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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 desire 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 will be 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).

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.

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.

How to prepare

Most of 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!

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 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 on the middle of a flat field, there are some solutions we can discuss.

No crowded background (time of the day)

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. 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).


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.


You can reschedule for another date (everyone should be available), or having a covered alternative.

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

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

  • Frederick Miller Spring close to Edina
  • 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

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
  • The summit avenue
  • Landmark Center

What place to avoid

In movies, you can see the proposal to take place in a tiny Italian restaurant, during a concert, a fair, or other kind of events taking place in a stadium.
Keep in mind that you want to keep proofs of this moment, you should avoid these situations.

After she said yes

surprise mariage asking
Lot 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!

Let’s go further


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.

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!

Ideas of Special place to propose

  • Great Lake shore
  • On a cruise, steam-boat
  • 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 green-house


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 wife and review your options. <http://localhost:8888/average-cost/#RefAD”>As a professional photographer I 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).


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.

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diamond are always good surprises

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

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

I’m serving Duluth, and also far beyond the 10,000 Lakes State. I am more than happy to discover beautiful landscapes and new horizons.

Have a look on our previous reportages 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 my personal work out of the studio.