How to Plan A Surprise Proposal (With Photography!) in 5 Simple Steps
Surprise proposals that involve a professional photographer or videographer documenting the moment seem to be on the rise and I couldn’t be happier. Photography plays such an important role in documenting our personal histories, so why limit professional photography coverage to just one or two days in our whole lives? I love that Proposers are surprising their Proposees (that’s a word, right?) with a gift that will bring back the happy memories of that moment forever. Of course I’m biased, but I do truly think that photography is always the best gift! So, if you’re planning to propose to your partner, here are a few tips from a photographer’s perspective!
1. Know your audience
Sure you know your spouse-to-be, but do you know how much s/he likes to be photographed? Not that it’s common, but I’ve heard of people being a little freaked out by the idea of a hidden photographer following them around and documenting such an intimate moment in their lives. Just be sure your partner is the type of person who would actually be excited to discover they were being photographed, and not horrified. So, assuming they’re a fan of being photographed, onto step two!
2. Decide how much to reveal
Having a professional photographer documenting your proposal will preserve that moment forever. Depending on the type of person your partner is, they may be delighted by being caught completely by surprise and swept up in the romance of finding out you hired a photographer on the DL. They might think it’s wonderful that you did all the legwork, and arranged the whole moment (or day) start to finish. If this sounds like your partner, by all means, keep everything a secret! But if you think your partner is the type of person who would appreciate having the opportunity to throw on their favorite outfit, pick out a location, and collaborate on a shoot with you, then there’s another option: let them in on the “couple’s shoot”, but keep the actual proposal a surprise. (Jake did just that for his girlfriend Courtney and it worked out beautifully!)
3. Plan plan plan
Planning the proposal itself doesn’t have to be elaborate. Whether you’re nontraditional, extravagant, offbeat, or laid-back, a great proposal should just be a reflection of the two of you and will be the most meaningful if you stay true to yourselves. A simple walk on the beach, or a hike through the hills are beautiful and classic settings for this wonderful moment. However, if you’ve got something unusual or very specific in mind, or if you’re planning to propose on a trip to a city you’ve never been to before, you might need to call in some backup. Enterproposal planners. (Yes, this is a thing.) A proposal planner can be your travel agent, local correspondent, and event coordinator all rolled into one. They can also just help you brainstorm if you’re feeling clueless and you don’t trust your friends to not spill the beans if you ask for input.
4. Wait for the signal
If you opted to keep the entire shoot a secret, make sure you collaborate with your photographer in detail about exactly where and when you’ll be popping the question. If I need to hide out somewhere, I still need to be sure I can get a clear line of sight to you both. Work with your photographer to pick a spot where they can be inconspicuous up until the big moment, and one that’s generally uncrowded, like James did for his proposal to Amy, below! (Otherwise you might end up with your very own In The Way Guy photobombing you. *sad trombone*) If you did give your partner the gift of a couple’s photo shoot which you plan to turn into a proposal, that’s a little easier to get the timing right. Choose the exact spot where you want to propose in advance, and let your photographer lead the way. This way you & your photographer will be on the same page about when you’ll be proposing, and they can schedule your shoot accordingly. I like to give the Proposer a heads up with a code phrase we’ve devised, then let him (or her) take it from there.
5. Enjoy the moment!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with excitement! My best advice for anyone planning to propose is take your time, and enjoy the moment. Hopefully you’ve picked a spot without any distractions, and as a photographer I do my best to remain inconspicuous and will document your emotions as they naturally unfold. This is a really momentous but fleeting moment, and you might just enjoy it even more knowing a professional photographer is recording it all for you to have & share long after the moment ends!