Ahhh the magical moment so many of us dream of… As we live in a do-it-for-the-gram world, having your surprise marriage proposal professionally photographed is something she or he will love and cherish for years to come! This is a HUGE moment and the start of something amazing. There’s nothing like a genuine surprise, love and excitement to elicit the best reactions and emotions which are definitely worth having captured. But executing an epic surprise proposal takes some thinking, scheming, and smart planning, especially if professional photos are involved. Here are 8 tips for the perfect surprise proposal from a photographer’s perspective!
This one may seem obvious, but plan and design your proposal for your partner! What do you love to do together? Where’s their favorite place? Have they ever dropped hints? What would tip them off that something is about to happen? These are all worth considering but most importantly, make it something that’s personal to your partner and reflects the two of you as a couple. If your partner isn’t the biggest sports fan, then I’d suggest staying away from a jumbotron proposal. If you’re both homebodies and love a good date night in, then something intimate and simple would likely be perfect!
This is step 1. Figure out 2-3 possible options and then, keeping the tips below in mind, decide on the one!
Once you decide how you want it to go down, then decide on where you want to kneel. You can do this with the help of your photographer during number 4, but the most important piece here is to consider lighting. Flash photography, usually, is a no-go for proposals unless you’re trying to recreate a paparazzi red carpet moment… So prioritize finding a spot and time during daylight (the hour before sunset is always amazing but we can’t all be perfect 100% of the time) or a place with lots of light.
The actual moment where you’re dropping down on one knee is often better if it’s just about the two of you. If you want to hide family and friends nearby that’s cool too, but the more players involved in the actual moment, the more chances for something to go wrong. From a photography perspective, it’s best to propose while it’s just the two of you and then if you want, plan to have friends and family join later or meet with them later. Or don’t and keep it a secret for a while. You do you.
If this is possible, it’s 100% a good idea. Otherwise, just chatting over skype is helpful. With a surprise, one person totally out of the loop and a nervous proposer in the mix, a lot can happen. So it’s best to walk through the plan together, get to know one another (this way we photographers also know what you both look like and who we’re looking for!) and sort through the best plan for your proposal vision. A walk-through will also bring out any gaps or concerns in the plan that can be addressed.
You’ll need a way to communicate with the photographer. If you’re able to text updates on you location, eta and such that’s always great. A tip is to change the name of the photographer to a buddy of yours, someone, that should your partner see who you’re texting, wouldn’t be surprised or think anything is out of the ordinary. Another option is to share your location with the photographer so we can track you as you approach the proposal spot.
And it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. Say you get to your proposal spot and someone else stole the moment (it’s happened – I was once waiting to photograph a surprise proposal and watched another proposal happen as my couple was on their way) and you can’t get to the spot as planned. Is there a back-up angle/kneeling spot in the same location you can go to? Is there another location altogether that wouldn’t be odd to walk to? Think through a backup plan and if possible, have a way to signal your photographer that there’s a change of plan! This is especially important if you’re planning to propose in a busy public place where you’re kind of at the mercy of strangers.
When you’re ready to drop down on one knee, give your partner a big, long hug before! This is a sneaky way in which you can move them slightly if they’re facing the wrong way and it also acts as a signal to your photographer that it’s about to go down.
Prior to the proposal, do what you gotta do to make sure your partner looks good, including their nails (because ring shots will happen, obviously). This is a good place to get friends involved and for some, may require creativity but your partner will thank you when they look good and feel good in their photos. After the proposal, you’ll likely do a mini engagement session. Nothing too long or overwhelming. You’ll both be high off the emotion and adrenaline and that should be enjoyed with others too!
If your partner is a crier (like me) or cares a lot about their appearance in photographs, it may be worth bringing a touch-up kit with a hair brush, make-up and tissues so they can touch-up and wipe away happy tears before snapping portraits after the proposal!
Oh, and if you’re worried about keeping the bulging ring box hidden and out of the way, allow me to introduce you to my friends over at The Box Sock! Fun socks with a hidden pocket designed for an ring box so your partner stays none the wiser!
So there you have it! My 8 tips for the perfect surprise proposal from a photographer’s perspective. If you’re planning to propose, I’d love to help you plan the perfect proposal and make sure those emotions and reactions are documented! Just get in touch with me by clicking the button below or shoot me a DM on instagram!