“It was the week before Christmas (give or take), when all through Berlin,
All the people were stirring - eating, buying, and stockpilin’.
Sweet Stollen was eaten in all Christmas markets,
Grilled sausages fell off everyone's pockets;
Glühwein was getting to everyone's head,
With visions of Schmalz on dark German bread.
Gloomy and bleak was always the weather
Only Glühwein mit Schuss could make it a lil' better,
The drizzle was not planning on becoming snow
The sun hadn't shone in weeks on poor us, below.
It was a quiet December so I'd called it a wrap,
And had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
A man, set on secretly proposing, right here!
In front of the Gate, next to the wall! (well, former)
Among all those legions of tourists? Dash it all!
He wouldn't budge and he wouldn't steer clear
Of these flocks of tourists he had no fear!
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
Giving me a nod, down on one knee he goes;
Steadies his voice and counts down to five,
And asks his surprised girlfriend to become his wife.
People would clap and some even cheer
Some smiled and stared, some would just shyly peer,
But let me no longer in limp rhymes digress.
No need to ask, of course she said yes!”
My little pastiche of a poem might be descriptive enough, but for those who do not appreciate an epic depiction, let me break that down in prose.
This is B. He wrote to me back in October, he was planning to propose to his girlfriend, B., in December, during their winter holiday in Germany. He had his mind set on Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop. I must admit, first I gently tried to dissuade him from this idea and to suggest other places, admittedly less iconic, but also less filled with trolley-dragging, selfie-taking, zigzagging crowds.
However, when the Christmas tree was plopped smack in the middle of Pariser Platz, the place lit up with cheer and all the people fidgeting around faded away in the background. It was becoming a good spot for a proposal.
Now I only needed that particular afternoon to look like this…
Needless to say, we did not get a rosy sunset behind Brandenburger Tor for the secret proposal, so we had to rely on the sunshine within - which they both had, plentifully, all smiling and cheerful, despite the damp afternoon and some mild jet lag.
So we proceeded, just as planned: under the cover of an impromptu photo session as a souvenir from Berlin, at some point, he was going to pop the question and the carefully selected ring out of his pocket.
But until then, let’s warm up with some nice holiday cheer, thank you Berlin Christmas Tree for the nice background.
Oh, oh, here’s my cue, it’s actually starting! And she had no idea this was going to happen. That is one of my favourite moments, that complex succession of feelings reflected on the girl’s face, starting from mild confusion (what is he doing?), followed quickly by suspicion (he can’t be doing that, can he…?), then by elation and acceptance.
It’s a beautiful moment.
And exactly at that moment, a giant group started to disperse from the background and insinuate into the… ever closer foreground. I’m pretty sure neither B., nor B. noticed the impending rush, but all I could see were people dressed in plastic bags cheering and taking out their phones.
But when you’re in your moment, the world just fades back into white noise.
And a fast lens will make everything blend in the background too, so after I switched cameras again, the spontaneous supporters went poof! in the bokeh and it all faded back to the glow of the blue hour which was already settling in, at only 3:30 in the afternoon.
Thank you for the opportunity, B. and B., it was very nice to have the chance to capture this moment for you, and I wish you both a lifetime of fairy lights.