How to Plan the Perfect Surprise Proposal

Last weekend, Still Poetry Photography was a part of just about the coolest thing ever.

We filmed a proposal in NYC, right in front of the Rockefeller Tree.

I've been planning with the now groom for months; he planned a trip with his now fiance to New York City to travel around, see the sights, and head to a Packers game.

But to her surprise, the focus of the trip wasn't the sight seeing or the game, but him asking her to marry him.

I posed as an NBC tour guide (see video for my awesome fake badge...I was really proud of that thing) that his friend from work set him up with to get a private tour. We exchanged the niceties and before I "gave the tour," I asked if I could get their picture.

I turned on record and...well, you can watch the video above.

It's real stinking cute.

Right afterwards, we went on an engagement session all over the city, and the pictures were amazing and adorable and it was a fantastic day that Justin and I were blessed to be a part of.

So if you're looking for some tips on how to pop the question in a magical fashion, read on.

1. Is this the right move?

Before you get started, you first need to ask yourself the most important question; is this something my partner would even want?

While we all love to coo over extremely public proposals and gasp at over the top and lavish signs of affection, some people would be extremely uncomfortable with being that center of attention. Right after the proposal, strangers immediately came up to the couple to congratulate them, which was really sweet, but not something everyone would want.

When Justin, my fiance, proposed to me, there was no one around, and that was exactly how I would have wanted it; I hate surprises and I hate attention, so when he proposed in Hyde Park at the FDR library during the government shut down, there was no one around to watch us, and he's not a subtle man and I knew it was coming the whole time.

It was perfect.

But that isn't everyone's definition of perfect. Maybe your partner would really like something elaborate and intricate.

Or maybe your partner would like to wake up to you on one knee on their side of the bed on a Sunday morning and you celebrate by making pancakes together in the kitchen.

It all depends on their preferences.

2. Brainstorming.

So speaking of preferences, you've decided that an elaborate proposal is something your partner would like and you know for sure they'll say yes (nothing more awkward than having to say no with 100 strangers looking on).

So where do you pop the question?

You have to ask yourself what makes your relationship special. Did you bond over your love of The Black Eyed Peas? Do you guys love theatre? Nature? Aquariums? Boxing rings?

Everyone's relationship is special, and you should pick a place and a theme that matters to you both.

If you love baseball and your partner couldn't care less, maybe don't propose on the Jumbotron during the Kiss Cam.

That's a classic move, but it's just not that important to them. No matter how big the gesture, you want your partner to feel like you put time and effort into making this proposal about something you both are passionate about.

3. The Diversion.

When planning the proposal, you've got to have an alternative reason why you're going where you're going.

The reason the Rockefeller Tree proposal worked so well is because we had a believable cover story; they were going on a private tour, and it was going to be the least "exciting" part of the trip; the day before, they did a carriage ride through Central Park and the next day they were going to the big game, so even if she was expecting a proposal, it probably would have been during the other days.

This also gave me the perfect cover for why I would be taking a picture of them. Instead of doing the sniping method in the bushes, I had an excuse to be front and center to capture the moment.

So if you're planning an engagement party at a friend's house so you can propose surrounded by friends, say it's so and so's boyfriend's birthday party (but make sure they can't cross check on Facebook to verify). That way there's a reason for the get together.

And then you can all pose for a picture and pop the question then.

4. The Documentation.

What made the NYC proposal so successful and the pictures so amazing was that Hilary was glowing and giddy the entire time; both of them just committed to spend the rest of their lives together and the couple was beyond excited, and it absolutely showed in their pictures.

Even if it's just a friend snagging a video, a lot of people would love to have documentation of this moment (just make sure they're shooting in landscape; makes for a much better video).

If you want to go the professional route, have a backstory for why the photographer/videographer is there. You can do the sniper method, but the quality is going to be so much higher if there's actually a reason for them taking a picture of you.

Also, having a third party not in your family or friend circle gives you someone to safely get excited with; you have someone to send pictures of the ring, talk about your nerves, and just get excited about the prospect of the whole adventure without being nervous that your friend will spill the beans.

I didn't even know the name of his fiance until we met in person, so there's no way I could have blabbed! And Dustin needed someone to talk to because he couldn't contain his excitement!

Additionally, having a professional in your arsenal is such a blessing when it comes to planning; you've (probably) never proposed before, but capturing these moments is the professional's job. They know what they're doing and would love to help you plan out every last detail.


How did you or your partner propose?

What is the most romantic proposal you've ever heard of? Hit up the comments below.

Thinking of putting together a public proposal? Email and let's get planning.

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