Destination I Do
Thursday, June 14, 2012

Surprise Proposal Photography

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words and photos courtesy of: Sarah DeShaw
Intro courtesy of Courtney Cox

One trend which is growing in popularity, and which we at Destination I Do can get behind whole heartedly, is grooms going above and beyond in the proposal department. We’ve seen multiple grooms go so far as to arrange a professional photographer to be present (incognito, of course) to capture that once-in-a-lifetime moment when she says “yes!” This blog features one such groom-to-be. Travis and Breana were visiting O’ahu, Hawaii for a friend’s wedding and Travis thought it was the perfect opportunity to get down on bended knee. Their photographer, Sarah DeShaw (who was of course in on the plan) approached the two and asked if they would be willing to pose for her while she captured the Hawaiian landscape. Little did Breana know that this was all a front and the true mission was to capture the moment when her and Travis would get engaged. The photos which resulted are nothing short of breathtaking and Sarah DeShaw herself has tips for how you yourself can pull off a similar feat!

So, what exactly is surprise proposal photography?

With proposal season in full swing and the most frequently asked question just after getting engaged being, "So, how did he propose?" there is now an amazing way to answer in this tech savvy world with professional photos which capture it all! Surprise proposal photography is a hot new trend making guys look good and their mommas proud across the nation! Imagine this: you are going to an exotic location with your fiance for a getaway or even to attend a close friend’s destination wedding. With love and anticipation for your own future wedding in the air, what better time to propose? Capturing this moment on camera allows family members and friends to feel as if they were a part of the moment with you and creates heirloom pieces of art for the future. Wouldn’t you love to see a photo showcasing the love and excitement the moment your grandfather proposed to your grandmother?

How can I find a photographer for my upcoming proposal?

Search for photographers in the location you are hoping to propose. Photographers from your future proposal location will know local hot-spots and lighting of the area best. They will also be able to help you find a private location and be knowledgeable of any local events which may be happening or may interfere. Once you find a photographer with a style you like, contact them and see if they photograph proposals. Most photographers which photograph candid-style engagement photos will be willing and excited to photograph a proposal. Or, check with your fiance to see if she has her eye on any particular photographer for your wedding. Having this opportunity to connect with your ideal wedding photographer can be a great step towards fabulous wedding portraiture while keeping the style and aesthetic consistent with your future wedding photography.

How is it possible to get intimate photos while keeping the proposal a surprise?

My personal favorite method of surprise proposal photography is planning a special date-night photo shoot. Only the person planning the photo shoot with me knows what the session is really about. This allows me to get some portraits prior to the proposal, which later end up being engagement photos with special meaning. At the tail end of the shoot is when the proposal happens. Since I am already close enough to photograph portraits and the couple is already comfortable with the proximity this allows a fabulous method of capturing those priceless reactions. Another benefit of having the proposal photographed in this fashion is when the individual being surprised knows they will be in front of the camera they will typically coordinate outfits, hair and makeup for the shoot. She will thank you later for allowing her to be dressed in a way in which she feels comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

Some helpful notes to get gorgeous surprise proposal photography:

Talk with your photographer about the location and time of day to ensure both are aligned for beautiful photography.

Tell your photographer the plan and the backstory. This way if you need help choosing a location or time of day where the light is best, your photographer can help you optimize and personalize your photo shoot.

Come up with a code phrase so you and your photographer can communicate to know the proposal is about to happen. I have used the phrases “The light here is beautiful!” or “Wow, this is a really great location!” to let my clients know this is an optimal location with the best, most flattering light.

Take your time proposing so you two can both enjoy the moment and be photographed well. Be sure to let your photographer know if you have prepared a speech from the heart or a short and sweet, “Will you?”

Really love on your new fiance after she says “YES!” Even though the photographer is there, just pretend he or she is not and celebrate with your new fiance how you love to celebrate. In my opinion, these are hands down the best moments to be captured.

I hope these tips and the information provided will help you have a fabulous heirloom proposal!


Sarah DeShaw

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