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Romantic Summertime Engagement Session in Downtown Madison | Madison Wedding Photographer

A man hugs a woman from behind in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol

As Madison engagement photographers, we've explore endless urban and colorful locations for photo sessions. And let's be honest, we couldn't ask for a more perfect area to search! From the warm evening sun to the historical buildings of State Street and the Capitol, Madison has it all! When Becca and Zach told us they wanted to explore a mix of rich greenery and city streets, we knew exactly where to take them for the session of their dreams: Downtown Madison!

Becca and Zach are two of the most giggly, warm, and welcoming couples. We sent them a few juicy questions and man oh man, their answers are the BEST!

Engagement Photos at The Wisconsin Capitol

How did you meet? 

Zach and I met in high school, or more specifically, in the high school play! We went to a small school so we knew of each other for a long time, but it wasn't until high school that we really connected. He was a senior and I was a sophomore at the time. We bonded over our hatred for late night play-practices and our love for improv (we were both part of separate Destination Imagination Improv teams at Pacelli at the time), and Zach won me over with his oh-so-flirty high fives in the scene we were in together. We also may have taken the time to goof around and play pranks while backstage.... From there, we started spending more time together, finding common interests, and finding new interests together. Our relationship has definitely grown since high school, and it's been wonderful to live life together. 

Pacelli is in Stevens Point- Becca and Zach's hometown- and our hometown too! Sneak a peek at a few of our favorite Stevens Point photographs !

What would you say was the *moment* you knew there was something there? 

I'd say the moment we both knew being together was something quite special was the first time Zach had said "I love you." Up until that point, we had constantly been saying "I like you, I like you a lot," to each other, yet neither of us had really said the big "L" word! So one night, only a couple months into our relationship, we went skiing up at Granite Peak. At the top of Elk Run, Zach stopped me, tangled me up in his skiis and into a hug, and finally said those three little words- "I love you." And of course I was beaming (which he couldn't see under my ski mask!) and quickly said it back. We were both relieved that we could officially start saying "I love you" to each other, and both felt that small moment together was something so special. To this day, Elk Run holds a special place in our heart and we always make sure to ski down when at Granite Peak!  

A summer evening at Period Garden Park

What as your first date?

I think our first formal date was at Politos, a local pizza place in downtown Stevens Point. I remember it being a Wednesday night, because my parents never let me go out on a school night! So I told a little white lie to get out of the house for a quick hour or so, and then right back home. It was only another week or so before Zach and I "officially" started dating- I think he asked me out right after another Politos date! 

Another big moment in your relationship (moving, etc)

A big moment in our relationship was when I left for school at UW-Madison. At that point we'd been dating about 2.5 years and had already done long distance when Zach was at UW-Oshkosh before transferring to UW-Stevens Point and while I was finishing high school. Before leaving, we didn't really have a "plan" for how to continue working on our relationship since it had been so easy when Zach was in school. For the first time ever, we were both in college and in different towns. The change really hit us really hard. I remember feeling homesick and overwhelmed because I missed home, loved Madison, and had no clue how to balance school and a "legit" long-distance relationship. It was also hard for Zach because we hadn't planned a schedule on when we were going to see each other. The change definitely took us by surprise and put our relationship through the wringer. But after a few months, we met up, spoke honestly about the hardships, and agreed that we both wanted to do whatever it took to make our relationship work. We came up with a schedule to see each other which was wonderful. Within the following months, our communication skills, maturity, and trust in each other magnified. It was a very challenging period, but a period of growth that ultimately benefited us individually and relationally. 

A man and woman smile down at a changeable letter sign that is announcing their engagement

How did Zach propose? 

So sometimes Zach is an over-the-top kind of guy, and it was no different for the proposal! It all started with Zach letting me know he had planned a weekend away in Chicago, but when he came to pick me up, he threw me a rolling suitcase and a quart-sized bag and simply said I would need to repack. I immediately knew we would be flying somewhere, but had no idea where! It wasn't until we got to the airport that he let me know our destination- Charleston, SC (neither of us had been before)! At this point, I didn't suspect anything, partly because I was still so surprised, and partly because Zach just does this kind of thing. We arrived late Friday night and had no solid plans for the weekend, other than Zach wanting to visit a nearby county park/beach. Saturday rolled around and we decided to go for a historic carriage ride in downtown Charleston, followed by a wonderful lunch at a quaint, local cafe. Zach then suggested going to Folly Beach, the one place he mentioned wanting to go to (still, I suspected nothing.) We arrived at the beach, and it was a wonderfully sunny yet extremely windy day. We set off walking along the beach hand in hand. I was excited to be by the ocean, and Zach was being a little more quiet than usual (again, didn't suspect a thing). We made our way down the peninsula of the beach, where I was fascinated by the shells, waves, sun, etc. Little did I know, Zach had tried to start his proposal 2 or 3 times, without much success due to me being distracted. He finally mustered up the last of his courage for one final attempt. As I turned around from splashing in the waves, Zach took my hand and (although neither of us can remember exactly what he said) started his proposal saying that we were on quite the adventure together this weekend, and that he wanted to keep taking adventures together for the rest of our lives (this plays into all the "adventures" we took while backstage in the high school play, but also all of the dates/adventures we took once dating) He got down on one knee and pulled out a beautiful custom-made ring. He told me that he loved me and could only imagine living life by each other's side. I was so surprised, it took me a minute or two to finally say "yes" through all the happy tears, smiling, and jumping up and down. We spent the rest of the day exploring the nearby beaches, spending time on the Folly Beach Pier, and letting our family know the exciting news! 

A man and woman share a moment together under a large leafy tree in Madison, WI

How did you decide on which locations you wanted your engagement session to include

For our engagement location, we both knew we wanted to choose a place that meant something to both of us. We considered Stevens Point and Rib Mountain, but my heart was really calling out for Madison, since the city has completely won me over during my time there. Zach agreed, especially knowing that it would have such unique and diverse places to take pictures. We definitely had a real struggle on narrowing down our locations because so many places wouldn't allow photography due to COVID. I think we might have had to give up 3 or 4 locations we were really hoping to shoot at. But thanks to the great creativity of Olivia, we were able to decide on 3 absolutely gorgeous locations- The Capitol, Period Garden Park, and the Tenney Park Locks. All were completely open and offered for beautiful surroundings. It was a tricky process narrowing down locations, but being flexible and open to options really helped (also lots of Google images!) I honestly couldn't have been any happier with the locations that we picked- it was a great way to further explore the city, as well as a great way to get beautiful pictures! 

Tenney Park Engagement

How did you decide on your engagement outfit color scheme? 

Outfits were one of the most fun, yet slightly tricky, things to prepare for in terms of the shoot. I knew I wanted different outfits to reflect the different locations we would be in- more formal at the Capitol, cute and relaxed in the green space of Period Garden Park, and casual for the waterfront of Tenney Park Locks. I was definitely eager to pick out outfits, whereas Zach was more laidback about it. This worked out great so that I could pick out my outfits first, and we could come up with outfits for him later. We tried to pick pieces that would coordinate with each other and be cohesive in the space around us. We stayed away from clashing patterns and colors, and tended to stick with outfits that easily complemented each other. The most important thing we considered was our own comfort- we didn't want to be fidgeting or fixing ourselves the entire time. We took some time picking out our favorite clothes and laying them next to each other until we found the perfect combination that we liked- and I think we did a pretty decent job! ;) 

Tell us about your favorite moment from you engagement session, or what you loved most?

Zach and I both agreed that the best part, and this was something we immediately talked about once the session wrapped up, was how easy and carefree the entire session was! We were both slightly apprehensive since neither of us has ever had professional pictures taken. But immediately, Olivia and Bryan welcomed us with (theoretically)  open arms and started the session on such a high note. Zach and I were a little worried we wouldn't do the "right" thing, but with Olivia and Bryan's help, it was smooth sailing. Olivia did a wonderful job of making us feel comfortable with an ongoing conversation and helped us get in the photography mood with small prompts and cues, but never any formal posing (which Zach and I agreed was so helpful and natural-feeling!) I absolutely loved the ways Olivia would prompt Zach to whisper in my ear a promise, have me whisper my 3 favorite things about him, or even have Zach say the entire alphabet with a British accent! This just kept the giggle coming! And of course, Bryan was always such a great help and really made us feel right at home. I was really surprised by how fun and natural it all felt, and we were honestly so sad when the session was over! Zach and I couldn't have asked for a better experience with Olivia and Bryan- we absolutely cannot wait for them to capture our big day! 

a couple looks at each other while the moon glows between them - Tenney Park

As the evening drew to a close, the moon rose high and the sky turned to navy. And if we're being honest, we were sad that our time together was drawing to an end- because Becca and Zach's session was an absolute BLAST. But the best news is that these two are getting married next summer so we get to work this magic with them all over again!! Congratulations Becca and Zach- and thanks for laughing all the way through these Downtown Madison engagement photos!!!

Ready for some helpful tips to plan your own engagement session? Start here!

Let's get engagement planning!!!

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