I was so thrilled when Jimmy Vali, one of the premier band leaders in NYC, contacted me about photographing his son’s proposal. It is such a wonderful adventure to secretly photograph such a romantic occasion. While Beau, Sarah, and family were skating I blended in with the other skaters on the rink by wearing a hooded parka. Our other photographer, Yeka Gyadu, positioned herself up high with both a long lens and a super wide lens to document the proposal from another angle.
When they cleared the rink and Beau knelt on one knee and proposed, Sarah gave him the most loving, passionate kiss – I couldn’t help but break into tears while I was shooting. It was such an honor to join in with their families for a toast at Bar 65 next to the Rainbow Room later that night.
We are so excited for you Sarah and Beau – you are off to such a spectacular start! – Ira Lippke
Beau, tell us about the engagement and how you conceived the idea to propose on the ice.
Beau: We skate every year at Rockefeller Center and I figured it would be very unassuming. Last year happened to be extra special because we witnessed a proposal on the ice and it even brought us to tears. I wanted to make it magical for my fiancé, so I decided to add a few family members and friends to the mix, all showing up at different times of the proposal.
Jimmy, how did your family work out the details of the proposal?
Jimmy: I couldn’t go skating last year with the family because I was working, but they had so much fun that they wanted me to try it this year. As we were discussing it, we all said, what a good idea if we work it out that we are taking Dad skating – and that would be our excuse for the surprise. Then it all started to flow from there. We had our friend, Charles, fly up who presented the ring. Booked the skating, and I emailed you (ILS) and the rest all fell into place.
Sarah, what did you think you were doing that night? Did you ever sense that something was up?
Sarah: Since we ice skate for the holidays every year, I didn’t think anything of it! I never even had an inkling that something was going on. Looking back at all the clues along the way, now it’s crazy I didn’t catch on!
Beau, how were you feeling as you prepared to ask Sarah to marry you?
Beau: Honestly, I don’t even remember. I even asked her the next day, if she had said yes! It was just all so surreal and I was lost in the moment.
Sarah, what was going through your mind when Beau popped the question?
Sarah: The only thing I could do was say, “Is this real?!?” I was in shock and overly happy, in a state of bliss.
What surprised you the most? Other than the actual proposal, of course!
Sarah: Seeing my whole family from Miami trying to run onto the ice! I saw my father first and I just collapsed to the floor out of pure surprise and excitement. My other favorite moment was our first toast as a one big family. Everyone was together for the first time and the feeling in the air was of pure love.
Jimmy and Natasha, what part of the proposal was your favorite?
Jimmy: My favorite moment had to be when I saw Sarah’s Dad walk out to the ice and Sarah fell to her knees.
Natasha: Secretly speaking with Ira on the phone while hiding under the comforter to “choreograph” the plan. Seeing Ira expertly speed skate past me backwards, looking out through his parka hood, to let me know he was in the rink and executing the plan!
What were some of the most special moments for you?
Beau: Some of the most special moments were having our whole family there on the ice with us to share such a special moment in our lives. Also seeing complete strangers applaud and cheer to see such love, made me realize how much people want to see more love these days. I’m happy I was able to shine some light on everyone that day. Huge thanks to my mom, Natasha, for being point guard the whole night! Not to mention, the months of preparations! Also, big thanks to Ira Lippke Studios for capturing every moment !
Jimmy and Natasha, what are your wishes for the happy couple?
Natasha: Jimmy and I are so lucky to know our son, Beau, has found the love of his life and now we are lucky to have Sarah in our lives. Their love and spirit are infectious.
Jimmy: I wish Beau and Sarah a long happy and healthy life, and may they always remain the best of friends. No matter what! I’m lucky to have had my best friend, Natasha, with me for over 26 years.
Photos by Ira Lippke & Yeka Gyadu