Lea, a recent New York University graduate who lives in the Big Apple, met Miami-based Joseph in December 2013 when he came to the city for a weekend event. The pair went to a bar with a mutual friend, started talking, and instantly connected. Joseph traveled north again one week later to take Lea on their first date, which led to the start of a long-distance relationship. In April 2015, Joseph decided to ask for Lea’s hand in marriage sometime that summer. He chose June 18—with the number 18 representing “life” in Judaism. And so, one year and six months after they started dating, Joseph surprised Lea with an elaborate rooftop proposal complete with 1,000 red roses and a professional photographer to document it all.
Lea’s dad lives in an apartment complex in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and the couple had once hung out on the 40-story building’s private rooftop to take in the views of famous New York City landmarks like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty. Joseph picked that same location because he thought it was great for engagement photos and knew Lea would like a rooftop proposal.
With the help of Lea’s friends, Joseph decorated the rooftop with more than 1,000 red roses—Lea’s favorite flower—bundled in eight different vases. Hundreds of white rose petals were scattered over a red carpet on the floor. “I felt that Lea deserved the most romantic proposal,” says Joseph of the extravagant décor.
A few days before the proposal, Joseph set up a lunch date on the rooftop with Lea, who had no suspicions about the plans. “He kept hinting to me that a proposal wouldn’t happen soon, because he wanted to be sure I wouldn’t know it was coming,” says Lea. Joseph enlisted photographer Lauren Koplowitz, who had photographed his family for a long time, to document the event without spoiling the surprise.
On June 18, Lea and Joseph picked up sandwiches at the ilili Box near Madison Square Park and brought them to the rooftop, but Joseph could barely eat due to nerves. Once the pair noticed Lauren standing among the grand display of roses, the photographer convinced Lea that she was there for a “job of a lifetime” photographing an event. She then asked the couple to pose for pictures so she could test the lighting. As Lea stood in place on the red carpet, Joseph surreptitiously kneeled behind her and popped the question while the camera documented everything.
Lea was in complete shock after the proposal, and Lauren said it took a solid three minutes to convince the bride-to-be that all of the hoopla was actually for her.
Joseph picked out Lea’s cushion-cut diamond ring himself, relying on some input from Lea’s friends on the style and design. Lea loved the ring and described it as a “dream come true.”
After Lea said yes, the couple had an impromptu engagement photo session with the Empire State Building in the background. A friend tossed white rose petals like confetti to create a dreamy setting against the cloudy sky.
Several phone calls followed the photo session. “My mom and family were attacking me with phone calls to congratulate me, and my mom was crying,” says Lea. At one point, Lea’s father and future father-in-law both wanted to talk to her, so the bride-to-be juggled two phones at once. Later that night, the newly betrothed pair celebrated their engagement with friends and family at Lea’s home. The next step: picking a wedding date and location!
Photography: Lauren Koplowitz
Flowers: The Avenue J Florist
Floral Design: Jassi Lekach of J Group Events