Downtown Des Moines Engagement Session

September 9, 2022

Emily + Paul

Paul had seen Emily before and officially met her during a mutual friend’s birthday party. As Paul was standing on the rooftop bar at Social House, a friend “dragged Emily” up to him and said, “Hey, this is Emily. You should buy her a drink.”

He did just that. They talked that night for a while, and after she left, that friend gave Paul her number. She said, “This is Emily’s number. You should text her.”

Emily said of that night, “He somehow got my phone number. After that, he took me out for ice cream a little later… Finally, he’s a bit of a slow mover.”

Paul said of meeting Emily, “I have never been a super forward person and am pretty laid back overall. My Mom always joked that a girl would have to be put in front of me for me to pursue them. It turns out Mom knows best! I will always be thankful for that friend helping me break the ice.”

“I knew that Emily was different from any girl I had met before.” – Paul

Paul began looking for rings right around when the pandemic hit, so he couldn’t see them in person. So, guided by her Pinterest boards, he spent tons of time scouring the internet to find the perfect one.

Paul thought about how he would propose and how to make it memorable for the two of them.

Emily is pretty low-key, so he didn’t want to do anything too showy and public. His parents and sister got engaged at a State Park, and hiking was one of his and Emily’s favorite quarantine pastimes. Location – Wapsipinicon State Park in Anamosa. ✔️

Family is important to both of them, so Paul knew he wanted their families to be together to celebrate after the proposal. Post Proposal – Both families would meet at Backpocket Brewery in Dubuque. ✔️

Lastly, one of Paul’s first outings with Emily’s family was to attend the Galena Halloween parade. He had wanted to take her back to Galena ever since for a little getaway. Dinner Plans – a reservation at Vinny Vannuchi’s in Galena. ✔️

Everything fell into place, and after a very hot hike through the state park, Paul convinced Emily to check out an overlook spot. He got down on one knee, and she said, “yes!”

Emily + Paul’s fall engagement session at Waterworks Park and downtown Des Moines.

I was really excited to travel to Des Moines for this session. It is so inspiring to photograph sessions in new places. Water Works Park provided the perfect lush, green backdrop reminiscent of their state park engagement.

Afterward, we headed downtown for a gorgeous golden sunset. Emily and Paul danced on the roof of a parking garage and cuddled in front of the capital building. It was nothing short of magical. 🤩

Keep scrolling to read more about their love story!

couple sitting together at Water Works Park in Des Moines

3 words to describe Paul, by Emily | patient, a good listener, caring, and a smart butt 😀

Fall engagement photos at Water Works Park in Des Moines

3 words to describe Emily, by Paul | caring, selfless, and weird (in the absolutely best way)

engaged couple walking through Water Works Park in Des Moines

I knew I wanted to spend forever with my love when…

Emily: “I knew I wanted to spend forever with him after we graduated college and had to do long-distance. Going to see him in Des Moines was the highlight of my weekends, and it was always hard to have to leave. When I finally moved to Des Moines, and we could spend as much time as we wanted, I knew I would be with him forever when I never got sick of him. 😊”

I knew I wanted to spend forever with my love when…

Paul: “The first time we met up after the night of the party bus, we got ice cream at Four Queens and just talked and hung out for a while. From that conversation, I knew that Emily was different from any girl I had met before. Her care for others and focus on family were immediately evident from our conversation, and that really stuck with me.

We had similar upbringings, and I found that we had a lot of natural chemistry without really trying. (I will be honest, this did make me a little skeptical at first because I thought she was maybe just agreeing with me and saying things I’d want to hear, but over time I realized that we just naturally found ourselves on the same page and would always find our way there when we weren’t). From that night at Four Queens, I knew that she had a chance to be the one, but I am naturally a slow mover and just needed a little time to prove myself right.”

What is something you both have in common?

Emily: “We’re both pretty athletic!”

Paul: “We both have older sisters that graduated HS in 2011, attended UNI, are married, and have names that start with L (Lindy and Lauren)!”

What is something that’s totally different about the two of you?

Emily: “He is good with money and finance sort of things where I am completely oblivious to that sort of stuff. I would say I can tend to be a bit more high maintenance and easily overwhelm myself and he is way more calm and level-headed.”

Paul: “I am very slow-paced and am content to address things as they come up. Emily is more high-energy and very proactive!”

golden hour engagement photos in downtown des moines engaged couple walking through downtown des moines

What is a fun fact/something people might not guess about your fiancé?

Emily: “He is a killer dancer and can move those hips like Shakira!”

Paul: “Emily is a deeply competitive person. This may not always show as she is normally a very kind and very caring person, but she has a fiery streak that is unleashed when she is playing a game or sport.”

These two are so wonderful together! I can’t wait for their wedding tomorrow at the Millwork Ballroom & Event Center in Dubuque, Iowa!

Side note: It’s been almost five years since I first met Emily when I photographed her sister Lauren’s wedding in September of 2017! Time flies when you’re having fun!

If these photos resonated with you, & you’re getting married in Iowa, Illinois, or Wisconsin, click over to my contact form & drop me a line.

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Located in Bellevue, Iowa
Serving Eastern Iowa +
Madison, WI + Galena, IL

Modern wedding photography & family documentary sessions in Dubuque Iowa, the Quad Cities, and beyond. Located in Bellevue. Documenting love stories in the everyday moments & the life changing ones. Focused on creating honest images.