Cumberland Island Wedding Proposal • Shaina + Joshua

May 1, 2018

Usually I’m here telling other people’s stories through my photos, but today I get to share about our own Cumberland Island wedding proposal story!

Joshua and I first met 4 years ago at a Trapeze lesson after talking online and long phone conversations had piqued our mutual curiosity of each other. We laughed over how close our July birthdays are, and we have found in each other something I  had never dreamed of. We’ve been on some amazing journeys- summer days where he’s taken me through the birchlands of Beaver Island, Michigan where he spent his childhood summers, and exploring the mossy forests and sailing in a dear place to my family’s hearts- Little Cranberry Island, Maine. So when he told me to pack backpacking gear for 60-80 degree weather last Friday, I was excited!

Chapter I: Cumberland Island Backpacking

We arrive at the Cumberland Island ferry terminal, and head off through a tunnel of white lyonia blossoms (Uncle Joel to verify) on the Parallel Trail towards Yankee Paradise. Cumberland Island was our first camping trip together back in the Spring of 2014, and it was the first time we told each other we were in love with one another.

The weekend was dreamlike for the two of us nature lovers- swimming in the ocean and watching the full moon rise over pink sunset skies along the horizon, then warming up on the dunes in the last light of the day. Finding countless whole sand dollars, whelks, lettered olive shells and moon shells, which Joshua encouraged me to decorate a palm tree with instead of take home.. then the magic of walking back to our campsite through a veil of fireflies and moonlight.  The next night we had dinner on the porch of Plum Orchard with a wild stallion grazing next to us, before watching the sunset over the saltmarsh.


Photography: Gordon DeCiryan

As if all of that wasn’t enough, we got off the ferry and Joshua mentioned that we should walk through the new park. I was eager to put my backpack down off my aching shoulders and got excited to find some swinging benches.. I missed the fact that he was trying to steer me towards the fountain, but once we settled into the bench he reached over to his backpack, got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. After that is a beautiful blur for me. When he told me to stand up and turn around, I saw a group of strangers taking photos of us. He had to tell me “Shaina, that’s your family! It’s your mom and dad, and brother.”, before I could even recognize them and what was going on. I still feel like I’m floating and suspect we are currently situated somewhere around cloud eleven.

“…no one else, love, will sleep in my dreams. you will go, we will go together, over the waters of time. no one else will travel through the shadows with me, only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon ”

— Pablo Neruda

It wasn’t until we got to dinner that we realized I had forgotten to accept Joshua’s proposal… So the answer is, a resounding YES! My heart is so full right now with pure starlit, oceanic, wildflower colored happiness at this amazing man, who as of Monday April 30th, 2018 is now my fiancé Joshua.  Retracing our first steps on Cumberland Island, sneaking my camera to my brother Gordon and having him and my parents drive 3 hrs up to St. Mary’s to be able to witness the moment is something I know they will treasure forever. Thank you to Gordon for hiding your petite 6’5 frame in the bushes and giving your sister a proper surprise. I can’t think of a more fun way for our engagement to begin.


Joshua noticed how I sign my emails to him with “love + light” instead of the usual “light + love” I write as my signature for my photography work.  So he had those words inscribed in the tiniest little french script on the inside of the ring. We designed the ring collaboratively this Spring, with a blue-green sapphire (ethically sourced), which represents the forests and oceans we both love exploring together. It also reminds me of the elusive and ever changing color of Joshua’s eyes that made my heart flutter when I first met him.

In light + love,

Location: Cumberland Island National Seashore
Sapphire Engagement Ring: Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels
Dress: Prana
Shoes: Earthrunners
Photography Backpack: F-Stop Modular Camera Backpack


I just love love love this story, love you two together and individually. Love that we were asked to be a part of such a magical moment! I really love how the plans were overwritten by the moment, none of us quite knew how it was all going to happen but we all went with the flow and somehow managed to catch a few moments on camera. It was exciting, hilarious and so so sweet!!!! Thankyou to Joshua for staging the whole thing and yes, he really did pull of a complete surprise to my visual, very observant daughter who usually does not miss a thing!!!