Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

October 13, 2022

How to Plan a Proposal

FILED IN: Engagement

Your proposal is one of the most exciting moments of your life, & with all of the planning & preparation that goes into it, you might be feeling a lot of pressure. There is a lot of planning that can go into a proposal, & while every proposal is different there are some things that are consistent for all of them. You want to make the proposal an experience you & your partner will both love & cherish forever, & leading up to that moment you’re going to be feeling a LOT of different emotions. That’s why I put this guide together on how to plan your own proposal to help take some of the pressure off your shoulders so you can focus on what’s most important, your partner!

An oval cut engagement ring sitting on a wet stone

Planning Your Proposal

Where & When

First things first you’ll have to decide on when & where you want the proposal to take place. There’s a ton of factors to consider when deciding this so be sure to really think through the experience you hope to have before you make any final decisions.  If you’re hoping for a more intimate experience where you two feel like you’re the only two people on the planet, you’ll want to look for more remote or private locations or popular locations at off hours.  Private locations might look like your home, your favorite park or forest preserve, or somewhere special that only you know about.

If you want to go to a more popular destination to propose to the love of your life, but you’re still hoping to have the space to yourselves, opt for a less popular time to propose.  Sunrise on North Avenue Beach or a summer morning at the Indiana Dunes or in Central Park will give you the views you hoped for but without all the crowds gathered around.

Or if you’re fine with a larger crowd of strangers bringing ALL the hype to your proposal, head to some of these popular locations during peak hours!  I promise people will cheer & shout congratulations for the majority of your session.  

The last great option is to go for a more curated experience.  Propose during dinner at The Eagles Nest in Indy, on a Royal Carriage ride in NOLA or at the London House in Chicago where they provide champagne, rose petals & a private view of the city.

A man proposing to his fiancée at the Londonhouse Cupola surrounded by rose petals.
A man kissing his fiancée after proposing at the Londonhouse Cupola surrounded by rose petals.

General Planning

Outside of your location & when you plan to have your session be sure to plan out anything else that is happening during your proposal. The more elaborate & the more vendors you plan to have involved in the proposal means more planning that needs to be done prior. If you do plan to have multiple vendors involved in the proposal in addition to your photographer, whether that be food, drinks, videographer, music, or anything else you envision, be sure to reach out to them early. 

Especially when it comes to your photographer the earlier you reach out to plan the better, both for your sake & the vendor’s! It’s also crucial that if you plan to have different vendors or locations involved in the proposal that you create a timeline & stick to it. This is something that your photographer can help with which is just another reason to reach out to them extra early. 

fiancés kiss after their proposal on a Lake Michigan beach in the fall

The Ruse

Lastly for your surprise proposal you’ll have to plan out some sort of ruse to get your partner where you need them to be for your proposal without them being suspicious. This can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be, just as long as it is believable. If it helps get some friends or family that you trust in on the plan to help make it more believable. 

For example if you plan to propose in Monument Circle, ask your inlaws to “invite you to dinner” somewhere nearby.  Or have a cousin or friend from out of town say they’re coming to visit & want to see the sights before you guys go out to dinner. That way you’ll both be dressed for your session & you’ll have some added believability to your story. Bonus points if you put your photographer’s name in your phone as the person you’re meeting up with so it’s not suspicious when you text them updates on your location!

A man proposes to his girlfriend on a beach overlooking Lake Michigan
A man proposes to his girlfriend on a beach at the Indiana Dunes

The Day of

Now that all the planning & preparation is done it’s time for the big day! You’re going to be feeling a lot of nerves & excitement so focus on sticking to your plan & keeping your cool. Just think, soon you’ll be engaged to the love of your life & you two will be celebrating this huge moment in both of your lives together! As your plan starts to head in motion be sure to keep all your vendors & any relevant parties informed on any changes or delays. You can share your location as needed with your vendors & be sure your photographer is first in the loop on if any location or timing changes occur. 

You should have discussed with them a spot that you’ll meet & where you’ll propose, stick to that location unless it’s absolutely necessary to change & inform your photographer of those changes. Lastly if proposing in a crowded location stay down on one knee as long as you can. This will give your photographer time to capture the moment in case any of the other people there happen to walk in front of them.

Fiancés cheers champagne after their proposal at the LondonHouse Cupola

After They Say Yes

After the proposal, we will take some time walking around your location(s) of choice to capture some engagement photos. This is one of the most fun parts of a proposal as you’re both so happy, excited, & laughing about all the things it took to get your partner here without them knowing what was going to happen! I also recommend planning in some time after our session for you two to grab a bite to eat to celebrate with one another. If you have family coming in for the proposal even better as they can join in on the celebration & really make it a day to remember!

Fiancée smiles while snuggling close to her fiancé on the beach at the Indiana Dunes

Proposals are some of the best experiences that I get to photograph, & while there’s a lot that goes into planning them, it is all SO worth it. The excitement that you feel in the moment & being able to capture these emotions that you both share as you take this next step in your lives together is truly incredible! If you’re planning your proposal & looking for a photographer I’d love to help you plan. Head to my contact page here to send over an inquiry!

fiancés kiss on the beach after their lake front proposal