6 Tips for Planning a Proposal in New York City

So you’re ready to pop the question! There are definitely hundreds of things going through your mind such as when and how to do it or how to make your marriage proposal perfect and memorable. Allow me to help! Here are 6 things to consider when planning a proposal in New York City.

emotional girl happy after proposal on bow bridge in central park new york city

1. Location

Location will play a very big role in how the two of you feel at the moment you decide to get down on one knee. Is there a significant place you and your significant other used to spend all your time during the early days of your relationship when you started dating? Did you have your first kiss while on a walk in Central Park or at your favorite coffee shop? Take that into consideration when planning a proposal in New York City. Just walking through a location with sentimental value will have your loved one remembering happy memories and that’s a great place to start.

On the other hand, you need to consider that certain locations will work much better than others if you plan on having your proposal professionally photographed. For example consider things like foot traffic. Proposing in places like the middle of Grand Central or Times Square is risky as the second your soon to be fiance jumps from joy, that beautiful moment might be missed if a tourist walks in front of my camera during that split second. You should also consider your loved one’s opinion of public displays of affection – if they’re the more private and intimate type then a proposal in a crowded area that attracts a ton of attention might not be as appreciated as you might think it would be.

Some locations in New York City may also require a permit (such as the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park), and some might not allow professional photography at all, such as the Cloisters (though I’ve managed to sneak a few photos in here once – we were escorted out immediately after and I do not recommend it).

Here is an example of a proposal story that used a location with sentimental value. This was a winter proposal in Washington Square Park with Eric and Priscilla who attended classes at the nearby NYU campus during their undergraduate years. During breaks between classes and after school they would hang out in the park, so it brought back some great memories when they visited NYC again after moving to Hawaii after college. Eric proposed on a weekday during winter where there were a lot less people compared to a Saturday or Sunday in the Summer where capturing this photo would be much harder due to the amount of people around.

she said yes to proposal in washington square park proposal in winter

she said yes to proposal in washington square park proposal in winter with christmas tree

Once we start your proposal planning consultation and agree on a location, we will discuss things like what path you two will walk down, where I will stand, how you should use your body language to make sure your loved one faces the right way towards me, and other important variables that will help capture this memory as best as possible.

For a list of locations I’ve photographed in over the years enter your email below and you’ll receive access to sample photos as well as a map of great spots to get you thinking. While choosing a location is completely up to you, I am more than happy to provide my advice so use the contact form below and we can start planning!

2. Time of Day and Lighting

This may depend on the location you choose but generally speaking, you will want to choose a spot that provides good lighting. If your chosen location is outdoors, my biggest suggestion would be to plan to propose at a time where we will have some soft lighting. Harsh sunlight is a photographer’s nightmare as it simply looks unflattering when we have shadows under our eyes, chin, etc. To prevent this it is best to plan to propose around 1-2 hours before sunset which will depend on the time of year. With that said, there are still other variables to consider – if you pick an area that is always in the shade then this may not apply.

For example during the proposal pictured below Rob took a knee in the sun while Erica was standing in the shade. With some good editing I was able to balance the lighting as much as possible, however you can see the lighting is much nicer where Erica is standing and ideally they would have stood a few feet over to the side with both of them in the shade.

guy proposing to girl on one knee in the cloisters museum bronx nyc

3. Make her dress up!

Right after we capture your proposal we get right into a full engagement session which typically lasts 1-2 hours. Every girl wants to look and feel her best in photos so you should try to make sure she prepares beforehand which will make sure she feels confident during your engagement session.

Tell her you’re going out to a fancy dinner later and as a bonus send her to get her hair and nails done since we’ll definitely be getting some close up shots of that engagement ring!

4. Keep it simple!

Some guys go all out with flower petals, hiring guitarists that serenade with “your song”, and even having the entire family waiting around the corner ready to congratulate you afterwards. This is often very overwhelming, sometimes goes totally unnoticed by the girl, and honestly the best reactions I’ve captured were from the simplest, most private and intimate proposals. The fact that you’re asking your loved one to spend the rest of their life with you is already a big deal and that’s what their mind will be focused on. You are what makes them happy, not all that extra stuff. Make it an unforgettable experience, but don’t overthink it. Also the more variables you introduce, the more things that have potential to not go exactly according to plan.

planning a proposal in new york city on the highline with guitarist

In the photo below, Tyler proposed in a very secluded area in Central Park that sees very little foot traffic even in the busy summer months where the rest of the park is swarmed with tourists. It was just the two of them and myself hiding in the distance with a telephoto lens – and look at how happy Brittany was!

man proposing to girl in the snow in central park new york city

winter proposal in central park with snow girl said yes

5. Don’t tell too many people before you pop the question

Chances are you will want to tell your future best man and maybe you want to ask her father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, but try not to tell too many people as you want this to be the ultimate surprise!

6. Go celebrate!

Remember how you told your girlfriend to dress fancy because you’re taking her out? Well now you need to keep that promise!

Are you ready to start your consultation to start planning the perfect marriage proposal in New York City? Use the contact form today!

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