When Valerie Bellrose was gifted a maternity photo shoot by her sister, she immediately contacted Nicole Gesmondi Photographer, LLC, to set a date for a Block Island shoot with her boyfriend and father-to-be, Denver Chase. Little did she know that the “gift” was a ruse and the same date had already been scheduled well in advance; it marked their two-year anniversary, June 24, when they traditionally visit Block Island to celebrate.
The shoot that her boyfriend had arranged was not just a maternity session—it was an engagement session. About a month prior, Denver began planning the surprise with Nicole Gesmondi, who would be traveling to the island to photograph the proposal with her husband, Paul. While that part was a well-kept secret, Denver knew his girlfriend enough to accept that professional photos couldn’t be a surprise.
“Because Denver and my sister know me so well, they knew I needed to be prepared for a photo shoot so I could make sure my outfit, hair and makeup were [done] to my satisfaction,” says Valerie, adding that in the weeks prior to the “maternity” session, Nicole “never once slipped up or gave away the surprise”—despite working with her and Denver separately to plan the real shoot and the fake one.
Upon arrival, they started the photo shoot as Valerie had expected. When Denver dropped to one knee, though, she was shocked. “I don’t remember what Denver said and I couldn’t even speak to say ‘yes,’ but I shook my head and kissed him,” Valerie says. “Nicole captured that moment perfectly.”
Valerie and Denver are expecting a baby girl, Kinsley Branigan Chase, in January. Their wedding will be in October 2018 at Saphire Estate in Sharon, Massachusetts.
Nicole and Paul are an award winning wife-and-husband
photography team based in Providence, Rhode Island.