Saree Engagement by Lacie Hansen
Written by Fri F.
Those words by bride-to-be, Nicole Steakley, pretty much summarize her “boy-meets-girl” story with fiancé, Hiten Iyer. Two years after that first date, their Santa Barbara beach engagement session (featured in the anniversary issue of Nouveau magazine) takes that cinematic romance to another level and was captured skillfully by photographer Lacie Hansen.
HOW THEY MET:
NICOLE: Hiten and I had planned a weekend away in Ojai for our two year anniversary. After our time there and on our way back to Santa Barbara, where we live, we decided since it was one of the most beautiful days ever…to take a hike up to Saddle Rock. This hike is one we used to take frequently when we first met. We loved it because once you reach the top, it is has the most amazing 180 degree views of the Santa Barbara coastline. It was also here, where we first talked about getting married two years ago, just a few days after we had met.
So, on our two year anniversary it was here at “our spot” where Hiten asked me to Marry him. Little did I know, that in the weeks leading up to this day, Hiten had hiked this trail a few dozen times timing exactly how long it would take to get up to “our spot” & get back down, and most importantly in search of a secret shooting rock close by.
A few months before the proposal, I had mentioned how cool it would be to have a secret photographer hiding & taking snapshots of the proposal, capturing such a special moment. Hiten completely dismissed it as “the stupidest thing ever”, but I guess he remembered how much it mattered to me when our time came.
Hiten had been in talks with my dad, who is a world class outdoor & adventure photographer, and they had devised a plan. From “our spot” above, we had an amazing view of everything, EXCEPT the hidden photographers, my dad with his telephoto lens & camera & Hiten’s best friend with his video camera, who were crouched far below, behind a rock & makeshift shrubs they had put up to hide behind. We have secret pictures and a video of the whole thing!! I had no idea of the secret photographers until we were headed back down the mountain, in a joyful daze. As we came around a bend, out jumped all of our closest friends, and both of our families, including my dad & Hitens best friend capturing the whole thing! I was completely shocked Hiten had coordinated our decent from the mountain to coincide with our families and friends surprising us in a small pasture at the head of the trail. I had NO idea that any of this had been planned & was overjoyed to see all of the people we care about the most here to celebrate the proposal! While Hiten was proposing, our friends & family had all set up a lavish feast of wine & cheese & ceremonial Indian auspicious foods. Hitens parents had also prepared garlands of flowers and a small alter, where we had an Indian “Puja” or ceremonial celebration. After tons of congratulations, hugs and kisses, toasts, we all went to a small bistro in Montecito to celebrate! The whole experience was absolutely wonderful from beginning to end & I am so happy we have photos & video to remember it forever!
NOUVEAU: Project ahead to your one year anniversary, or five or ten year? What does it look like? What do you hope to have learned as a couple?
NICOLE: In the years to come we can’t wait to start a family, grow & learn together. To share not only the big milestones but also be able to enjoy & savor all the small everyday moments. As a couple, we have begun to learn how to respect each others opinions, and choices. In the future we want to continue working on embracing these differences, whether they be cultural, or personal, and fold both of our life experiences & backgrounds into our children’s lives.
HITEN: I have learned how important family and community is, and have realized how incredibly lucky we are to have such a supportive network of people around us. My ultimate hope is that our children can share in the love & joy we’ve found within each other and through our families and communities. In five years we hope to have a vow renewal celebration and bring everyone from our upcoming wedding back together. Only this time somewhere tropical!Lacie Hansen; Beauty by Team Hair & Make Up}