How to Plan the PERFECT Surprise Proposal


Planning a surprise proposal can be nerve-wracking, but the magic of Hawaii makes it the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable moment. The lush greenery, turquoise waters, and stunning sunsets create a romantic atmosphere that is second to none. With so many beautiful locations to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to pop the question. In this post, we'll share tips and ideas for planning the perfect surprise proposal in Hawaii, from selecting the ideal spot to preparing for the big moment. Get ready to create a memory that you and your partner will cherish for a lifetime.

plan your hawai'i proposal


Before we get into some options, please note that surprise proposals aren’t for everyone,

Proposing is a big step and not everyone wants a surprise proposal, as they can be unpredictable. During our trip to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, my husband Patrick was planning a surprise proposal for me. However, seeing how many people were on the trail and suffering from altitude sickness, I casually mentioned not proposing at base camp. We ended up having an engagement story that was unexpected, but special to both of us. There was no camera to capture the moment and he didn't have a ring, but it was still an unforgettable experience. He proposed during the missile warning that happened in Hawaii in 2018 while we were in our pajamas in our living room. If he had made the big, dramatic proposal, it probably would have made me uncomfortable around all those people. I wanted my reaction to be my genuine emotion, not inhibited by others. Although it may not have mattered to some, it was important to me.

Steps to Planning a Photographed Proposal




Plan for the moment

Hire your photographer

Talk to your partner

This is the fun part! Now you can really dive into how you want to spend your day. This is a great way to create a unique and personal proposal that you and your partner will love every second of. Think about highlighting your partner's favorite things, and what’s meaningful to both of you as a couple. What would surprise your partner (even something small like having their favorite dessert as a surprise after they've said yes). Your proposal can be as adventurous or laid back as you want it to be.

Photography is one of the most important parts of our lives, but it's now overlooked. These photos are one of the only tangible things you will have left to document the moment after it's over. Your love story deserves to be told in a way that’s authentic to who you are, in a way that makes you FEEL. These photos are so much more than just for a post on Instagram or a selfie that's left forgotten on your phone. These are the photos you will be showing your grandchildren when you are old and wrinkled, and I truly believe you will never regret investing in those memories.

This may seem obvious, but the first step is to planning the ultimate surprise proposal is do a bit of digging. Assuming you and your partner have talked about marriage (you might want to do that first if you’re thinking about proposing!), ask a few more specific questions. What did they imagine the moment would be like as a child? What would be their dream proposal now? Would they want it to be just the two of you? Are they okay with a crowd? Do they have a ring in mind? Some people might not have any expectations. But, if you have the opportunity to make one of their fantasies come true, wouldn’t you?

Surprise proposal at Hawai'i lighthouse

Surprise Photography Proposal

You can make the proposal as elaborate, or intimate as you like. Want to happen upon a beautiful picnic in the forest where you get down on one knee? Planning a romantic walk on the beach after dinner? Hiking to an epic view and want the proposal captured by a photographer from afar? Whatever the case, hiring a photographer to capture the two of you at a pre-planned location can make the moment even more special.




Photoshoot Proposal

As Hawai'i based photographers, Eternal Tides has captured many surprise proposals. We won't give to too much about this process (after all if we give away our secret how will we surprise your partner!). But essentially you'll hire a photographer for a pre-planned photo shoor that your partner can plan for. They think you're just taking beautiful photos, but really you'll propose at some point after we give a signal.

This type of proposal is great because the actual proposal moment doesn’t happen until after we’ve captured a few other photos and gotten to know you two a bit. We usually have already discussed a plan and signal so we can capture the exact moment of the proposal (from two angles, perks of a second shooter!). When we’ve planned to capture the proposal this way we’re already in the perfect spot and can capture the genuine emotion from your partner when you pop the question.




Surprise proposal on Haleiwa Beach
Oahu engagement photographer

How to make your O'ahu proposal extra special

Surprise engagement photographer in Hawaii

Hire a photographer to capture the moment

Add videography, so you also have the moment (and speech!) on video

Propose during an excursion like a private sailing charter, horseback ride, or exclusive helicopter tour

Gift a lei, haku (flower crown), or bouquet.

Bring along a bottle of champagne, beer, or whatever the two of you like to drink as a celebration.

Include a gorgeous picnic or special dessert with your partners favorite treats

Include family or friends by giving a pre-written congratulations from someone who was in on the secret

Hire a musician to play your song before, after, or during the moment

Oahu engagement photographer
Oahu engagement photographer
Oahu engagement photographer

hire us for your hawai'i surprise proposal