Documenting Your Marriage Proposal

Katie Annarino
Joe Wallace proposed to Carly Hyder at her mother's home.

This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in December 2019.

For Carly Hyder, the night of her proposal began with a family dinner. When her then-boyfriend, Joe Wallace, told her that he would meet her at the restaurant, she didn’t think anything of it. But as Carly and her sister walked into their mother’s house to pick her up, she noticed something familiar, albeit out of place, on the counter: a journal that the couple used to write notes to each other. That night, there was a new entry from Joe.

“He just wrote that he loved me and how much he wanted to spend the rest of our lives together,” says Hyder, now Carly Wallace.

The note ended with a simple instruction: Meet me out back. I have something to ask you.

When she stepped onto the wooden deck, the man she loved was waiting amidst the flickering light of dozens of white candles. As he knelt on that crisp November evening under a string of café lights, he did indeed ask her a very important question. And she replied, “yes.”

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Not only did Joe have the element of surprise and a beautiful ring when he proposed, he also was thoughtful enough to hire a pro to capture the event. Of the many photos that Benjamin Derkin of Derk’s Works Photography captured that evening, including close-ups of the engagement ring and the small table with a celebratory bottle of Champagne and two glasses, one truly stands out.

Under the glowing lights, the couple embraces; the soon-to-be bride’s eyes are closed, her arms wrapped around the man she loves. The photo captures not just their love, but their genuine connection.

“The thing that is most intriguing about that photo is that it is 100 percent authentic,” says Derkin, who also photographed the couple’s wedding less than six months later, on April 6, 2019. “You see that peace and joy that they are feeling.”

Although the proposal was flawless, it was missing something, or rather, someone. A year prior, Carly’s stepfather, Rick Upchurch, passed away. To honor their relationship—Carly had known him since she was a child—Joe incorporated an extra-thoughtful touch into the ring he proposed with.

“The diamonds on my ring are from my mom’s engagement ring, and the wedding band was my stepdad’s,” says Carly. “I get to keep my stepdad with me always.”

As newlyweds, the Wallaces already have realized what is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons about marriage: It is not the beginning of a new story, but rather, a new chapter in a long line of loved ones who have brought them to where they are today.