Michelle was a contestant on Cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model along with her twin sister, Amanda. She and Amanda both became finalists on America’s Next Top Model. She came home after the show to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from California State University – Long Beach.
Teresa studied Marine Biology at the University of Maryland and was on the water polo team. She now fights fires and works for the US Forest Service in the Los Padres National Forest. Michelle and Teresa met at a summer camp that they both volunteered to work for. Teresa was not “out” to anyone yet but Michelle was very patient and courted her for the entire summer. There were a lot of “love notes” passed around and one from Teresa with the words written backwards. She thought, if Michelle can read this, she is a keeper.
Michelle ended up not only understanding every word of the letter but later asked Teresa to be her girlfriend written backwards in the sand at the beach. Even better, that’s exactly how she proposed to her.
Teresa was working in Santa Barbara for about six months prior to the proposal, helping fight forest fires (yes, she’s a bad ass!) so Michelle wanted to wait until she returned home to propose. It wasn’t easy hiding the ring in a place where Teresa couldn’t find it but Michelle managed it. Michelle enlisted the help of a mutual friend of theirs and the two of them devised a plan to throw a “welcome home” party for Teresa but in reality the party was going to be their engagement party. Michelle also asked one of Teresa’s friend to tell Teresa that she wouldn’t be able to make it the party but instead would rather meet up for brunch at the Belmont Shore Pier in Long Beach, CA instead. That friend of Teresa’s happen to be my wife which made having a professional photographer on hand kind of perfect. While all of us were having an unsuspecting brunch at Belmont Brewery, Michelle and Teresa’s best friend was just a steps away, at the beach, preparing the proposal site. She did an amazing job spelling “Teresa, will you marry me?” backwards in the sand.
After “brunch” I asked Michelle and Teresa if they wanted to join Whitney and I on a short walk on the strand. Luckily Teresa agreed. As we approached the proposal site, Teresa’s eyes lit up. She walked towards the perfectly placed picnic basket and the words written backwards in the sand and she just knew. I had to stop myself from crying as I photographed Michelle get down on one knee and ask Teresa to marry her. She presented Teresa with a small wooden box with the sweetest diamond ring placed carefully inside. Later, Michelle told me that she bought that box in Alaska several years ago when they worked on a charter boat there. I thought it was the sweetest sentiment and proof that all good things come to those who wait.
From the photographer, Edith Hogan
Photographer: Edith Hogan Photography