! Not to mention the Arboretum also had a waitlist for a permit about a MILE long. These two are busy and only have so many coordinating days off from work, but Tej was more than ready to ask the big question! So… Tej reached out to a few people that he knew at the Arboretum, and the next thing we knew, we were officially permitted and planning a proposal for the very FIRST day that the Arboretum would be open in months! What in the WORLD?! It made for a whirlwind of emails and secret Facetime planning, but talk about meant to be— six years in the making! (Sending a HUGE thank you to the team at the Arboretum that made this possible for this amazing and hardworking couple!)

Tej and Chao met in their first week of medical school at Stanford during an outdoor/wilderness retreat… they went on their first date a few weeks later, and they’ve been together ever since. They both currently work as resident physicians at Johns Hopkins. For their proposal, Tej was hoping to find a dynamic outdoor location that was super striking to the eye— I think it’s safe to say he found the PERFECT spot.

Now… I have to admit, I was a little nervous because not only was this my first session back, but it was a total SURPRISE for Chao… and it was happening just about an hour after the Arboretum opened for the first time in a few months (Which meant that pretty much all of our planning happened in less than an hour!). I spent a few minutes sending pictures back and forth to Tej to plan the proposal spot, and before I knew it, these two were walking up the path as I hid behind a bush to photograph the big moment!

Their proposal was actually the sweetest thing ever and couldn’t have been more perfect. It was such an honor to document such a meaningful moment for these two. Are you ready for a sneak peek into the surprise?!

Here they come! Tej told her they would be meeting a friend at the Arboretum for an opening day party. This looks like the moment Chao realized something else may have been planned for their day!! So much joy!  She said YES! These two are just THE sweetest! Time to celebrate with some portraiture! The columns made for one EPIC backdrop. Ahhh their smiles say it all! I mean… can we talk about one EPIC location?! That RING!!! Tej… you did GOOD!

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