Arek + Michal Engagement by MaxwellArt Photography

Our beloved couple of the shoot have been together for 16 years. Our project has made them feel so inspired that just a day after the shoot, we all got the message that they have actually made it official: they are engaged. As they were saying their true feelings to each other during the proposal part, it was nothing less than everything it is: a moment with two people utterly in love. So this styled shoot has very fast transformed into a real engagement.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

Arek: I’m originally Polish, coming from Warsaw, but I have lived in different places in Europe – Edinburgh, Vienna, London and for the last 12 years in Switzerland – in Geneva and Zurich. Probably due to my extroverted personality and passion for people and everything around me, I chose my career to be in international brand management and marketing. After work I enjoy traveling, learning new cultures, meeting new people and a healthy lifestyle. I watch a lot of movies, especially European and I take advantage of the nearby Alps – hiking in summer and skiing in winter. 

Michal: I’m also Polish, coming from the same city as Arek. I’ve only lived in Switzerland for the last 4 years, where I moved to in order to start living together with my love- until then we lived in a long distance relationship for almost 12 years. My personality is really the opposite of Arek – I’m quiet, calm, like spending the time on my own and carefully selecting people with whom I meet – true introvert. I work for a big international bank and in my free time I really enjoy photography and making drone movies.

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

Arek: Actually Michal was the first one who spotted me and it was in the first week of my university in 2004. Apparently he saw me wandering around very confusing corridors of the university building. Funnily, it actually all started at the Valentine’s Day party in 2005. I saw Michal  in the crowd and I realised I had seen him somewhere before but couldn’t remember where until he told me we study together at the same uni. I remembered he looked very handsome and was styled a bit like David Beckham – it was the fashion those days! I think already back then Michal had a clear plan he wanted to date me and was very consistent with it. I liked him very much too and we started meeting more often. The official date of the beginning of our relationship is 1 July. 

Michal: Indeed, it was not only the first week but even the first day of our academic year. I was walking up the stairs and Arek found himself actually in front of me. Just before that summer my first boyfriend had broken up with me and I had really bad and sad time. I wasn’t sure whether I should really be dating again that soon, but things just happened. Back then as much as now I saw Arek as a funny and social person, who attracted a lot of attention and that really impressed me.

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with? 

Arek: Michal was my first serious boyfriend, we only had 1 year together in Warsaw, because first Michal moved abroad for his student exchange. When he was back I moved for mine and actually never came back to Poland. It was a difficult time, but we told each other before Michal’s student exchange in Stockholm that we would just see how it goes. And despite the distance it actually all worked out well. I think living in different countries was the biggest challenge of our relationship, but once we got used to it and planned our lives together around it, we realised love and pure relationship is not about the distance, but about our feelings. After a few years and when we both graduated from our university and settled down – Michal in Warsaw and me abroad, we knew it was all working out and we couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. We shared the same values, we enjoyed spending time together, the distance wasn’t a problem anymore and we both had plans to build a house one day and live in it together. 

Michal: I found that out pretty quickly. In fact I was almost dumped by Arek a few months after we started dating, but I convinced myself to believe that he needs just to slow down a bit, so I never let him go away. Despite major differences in our personalities, we share a lot of what’s invisible: very similar approach to aesthetics, activities that we enjoy, a sense of humour, movies and art, music and the list goes on. When there’s so much that connects you with another person you quickly realise that you’ve met somebody special.

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

Arek: With all honesty, we both are very pragmatic and never really thought about a wedding. What counts for us are the feelings and not necessarily the ceremony or the papers. Probably that’s the reason why it took us over 16 years to propose. But I must admit it was somewhere at the back of my head that we should make our relationship more official and it was often annoying to say – Michal is my boyfriend, whereas in fact we’ve been together for way longer than many married couples. There was also a question who is going to propose – we both support equality, so why one should propose and not the other? 

Without any plan, there came up an opportunity for a styled photo shoot in Zürich and Michal as a photography passionate signed us up for it. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I got convinced. The styled photo shoot partially took place in one of the most beautiful locations in Zürich called Lindenhof which is a little terrace and a park with a spectacular view over the Zürich old town. We were asked to play the engagement for the purpose of the video. Without any longer thought we both told each other why we would like to spend the rest of our lives together. Because it was so spontaneous, neither of us had time to prepare it properly advance, but our vows were so natural and real, nothing less to be expected after 16 years together. And we were asked by the videographer to both propose for the sake of the video, so the equality thing was solved.

The photo shoot continued until early afternoon, but it all felt so real and amazing that when we came back home we felt like we actually engaged. And this is where our pragmatic approach came to life again – we sat on our sofa and asked each other if the vows we had made before were real. And of course they were so why would we need to repeat them again? We actually both proposed without even realising that in the morning. So then we kissed and said it was done.

The next day we bought the engagement rings and shared the news with our beloved ones. Even though the proposal wasn’t planned at all, we are so happy it actually happened and for the photo shoot and the amazing team for the inspiration and motivation.  

Michal: When I reflect on it now, I feel that signing up for this styled photo shoot was some subconscious decision. Even though I just wanted some nice photos for us, it might have been that my soul longed for something more. Maxi created a great ambience on set and everything felt really natural and real. I’m still excited that my simple idea of signing up up for a photo shoot developed into a great new chapter of our lives.

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…

Arek: We didn’t give it a lot of thoughts yet and I was always confused in my head how a gay wedding should look. However, we both prefer more natural spontaneous events vs official parties. This said, we will probably opt for an easy going relaxed location somewhere in Italy, with a big table outdoor and happy guests around it, lots of little lights and candles, live band and most of all a lot of laughter. We wouldn’t like our guests to wear any formal outfits – the wedding ceremony and party should feel more like a spontaneous dinner rather than an official ceremony. A long warm summer day which continues until the early morning with many bottles of good wine. 

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Arek: We haven’t started our wedding planning yet, but decoration is one of the most important elements for both of us. We pay a lot attention to details and both love design and have an eye for aesthetics and beauty. I can imagine having beautiful flower arrangements all around the location as well as candles and lights, hand made natural linen napkins on a dinner table, meticulously designed wedding invites and even pottery from a local designer is something we wouldn’t save our money on. 

Michal: I would also probably spend long hours on the selection of the right music band and DJ – music is extremely important for me. If I could add also some surprise to the event I would not hesitate. Something like a band hidden among a guest crowd and singing “All you need is love” like in the wedding scene of the “Love actually” movie.

Overall information about the project/photo shoot/engagement and party:

The Proposal happened at Lindenhof, one of the most beautiful spots in Zurich, Switzerland, overlooking the Limmat and also the most famous Grossmünster Church. The Engagement Party was held at L’O: A wonderful restaurant right on the water’s edge in Horgen that simply oozes chic and charm. From every perspective L’O epitomizes the splendour of Lake Zurich. Elegant, Modern and Minimal – that’s what we were going for. The Black Tie suits, the 1500 Fiat Oldtimer and the beautiful party location right at Lake Zurich were speaking for themselves. Also the floral arrangements were cut down to a minimum because as we all know: less is more.  

Videographer location: Palazzolo Films | Reception: LO- Horgen | Photographer: MaxwellArt Photography | Planner: Passion Up Weddings | Flora: Blumen Fee | Catering: Benjis | Stationery: Momentini | Attire: Sunita Suits | Ring/s: Sahak | Grooms: Michal + Arek | Guests: @sofiyas_ideas, @dani_el_cruz, @cazzalin, @cream_bridal