When I got the email from Morgan to come capture her surprise proposal at the Tilly Jane A Frame I freaked out. I promptly checked my planner and saw that I was supposed to take a flight out of town that same exact day. So I very quickly collected her deposit and you guessed it – changed my flight to the next day! How could I pass this kind of moment up?!?
Wow am I glad that I did. Not only are these two women freaking adorable together and clearly meant for one another but to be a part of such a unique experience and watch from behind my camera was so magical. This is truly something I’ll never forget.
So props to Morgan for setting this whole thing up because there’s no way i would have been able to without my partner knowing. The plan was for them to go camping just for fun at the Tilly Jane A Frame in Mt Hood. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s on the back side away from Portland and up a longgggg dirt road. Don’t try to go up in just any car. Once you get there its so worth it. There’s lots of little open traditional camp sites and then the cabin itself (newly refurbished) has a hangout area down below and the loft upstairs, which I believe fits 20+ people in sleeping bags.
Morgan asked Carissa to go set everything up in the cabin while she dealt with an issue that came up with a friend, conveniently there’s only cell service in the parking lot. I showed up as they were BOTH unloading the car so I quickly pretended I was just a random hiker. Then once Carissa went to the cabin we hurried to bring the supplies to this little amphitheater which was probably literally 200 feet away from where C was.
We set up string lights (which BY THE WAY are so annoying to untangle) and Morgan clipped a bunch of polaroid pictures of the two of them from the last few years. Fast forward 15 minutes… just as we were finishing up the job I saw Morgans face go blank and I said “what?”. I turn around and Carissa is standing right there. I can only imagine what was going through her mind including, “who tf is this chick?”. She said “ummm.. should I go?” and Morgan was like yes plz. We laughed it off and she went to go grab her to bring her back for the big moment.
At this point I’m sure Carissa knew what was going on… so these photos above are technically the second time she saw the setup (hence the face haha). What’s a surprise proposal without a few hiccups along the way???
The two of them had a few tender minutes of the actual proposal with lots of laughs and some tears (including a few of mine) and a big resounding YES! Another part of all this that I learned along the way was that they both decided to take turns proposing and Carissa had actually proposed to Morgan earlier in the week so it was perfect! I LOVE that and wish I had gotten to propose to my now hubby.
They popped champagne and drank out of the best custom mugs and then we had about an hour to take cute photos before I had to head back down the mountain.
IT EVEN STARTED SNOWING. I was glowing inside, and maybe outside too, when the snow started coming down. I could care less that my camera and myself were getting soaked.
Fun fact: my husband and I coined the term “snain” which is when you have that in between of snow and rain. I shared this with M & C and we couldn’t stop laughing about it and talking about the darn snain. Little did they know they’d wake up to multiple inches of snow the next morning! How beautiful and special that must have been!
Look how perfect this little cabin is! I’m very much looking forward to coming back here sometime next spring to stay the night. No running water or electricity so be prepared if you’re going to go! There’s another small cabin up there that’s actually where the rangers stay occasionally thats cute too (see last photo).
Shhh no one has to know this pile of wood was very short and they are doing wall sits. #worthit.
EEK- more snow at the end. I love it. And Morgan loved the shutters.
Overall I’m so beyond grateful to have been a part of this surprise proposal and their love story. I hope to work with these two gems sometime in the future. Unfortunately I have to miss their amazing wedding coastal getaway next summer but I’ll be living vicariously through the photos!! All my best to you, Morgan & Carissa.
To learn more about Tilly Jane and to make a reservation check out their website: https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233326
Kelsey Straus is a PNW Elopement +
Intimate Wedding Photographer
based in Portland, Oregon