Arizona desert engagement portrait
Off-shoulder lace dress and a gorgeous engagement ring
You've decided to propose! You picked out a ring, you planned what you want to say ... you hired a photographer?

Having your wedding proposal photographed is a rising trend, and it's such a fun one! Proposals can be such emotional moments, and they're over so quickly that many brides tell me they barely remember what happened! I love the idea of capturing the rush and excitement of the proposal so that the couple can treasure the photographs and share them with their loved ones.

Once you decide that you want to have your proposal photographed, it's time to plan! Here are three basic scenarios with endless variations, that will allow you to have a photographer on hand without spoiling the surprise:

1. Propose when she already expects a photographer to be present (like during a portrait shoot).
As a photographer, I have heard story after story about how difficult it can be for some ladies to get their guy in front of a camera. So if the two of you are taking part in a portrait session, she will likely already be thrilled, even before you pop the question! This scenario offers your photographer the chance to get you in great light, as well. And since the photographer doesn't have to hide at all, they will be able to snap away unimpeded. Bonus: Your fiancé-to-be will already be photo-ready with hair, makeup, and clothes that she feels good in. She will likely appreciate this consideration when she's delightedly sharing the photos later.

Options for this scenario:
  • Holiday portraits
  • Family portraits (allowing you to enlist accomplices)
  • Claim to have won a photo shoot on a Facebook contest
  • Point out that you both need new head shots for work
  • Say that you were asked to model (as a couple) for a photographer's portfolio

2. Propose in a place where a person with a camera would blend into the background.
In this scenario, the photographer doesn't hide their presence, just their purpose. Your photographer will appear to be shooting something else entirely ... and then when the time is right, they'll shift their focus and capture your proposal. Your lady might not even realize that the camera has turned to the two of you until the initial shock of the proposal wears off! Note: if you decide to propose at someone else's big event (like a wedding or birthday), be sure to clear it with them FIRST! You don't want your happy moment to steal someone else's thunder!

Options for this scenario:
  • Propose in a popular photography spot (like a theme park or landmark)
  • Choose a public place (like a park), and have the photographer and their accomplices hold a fake portrait shoot nearby
  • Propose at a concert or event
  • Use a party or celebration where a photographer might be expected

3. Hide the photographer!
This is the stealthiest, most James Bond-esque option, and it's the one that most people think of when they picture a surprise proposal. In this case positioning will matter A LOT to the photographer's ability to capture the moment. With that in mind, you may need to scope out the spot with your photographer ahead of time. When you do, mark the place you've chosen in some way (a subtle bit of chalk can be perfect for this) and then when the moment comes, be sure you hit your mark!

Options for this scenario:
  • The photographer hides on a balcony (far enough away that they're not shooting the tops of your heads)
  • The photographer hides in bushes or trees and shoots through the leaves
  • The photographer hides in a nearby car and shoots out the window (paparazzi-style)
  • The photographer is tucked around a corner and peeks out to shoot

Bonus -- tips to keep in mind as you plan:
  • Make sure you go over the details very thoroughly with your photographer ahead of time! This is not the time to wing it and hope they catch up.
  • Arrange a signal ahead of time to let the photographer know when it's time (a text, a code phrase, etc).
  • Stay on your knee longer than you think you need to, to be sure the photographer has time to capture it.
  • Plan to have some photos taken after the proposal, as well. You'll look back at these portraits again and again in the coming years!

I hope that this post has given you some great ideas for how you can stage the perfect proposal and get amazing photos of it! You and your fiancé-to-be will both cherish the memories of your proposal -- captured perfectly in photos -- for the rest of your lives!

-----------> If you've decided that you want to have your proposal captured by a photographer, I would LOVE to be the one to do it! Click here to fill out my contact form. I'll get back to you right away to hear about your plans to pop the question and to help you get your proposal photography booked!
Great ideas for having your proposal photographed without ruining the surprise!
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