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This is Carolina: Photographer who captured beach engagement finds couple after post goes viral

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - With shaking arms and sweaty palms, Andrew Gunnels said he proposed to his girlfriend on the beach in North Myrtle Beach Tuesday evening.

Braylin Gillespie said yes. Everything went according to plan, Gunnels said, except his stepmom, who was secretly following behind to take pictures, had a camera lens that fogged up in the special moment.

Unbeknownst to them, someone else was capturing the proposal Gunnels was anxiously awaiting to ask.

“So, I was here yesterday (Tuesday) getting ready for a family photo shoot with clients. And I noticed them getting engaged, so I was practicing just getting my lighting and everything set up, and he was on one knee. Just to the right of me, down the beach a little bit, and I decided just to snap a few. I probably got six photos all together,” Christa Walsh said.

She owns Christa Walsh Photography and does a lot of sessions in the Cherry Grove Pier area. This one was extra special.

“I was about to run after them on the beach, but my clients were walking down the other side of the beach, so I couldn’t chase after them. I mean they were a good maybe quarter-mile down the beach. So I’m like someone has to know them. So, I just decided to post them this morning and that post blew up,” Walsh said.

As of Wednesday evening, Walsh said she had reached over 130,000 people. It quickly went viral and within a few hours the future groom’s stepmom reached out to her.

Once Walsh was in touch with the lucky couple, she wanted to do something for them to celebrate their engagement. She set up an engagement shoot at the spot Gunnels popped the question for the next night.

“Just ecstatic. My palms were sweaty and I was nervous. I had everything I had planned in my head, and I was going to say it, but it kind of went out the window when I got down on my knee. I didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. But she said yeah, so I guess I’m proud of myself because she said yes. And she said she loves me, thank the Lord,” Gunnels said with a smile. “And the fact that someone was taking pictures of us was kind of crazy. And the fact it kind of got back to us and it just really shows how small the world is.”

The couple vacations annually with family in North Myrtle Beach.

“I think that today, especially today, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on and I think it’s just kind of good because it shows that we’re still just people and we live our lives and everything. So, I like seeing stuff like that. It makes you happy, especially during stuff like right now, and everything we went through in the past, past year or so,” Gunnels said.

Gillespie was quieter, but smiled and nodded in agreement as Gunnels talked about what the surprise photos means to them.

“Pretty thankful, pretty thankful. Because I had my mom taking pictures and that didn’t really go as planned because her camera got all foggy. It’s crazy how it works out,” she said.

The couple said they’ll never forget the past few days and hope to share the excitement of them with their future children one day.

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