With butterflies in his stomach, Carter Moore asked her to coffee. Casual coffee, of course, just so they could get to know each other. No pressure or expectations. Just a friendly meetup.
Granted, she was beautiful: “The most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen,” he remembers. For now, he just wanted to get to know her, even if it came with the unshakeable nervousness that swept through his body whenever she smiled in his direction.
Three years later, butterflies still aplenty, they’re married and living in Colorado Springs, Colo. Moore, 24, is a social media strategist at VSCO, and Brookelynn Howe, 22, is a nursing student at the University of Colorado.
Moore proposed to Howe last December outside of Portland, Ore., with the help of people he’d met through Instagram.
The entire ordeal — the location of the proposal, the couch they crashed on, the surprise engagement party the night after Howe said “yes” — was assisted by a group of Portland-based strangers Moore reached out to through the photo-sharing social network. Moore planned the whole thing; they helped make sure it went smoothly.
Now, two months after the wedding, the bride and groom have remained close friends with the folks Moore first met via Instagram, then in Oregon.
Everything about it just seemed magical and romantic,” Moore says.
After they’d been dating for two years, he wanted to pop the question. Moore knew the Oregon coast would be the perfect place to propose. The only problem, he realized, was that he didn’t know anything about the area — but the people he followed on Instagram did.
He was working as a freelance photographer at the time, usually for weddings, and had become active in posting photos to his Instagram account. He didn’t have many followers at first, but he eagerly followed anyone he found inspiring, most of whom ended up being, appropriately, Oregon-based residents who posted scenic photos of the area’s landscape.
One photographer, Branden Harvey, had included his phone number on his profile page. So, out of the blue, Moore called him.
“He was so organized about this trip. I gave him as much advice as I could,” Harvey says. “I explained to him what the Oregon coast is like near where he wanted to get down on one knee. I gave him a list of awesome restaurants in Portland. I got to hear his story of how he met Brooke and why he wanted to marry her. It was beautiful.”
Unbeknownst to Moore, Harvey and his friends planned a congratulations party for the two once they arrived. A shindig thrown for strangers, by strangers.
Howe was on a holiday break from school when the time came. She thought she and Moore were going upstate Colorado for a weekend getaway, but when she met him at the airport, he surprised her with two tickets to Portland.
Everything went according to plan. They rented a car and drove down the Oregon coast, talking about their past two years together, and ended up at Cannon Beach. They walked along the shoreline and eventually climbed to the top of a cliff. There, Moore asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. They sat hand-in-hand and watched the sun set into the ocean, then drove back to Portland to have dinner.
“Surprise!” and “Congratulations!” — all from a room full of people they’d never met before.
“Carter loved Brooke enough to call a complete stranger and ask for a favor. I love that,” Harvey says. “When I see people striving to live life boldly with excellence, I can’t help but say yes to being a part of helping.”
Harvey and his friends, being professional photographers and filmmakers, put together this video of the evening:
Moore didn’t expect anyone to hear his story. In fact, Harvey says, his new friends had to coax him for permission just to put the above video online. Moore’s humility and love for Howe is what inspired Harvey to get involved in the first place: “All of us knew this was done lovingly for Brooke, and Brooke alone,” he says.
All of them from that weekend and, specifically, that party, have kept in touch over the past year. Moore says it’s a win-win.
“It was out of a place of love and adoration for my wife that I wanted to do this,” he says. “And I’m honored those people — strangers I reached out to through a social network — helped and got to be a part of something so special to us.”