You’ve decided you want to propose to the love of your life—wow! On top of that, you want to make it unique and have it captured professionally so that you two will remember it forever. What are the steps to make that happen? How long does the process take, and how much does it cost to have someone photograph your proposal? You should base all the decisions you make on your partner’s wants and needs; you want them to feel special—more than on any other day. This article will cover the ins and outs of a perfectly captured proposal and how to plan your own with a professional photographer.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get closer to finding the right location. You can do this before reaching out to photographers.
- What are your favorite activities and/or shared hobbies?
- Do you have a favorite spot—one that is special to both of you?
- Do you and your partner want to be surrounded by family, friends, and/or strangers, or be completely alone?
- Is there an occasion coming up that you want to include in your proposal plans?
Asking these questions should generally help you think of a few locations. For example, the restaurant where you had your first date could be a good choice. You could also reserve it for a post-proposal dinner. Another option could be a park or a trail you take your dogs to often for walks. If you are still not sure, a photographer who specializes in proposals in your city or region is sure to have some locations you can choose from.
Most photographers want to shoot during golden hour. The sunlight is softer and at an appropriate angle so your whole face is being lit. Photographers will also work with you if that timing is not possible.
Let’s say you have a full day of activities scheduled, and your proposal needs to happen around 3 p.m. Then you should rewind back to your choice of location because either your location or timing should elevate the photos. If your timing doesn’t make for great light, then your location should accommodate that. For proposals happening around noon or in the early afternoon, think about shaded areas where you can be completely shielded from the harsh rays of the sun.
Planning With a Photographer
So you have a location and a time. Now, you should look online to find the right photographer to capture your big moment—they’re readily available! Photographers typically charge between $300 to $600 for proposals, depending on where you are and if it involves travel. Packages usually include planning, location scouting, shooting, portraits afterward, and postproduction. Some photographers even give discounts on wedding packages for returning clients.
During the booking process, you should consider two options for your proposal. Will it be:
- Completely candid, or
- Involve your photographer?
If you decide on the first option, your images will be shot from a distance, as your photographer will be hiding somewhere far away. This option will help your partner not suspect anything, but the photos will be a little disconnected—like snaps from spy films. If you decide on this option, make sure your photographer has a telephoto lens—for example, a 70mm to 200mm lens.
The other option is to book a photo session that turns into a proposal. Tell your partner you’d like to do holiday cards and you’re booking a photographer for it. You can also point to an empty space in your house and say you’d like to have a photo of you two there. Now, you have the perfect cover for a photoshoot. When you involve the photographer, the pictures will be intimate and more in the moment than when captured from afar.
Next, you’ll need to come up with a bulletproof day-of plan. Your best bet is to have a run-through with your photographer and anybody involved before your actual proposal, even if it’s a little extra time or money. If that’s not possible, make sure you let them know exactly where you are going to propose—and by that, I mean exactly. Be as detailed as humanly possible—tell them which direction you’ll be facing, what car you’re driving, where you’ll be entering from, and the exact outfit you’ll be wearing.
What To Wear for Your Proposal
You will only have so much control over what your partner will be wearing but think about the location and what is appropriate to wear there.
- Smart casual is almost always a good choice.
- Try to stay away from checkered shirts and other distracting patterns.
- Contrast your environment but complement your partner. Wear a yellow jacket if you plan on proposing in front of a red brick building.
One last piece of clothing advice is also to consider what else you’re going to be doing on the day. If you are having a nice dinner after an afternoon running around town, your partner will probably be dressed for that. Make sure that the clothes (and especially shoes) are fitting for your proposal location. Don’t plan to propose on a mountain trail if most of the things you are suggesting to your partner mean they’ll likely be wearing heels.
The Week of the Proposal
You have a perfect plan with your photographer, your partner doesn’t suspect anything, and you are beginning to feel excited for the upcoming day! Here is a short checklist to consider in the week of your proposal.
- Double-check your outfit and make sure it is clean, ironed, and fits well.
- Call or text your partner’s friends and ask them to book a manicure for them the day before so that the post-proposal ring shot will be flawless.
- Know where you’ll carry the ring (keep it in the box).
- Write down a paragraph of what you are going to say. Keep it short and sweet so you will remember it easily.
- Practice taking out the ring and making sure it doesn’t fall out.
- Triple-check with your photographer and any person that will be involved and go over the timeline again.
- If you are proposing at a busy location, talk to someone there. It is likely they will have accommodated a proposal before. Your photographer could also have connections there.
- Check the weather forecast a day or two before and discuss a rain plan with your photographer.
On the Day of the Proposal
Here are things to remember on the day of your marriage proposal.
- Check in with your photographer in the morning.
- Put the ring where it will be kept for the rest of the day.
- Only take with you what you need and double-check that you have it.
- Check weather and traffic.
- Remember to relax.
- Stay on your knee a little longer than you think you need to. Your photographer will most likely want to capture it from more than one angle—first head-on and then over your shoulder with a focus on your partner’s reaction. Allow your photographer at least 15 to 20 seconds to do that.
- Feel the immense relief when they say yes, and enjoy the rest of your day!