Five Tips From a NYC Proposal and Wedding Photographer To Nail Your Marriage Proposal & Get The Best Proposal Photos

I’m shooting at least three (!) surprise marriage proposals in NYC this month! (Well, they don’t call it “engagement season” for nothing!) So in the midst of all of the back-and-forth’s with excited soon-to-be grooms as they plan their proposals, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about marriage proposing tips.


A few weeks ago, I shared a Wedding Wednesday post with tips on how to plan a surprise wedding proposal (you can access it HERE!). A lot of what I talked about in that blog post related to what to do during that period of time leading up to the proposal. I provided tips on buying an engagement ringcustom tailoring the proposal, deciding when and where to schedule it, picking out details to incorporate into the proposal, preparing what to say, keeping the proposal a secret, and creating a backup plan.

Today, I’d like to discuss something a little bit different: tips for the actual proposing part – THE BIG MOMENT. Why is it important to follow these tips? Because despite all of the planning that goes into a proposal, the actual moment usually goes by in an instant, and these tips will help ensure that you NAIL this special moment that your significant other has been dreaming about forever! A lot of what I’m about to explain below is *especially* important if you’re hiring a professional photographer to capture your proposal on camera. Not only do you want to give your future fiancé a proposal they will never forget, but you also want to make sure that you get the best proposal photos if you’re making the investment.

  1. Stick to your proposal plan as best as you can. Actually, let’s back up. Make sure you have a good plan in the first place. Planning and preparation are key to successfully executing a proposal. Good planning shows your significant other that you took the time to be prepared, and it helps you avoid feeling extra pressure and anxiety on top of the expected nervousness that comes with a marriage proposal. The last thing you want is for unnecessary, added anxiety from having so many loose ends to show in your face and get captured on camera (if you’re having the proposal documented by a photographer). Sticking to your proposal plan as best as you can is also important when you’re coordinating with someone to capture the moment, which usually happens in an instant and can easily be missed by the photographer if you throw all of your plans out the window. 
  2. If you’re taking the traditional route and plan on getting down on one knee, take your time doing so. And once you’re down on one knee, make an effort to stay down on that knee for as long as possible (at least 20 seconds!). It’s not uncommon for people to get so nervous right before “popping the question” that, once they get down on one knee, they are up on their feet before the photographer gets an opportunity to capture the moment (and your significant other’s sweet surprised reaction!) on camera. The longer you are down on one knee, the more photos your photographer will be able to capture of this special moment. But what if you don’t have a photographer documenting the proposal? Honestly, you should *still* stay down on your knee for as long as possible. Trust me when I say that nothing is better than prolonging that sweet, romantic moment when your significant other is seeing you down on one knee.
  3. Plan a sweet and short proposal speech that’s as sincere as possible, and say it slowly. If you forget it, don’t sweat it! Remind your significant other how much they mean to you and don’t forget to utter the four most important words: WILL YOU MARRY ME? While you’re saying all of this, don’t forget to smile! It’ll give you a boost of confidence and make any photos being captured ten times more beautiful!
  4. Wait until after you’ve “popped the question” to open the engagement ring box. Try to get your speech out before you show your significant other the ring. It helps your future fiancé focus on what you have to say first, and it’ll create a second sweet surprise (with an extra surprised reaction to be captured on camera!) when you open up the ring box and show them the ring.
  5. If you’re planning on having your significant other’s family/friends at the proposal location as a second surprise, ask them to hold off for a few minutes after you’ve proposed before revealing themselves and approaching the two of you. It’s much more intimate when you have a few moments to celebrate together alone, and it’ll allow your significant other to really take it all in. Also, asking your family and friends to stay away for a bit longer avoids having someone accidentally step in front of the photographer who is trying to capture the moment for you and miss it entirely.

    [Side Note]: In the few times I’ve shot surprise marriage proposal, I’ve also witnessed situations where the unsuspecting party that’s about to be proposed to has spotted one of their friends or family members who is doing a poor job at staying hidden before the proposal. And then they’ve figured out something was up. This is yet another reason for family and friends to steer clear and as far away as possible from the proposal area until AFTER the proposer has done their thing.



Are you interested in having your proposal photographed? I absolutely love proposal stories, and I love it even more when I get to witness it happen! You can contact me by emailing me at, or by using my website contact form, which goes straight to my inbox!


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