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All you need to know to propose her/him

Plan your Surprise marriage asking with a professional photographer

You are about to propose to your beloved and thinking about getting married. Congratulations! She should hopefully say yes. You wish this moment to be captured by a camera, and saved in photo albums. The next step would be to hire the best photographer in St Paul to cover your ceremony. After that, you will probably call him when she is pregnant and for family pictures with your 12 children.
But, wait, I am maybe going way too fast. Let’s slow down and focus first on your proposal, because for the moment, you need her to say, “yes.”

We will give details about the different stages of having your “ultimate question” taken in pictures, how to prepare it and what to do after.
By the end of this article, you should have several new ideas of where and how you will ask your question (in order to have great photos).

surpise proposal

One offer you want to keep proofs of

First, even if they can be visually quite similar (a guy on his knee offering a ring), all proposals are different. Some can be simple, reduced to the essential, in an isolate environment. Some would prefer glitter and confetti surrounded by musicians.
You are about to ask one of the most important questions of your life, that should completely change your relationship. Also you should really trust your guts and make it personal. Figure out what she expects, what would amaze her, and most of all, what she wouldn’t want.

For instance, not every girlfriend would appreciate their proposal to be broadcast on TV, in front of hundreds of peoples.  It is not that they don’t like surprises, but, lots of women would prefer an intimate situation to express their emotions.

The goal of the proposal photographer here is to capture, with talent, this moment, without being noticed.

Make sure she/he will be comfortable

The first and major question is to know if you and your fiancé would be, or not, comfortable having someone around you when you ask. I know some shy girls who could turn red and be embarrassed .

So you’d better know if you just prefer to be alone (with a guy hiding in an adjacent bush). If it’s the case, then you should look for location that offers intimacy, and thus that demanded for maternity session. Indeed, it’s easily undesirable that most couples would prefer a quiet place to show their relationship during maternity pictures!

The Risk of Hiring an Amateur Instead of a Real Professional 

If you want stunning portraits reflecting your personalities, then you should hire professionals. Indeed, contrary to ordinary sessions where photographer can repeat the pose as many times as needed, in such situation, there is not rehearsal possibility. So let’s see how amateurs could spoil a proposal. 

He Won’t Have the Technical Resources to Adjust and Adapt Quickly

Let’s presume your amateur is able to take a sharp image when there is enough sunlight. In case of unexpected last-minute change (a cloud coming in front of the sun),  an experiment photographer would be able to quickly found a solution (change his camera settings, etc.), while an amateur might be overwhelmed. In stress, he might try to adjust settings, and all your images ending being: blurry picture due to bad focus, or low speed, over or under-exposed pictures, noisy pictures, etc.

You have invested a lot of money in an expensive ring because it’s a one-life moment in your life and a big step in your relationships. It’s something you value. So, if you want good pictures, hire a professional Minneapolis wedding photographer and stay away from amateur photographers.

He Can Be Goofy and Ruin the Surprise

For sure, it will be for you and for her, a moment rich in intense emotion! And the last thing you want is to have it ruined by a stupid guy.

When I was about to ask my girlfriend to marry me, I asked myself the same question.
Did I want someone with a big camera jumping out from a bush and starting to take pictures, putting my fiancé in a difficult situation? The answer was a clear « No.” I know she is shy, so I pick a state park offering a breathtaking view on the Mississippi River and Wisconsin shore. When I propose she was nervous and burst laughter.

Luckily, I made sure to hire a wised professional who remained quiet and unnoticed until the end.

Ninja Photographers: The Secret of an Unforgettable Proposal

In such a situation, our key word is discretion! We try to be unnoticed until (and if possible after) you finally put your knee on the ground.

For that purpose, we use a very long focal lens, and we work in close collaboration with you to determine both the best place for us to hide, and the best location for you to propose. Those two elements combine guarantee you photos of genius smiles, row emotion that you will cherish forever.

Anther part of our job is to help you set up everything.

How to prepare: Get Help Set Up Your Dream Proposal with Our Expert Guidance

Most boyfriends would find and make contact with a professional photographer one or two months before the proposal ceremony. They want all the emotion recorded by the camera. At this point, their idea is usually pretty blurry. This period allows them to carefully prepare everything in detail.
That said, I also had some clients booking me for the day after tomorrow, with a well-conceived plan.

There are basically four things you need

  • an engagement ring
  • An alibi and a partner in crime
  • A location
  • A plan B in case of bad weather
  • A good photographer

Regarding the ring

The only thing that matters is that you have a clean box if you want her to open the box. The choice of the ring is your business!
For the record, the concept of the expensive ring with a huge diamond on the top is absolutely not common in Europe. In fact, a simple ring (even in wood, or plastic) will do the job properly. The ring is to consider as a symbol. It’s a promise.

It’s only during the last century that the diamond ring became a standard in the USA.

Anyway, for the photo, all kinds of rings work!

A partner and an alibi

Depending on your relationship, you might need a pretext to bring her to a specific place raising suspicion from her. In such a scenario, having an accomplice could be a great help! For instance, pretend you spend the weekend to your parent’s house, while you asked her sister/best friend to bring her to a spot where you will be waiting for her.

A third person is not necessary, but could make everything simpler. Another advantage is that you don’t really need to throw yourself in the water! Indeed, when she will discover you, she should immediately realize what’s going on!

How Long Does It Last

The question itself usually last 5 min. But all the shooting last usually about 30 min and includes:

  • The time to enter the location
  • to meet (if you are not coming together)
  • to roam
  • to knee and asking
  • her reaction afterward
  • some pictures with both of you
  • some pictures with friends/family.

What Scenery for Your Proposal

This parameter has a large impact on the quality of your pictures and the memory of this event. I totally understand that the emotional link to the location is meaningful—if not the most important point—and I will try to make it work whatever the situation. But, photography speaking, if you haven’t decided yet, when choosing a location, you must take in consideration several points.

  • Photographers need some bush (or other things) to hide.
  • The place must not be over crowded (you don’t want people in front of you, neither in your background).
  • The lightning must be great for both of you.
  • You must be sure that the backdrop will be nice to your date.
  • In case of bad weather, you need a fallback solution.

A place for your “ninja” to hide

If you want me to capture her facial expression when you put your knee on the ground and take a box from your pocket, then, I must remain unnoticed, until the last moment. Therefore I need something I can use to hide. It could be a bush, some trees, some cars, a bench, etc. That’s the funny part where I become some kind of spy.

I must be at a maximum of 50 feet from you.

Nevertheless, let’s say you really want to make your proposal in the middle of a flat field, there are some solutions we can discuss.

No crowded background 

You don’t want someone to stop just in front of you and obstructing my view. Nor you want tourists in the back of your picture with their red coat.
So I would recommend avoiding crowded areas, or to pick a time when the frequentation is low (usually early in the Morning, or during a week day). 


In the same idea, make sure there is not a special event on the day you are planning on. For instance, avoid the tulip festival at the Sunken Garden or the Minnesota Arboretum. 

If Needed, Make the Crowd Your Ally

That being said, crowd can also work as an ally. For instance, if you are planning to propose in zoological parks, in a stadium, or during a fair, then I could easily pretend to be a tourist taking pictures and I won’t be noticed. But in such a scenario, we have to make sure, I would be in a spot (an empty space) where my view can physically not be obstructed by anything. For instance, you would be protected from the crowd being on the other side of a river.

Sun Position and Lightning 

Let’s make it simple. In photography there are two easy options for the sun position: facing the photographer (actually pretty great), or on the back of the photographer. So, when you will put your knee on the ground facing her, both of you would be lightened in the same way.
It sounds like a detail, but actually, due to technological limitations of the photographic sensor, if one of you is fully under the sun light, and the other one is standing under the shade, then the image quality is pretty poor.

Also, to help you determine the perfect angle when scouting a location, you have some apps for smartphones. For instance, Sun Seeker can give you the precise position of the Sun, at a precise date and time.

Season Depending

Whatever the forecast, I will be there with my camera, but flowers won’t. For good portraits, check the best month to get married in Minneapolis!

Don’t bet everything on a scenery which can vary regarding the season. For instance, if you are hoping for a blooming season and that the winter is longer than expected, you need a second option, or to be able to reschedule.


If you live in Minnesota, and the forecast looks terrible, you can still report your proposal. But if you, or some family members, fly to Minnesota,  then reporting might not be an option. Also, it’s highly recommended that you have a plan B in case of rain or snow storm.

Example of outdoor locations around the twin cities for your one lifetime proposal:

As an engagement photographer in Minneapolis, I love quiet parks, such as

  • Highlands Park
  • Meadowbrook Park
  • Arden Park
  • Wood Lake Nature Center
  • Theodore Wirth Regional Park
  • Lake Harriet Bandshell Park
  • Lyndale Park Rose Garden
  • Lake Nokomis Park
  • Minnehaha Regional Park
  • Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
  • Phalen Regional Park
  • The Minnehaha falls
  • The Hidden Falls
  • The Mendota height
  • The Harriett Island Park
  • The Phalen Regional Park
  • Lebanon Hills Regional Park
  • The Landscape Arboretum (famous for its flowers)

Example of Urban’s spots

Some people could choose a cozy and calm coffee shop, such as the 514 Studio in the Minneapolis Warehouse District with its red brick wall from Minnesota. The only two requirements from photographers is that they need to hide, and in the same time, that there aren’t too many people around. There is a bunch of indoor locations possible, from the coffee shop, to the brewery, to the fancy restaurant.
That said, I have a crush on outdoor urban areas.
The advantage of an urban spot is that you can easily find a reason to bring your fiancé at the desired place, pretexting going for a walk, a coffee, a dinner, a concert, a play, etc.

So find here a list of options:

  • Near the capitol
  • In front of the Basilica of Saint Mary or Cathedral of Saint Paul
  • Irvine Park
  • Harriett Island
  • Mears Park
  • Landmark Center
  • St Paul rich neighborhoods such as the Summit avenue
  • Near the new U.S. Bank Stadium (if you like modern architecture).

Finally, if you taste is between modern or natural landscape, then think of places such as Centennial Lake, in Edina.

Stone Arch Bridge… or not

This iconic location is this choice for many guys to propose. It can be a very good idea, or a very choice, depending on the weather and the passers.


Have a look at this engagement session to understand why photographers in Minnesota are so in love with Minneapolis and Saint Paul rooftops. Indeed, the landscape is spectacular, synonyms of energy and liberty. It’s a place for the birds to look at the city.

Places to avoid

The question of the Crowded coffee shop

You might be familiar with historic places, such as Nina’s Cafe, loved by families and photographers, and want to ask your wife to marry you. Despite the exterior of that building works great for engagement pictures, the indoor location is usually pretty dark and crowded. Of course, it may be some exception. But that’s in general, not the best scenario.

The Delicate Question of the (Italian) Restaurants

You might have seen in the movie, that restaurants works great to offer a diamond ring. After sharing some delicious food, you tell her a couple of jokes that produce a burst of laughter. Finally, you end the diner with a sublime gift which left to her no alternative (hopefully) that a positive answer to your question. Both of you forget the entire world that surrounds you and it’s a magical memory you will never forget. That’s the romantic approach of the story.From a photographic point of view, you have to make sure that:

  • The restaurant is bright enough (avoid candle lightened restaurants)
  • there is a place for your photographer to hide
  • there will be no one between you and your paparazzi.

The Tiny Backyard

Backyard are places that we love, but are usually not spacious enough to be used as background. So, despite the fact that you have an open view on nature, you might want to choose another location.


Some malls (such as Mall of American) may feature some nice location. But, first, it’s a place where professional photography is usually forbidden, and second the crowd is pretty unpredictable.


Night is romantic. You can seat, staring are the star and take this box out of your pocket to propose her. In a romantic point of view that’s a good story. In a photography consideration if there is not light, things start to be complicated. In consequence, it’s better to avoid night situations if you want candid shot with no flash.On the contrary, if you don’t mind having a flash bursting near you, then night can work.

After she said yes

surprise mariage asking
Lots of emotion!

Photo session

In order to have more pictures, we can continue with a short photo session. That being said:

  • She might be in a state of shock, crying and shaking (so we will respect her, and won’t push her)
  • She might not be ready to have her pictures taken, at least not the way she would have envisioned it (not wearing her favorite dress, etc.).

Should you gather your families?

Sometime the families are involved in the process and the only one who is not aware of what is coming is your wife-to-be.
After she says yes, you can go to celebrate in a nice restaurant.

Your photographer would be more than happy to immortalize group pictures!

Additional ideas: Let’s go further

Christmas and Winter

Christmas, New Year’s eve, followed by Valentine’s day are famous periods to get engaged. You might want an outside snowy background or a cozy one.

Winter Proposal

If you grew up in families cherishing snow cover landscape, you might consider a winter session.  Cities (such as Boom Island). Or go further in Minnesota if you like to avoid City Skyline and the Mississippi River.

Frozen Lake and Ice Castle

Those are something unique we have. Frozen is very fun to walk on, and Ice Castle is just magic!

 Plan for a Special Activity

Unlike most of engagement photographers in Minnesota, I encourage my couples to share a/their special activity, in order to create unique memories.

Indeed, there are some activities that are so intense that reminds forever in your memory. You might desire to associates those moments to your proposal. For instance, you could do

  • air ballon
  • pleasure aircraft
  • helicopter ride
  • canoeing
  • motor boat
  • sailing bot
  • bike (tandem)
  • sled with sled dog or horse
  • ice skating
  • climbing a mountain, a bluff
  • standup paddling
  • Snowmobile
  • skying
  • snowshoeing

The only limit is your imagination!

Getaway in a adjacent local city

Stillwater is one of my favorite old towns to shoot photo sessions for the husband and wife. Therefore, it would be a great place for a proposal. More than the view over the St Croix River and the Wisconsin shore, it offers numerous historic buildings that are always a must.

Unusual and original place to propose

  • Great Lake Shore
  • On a cruise, steamboat
  • On an old train
  • On a Tree-House
  • On the famous Stone Arch Bridge (when there is no one)
  • On the top of the Foshay Tower
  • In the Middle of a Bridge
  • In front of a water fall
  • In front of an Ice Castle
  • In front of a Roller Coaster (Fairly Odd Coaster) or a big Wheel (Betty Danger’s Country Club)
  • In a vinery at the sunset time
  • In an Apple Orchard
  • In a greenhouse

Destination proposal?

Lots of couples get engaged during holidays, far away from the state of 10,000 lakes. The man usually takes advantage of a trip to a romantic city (Europe) or an exotic breathtaking destination (beach or national park). If you plan that, you might ask the local photographer. If you are visiting the North State (lucky you), and you are planning to ask your fiancé, then contact me. I would be happy to help you for your destination proposal!

Outfit Coordination

Good photography vendors would tell you, a good outfit coordination is one of the keys to good portraits.

Look at how she is dressing, and try to coordinate your clothes. Most guys underestimate their fashion talent. Just try to match her style, but avoid matching her colors;  Instead, take a complementary color.

For more information read our dedicated article.

Planning Process

Involve your vendors in your timeline, share some photo albums with a picture of you and your future wife and review your options. Cost can vary depending of location and special requests.
We usually exchange several emails, phone calls, documents, before the D-Day. Don’t forget to mention everything! Everything must be set to the millimeter.

And the D-Day, follow the plan, stay synchronized with your photographer (update him with a text if you are late).

surpise proposal


I have mentioned here photography considerations for your surprise proposal, in order to have stunning photos and keeping great memories.
You are, of course, welcome to personalize with an original way of asking. You can find hundreds of suggestions on the net to customize such surprise.

Now, if you are ready to get further, send us an email!

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diamonds are always good surprises

Black and White Portrait of Alexandre Mayeur, photographer at French-Touch-Photography

Born and raised in Paris, I am now a proud Wedding Photographer in Rochester, MN, serving MPLS.

I don’t only capture emotions in candid pictures, I also create timeless images and artful photographs.
Recognized as one of the best photographers in the Twin Cities.

I serve Duluth and also far beyond the 10,000 Lakes State (Wisconsin, Iowa, and destination). I am more than happy to discover beautiful landscapes and new horizons.

Have a look at my previous publications to learn more. As an experienced professional photographer, I don’t limit my field to lifestyle, family, or event photography! I invite you to visit my portfolio and discover my photography and work out of the studio.