Harout and Vanessa were the winners of the Harsanik Engagement Photoshoot Giveaway with Jay Jay Studios. As part of the giveaway terms, we asked the couple to allow us to share their photos on social media. Not only did Harout and Vanessa share their photos with us, but they even gave us and our followers on Instagram backstage access to their entire photo session! We didn't expect to fall head over heels in love with this couple when Jay Jay Studios did our Instagram Takeover in April. After their photo session, we connected with them to learn a bit more about them. Harout and Vanessa are both Armenian and were born in Southern California. Harout works in Venture Capital and Vanessa is an attorney. We thoroughly enjoyed connecting with these young professionals and learning all about their love story, their romantic proposal, and their gorgeous engagement photoshoot at the LACMA Urban Lights.
When and how did you two meet?
Vanessa: We met at an MBA mixer in 2016 at Everson Royce Bar in Downtown LA. Harout was in his first year of business school trying to network and meet people, and I was there with a couple of friends also looking to network and meet people. The funny part of this story is that Harout was at dinner beforehand with his family for Mothers' Day and when he told his grandma he had to leave early for an event, she said: "Go find yourself a good Armenian girl!". He replied, "Sadly Nene, there probably won't be any Armenians at this event." Sure enough, Harout meets the ONLY Armenian girl at Everson Royce Bar that night!!! And in the most old school way, Harout and his friend (amazing wingman) walked up naturally to me and my friend (great wing woman) and just introduced themselves and started talking.
My goodness, what are the chances? Tell us about your first date and when you guys knew this was a special relationship.
Harout: Well, I pulled the traditional chivalry move and picked Vanessa up from her house, and then we went to Barcito in DTLA for dinner. We just had a great conversation trying to get to know each other more on a personal level, realizing both of us are very family-oriented, ambitious in our careers, and were answering each other's questions the same way the other would have answered them. Then I took Vanessa to the outdoor area of 1886 at The Raymond in Pasadena to just hang out, have a cocktail, and chat some more before dropping her off back at her house.
I'm big on fate, and things happening that are meant to be. So from the beginning, I always had it in my head that the way we met was so interesting and special. Vanessa says she knew right after the first date just by how the night went and the fact that I was definitely unique with calling (instead of texting) to ask her out, and from the conversations and similar answers and values we shared. After a few months of dating, it was pretty obvious to both of us that there was something special here.
Harout, how did you propose?
Harout: Well I proposed on June 3rd, 2018, our two year anniversary, at Everson Royce Bar which is where we met. I contacted the bar and got their OK to have the proposal there on a Sunday before they opened. We had an inside thing from one of their early dates where we had drawn stick figures of each other (with crayons) while sitting waiting for our dinner at a restaurant in Eagle Rock. So I used the same exact paper and color crayons to draw up a bunch of different pictures of us together, and with the help of my sister, we hung them from the tree in the middle of the outdoor bar patio. I also hired 2 friends who were photographers to pretend to be lunch guests so they could take photos. They each had a camera and a video camera camouflaged on a tripod, and I had hidden a go pro in the tree all to capture different angles of the entire proposal. I also set up the place with 3 songs that were special to us to be playing when Vanessa arrived.
After setting everything up that morning, I left to pick up Vanessa for "a nice anniversary brunch at a surprising place", and came back to the bar pretending like there was nothing going on. All the while, I had the restaurant manager and staff in on EVERYTHING. They were "the lookouts", started the music just before we walked in, and pretended like they were open for lunch. Walking in, Vanessa noticed things hanging from the tree, and was like "What's going on?" so I told her "Nothing, just a nice lunch for our anniversary." As we got closer to the tree, Vanessa noticed more clearly there were pictures of us around and started getting a little nervous and asked again "What's going on? Why are there pictures of us hanging from the tree???". I replied "Oh it's just something special I did for our anniversary. Go check them out. By the way, do you recognize the music??" Vanessa recognized that our song was playing in the background and cracked a big smile.
We looked through all the pictures and my creative stick figure drawings and reminisced and laughed together about each one until we got to a blanket covering something. Vanessa asked "What's that?" and I said, "Check it out." And as Vanessa reached for the blanket to unveil the last photo, I started going down on one knee. Vanessa unveiled a framed stick figure drawing of the exact proposal she was living out right then and there! She reacted "Oh my God!" as she turned around to talk to me only to see me on one knee with the exact ring she wanted. She briefly went for the ring then paused and waited as I gave a short proposal (which we will never know what exactly was said because I can’t remember it, and in the video, the noise of an airplane flying overhead blocks out my talking!). She said “Yes!” of course, loved the ring, and the restaurant manager brought out complimentary sparkling wine to toast to and enjoy. And at this point, the photographers were no longer acting undercover, and they were taking close-up photos of us. We then went to Malibu Farm for lunch (since Everson Royce was actually closed). Later that day, we went back to the bar to celebrate over dinner with both of our immediate families.
Love the amount of thought that went into personalizing the proposal! Tell us about planning all those details as well as getting the ring.
Vanessa: Harout had been planning for the proposal itself for not more than 3 weeks. Getting the ring custom designed and made took about 2 months and was done a few week beforehand. Using our anniversary as a cover-up was a great story because I didn't expect a proposal at all. I was so surprised and emotional in the best way. It all felt very surreal.
As for the ring, we had agreed that I come with Harout to a couple of jeweler meetings to figure out what exactly I wanted. The last one we went to, Harout had already met with but pretended to never have met before. I explained what I wanted, looked at some options, and then we left. Later through conversation, Harout threw me off by saying "I think they were a little too salesman-like. I didn't get a good vibe." Which was clearly a lie because he already had them making the computer design of what was discussed and had bought the diamond from them before the meeting too. He had a few back and forths with the jeweler to get the design right, and it turned out perfect!
Have you guys started planning your wedding yet?
Vanessa: Yes! We are getting married this July at City Club LA. We are almost done with the planning. Our family has been very supportive through this process. We have also been using Harsanik.com a lot to review different vendors and some of the wedding traditions. We also use the photos you guys have to help us with getting ideas for our wedding.
We think Harsanik.com is very helpful and super cool that our cultural traditions are being captured and always available so they never get lost.
Thank you! We really appreciate the kind words. Now moving on to your engagement shoot. Why did you select LACMA Urban Lights as your engagement shoot location?
Harout: It's got a classy, elegant vibe to it and I had always wanted to go there but, believe it or not, had never been.
Did You Know? LACMA is on our list of Top 10 Engagement Photoshoot Locations in Los Angeles
Vanessa, tell us about the gorgeous dress you wore for the engagement shoot. We actually got a lot of comments on IG from our followers asking about your dress!
Vanessa: The dress actually used to be my mom’s. She had it made for her 35+ years ago. It was really special to wear it now for my engagement shoot.
What was your experience like working with Jay Jay Studios?
Vanessa: Jay Jay was awesome! Super friendly, flexible, creative. We were very happy with our photo shoot experience with him and the photos he took! Thank you, Jay Jay Studios!
Overall, we just loved the whole reminder and surreal feeling that we were actually taking our engagement photo shoot and Jay Jay made that feeling possible for us.
Well, there you have it, folks. We hope you enjoyed Harout and Vanessa's love story as much as we did. We can't wait for their wedding in July, and if you would be interested in getting backstage access to their wedding, let us know and we'll see if that's an option they are willing to entertain! :)
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Tags: LACMA , Proposal Story , Surprise Proposal , armenian wedding , engagement , engagement photoshoot , engagement ring , photo location , photographer , photoshoot , proposal , surprise , tradition , wedding planning