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Well, Happy 2019!! This time of year is always an interesting one for me, because usually the month of December is filled to the brim with holiday activities, along with a crazy amount of shoots! Among those shoots are proposals! I used to think that there was a specific season for these, but I am noticing a trend- since I live in Wine County, the season never really dies down! Over the last couple of months, I have had a ton of inquiries for proposals, which follow with a bunch of questions. Yes, proposals are sweet and fun and amazing…but the behinds the scenes of planning are so logistical! With so many odd details to think about, I decided it was time for me to write out some tips for how to plan a proposal!

Proposal at Hanna Winery proposing

1- Find a location!

This blog is more specific to Sonoma and Napa area since that’s where my area of expertise is. However, I am sure these are universal- if you plan to propose at a Winery, please call ahead and ask for permission! While there are a ton of Wineries in the area, with a lot having open tasting and tour hours, some smaller ones are by appointment only, don’t allow professional photography, and don’t want to be tagged on social media. You do NOT want to find this out the hard way! Also, remember that wineries are BUSY during the day! I shoot a LOT of proposals at Castello di Amorosa, and it can be near impossible to navigate around the amount of tourists- its like Disneyland for adults! If you are more shy/reserved or really want the moment all to yourself, finding a more intimate spot will be the key.

Proposal at Domain Chandon woman jumping up in mans arms

A side note on locations-

I had a bucket list item of shooting a proposal in a hot air balloon, and it finally happened! It was an incredible experience- and here’s what I learned- As you can see, there wasn’t enough room for him to get down on one knee. There were people everywhere, so not much space for an intimate moment. He had to pay for my ticket to go on the ride (which I so appreciated! But it’s something to consider when you are working on budgeting.) If you have a big plan of a hot air balloon proposal and you want to get down on one knee, maybe do it before you get in the hot air balloon, with it all lit up in the background? And then away you go!

Hot Air Balloon Proposal in Napa Valley

2- Find a photographer!

This may sound silly/obvious since I am a photographer, but if you are going to spend so much time and effort concocting a plan, its also so fun to have professional photos to remember the moment by! It’s way easier to keep it a surprise if they don’t see someone they know and aren’t expecting to see who is using their phone. Its so fun to relive the reactions!

Winery Proposal in Napa Valley

3- Logistics!

Ok, so truth time- the first proposal I ever shot, I learned the hard way where I needed to be. All of my images were of the guy proposing, and of the girls back. She did finally turn around so I got those reactions, but man…lets just say I am so glad after photographing a ton of these over the past 3 years, I have honed in on what to do!

Proposal at Castello di Amorosa sweet hug after proposal

4- Propose first, wine taste later-

Since a lot of proposals here happen at wineries, usually a tasting is booked. Now, I get that logistically it sounds like a solid plan…but believe me, you are going to be nervous, possibly checking your phone to see if I have arrived, etc. SHE WILL KNOW SOMETHING IS UP! lol. My advice, save the tasting for after, as a celebration (and a sigh a relief!).

Surprise Proposal at Castello di Amorosa reaction at proposal

If you can’t tell by now, photographing proposals is such a joy for me! I hope these tips help you as you start planning, and of course message me at stephanie@stephaniehopkins.net if you’d like to work with me 🙂 (If you’d like to see more of my proposal sessions, click HERE !)

 

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