Kelsey and Ryan weren’t planning on taking outdoor engagement photos, or having an engagement session at all, really. But, after stumbling upon a photographer’s Instagram post announcing a contest for a free session, plans changed. A few weeks after entering, Kelsey says they were contacted by Leah, of L Hewitt Photography, who told them that even though they hadn’t won the contest, she was willing to give them a free session anyways. “We were so excited and things started to come together quickly [afterwards],” says the couple. They chose the National Arboretum as the location and a picnic-inspired theme, orchestrated by Leah, for their shoot. The couple says they enjoyed working with their photographer so much so, they hired her to document their upcoming destination wedding in Greece! See more of their outdoor engagement photos below.
How They Met and First Date Story
“Ryan and I met the old fashioned way; swiping right on Tinder,” Kelsey explains. She says that after complaining about the struggles of dating, her best friend downloaded the app and “took the reigns” by doing some swiping on her behalf. Ryan and Kelsey matched, and over a brief correspondence, agreed to meet.
For their first date, they met at Maddy’s Taproom in downtown DC to watch college football. Both of their teams were playing and they had bonded over the fact that they were both SEC fans. “Me, rooting for the Auburn Tigers, and he, rooting for the Mizzou Tigers,” Kelseys says. They both remember not paying much attention to either game that night, and for the past five years, have celebrated that night, November 1st, as their anniversary.
How They Got Engaged
Before getting engaged, Kelsey and Ryan decided to go ring shopping together. They found a jewelry brand called Bario Neal, which creates ethical and unique engagement rings, and together, picked out the gems and style. After that, Kelsey was kept entirely out of the loop and was surprised when Ryan proposed on a trip to her parents’ river house in Mathews, Va. During sunset, he asked Kelsey to take a walk out to the dock to take a few photos, and before she knew it, “he was down on one knee with the beautiful engagement ring they made together,” she says.
The Details About Their Outdoor Engagement Photos
The pair both live in Northeast DC and frequent the Arboretum often. So, when Leah offered the couple a free engagement session, it was the only place they could envision for their outdoor engagement photos. With Leah’s help, they put together a real picnic—complete with a bottle of champagne, blanket, and basket full of flowers—and posed throughout the Arboretum’s grounds. They also had another “big feature” for their photos, their dog, Ginny. “We couldn’t imagine not including her in our session,” Kelsey says.
Pro tip: The Arboretum requires a permit and small fee for commercial and professional wedding photography—which you can apply for here.
The couple are planning an intimate destination wedding in Greece. They found a villa off the coast of Evia, which perfectly fits their small guest count of only ten of their nearest and dearest. “We love traveling together, so it seemed like a perfect spot to explore together and stick around for a honeymoon afterwards,” Kelsey says.