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Top 10 Proposal Ideas and Tips for the Perfect Proposal

November 8, 2019

Filed in: Engagements

You’re getting engaged! This is such a fun and exciting event, but can also be super stressful. I know… I’ve done it! (here’s a link to my proposal to Tyler). From coming up with a romantic, meaningful idea, to asking their loved ones’ permission, to coordinating the logistics, planning a perfect proposal can be overwhelming! You need proposal ideas!

But of course, I’m here to help! I’ve photographed a lot of proposals so I have seen enough to list some proposal ideas! Here are my top ten tips for the perfect proposal.  Using these tips, you’ll have all the tools to create a picturesque proposal that will be the both instagram worthy and sentimentally special for your partner.

Feel free to reach out to me to help you plan this event! I’m not a wedding planner, but I’ve been involved in enough proposals to help guide you through this fun and exciting process. 

Email me: dale@benfieldphotography.com

Dale Benfield proposing to Tyler Sowers Benfield with mountains in the background in Alaska

Tip #10: Make the Proposal Ideas Personal

I’m starting with the most difficult tip: make your proposal personal. Putting personal touches into popping the question will be worth its weight in gold when it all comes to fruition. Following are a few proposal ideas to make it personal. Maybe it’s recreating your first date, maybe it’s including a fur baby (like John Michael did below), or maybe it’s just treating your partner to all his/her favorite things leading up to the main event. 

Because every relationship is unique, the story of the proposal should also be unique to you two. Even a little detail, like listening to “YOUR song” on the way to the proposal, can make a huge difference.  Brainstorm a few personal touches you can incorporate into the proposal.

JM included his dog in his proposal ideas to Alex
JM included his dog in his proposal ideas to Alex.

Tip #9: Make it Thoughtful

This sounds a lot like the last one, but there are subtle and important differences. When proposing, try to think of each aspect of the proposal and how you can make each aspect the best possible version of itself. Choose a great location. It can be a special place, or take place during his/her favorite time of year, or incorporate her family and/or friends. 

I love this proposal idea! Below, Sean gave Sidra a special weekend at Pratt Place Inn (the couple lives in NYC), and Sean arranged for Sidra’s sister to be standing by to celebrate with the couple at Maxine’s Tap Room following the proposal.

proposal idea at Pratt Place Inn

The bottom line is that you want him/her to look back and realize how much thought you put in to asking this all-important question. Your parter will appreciate your attention to the little things when looking back at this momentous occasion in your love story.

Tip #8: Make it Appeal to All 5 Senses

Put some thought into what the proposal will look like, obviously, but don’t forget about his/her other senses! Using soft music in the background will create a romantic feel and set the tone for your proposal. 

Also, think about how you want the room or space to smell. Here are some proposal ideas to incorporate smell. Are fall candles burning (if he/she loves that time of year)? Or maybe you are cooking a romantic meal with flavorful aroma? Perhaps it’s that you didn’t forget to wear his/her favorite cologne/perfume. Another great idea is to incorporate fragrant flowers. 

Don’t forget about taste. Having a bottle of champagne nearby or petit fours will bring all the senses together to create a complete sensational experience. 

Did I forget touch? I didn’t; the feeling of putting on the ring will be unforgettable. These extra little steps will ensure the proposal will lack in nothing when it comes to the 5 senses.

Champagne Toast setup
Having a champagne toast after the proposal is a great idea!

Tip #7: Make it Official

I love the idea of getting down on one knee and asking the words, “Will you marry me?” Something about the tradition and reverence for the question makes it real and makes it romantic. Getting down on a knee shows respect and loyalty to your partner. I love the notion of submitting yourself to your partner and truly letting it be his/her decision to marry you. 

Make sure to ask the words. Getting on a knee, looking up with puppy dog eyes and saying nothing might be sweet, but getting that verbal commitment from your partner is important. You don’t have to prepare a long speech, but I believe it’s important to express your intent and ask your partner if he/she will marry you.

Man getting on one knee to propose
Man getting on one knee to propose at Crystal Bridges

Tip #6: Make it Fun

Proposing is a serious life moment, sure … but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! I was recently with Tyler at the North Lights at Crystal Bridges and thought it would be such a fun proposal idea if I hadn’t already! Going to art is something we both enjoy, so incorporating that into a proposal would definitely make it special. 

What is that for you and your partner? Is it Razorback football games? Or maybe going to the arcade? Perhaps cooking a meal together? Volunteering together?  Whatever you and your partner do for fun can provide a fun way to propose. 

Even if it’s not an activity you do together, you can still incorporate fun into your proposal. Maybe you’re naturally funny and incorporate that into what you say when you propose. Maybe you have a fun celebration planned after. There are a lot of ways to incorporate fun into your proposal!

Proposal at Razorback game
Ben made his proposal to Tressa at Razorback baseball game on the Dugout. She was so surprised!

Tip #5: Make it Organized

Do you get stressed by logistics? Are you a type-A personality and thrive when planning every little detail? Regardless of what personality type, it’s essential that the job gets done and every aspect of your perfect proposal is planned accordingly. 

Maybe you hire a planner or a detail-oriented friend to help you plan. There are a lot aspects to the perfect proposal that need considering: do things need to be delivered, arranged, decorated, orchestrated? What happens if “_______” happens? 

Don’t stress about it, but take time to work out the details, think about  what could go wrong, and make a plan B just in case. And if it rains, bring an umbrella. 

proposal ideas at Christmas time with lights

Tip #4: Make it a Surprise

The absolute hardest part of my proposal to Tyler was keeping it a surprise. She is fantastic at figuring out surprises, so it’s really challenging to surprise her.  I knew that I wanted to, though, so I took extra care to keep all of the plans hidden from her, and I even took extra steps to throw her off the scent when I thought she might start suspecting a proposal was coming. 

Finding a friend or relative you can trust to keep it a secret will help in multiple ways: it gives you a helper for logistics, someone to bounce ideas off of, and someone to help throw your partner off the scent. 

As a photographer, I love capturing that moment it dawns on him/her what is happening. I realize that behind the scenes, a lot went into giving her/him that special moment, and I view it as an honor to be the  one to capture it. 

surprised bride during proposal
Brandon surprised Hope during his proposal because she thought he was out of town but he flew in for the big moment

Tip #3: Make it Stress-Free

Easier said then done, right? What I mean here is make it stress-free for your partner. Try to keep your nerves at bay (something I failed miserably at, because the day before my proposal to Tyler I started an argument over absolutely nothing, haha). Remember that everything will work out exactly as it is meant to, and try not to stress because it can cause your partner stress.

If you can, set up a stress-free day for your partner. Maybe that means an afternoon with friends, or maybe that means getting a much-needed spa day (which could also help make hands look extra pretty for the ring shot). You both will want to look back on this day as beautiful and stress free, and setting yourself up for success by adding in some of those stress-relieving activities is key!

Tip #2: Make it Inclusive

While you get to be the one to deliver your incredible proposal ideas, remember that there are other important people in your partner’s life that he/she will want to be  included. The images below are from a proposal that also included the bride-to-be’s daughter. Matt said he purchased a photo session from me and they drove to NWA from Tulsa for the mother and daughter session. After the session was finished, he dropped to a knee and proposed. It was a great way to not only surprise her, but also include her daughter. 

Other ways to make your proposal inclusive is to ask for the parents’ permission (if that’s important to your partner), having family waiting nearby to celebrate, or throwing a party that night with your friends and/or family. Celebrating with your loved ones definitely get your engagement started on the right foot.

The moment after the proposal when they couple hug

Tip #1: Make Sure it’s Captured

This one is easy! Make sure you get the proposal photographed and, if possible, on video!

At Erin and Mika’s proposal, which I was invited to as a guest, I was asked by the photographer if I had a memory card because she forgot hers. Hiring a professional (and not trusting it to friends or family) is SO important when capturing your big life moments! I had my camera with me so I got to photograph this incredible proposal.

Regardless of your proposal ideas, your partner and you will love looking back at the images and video from your proposal. They’ll also want to share the images with your friends and family!

To book me to capture your proposal, email me: 

dale@benfieldphotography.com

same sex lesbian proposal at Sassafras Vineyard

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@dalebenfield

Mostly sharing things from my personal life (cocktails, kids, and my gorgeous wife), peppered with what I'm currently photographing.

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