Tips for the Perfect Marriage Proposal | L Squared Affairs

Tips For The Perfect Marriage Proposal

You know what I love about marriage proposals? Unlike weddings, that are typically planned for the warmer weather months, getting engaged happens all year long. I’ll admit I’m partial to the Holiday season proposals, but I’m one of those crazies that starts thinking about decorating for Christmas in July, so there’s that. Last year, I wrote this blog on How to Propose During the Holiday Season.

We love helping to plan marriage proposals, because we absolutely love the anticipation and the emotion that this one question brings. Plus, it allows us to bring so much more into planning the wedding with couples when we know how it all started.

I think the most important aspect of planning your proposal should be hiring a photographer. Being able to look back on that moment that is filled with so much joy and love, no matter how many years has passed, is so special. Not to mention, you’ve got something to post when announcing your news to family and friends later! 😉

I recently had the chance to talk with David and Annie of A Tale Ahead Photography, a husband and wife team based out of San Francisco, CA that specialize in photographing the “yes!” in surprise proposals. We wanted to know, as photographers, what their advice is for capturing that special moment. Here’s what they had to say.

How can the proposer get away with having photographers there without being seen?

It’s important to hire an experienced proposal photographer who knows how to blend in and knows the right places to be at the right times. When Annie and I shoot proposals at popular, well-known locations (like this shoot at the Palace of Fine Arts), we can easily blend in with little effort, but this isn’t always appropriate. For example, you might prefer a more quiet, secluded area (like this Pacifica proposal at Mussel Rock). In that case, since we almost always shoot proposals together as a pair, we would take photos of each other and/or of the surrounding landscape to look busy. But sometimes we just have to get creative: once, for a proposal on a yacht, we arrived early to don crew uniforms, complete with official-looking name tags. When the couple arrived, we introduced ourselves as “Eric” and “Marie,” photographers hired by the boat captain to take photos for their website and marketing materials.

There’s also the all-in-one combo that both buys you a cover story and explains the photographer’s presence: you can pretend that you’re having a couple’s photo shoot (or a family photo shoot, if you want to include your family), which will let you both get dressed up nicely, go to your ideal location at the perfect time, and also lets your photographer shoot freely. This doesn’t work for everyone (e.g. don’t suggest this if you usually dislike being in photos), but when it does it’s perfect!

If proposing at night, what type of environment is best for pictures?

Photographing proposals at night can be challenging due to the lack of light combined with the quick nature of proposals. For best results, consider both foreground and background lighting. Having some lights in the foreground (e.g. a streetlight or a bright nearby shop window) will illuminate you and your significant other, while having lights in the background or periphery (e.g. Golden Gate Bridge with its pretty night lights, or cafe string lights on a restaurant patio) will provide a nice accent for the photos. Your photographer will help you with this — it’s our job!

Is there anything the proposer should avoid in order to capture the moment perfectly?

From our experience, here are a couple of tips:
  • Avoid being too close to crowds and bystanders. People are unavoidable at popular sightseeing spots, but as long as you stay 10–20 feet from the people around you, your photographer can avoid them by working the angles and controlling the perspectives.
  • If someone is occupying the spot where you want to propose, you should stall a bit and wait for them to leave by talking to your significant other and taking a few selfies.
  • If you need to move someone out of the way, ask them nicely to use your camera to take a photo of you.
  • Take your time when you’re down on one knee. Your significant other and your photographer will both appreciate it 🙂


Thanks so much to David and Annie for providing their expertise. Here are some more images of amazing proposals from A Tale Ahead Photography for you to enjoy.

For more information on our proposal planning services, click Here or Contact Us to start planning!

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