How to hire a surprise proposal photographer

When you feel it’s time ask your partner to be your forever adventure buddy, you may think about hiring a surprise proposal photographer. While some couples may prefer a private proposal, others may want a photographer nearby to document the moment as it unfolds. There are a few things you’ll want to consider before reaching out to have your special moment captured.

Here you’ll learn how to find the right photographer (or videographer) for you, as well as tips on creating a solid game plan for when you pop the question to your partner.

Do you need a photographer for your proposal?

This truly depends on the chemistry of you and your partner. It is never a requirement to hire a photographer for proposals, but some couples want mementos from this life milestone. You’ll know what you want, and what your partner wants when it comes to this moment in time. Would you like to keep it private, or would you like to have this pivotal moment documented?

The benefit of having a photographer tucked away like papparazzi is that you’ll still have the space and freedom to be fully present in the moment with your partner. No stress about being in front of a camera, and still have beautiful photographs to share with friends and family on socials.

How do you hire a photographer for a proposal?

Depending on your area, you can search for photographers who specialize in proposal photography. Alternatively, you can search for wedding, engagement, or elopement photographers. Many wedding photographers offer proposal photography packages.

You’ll also want to consider your budget during your search. It may be more cost-effective to hire a local if you’re planning a destination proposal, versus flying a photographer in from elsewhere. But, if you find a photographer who’s work you really love, it may be worth bringing them along to document your proposal.

Once you’ve found a handful of potential photogs, definitely take the time to look through their portfolios and “about me” sections. Find a photographer who not only produces work that you are drawn to, but who’s personality would be a good fit to yours and your partner’s. This is incredibly important as you’ll be working together beforehand to plan your proposal. Does the photographer have the experience you’re looking for? Do they match your vibe? If yes to both, then it’s time to reach out.

Reach out to the photographer (or photographers) via email or their contact form on their website. The biggest things you’ll want to learn are: are they available on your date (or range of dates)?; what is their investment cost?; and what is their turn around time for finished photos?

How much does a proposal photographer cost?

Determining your budget before reaching out is especially important to avoid situations where you’ve contacted a photographer, they’re available on your date, you love their work, but they’re out of your price range. Your budget will be heavily influenced by what you’re considering on spending on your proposal experience (e.g., private dinner for the two of you, travel to a special destination, etc.), so make sure to have a realistic expectation on what you can afford on a surprise proposal photographer.

Rates of surprise proposal photographers vary depending on things like length of coverage (e.g., 1 hour versus 3 hours), their experience, and distance traveled. But surprise proposal photography isn’t usually as expensive as wedding day photography.

How is proposal photography different from engagement photography?

Proposal photography is centered around the event of you asking your partner “the big question.” Whereas engagement photography is dedicated portraiture of the to-be-weds. A proposal photographer may take a few engagement photos post proposal, it’s a good idea to book a separate engagement session with your wedding photographer prior to your celebration day. This will help ease nerves before your wedding day and ensure that you and your partner work well with your wedding photographer, who may be different from the photog you hired to document your proposal.

Engagement photography, depending on the photographer, also involves more posing and direction and tends to be less organic versus the moments that happen during a proposal. This isn’t to say that you won’t work with your surprise proposal photographer to plan how your proposal will happen. But rather that your photographer won’t be right there directing you how to propose to your partner.

When should you book a surprise proposal photographer?

Once you begin proposal planning, it’s important to hire any professional vendors you’d like to include as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’re planning on a weekend proposal during peak wedding season. A lot of photographers book weekends out months ahead of time. So you may be forced to consider a weekday proposal depending on your photographer’s availability.

You also want to make sure to give yourself enough time to plan together with your surprise proposal photographer. While you may think that a proposal photographer just shows up and shoots, there’s often a lot more planning involved. You’ll have to coordinate things like what time you’ll be arriving to the spot you’ve chosen, what time of day provides the best light/least traffic/crowds, and other logistics.

You’ll want to reach out at least 3-4 weeks before your chosen date. Many of my couples reach out 10-12 weeks beforehand so that we can work together in planning all the details. If there’s a specific photographer that you want to work with, it’s always better to reach out as soon as you know your date and/or location.

How do you coordinate with your photographer after booking?

Once you’ve officially booked a photographer for your surprise proposal, you’ll work together to finalize day-of plans. If you’ve already chosen a location, make sure to share with your photographer what you’re envisioning. Remember that this moment is for you and your partner, and your photographer will want to make sure to capture it exactly as you envision it.

The first thing I do with clients who inquire regarding a surprise proposal is schedule a phone call to learn more about what they have in mind and to see if we’re a good fit. We’ll map out a route, and manage expectations which includes going over a few initial logistics that the proposer may not have considered yet. We’ll also discuss things like potential backup plans in case of inclement weather, what time of day for ideal lighting, and how I’ll remain un-noticed. Extra planning in the weeks leading up to the proposal will result in an easy, stress-free experience for everyone involved.

What happens after the proposal?

One of the best ways to support wedding vendors is to continually work with them throughout your planning experience. If you’re happy with your proposal photos, consider booking them for a formal engagement session or even as your wedding photographer. By continuing to work together, you get to know your photographer well, which in turn helps them capture your unique love story even better. If you’re not able to book them as your engagement or wedding photographer, leaving a Google Review absolutely helps as well. Sharing your experience helps other future couples determine if that photographer is a good fit in their own search for a surprise proposal photographer.


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