Tips for Planning Your Perfect Surprise Proposal

March 18th, 2018


tips for planning your surprise proposal man down on a knee proposing to girlfriend in rhode island on the beach in the fall


I think proposals are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are glorious, beautiful days that I’m honored to spend with my couples. But if I’m being real, proposals are straight MAGIC to me! 

I’ve had the pleasure of shooting many proposals & learning from each one, but typically you really only have this experience once! It’s a daunting task & you want to make sure you get it just right. That’s where I (and this post) come in! I’ve rounded up some answers to the questions I get most often when planning a proposal so all you have to do is follow along! 

rhode island proposal photographer fiance kissing each other after he proposed in Boston Common in the spring

Pick your location.

The location could be a no brainer for you if you have a spot that’s special for you two. This could be the place you went on your first date, your favorite Sunday morning coffee shop, or a place you visit for vacation annually. If your S.O. loves wine, you may want to propose at a vineyard (or brewery for beer lovers!). 

There are a lot of options, but go with your gut & keep it simple. You know your future fiance & what they’ll love. Remember that a mainstream place like Boston Common, or the beach may be beautiful but could be packed with people, making it distracting & tough to photograph!

Things to Consider: 

  • Will you have enough space to get down on one knee? 

  • Will it be busy around the time you’re planning to propose? If so, is there a more secluded area you could go to?

  • Are there restrictions with photography at all?

girlfriend happy and laughing and crying on the beach after her boyfriend just surprise proposed to her in rhode island in the summer rhode island proposal photographer

Book a photographer!

I debated putting this one first because I love being involved in the entire planning process! It’s such a joy to hear that literal sign of relief from clients when we’ve talked over the phone & planned their proposal in less than an hour. 

Booking a photographer, whether they help you plan or not, is highly recommended. I mean, you’ve spent all this time planning the surprise of a lifetime – you want to have someone there to document it all with high quality, rather than relying on family’s cell phones or even strangers around you. Plus, your S.O. probably won’t know your photographer, making it easier to keep the secret! 

Side note: 

This moment is going to FLY by. Speaking from personal experience, you & your future fiance are going to be so caught up in the moment, running on adrenaline that you basically blackout. Having photos – or even better, video! – is the best way to relive the moment later on when things have calmed down.

send me a message & we’ll work together to plan the perfect proposal!

couple looking at each other on cloudy day on the beach after he proposed to her surprise on vacation in rhode island

Iron out the details. 

Remember the 5 W’s plus an H? Who, what, where, when, why, and how! We’ve got the who & the why – you want to marry your S.O.! But the rest is important to finish the plan.

When & where do you plan to propose? Get nitty-gritty here, as in “We’ll leave the hotel at 5:15pm and walk over to the Common 15 minutes away. We’ll walk past the George Washington monument towards the bridge where I’ll propose in the middle”. Your photographer can certainly help walk you through this part to create a smooth timeline.

How will you communicate with your photographer or family that’s involved? Many clients have sent me a codeword or even a messy text (literally, “siogbnsieghaih”) to signal that the plan is in motion! 

Pro tip: 

If you never meet your photographer in person prior to your proposal, send them your best selfie of the two of you so they know your faces! If you can take a selfie with your S.O.  in your proposal day outfits, that’s even better – then they’ll know what you’re wearing! 

couple smiling and laughing looking at each other after he proposed to her on the beach in the summer in rhode island

Propose first.

You’ve got a dinner reservation, so why not enjoy dinner & then propose somewhere quiet later? 

No. Just… no.

When I had suspicions of Scott proposing, that’s what I thought we’d do too! But in hindsight, that would’ve been unbearable! He would’ve been so nervous through dinner, probably wouldn’t have eaten & trying to communicate with the photographer. I would’ve totally noticed something was up & sussed it out.

Propose first, then go about the day/night you’ve had planned. Plus, it’s the best way to unwind & celebrate the occasion! 

couple smiling and walking away from a seaplane after he proposed to her on vacation in rhode island in the summer on a sunny day by the lake wearing a tie dye dress

I hope these tips helped you think of all the little details of planning your proposal. This is such a beautiful moment in your lives – I wish you all the best!

If you’re planning a proposal & have questions or want to work with me, please send a message here or email me at You can DM me on Instagram, too!

Want to drop a sly hint to your S.O.? 😉 Send them this link: It takes them right to this blog post! 

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