How To Plan a Surprise Proposal


One of my favourite things to photograph is wedding proposals. Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to play a small part in some incredible proposals and it’s a real honour to be involved. They’re so emotional and special and I love being able to capture that for couples.

As you can imagine photographing a proposal has to be quite a stealthy operation. After all it’s generally a big surprise for someone. I work closely with the proposing partner to make sure that things go as planned and my presence doesn’t give the game away!

Planning your proposal

There are so many ways to have a photographer capture your proposal. One of the more common approaches is to make the proposal part of a planned photoshoot. This tends to be less stressful for you as you build up to your proposal! Everyone is aware that I’m meant to be there and I can lead you in a portrait shoot before you go down on one knee. Plus it always means I’m in a great position to capture the moment and, more importantly, the reaction!

Another popular choice is for me to become some kind of photography ninja and just happen to be near you. This requires a bit more forward thinking from both you and I, but it’s worth it. The photographs are incredible! For example if you’re planning to propose during a walk or in a special spot in a park that’s special to you I would just happen to be taking photographs of the landscape nearby. Nothing suspicious about that!  With a bit of pre-planning I would know when you were going to pop the question and would be ready and waiting! You could both then go straight into a couples shoot with me to celebrate the moment.

A third way involves a little bit of acting on my part, which is always fun! Anish took Paige on a visit to Cotswold Zoological Gardens. He’d surprised her with a Penguin Encounter. Now, I’m sure you’ll agree that it would have looked rather suspect if I was taking part in this private encounter with them. So we came up with a great idea. I posed as a Zoo staff member (with permission from the Gardens of course!) who was there to document the Encounter for their social media. Paige didn’t suspect a thing and I was able to capture some fantastic photographs for them both.

If you’re planning a surprise proposal and don’t want it to be part of planned photoshoot then having me pose as a staff photographer is a great idea. This works especially well in restaurants or bars. Or as part of an experience like Paige’s Penguin Encounter.

If you’re thinking of popping the question at a friend’s wedding (please do check with the couple first before planning this!) then make sure you let their wedding photographer know what’s going to happen. They can then be ready and waiting to shoot that moment.

Hopefully that’s given you some food for thought. Planning (and making) a proposal is such a special time and having it photographed leaves you with some amazing memories.

I’ll leave you with a few tips to make the most of having a photographer there.

Top tips

– Involve your photographer! Brainstorm ideas. I’ll be able to advise you the best times to make the most of the light. And I can help with picking the perfect spot in your chosen location too.

– It almost goes without saying but try to choose a location that means something to you both.

  • If your proposal is part of a photoshoot then pop the question towards the end of the shoot. You might want some time afterwards to compose yourselves, spend time together and start letting family and friends know the news.
  • However, if I’m an unobtrusive part of your proposal (so the other partner doesn’t know I’m there) then why not have a short photoshoot afterwards to really make the most of me being with you.
  • Have somewhere planned to go after the shoot. A favourite haunt for a glass of fizz, somewhere secluded you can be alone and enjoy the moment together. Alternatively you could have family and friends waiting somewhere nearby to celebrate with you both. Or if you’re feeling flush why not whisk your new fiancee straight off on a romatic weekend away. Alternatively make the proposal part of a weekend away! I did a shoot for Lucas and Nikki who had booked a romantic few days in Oxford. Lucas proposed and I was there to capture it for them.

I hope this blog has given you a few ideas on how to incorporate photography in your proposal. If you’d like to know more or would just like to chat about your plans and see how I can be involved then I’d love to hear from you.