Planning Secret Proposal Photos?

Here's how you can cover all your bases, while keeping it all a surprise for you know who!

With the holidays coming ‘round again, it’s “that” time of year again. Yes, it’s the most popular season when couples enjoy getting engaged and celebrating the happy moment with their closest family and friends under twinkling Christmas lights and delicious foods!


If you’re considering capturing professional photos when you drop to one knee, have you considered hiring a professional to capture your special moment? If you are considering it, answering these six questions can help you best plan your photographed proposal while keeping it a secret from your future fiancee.

  1. Do you want proposal photos? There’s a reason you don’t see proposal photos for every engaged couple you know: proposal photos aren’t what every couple wants. If you’re planning to propose, chances are you have already discussed other specifics surrounding the proposal, such as what kind of ring she wants, what time of year she prefers, and if you want that moment photographed. When my little brother got engaged in 2017, being the kind photographer-sister I am, I offered to photograph their proposal. Cody immediately declined, saying Amanda wouldn’t want that kind of attention at that moment. If you’re like Cody and Amanda, who wanted to keep it a special moment just for the two of you, read no further. It is okay to not want photos of your proposal! Being sure of this now will help you have no regrets later. If hiring a photographer to capture your reactions is important to you, then we have more planning to take care of!

  2. Have you coordinated with your photographer? Ideally, you’ll want to research a photographer who has some prior experience photographing proposals. You can ask to see a few samples or gallery from one of their previous proposals. Once you’ve selected your photographer and agreed on a contract and payment, be sure to keep your photographer in the loop as your proposal plans take shape. Depending on a typical “wedding season” in your area, you’ll want to reach out to confirm a photographer no later than 30 days before your proposal. In the mid-Atlantic region, our wedding season is busiest August through October, so if you want to propose in that photographer’s busiest time of the year, I’d recommend reaching out 45-60 days in advance. As you get closer to your proposal date, establish how you will contact your photographer (via text or messenger, etc) in the event of last-minute changes to your plan. Changes could include telling your photographer you’re running 20 minutes late or your photographer letting you know to park at the upper lot because the lower lot is full.

  3. Where and when will you propose? Many couples have an intentional reason behind their proposal location. It’s her family’s annual beach vacation, you both love the Christmas light displays, or it’s where you went on your first date together. Wherever you choose to propose, be sure to discuss the location in detail with your photographer. Pulling up Google Map street views can help your photographer familiarize with the lay of the land. Your photographer will want to help ensure he or she can capture your special moment without being seen by your future fiancee and shoot from the best angles to capture your reactions. Likewise, discussing the time of day you want to propose with your photographer will be important. For instance, if you want to get down on one knee in front of the lighted Christmas tree in the park at 6 p.m. on December 16, it will be dark outside. Your photographer will help you plan best lighting at the location of your choice.

  4. What will you wear? Depending on the fib you’ve told your significant other about the occasion for your surprise proposal, dress to your own style without tipping her off that something special is happening that day. For example, if you hate wearing a tie but you decide to wear a tie for your proposal, go for it but just remember that your significant other may notice this out-of-the-ordinary behavior. To help the clothing selection look good for photos while not making your girlfriend suspicious, you could say you’ve planned a date at a classy restaurant or another event that would naturally queue her to dress in something nicer than leggings and a hoodie.

  5. How will you propose? Some people prefer to wing it, while others have practiced their lines for weeks before the proposal. Whatever you decide, be sure to share the plan in detail with your photographer-- like as specific as which of you will be standing on the left. Every detail helps your photographer capture your proposal the best. And remember to take your time! It’s such an anticipated and exciting life event that may feel like time crawls by in the moment, but from your photographer’s perspective, you only gave four seconds to capture her reaction to you on bended knee with ring in hand. Take your time and savor every detail of your proposal.

  6. What will you do after your proposal? No, you’re not done planning quite yet! After you propose, she says yes and all the emotions swirl, having a plan for after your proposal time will help you continue the special moments. Will you get dinner for just the two of you? Do you have a party with family and friends already planned at her parents’ house? Or will you take an extra 30 minutes to capture engagement photos? The options are yours to dictate, and again, always point back to what’s most important to you both in that time. Whether it’s savoring that time for just the two of you or immediately heading out to share the happy news with your family and friends, let the good times roll!



Below: Avery asked me to photograph his proposal to his now-wife Lauren at Mt. Washington. Mother nature did not get the memo to cooperate, and it rained. Thankfully, the show went on as scheduled, and I'm so glad it did!