The Art of the Surprise Proposal

The popularity of the Destination Proposal has created a whole new form of engagement photography. Capturing the surprise of the moment requires a little planning and a whole lot of stealth!

When Sam planned to surprise his girlfriend Fren Nee with a wedding proposal while on holidays, he chose the stunning scenery of the Yarra Valley as the perfect backdrop for their big moment. Wanting to capture the precious proposal and have it as a forever memory, he reached out to photographer Chrystal Lim to be quietly in the background with her camera.

The proposal was planned around a special hot air balloon ride at dawn (with Global Ballooning) and Chrystal spent most of the morning pretending to be a tourist, hopping on a van to the balloon take-off location, and blending in with the rest of the flying crew. Knowing Sam was going to propose on landing, Chrystal had to hop out of the basket quickly after the couple, grab the bouquet Sam had arranged and pass it to him, then capture everything in a very short and fast few minutes before the balloon deflated.

Chrystal says, “Sam and I had arranged the logistics and at the take- off location, we exchanged eye contact to acknowledge each other without letting Fren Nee suspect anything! During the flight, I started photographing the scenery like a regular person, but I also got some sneaky shots of the couple moments before the proposal. It all happened so quickly.”

“The main challenge is definitely the amount of pressure I put on myself to strive to capture the reactions and true emotions of the proposal moment. It truly is an adrenalin-filled experience for me but also a fulfilling one when I see how happy the couples are with their photos. That’s what I love about being a photographer!”

Chrystal notices there is definitely a rise in the number of couples interested in the idea of having a photographer document their proposal. “The ‘Destination Proposal’ or having a little proposal set up with printed pictures and props has become super popular. These photos serve as a fond memory for the couple they can share with their friends and family.”

If you’re thinking about a surprise proposal and having a photographer capture the event, Chrystal’s advice is to plan in advance. Start reaching out to photographers early, decide on one you really like who fits your budget. And who knows – they may just be the perfect wedding photographer too!