Matt and Gina’s military couple session/engagement session (with surprise proposal!) | Youngstown, OH portrait photography

Once in a while you get the opportunity to play a little part in something that is just wonderful. This weekend, I had one of those experiences when I had the privilege of documenting Matt’s surprise marriage proposal to Gina. How. Cool. Is. That?!? Look, I’m just going to jump right to the photo I know you want to see:

surprise marriage proposal - U.S. Marines | Dr. Z Photography, Youngstown, OH

surprise proposal (in uniform!)

OK, now read on for the whole story and the most adorable proposal/engagement photos!

Gina emailed me a few weeks ago about getting couple portraits with Matt while they were visiting Gina’s family in Youngstown. She and Matt are both U.S. Marines and are living in different states, so they don’t see each other often, and they wanted photos of both of them in uniform. A few days later, I got an email from Matt, who said that he’d bought Gina a ring and wanted to propose during the photo shoot. Am I a sucker for True Love? Oh, you know I am. A flurry of emails with Matt followed, but we managed to get all of the plans in place (and scheduled the photo shoot for 7:30 in the morning on December 28th, so you know I was committed to this idea to get up that early).

We met in the parking lot of Lanterman’s Mill dark and early. Matt slipped me the box with the ring as we walked from the parking lot to the Mill. We started with a few photos of them in uniform as the sky started to lighten up a bit:

I didn’t know when Matt was planning to propose, but I didn’t have to wonder long…he walked over and got the box from my camera bag and then turned around with it in his hands:

I think Gina was surprised. 🙂

surprise marriage proposal - U.S. Marines

surprise proposal (in uniform!)

surprise marriage proposal in U.S. Marine uniforms

surprise proposal (in uniform)!

surprise proposal (in uniform)!

US Marine marriage proposal

(In case it wasn’t abundantly clear from those photos, she said yes!)


After I wiped off my camera lens (which had somehow become all misty during these photos…yeah, it was totally the lens, not me), we walked around the covered bridge and mill. I didn’t have to do much to pose them. 🙂

After a change of clothes and location, we ended up at the Suspension Bridge in Mill Creek Park for the engagement session part of the photo shoot!

(I’d like to tell you I climbed up there ahead of time and put that heart there, but it was just a happy coincidence.)

My job = super easy this morning.

Are they seriously not the cutest?

After this amazing session, we needed a big finish, and they were (as I expected) great sports about what I am secretly thinking of as the “Dr. Z Photography Jump.”

Congratulations, Matt and Gina! And thank you for letting me photograph these wonderful memories for you. Wishing you much happiness in your life together!




  1. […] in time for Memorial Day, Stacy from contacted me this morning about using Matt & Gina’s surprise proposal/engagement photos on their website. How cool is that? Go check it out! […]

  2. caramelsheek says:

    Like what you are doing over here. Great way to capture special moments. Awesome!

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