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Top five locations in Colorado to propose in the snow

Top five locations in Colorado to propose in the snow

Looking to propose while on a ski trip in Colorado?

Here are my top five surprise proposal locations in the Central Rockies close to Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail, Colorado.

Dog Sledding in Breckenridge

Dogsledding proposal in Breckenridge Colorado

Is your favorite girl a dog lover? Well then, proposing while dog sledding in the backcountry may just be the way to make your proposal really the BEST DAY EVER!

Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge, Colorado is the best! As a photographer, I loved how easy it was to work with the staff, they were so accommodating and really friendly. The tour guide even helped film the proposal for the couple and played along with me being a  “social media manager”.

Beverly was just giving the lead dog some love when Jonathan asked her to marry him. She was shocked! I think she was just as shocked to learn that I wasn’t working with Good Times for Instagram content, but that he actually hired me to help plan and capture this whole thing.

The Arrabelle at Vail Square

The Arrabelle at Vail Square is a luxurious place to relax, sip good champagne and propose to the girl of your dreams. Nina and Chris were staying at the Arrabelle and I worked with the staff about two weeks before to reserve the Great Room’s Terrace and design some gorgeous floral arrangements with Vintage Magnolia

Chris gave me two words to describe Nina’s style: Parisian Chic. Since we’re not in France, Vail is the next best place and we were able to create a space and use the backdrop of the gorgeous slope side village to really bring his vision to life.

Loveland Pass Continental Divide

Loveland Pass Continental Divide Colorado Proposal

If you’re not afraid of a little cold then Loveland Pass Continental Divide is a great spot to be on a mountain top surrounded by snowy mountains. Warning: it will be cold and windy, so just go with it! If you’re coming from Denver and staying in Keystone, it’s the perfect alternative route to take in order to surprise her on the way to your ski-in ski-out condo. 

Sapphire Point Overlook

Sapphire Point Proposal

This place is probably the most visited spot in Colorado and for good reason.  It has  panoramic views of the Ten Mile Range and Lake Dillon. It’s just a stop off the road between Breckenridge and Keystone and easily accessible which makes this a great place to easily surprise her with a casual pull off the road to check out the views from the overlook. Pro tip: walk behind the rock wall at the overlook to get unobstructed views of the mountains before you ask her to be your wife. 

Boreas Pass in Breckenridge

Snowy tree proposal in Breckenridge Colorado

Hands down one of my favorite places for a winter walk in Breckenridge. You start out on the snowy road through a row of pine trees and then round the corner to a jaw dropping backdrop of Breckenridge Ski Resort. This road used to be a railroad track and has some incredible rock structures that used to frame steam engines back in the gold mining days. That’s why this place is so special and the perfect place to go for a winter walk and surprise her with a ring. Pro tip: this location is extra special after a fresh blanket of snow. Consider this location if you’re here and Mother Nature just delivered the fluffy white stuff.

How I help plan AND capture surprise proposals.

You may or may not know this about me. When I decided to go full time with my photography and leave my teaching job after eight years in education, I took a part time job working in the luxury wedding industry with a company called Go Bella Design and Planning. As Emily Campbell’s assistant event producer, I loved every wedding and client I got to work with. I stopped working part time on the Bella team due to the pandemic, but I learned a lot in the year that I worked at Go Bella and am so thankful for the knowledge and relationships I have because of it. 

I know I can’t plan an entire wedding from start to finish. I’ll leave that up to the pros like Emily. However, I have taken my experience in the planning and design world and my rolodex of connections and starting planning surprise proposals.

What my client has to say about helping him plan and capture his proposal

I’ve been capturing surprise proposals since 2018 and I love the entire process. Read what my very first client said about his experience with me capturing his surprise proposal:

Andrea was simply Amazing!! She helped me every step of the way in planning the perfect spot to propose and coordinating the timing and the surprise element all tailored to my needs. She even went on site several hours early that morning prepping the location and setting up and sent a detailed plan of how to get to the exact spot. She stayed hidden to capture the moments all the way, with a photoshoot after. Photos came out spectacular and my fiancé and I could not be happier with the whole experience!!

Tanner, proposal client

Now, I work with the venue on site to make sure the location is reserved, private, and set up perfectly. I also work with local floral designers to enhance the setup and even design mood boards for the style of the proposal so it matches the couples personalities and likes. Check out the Mood Board I created for Nina and Chris’s proposal to ensure that the design came out perfectly and tailored to them.

Looking to propose soon while on your ski trip? Reach out soon so we can start the uber fun planning process!

What to Know About Having a Snowy Photography Session

What to Know About Having a Snowy Photography Session

A lot of my couples are Southern like me. Some of them have never seen snow before. I love the opportunity to document the first trip to see snow in our beautiful winter town of Breckenridge. When planning for a winter session in Breckenridge it’s good to know a few things before. Hint, there will be snow! I wanted to cover what to expect, how to stay warm, and what looks best for a snowy winter session.

First thing I want my clients to know is dress warmly! Absolutely wear that cute winter outfit, but also wear thermals underneath and a big coat. Most of my clients will shed their coats and gloves for photos, and immediately put it back on in between photos. Staying warm ensures that we get to shoot longer and you get more pictures!

Also, the location I’ll suggest will be accessible and walkable, but I’d still wear tall boots or snow boots with wool socks as you’ll be walking in the snow. I’ve been known to come to a location after a fresh snow fall and pack down the snow while wearing my snowshoes. I want to make sure you can walk to our locations without getting buried knee deep in snow.

Styling Suggestions For Winter Photo Sessions

Some of my clients like to know my styling suggestions, too. As far as styling your session, a statement coat with a beanie, scarf and gloves or a warm, oversized, snuggly sweater with tall boots and a hat is super cute. The great thing about snow is it creates a beautiful white backdrop, so even though it might seem counterintuitive, soft pastel, muted colors like soft pinks and powder blues still look great! And, remember, regardless of the setting, you can never go wrong with neutrals!

Seeing Snow For the First Time

When India emailed me, she made sure to tell me this was her first time to see snow. She just wanted to document her and her husband, Matt’s trip with a playful couples session. We had the best time with all the new fresh flakes and I just love how their images turned out!

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Here’s to my couples who end their session with snow angels and a snow ball fight! If that sounds like fun to you, let’s chat!

Rocky Mountain Bride Feature – Bachelorette Weekend in Breckenridge

Rocky Mountain Bride Feature – Bachelorette Weekend in Breckenridge

I was featured on Rocky Mountain Bride’s Instagram! This was very exciting for me because Rocky Mountain Bride is a very big deal in the wedding publication industry in my area. They publish gorgeous weddings from the Rocky Mountain region, from Colorado to Canada.

It was awesome getting to take these 10 girls up to one of my favorite spots to capture them during Abbi’s bachelorette weekend. This was such a fun shoot! When planning locations, anything wintery was a go, so I took them up to one of my favorite places in Breckenridge to capture a snowy, wooded landscape. I knew they were going to be wearing faux furs, but I didn’t know how amazing they would be until I saw them in this environment! Even in the frigid temps, no one complained and we had the best time! 

Their entire bachelorette weekend was all flawlessly planned by Jetset Bachelorette (formerly Blush and Bashful bachelorette) which booked the girls an awesome victorian home right off Main Street Breckenridge, a personal chef, in home private yoga session with my favorite local yoga studio, Meta Yoga, and tubing at Copper Mountain. If you know someone who is looking for an all inclusive planning for a momentous occasion like a bachelorette weekend, reach out to Jetset Bachelorette. She plans fabulous bachelorettes around the country.


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A few more of my favorite images from this shoot:

Contact Me For Your Bachelorette Party

If you are planning your bachelorette party in Breckenridge and want some fabulous pictures with all your best gals, let me know! I could do these fun sessions all day long!

Guatemala Mission Trip Recap + Time Lapse Video of Project

Guatemala Mission Trip Recap + Time Lapse Video of Project

Guatemala Timelapse by Andrea Parnell from Andrea Parnell on Vimeo.

This was one of the best things I did in 2014. Besides selling my house in Arkansas and moving to Colorado, this mission trip to Guatemala is right up there. Our purpose of going to Guatemala for a week was to help build a house for a family through ODIM Guatemala, which is an organization that promotes health and education in the area. The house this family had to begin with had cardboard walls and poor ventilation for their wood cooking stove. Andrea and Israel are the couple we built the home for. They have a new baby and it was imperative to build them a new home with sound walls and good ventilation.

The old house, which was already removed by the time we got there in early November. We built the new house on the same site as the old one, while the couple lived with her parents just up the hill.

ODIM Guatemala Old Home

All the blocks to build the house (watch in the video), had to be carried down a crazy steep and long hill to get to the work site. Our team carried down half of  them and Andrea’s father-in-law carried the rest down that night. He could carry up to eight bricks on his back with a head strap wrapped around his head and the bottom of the brick on his back somehow balancing the. I could only carry two (the first time) and then went down to one brick, because I wore myself out.
Guatemala Worksite in San Pablo Guatemala The alley way down to the work site always seemed to have somebody greeting us as we walked down. This time was these little girls playing in a tuc tuc which soon followed one of my favorite pictures I took on the trip of one of the little girls hanging out of the vehicle. 

Guatemala Worksite in San Pablo Guatemala

Tyson and I made some little friends that lived in San Pablo and would come down to the work site every day. I’ll be honest, I had more fun playing with the kids than laying blocks and mortar. But I didn’t feel bad when we would take a little break from building the house to throw them a frisbee and hang out with them. I believe the hat Tyson is wearing didn’t make it back to the States with us. A little boy name Joselius (in red) is the proud new owner.

Guatemala Worksite in San Pablo Guatemala

 

 

Our team from Father Dyer United Methodist Church in Breckenridge was there for week one of construction. They planned to finish it with one other American team and then the foremen would finish up the house in week three. During the five workdays we were there, we started by carrying down cement blocks to the work site and sifting sand for mortar. We laid the cement blocks and mixed mortar for the two exterior walls. Bending and assembling rebar to reinforce the walls was important because they are susceptible to earthquakes. On the last day we did start the bathroom interior walls. We didn’t get to see the finished house in person, but Joel, our coordinator, sent me pictures of the finished house.

Before and After ODIM House

I wanted to capture the progress everyday of the project so I used my GoPro on the time-lapse mode. You can see in the video that we got most of the exterior walls finished before we had to leave it to the next team to come in. Andrea and Israel received the keys the first week of December and now get to have a wedding party in their brand new home. It’s so amazing to me the progress that can happen in such a short time, but have an everlasting effect on people. I hope they are blessed by this house for a long time to come. I’m just thankful to be apart of it and be able to give back in some way.

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise at La Cruz in San Juan, Guatemala

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise at La Cruz in San Juan, Guatemala

Guatemalan Sunrise Timelapse INTRO from Andrea Parnell on Vimeo.

On our last morning in San Juan, Guatemala, Tyson and I decided to get up at 5 AM and hike up to the cross overlooking San Juan. From San Juan it looked like a great vista point to take in all the scenery we had immersed ourselves in all week. The only catch was that you had to get up super early, walk through town in the dark to find the trailhead, and then pay a guy waiting at the entrance to the park 20 quetzals (or Q’s, Guatemala’s currency).

This did NOT go off without a hitch. First of all, I forgot my money back in the room. Then after going back for the money and walking around in the dark for about 15 minutes, we couldn’t find the trailhead. Finally we find the trail head and the guy that you’re supposed to pay 20 Q’s to hike. But of course that wasn’t enough, he wanted 30 Q’s from us. The hike to the cross was supposed to be 20 Q’s and the hike to the very top was 30 Q’s. I don’t know if I just had tourist stamped on my forehead or if my Spanish was just that bad, but he would not let us go until we paid 30.  Thankfully he took 26 Q’s from Tyson, which was all he had, and my 30 Q’s. I had added 10 Q’s to my pocket so we could get a tuc tuc on the way back. That wasn’t going to be a possibility at this point.

Now I thought there’s no way we are going to make it to the cross in time for the sunrise. The hike was short but not that easy with all the steps you had to take. Finally we made it up there. I felt defeated and tired because I thought all our set backs had made us miss it. It was pretty light out already, but 20 minutes in to watching the town of San Juan wake up, the sun popped up over the mountains and clouds. It was really a sight to behold.

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

Remarkable Morning Watching a Guatemala Sunrise

I’m so thankful that we made it in time to witness the sunrise on our last day there. It was such a great moment to witness all of God’s beauty and reflect on the wonderful week we had there.

Make sure to watch the time-lapse video Tyson and I captured while we were there. He shot his on the iPhone 6 and I shot mine on the GoPro 3 Black. I blended both time lapses together for hopefully something you’ll enjoy!

[vimeo 112636202 w=500 h=283]

Portraits of People in San Juan and San Pablo Guatemala

Portraits of People in San Juan and San Pablo Guatemala

There was one thing I was a little nervous about before visiting Guatemala again. And that was taking pictures of the people. I knew I was going to bring my DSLR camera with me, but that’s not inconspicuous or anything. The first time I visited, 12 years ago, I didn’t have my big camera but a disposable camera. I will never forget people telling me to not take pictures of the Guatemalans because they believed taking a picture of them stole their soul.

So 15-year-old me was taking pictures on my disposable camera of this little park outside of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. I didn’t notice the man sitting on the bench at first, but he grabbed my attention when he quickly covered his eyes and stood up like he had been frightened by something. He was probably terrified of me stealing his soul with my little disposable camera. I felt so bad I muttered an apology in Spanish to him and stopped taking pictures.

This time around, I asked some people who had been there recently about this belief. They said some in the smaller villages still believe that you’ll steal their soul with a single picture, but most do not. They just said make sure you ask their permission first. I was so happy to find that when I asked for a photo, not only did they say yes, but most gave me the most heart warming and genuine smile.

This is Joselias. He’s the little boy who was my shadow all week at the work site. I had more fun playing with him than laying blocks and mortar. Jose is 11-years-old and had his first communion while we were there. Here he is smiling for a photo for me in front of a coffee tree.Portraits of Guatemalan People

This man works at the coffee co-op we toured in San Juan, Guatemala. He rakes the coffee fruit and picks out all the sticks and leaves before they take the seeds, or the coffee beans out. Portraits of Guatemalan People

Now this is what I’m talking about when I say they give you such a heart warming and genuine smile! This little girl was playing with her sister in a tuc tuc on the side of the street. When I asked her for a photo, she gave me the most beautiful smile! This has got to be my most favorite picture from the trip.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

This was our tour guide at the coffee co-op. I learned a lot while I was there, like they don’t roast their own beans here. It’s too expensive so they sell and ship unroasted coffee beans in order to save money. Also, the coffee is 100% organic but the American organic seal is really expensive so they use the German organic seal on their coffee.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

This little boy was fishing with his family on the dock in San Juan. All they were using was a spool of fishing line, a hook, and worms. For someone who has spent entirely too much money on new fly fishing gear, watching them catch fish with no rod was an eye opener. I did get to watch him pull in a small fish, which was intended for their dinner.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

These lovely ladies were sorting coffee beans at the coffee co-op. When I asked them for a photo, they smiled and said yes, but not before they straightened up and the sweet lady in front uncrossed her legs.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

As we head into a week  where we celebrate as a nation all that we are thankful for, I can’t help but think of these beautiful people. I can hope that they remain happy, healthy, and thankful too.