The Complete Guide To Planning Your Surprise Bay Area Proposal




You’ve done it. You’ve found the one. You and your love have been through it all, and there’s no one else you’d rather be with. The time has come to propose. Whether you’re a lady looking to propose to your lad or lass, a dude ready to settle down with his sir, a gentleman enraptured by his mademoiselle, or a in love person who’s ready to tie the knot with their most favorite human, we’re a) so excited for you, and b) ready help you plan one epic marriage proposal. Bay Area lovers, let’s get planning your surprise proposal!




Getting Your Ducks In A Row Before Your Surprise Bay Area Proposal

Planning your surprise proposal will be fun, but it will also be a bit of work. If asking for your partner’s parents blessing or maybe just talking to your partners parents about your intent to propose is something you want to do or your partner has expressed a clear preference on such traditions, this should be your first step.



Talking to trustworthy friends and family can also be a good idea. They may have advice from their own proposals or have heard your significant other talk about what their dream proposal would entail. Your network of supportive family and friends will be great to bounce ideas off of to help you tailor the perfect surprise proposal.





Next, if picking out an engagement ring is something you’re interested in, there are so, so many options. If your partner is particular, you can propose with a family heirloom, antique ring, or simple birthstone ring before investing in a wedding ring or wedding band so they can pick out exactly what they want. Otherwise, you can peruse selections at some of our favorite wedding jewelers such as The Art of Jewels, Trabert Goldsmith’s, or Altana Marie.






In preparation for your surprise proposal, you may want to think about getting a haircut, picking out a nice-but not too nice-outfit to look put together but not raise suspicions, and make sure you hide any evidence of your upcoming proposal. The last thing you want is your partner stumbling upon a ring receipt or seeing the charge on a shared checking or credit account, browser history indicating your intent to propose, or texts from your BFF that’s helping you plan the surprise. And yes, hide that ring. Perhaps have a trusted friend or relative hold onto it or hide it in an extra secure location. All these considerations will help keep your surprise proposal a true surprise.





Scouting Locations For Your Surprise Bay Area Proposal


All of us have at least one friend that took a big trip with their partner, and were either expecting a proposal and got it-yay!-or were expecting a proposal and were deeply hurt and disappointed-oh no! Don’t let this happen to you. A surprise proposal is the best possible middle ground. The best proposals are unexpected, well thought out, and magical.

Golden Gate Park Engagement Photos

In the Bay Area, there is endless supply of beautiful places and venues within driving distance that are proposal worthy and then some. Maybe you and your love adore Golden Gate Park. Maybe you had your first date at Baker Beach. Or, you and your sweetheart love hiking the many beautiful trails around the bay. These places are special, beautiful, and meaningful to those from the Bay Area and beyond. In other words, perfect for your surprise proposal.

Baker Beach Engagement Photos

The time of day you choose to propose will make a difference in the overall feel as well. A quiet misty morning feels different than a romantic sunset. Golden hour will produce spectacular photographic memorialization of your amazing moment. Or, twinkling city lights or stars in the night sky may be just the thing you’re looking for.

Want more ideas? Click here for our list of the 10 best places to propose in the Bay Area.


Memorable Ways To Propose

Here is where the fun and magic comes in. Depending on where you want to propose, what help you can stir up, and whether you want a photographer present, some ideas may be the perfect fit, and some may take a little more work, but all of these ideas are doable, adaptable, and memorable.




Surprise Outside:


Stow Lake Engagement Photography


Parks like Strawberry Hill, Golden Gate Park and Land’s End; beaches like Baker Beach and China Beach; and hikes like Hawk Hill, The Presidio, or the Marin Headlands are all dreamy outdoor spots to stage your surprise proposal. Have family or friends set up a picnic complete with cozy pillows, champagne and little snacks. They could also hang a banner and decorate with balloons and flowers, spell your names or will you marry me in rocks, or hide or go incognito and pop out with signs or just reveal themselves to help celebrate after the ‘yes’. If you want it and think your partner will be into, go for it. You’ll only get this moment once.



Anything But Routine:



Catch your love off-guard by proposing during one of your routine, shared activities. Not only will this be a true surprise, but it also shows that you love the day to day with your love just as much as the exciting adventures.




Do the two of you attend a regular yoga class together? Coordinate with the teacher to call you both up to the front of the class to demonstrate a special ‘couples pose’. Go to the same coffee shop together every Sunday morning? Have a few friends or family members go incognito or sit with their backs to the door, so they’ll be there to help you celebrate and make the moment extra special. Do you and your partner go for the same walk around the neighborhood to get your steps in? Have a friend write in sidewalk chalk “(Partner), will you marry me?” on the route ahead of when you plan on taking your walk. You get the idea! Incorporating friends or family into the surprise, especially during routine activities, will heighten the surprise factor and make your proposal that much more memorable.


Family Affair:


Cheers to the happy couple at their backyard elopement wedding


Another special time to propose that doesn’t scream “I’m proposing” are family get togethers. Holidays, birthdays, or monthly dinners are great times to propose, especially if your family loves your partner, and vice versa. You could incorporate your surprise proposal during family game time, giving a toast during a meal, having your family decorate their backyard or living room with a proposal banner and balloons, or order your partners favorite cake from a local bakery and have them write “Will You Marry Me?” across the top. A word of caution: only tell family that won’t spill the beans, and only go this route if you’re totally, 100% certain your partner is going to enthusiastically say yes.


Bring It Home:



Nothing says surprise like walking in your front door after grabbing dinner with your sweetie, running errands together, or returning from the gym to find your place not how you left it. Have friends or family decorate your place with cute photos of you and your love, flowers or rose petals, streamers, balloons, signs, candles, etc. The two of you can celebrate alone or your friends and family can help you celebrate. Have them hide in your backyard, balcony, spare room, next door if you’re close with neighbors, park around the street and wait outside ’til you get a signal like opening blinds or flipping a light switch, and then help you two love birds celebrate your engagement.



Public, But Make It Private:


Japanese Tea Garden Engagement Photos


Yep, that’s exactly what it sounds like. Example: rent out the whole theater for your movie buff sweetie. Other ideas include mini golf, arcades, roller rinks or ice rinks…you get the picture! Just like other proposals, this is great opportunity to incorporate friends and family, or have the place all to yourselves. You may need to call on friends or family regardless to help with doing some decorating or deliver champagne, special food, flowers, etc to venue you’ve rented out. No matter what, this surprise gesture is sure to make for a sweet and romantic proposal they’ll love recounting again and again.


Don’t Forget To Make It Heartfelt and Sincere:


Murphy Windmill Engagement Photos


No matter how you’re proposing, be sure to write out, rehearse, and memorize a few sweet sentences about why you love your person, what you love about your relationship, and what you hope the future will hold for the two of you. In the end, this will be what means the most to your partner.


How To Effortlessly Capture The Moment With A Professional Photographer




The best part of a surprise proposal in the look of shock on the proposed to person’s face, the effort of the proposer, and the typically fun and loving atmosphere created by incorporating friends, family, or other helpers. One of the best ‘helpers’ to employ on this journey is a professional photographer or even videographer. Certain settings are perfect for this, such as public settings like beaches or parks. Photographers can pretend to be just another tourist or art student, snapping away at “the scenery” while sneaking in shots of you and your love and revealing themselves after the resounding “Yes!” for some stellar photos of one of the most magical moments of your lives.




Celebrate Your “They Said Yes!” Moment




If you’ve opted for a private, just the two of you surprise proposal, you’re probably ready to celebrate and share your big moment! Having friends and family waiting at your favorite bar or restaurant for you and your love is a great way to celebrate. Or, you can have a trusted friend transform your humble abode in a sweet little love nest. Planning a little weekend getaway never hurts either! No matter how you choose to celebrate, be sure to take a moment to relax and savor the moment before the fun and chaos of planning your wedding ensues.





Did You Know? All of the photos featured in this blog were taken by the many talented professional wedding photographers at Apollo Fotografie! We have a passion for photography that tells a story and are known for our light, airy feeling fine-art photography style. 



 Photography: Apollo Fotografie

Like what you see? Contact us at Apollo Fotografie for pricing and availability.




Ready to get inspired for your upcoming proposal? Check out the links below:

Michael & Joe’s Proposal Photos at Lands End

The Ten Best Places to Propose In The Bay Area

Fernando & Luciana’s San Francisco Proposal Photos