Photographer captures proposal, but who was the romantic couple?

A still from the video of the proposal captured by photographer Pete Halvorsen.

by Mark McDermott

Pete Halvorsen was in a hurry, walking along The Strand just north of the Manhattan Beach pier when he saw something that made him stop.

It was the day of the eclipse, April 8, late in the afternoon. The winds were gusting at 35 miles per hour. A couple was in the sand below, nattily attired, the woman in a red dress standing beneath an orange umbrella. Matching orange cones were scattered in a zigzag path towards the pier, a kind of “boho” picnic set up Halvorsen has seen plenty of times before, though usually white.

Halvorsen, a professional photographer, was on his way to play volleyball south of the pier, but the image was too good to pass up. He pulled out his iPhone, thinking that the umbrella was about to take flight, and it might be a cool image to video.

“So as I was looking, I was like, ‘These people are really adventurous because the wind was just howling,’” Halvorsen recalled.  “The woman was holding on to the umbrella. So, being my typical self, I was like, ‘Oh, man, this umbrella is going to fly away. So I started videoing because of that. I was like, ‘This is going to be amazing.’”

As he videoed, Halvorsen realized he’d stumbled upon a marriage proposal.

“She kind of like adjusted the umbrella, turned and turned around,” Halverson said.

By this time, the man was on bended knee. He was holding something in his outstretched hand. She stepped toward him, and he slipped a ring on her finger.

“He asked her to marry him and you could tell just by their body language it was mutually agreed upon terms,” Halvorsen said.

The woman dropped down on her knees and joined the man in an embrace.

“There was nobody else around,” Halvorsen said. “I’ve seen proposals on the beach, and these days usually they have a photographer there, and their friends are all there and come rushing out. This was just a cool, private moment. There was barely anybody on The Strand because of the wind that evening. So I captured that video and then I went to play volleyball. I was hoping they were going to still be around when I was done, but they were gone.”

He posted the video as a reel on his Instagram account, @petehalvorsen, and was shocked by the response. It received 26,732 plays and nearly 67 hours of watch time. What caught his attention more, however, was the outpouring in the comments.

“There were so many people who made comments, ‘Did you find them? I hope you found them.’ And then tagging other people, saying, ‘Do you know who this is?’” Halvorsen said.

Manhattan Beach resident Heidi Rayden, who reposted the reel on her “love-driven book series” Instagram, made it her mission to spread the video and hopefully find the couple.

“It’s so beautiful,” she said. “We are trying to make it go viral and share the story. Who knows if they are South Bay residents, or if they are LA County residents? But it’s the most beautiful thing.”

So far, the identity of the couple remains unknown. And while Halvorsen would certainly like to share the video with them, something else about what he witnessed that day lingers with him. Asked what he would say to the couple if they are found, Halvorsen answered: “You are off to a great start.”

“As far as adversity is concerned, the fact that he set this up and the winds were howling, and nobody was on the beach, and he still stuck to it – I think that can be a testament to their relationship,” he said. “To be like, ‘Hey, no matter what comes up, let’s remember how we started this.’ So that’s kind of a cool thing.”

To see more of Pete Halvorsen’s work, go to, or @petehalvorsen on Instagram.



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