You won’t believe the fake contest this guy created to propose [Ali & Will]

Ali Monroe & Will Johnson
Photography by The Schultzes

Check out this engagement story, as told by Will: 

I had to get Ali to Locust, N.C. without her knowing what was going on. So I created a fake contest.

We met in August of 2012, while both serving on our dorm’s hall council at UNC Charlotte. We began planning events together and became friends. We started dating after going to uptown Charlotte for a New Year’s Eve celebration, and over the next two and a half years, Ali and I talked many times about my proposing. Her only stipulations: a photographer had to be hiding in a bush and she had to be wearing something nice. So I began my research.

Ali & Will_5

The Schultzes

I reached out to photographer Cheyenne Schultz of The Schultzes, who became an integral part of the proposal. Together, we planned the date (July 12), the location (a beautiful tree on the side of the road in Locust)—and the ruse.

Using some of Cheyenne’s branding materials, I created an online giveaway for a mini photo session. I told Ali she should enter the contest for a chance to win. A few weeks later, Cheyenne emailed Ali to tell her she’d won the giveaway. (Imagine that!)

Ali was ecstatic and began coordinating the shoot (i.e. every detail of my proposal). She had no idea.

Ali & Will_3

The Schultzes

When the day of the photo shoot arrived, we drove to visit my family in Charlotte. My mom’s birthday was a few days away, so I gave her a manicure. Per the plan, my mom invited Ali to join her at the salon and convinced her to get a manicure, too.   

Afterward, we got in my car and headed to Locust, driving through what felt like  a small monsoon.We just knew the photo shoot would be rained out. But the skies cleared up soon after we arrived.

Cheyenne took a few fun pictures and then asked me to put on my sport coat. The ring was hidden in its pocket. After a few photos, we decided the jacket “wasn’t working,” so I placed it out of the frame, grabbed the ring box, and walked back over to Ali.

Ali & Will_7

The Schultzes

Then I told her she wasn’t there because of a contest. She was there because a boy met a girl and fell in love with her. Ali was tearing up as I got on one knee, an act I’d practiced in the mirror for weeks.

Shortly after Ali said yes, it began to rain again. The clouds had parted for 15 minutes— just for us.

Will and Ali were married July 9, 2016.