Surprise proposals are one of my very favourite things to shoot, alongside engagements.
With proposals, there are so many nerves involved, excitement, adrenaline!
One is absolutely ready to pop the big question, but has to keep it a secret, hold it in for so long, plan, fly to London, arrive, keep the ring hidden and pretend to be chilled until the big day…
I can’t imagine what goes on inside their heads, but I think all the possible happy scenarios have to be running about their brains like a crazy parade in NYC.
That’s where I like to come in, help them come up with a clear vision, plan to detail, makes things easier, and prep to make a photo that will last them a lifetime and beyond.
How I met Raahil and we started planning his surprise proposal
Raahil contacted me from the USA, and together we planned his surprise proposal to his other half Shruti.
As we were going through places where he could propose, he suggested Holland Park. I confessed I had never been there and started to immediately feel excited about it.
He also had a clear idea of an area of the park called Kyoto Garden, and instantly I promised to go visit it for him and check for the best spot for him to propose, as there was no way he could do it himself during their planned holidays in London.
Coming up with a clear vision
As I entered Holland Park, I realised I had just arrived one of my favourite parks in London (thank you Raahil!).
Inside it you have so many scenarios, it’s crazy to think you are in the middle of the city of London: Deep forest, a Japanese garden, facilities for sports, a cafeteria, and gardens with the most varied flower beds (check it out right here).
It was very important for me to know exactly where I would have to go on Raahil and Shruti’s big day, so I traced my steps until I reached Kyoto Garden first.
After, I walked around it, took many pictures with my iPhone, and came up with a clear vision to send Raahil so he would know exactly where to go and stand on his big day and also where I would be, just pretending to be a tourist.
I like to plan to detail
I understand the nerves one goes through when he/she is about to propose, so having a clear plan is really important to make my client as stress-free as possible.
We arranged for the proposal to happen at 10AM. This meant they would have to be arriving Kyoto Garden at that time.
I told him I would get there 30 minutes early and text him on whatsapp, as this will not only allow me to prepare but also relax my client that everything is going according to plan.
Knowing these details makes such a difference to my clients. I have been told in previous calls that my clients have booked me because I was so organised, and they felt like they only had to concentrate on proposing, and that is really what one wants.
I always do my best to make things easier
It might be your first time proposing, but it is not my first time taking photos of surprise proposals. This to say that I come up with dozens of solutions to problems right on our first FaceTime call.
It is good to talk to your client about how they want to look on their photos, for example. In Raahil’s case, he had a clear idea he wanted them to look elegant and classy… but how does one tell his girlfriend to doll up at 8AM when they are prepping for a full day of exploring London?
My suggestion to him, was to tell her he had booked a fancy lunch, or a fancy afternoon tea and that they wouldn’t have time to go back to the hotel and change. This is something that can very likely happen as part of a London tourist experience, so it is also totally believable.
I also advised him to talk to Shruti’s mother or friends, and have them suggest Shruti to do her hair and nails before the London trip. I hate having photos of my hands taken if I haven’t done my manicure, so I can only guess a recently engaged lady feels the same, especially with a brand new shinny ring.
We had been prepping for a photo of a lifetime! Now the time had arrived.
Raahil contacted me a month before, so on the day we were absolutely ready!
These were our plans:
- 10AM at Kyoto Garden,
- He had knowledge of where to go and the best place to propose,
- I sent him a photo of myself at Kyoto Garden 30 minutes before so he would know I had arrived and could also easily identify me
- He also asked me if he could come talk to me right before the proposal, approach me as a tourist to another tourist, and ask me to take their photo on his phone. This made me so excited!
Shruti looked beautiful and so did he. She thanked me for taking the photo of both, and Raahil guided her to our agreed spot on the bridge. I took a photo of them on his phone, and he then turned and started talking to her.
The words he said, I’ll never know, but I won’t ever forget her expression. Especially when he went down on his knee, and I took my camera out of my pocket for that click of a lifetime.
The big moment is done! Let’s go for your engagement photos.
I was nervous too, obviously! A lot of responsibility goes into making surprise proposals unique and special, so I never really sleep easy the night before. But it all comes down to that moment, and living it is always such a fantastic rush of adrenaline. I absolutely LOVE my job and all that it entails.
Shruti was so surprised and happy. She couldn’t believe I was just a tourist and that we had started planning this a month before (mind you, I have planned surprise proposals within a week, or three days even, so this was pretty well done!).
After they got engaged, I gave them a moment to soak in the big news, they FaceTimed a few friends and family that knew it was happening, and then we were ready to do their engagement photos!
Raahil asked for my Heritage Package with a few alterations, taking out the Four Seasons hotel front but adding the Southbank and London Eye at the end, and the rest of the shoot flew by smoothly.
I showed them some of my favourite spots, we bought an umbrella as it started raining (I love couples who will still go for it in the rain!), and we chatted about life, their plans, their relationship and their trip to London.
The final result made us three so happy, and we are now Instagram pals!
Thank you Raahil, for your trust.
I have now been to Holland park many more times, to relax and for more engagement shoots, and every time I go in, I remember the incredible experience I had with you two, and I’ll carry it in my heart forever.
How you too can book your surprise proposal
I can’t wait to start planning and see you become Starlings too.
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