South Florida Proposal photography

South Florida Proposal photography

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South Florida, the perfect place to propose. What can be more exciting and romantic than proposing by the ocean in this picturesque wonderland.   The perfect warm weather, beautiful beaches and luxury hotels and spas make South Florida the perfect place to ask, “Will you marry me?”

Over the past few weeks I have done more proposal photography than ever.  Now that there are coronavirus vaccines being distributed and many people have already recovered from the virus or received their vaccines doses, couples are feeling more confident about the future and making big plans.

There is no question that the years 2020 and 2021 have been the most difficult in history.  Couples who have planned their weddings were either forced to down size or push back their wedding dates.  However, now the future is looking much more positive.  One of the results of this positive outlook is new marriage proposals and new weddings being planned.

Marriage proposal photos taken in Boca Raton, Florida
Capturing the expression on a girls face when her boyfriend asks, Will you marry me? is one of the most exciting parts of photography. These proposal pictures were taken on the beach in Boca Raton, Florida.

Since I have been photographing all these new marriage proposals, I have built a large collection of new proposal photography images.  One of my favorite aspects of photographing marriage proposal pictures is that, once the, I do part happens, the photo session then becomes an engagement photo session.  The pictures from the engagement photo session can be used for save the date cards, wedding display pictures, and for course they almost always appear on social media.

As a South Florida wedding photographer, there are several parts of the wedding day that I enjoy the most.  While I love photographing every part of a wedding, I really love capturing the parts in which you don’t entirely know what will transpire. The first look, for example.  Will the groom cry?  Will the groom use hand gestures to convey his emotions?  What about the bride?  The first look is meaningful to her as well.  What will her reaction be?  Tears, laughter, romance, it is all up for grabs and as a South Florida photographer, you never know what will transpire.  The same is true for proposal photography.  Only for in the case of marriage proposal photography the unknown factor is amplified times ten.

Unlike the wedding first look, in a marriage proposal the future bride has no idea this moment is about to take place.  Sure most future brides know this is coming at some point, however, I don’t think any future bride knows when for sure.  Also for this South Florida photographer, this is almost a completely un-posed moment.  Sure, you can coach the future groom in terms of where to stand and in what direction to stand, but no one has any control over his future fiancé’s position or what she is going to do in the moment.  Will she cry, hide her face, laugh and turn, bring her hands to his face, it’s anyone’s call.  This means the photographer needs to act fact.  Move quickly and be ready for anything.  In addition a photographer has no control over the lighting when the proposal happens.   Sure a photographer can gage the lighting in a general area, but what if they move or turn toward in an unexpected direction.   Working as a South Florida photographer I find this aspect of proposal photography exciting.    Let’s add the fact that when the couple arrives on location for the proposal the photographer can’t be visible or at least shouldn’t be noticeable in any obvious way.  If a couple arrives at a certain location and there is a photographer in clear sight, chances are one of them is going to think, something is up.  This is especially true if one of them is hoping for a surprise marriage proposal.  As a proposal photographer, I need to be at the location, with my camera, and ready to jump into action at a specific moment.

So what makes South Florida the perfect place to propose marriage?

Just over 16 years ago I moved from Los Angeles to South Florida.  When I relocated I knew that South Florida was considered by many to be the wedding capital of the world.   Don’t get me wrong; Los Angeles has a fantastic wedding market.  The west setting sun, the mountains, and great weather provided me with the ability to photograph plenty of weddings.  In my 20 years working as a wedding photographer in LA I must have photographed over one thousand weddings.  However, what makes South Florida unique is the fact that there are thousands of luxury hotels and upscale properties in South Florida and the Florida Keys.  Furthermore almost all these hotels are perfect for planning an unexpected marriage proposal.  I have also found that almost all the South Florida hotels and venues offer some sort of marriage proposal package.

Lets not forget, a marriage proposal can take place anywhere.

As a South Florida photographer, I have shot marriage proposals at hotels, beach locations, picturesque gardens, on boats and I have even witnessed marriage proposals underwater during a SCUBA dive.  As an image-maker looking to create beautiful proposal photography, there are unlimited beautiful locations to ask the question and present a wedding ring.

Noland and Lindy’s South Florida marriage proposal pictures.

When extraordinary event planner Anna Hess told me she was planning a marriage proposal and needed photography, I was ready.  Marriage proposal photography here in South Florida always results in awesome pictures.  The beautiful ocean, picturesque beaches and the excitement of a future bride saying, “YES”. For a South Florida photographer this scenario has everything needed to take the best emotional pictures ever.  When you add the talents of Anna Hess into the mix, there is no question that the visual is going to be awesome.  Not only is Anna an expert at planning the perfect moment, she is also great at choosing the best location with the perfect lighting to display her work.  If you would like to see more of her great talent check out this maternity photo session which was styled by Anna Hess.  This very colorful and very fragrant floral arch was created by Betsy Doyle from Hydrangea flowers and events  I know you can’t actually smell the flowers, but if your had actually been there, you would have.  Maybe if you really look closely, you may start to imagine to floral smell that was present on the beach during this emotional afternoon.


Kissing on a South Florida beach after a marriage proposal
For this South Florida proposal photographer, the moments following are the most fun to capture.

To capture this first view of Lindy, I had to hide with my camera in to tall grass waiting for her to arrive.  I’m not sure I did a great job of being invisible, however I’m sure her attention was on the arch and her future husband.  Capturing special moments like this also makes is one of the reasons why I became a photographer.  Having to ability to photograph special once in a lifetime occasions like this requires special planning, the best professional camera gear and the patience to lie in wait until the moment happens.

A surprised future bride arrives to see this beautiful will you marry me arch.
Lindy was told to go to the beach because a special family picnic was planned by the ocean.  When she arrived and saw this arch made of roses and other exotic flowers she knew something is up.  Then when she saw Noland standing by the arch her heart started pounding.

Lindy wasted no time getting to her waiting fiancé.  The ocean breeze, the scene with her family waiting in the background.  When it comes to event photography, this is as good at it gets.

A future bride rushes to her waiting boyfriend
Photographers note: If you are a photographer who is reading this, you may be wondering, what camera, lens and settings were used to get this surprise action shot. I shot this proposal photo session with a Canon 5D Mark 4 and a Nikon D810. This image came from the 5D with a 210-2.8L lens. To freeze the movement my shutter speed was 1/400 sec at F7.1 the iso was 320. Generally I try to keep my iso as low as possible. However, in order to get flat lighting on Lindy’s face I had to bump the iso to 320. I decided on F7.1 because I had no idea how fast this situation would unfold. If I had to move and reposition myself I wanted a more forgiving F-stop.

In a matter of seconds the engagement ring was presented and they were engaged!  The moment was filled with cheers from the families, a nice ocean breeze and crashing waves in the background.  As the emotional marriage proposal happened I just hung back taking pictures throughout the entire exchange.  All this action took place on a private beach in Jupiter Florida. The now grooms parents own a lovely beach house which provided the perfect beach setting for this fun and romantic get together.

Groom proposing to his girlfriend on a South Florida beach.
At the sight of Noland standing by the floral arch Lindy rushed to him. I don’t believe anyone actually heard her say YES but it was pretty obvious the answer was yes.
A soon to be fiancé tries on her new engagement ring for the first time at the romantic Florida beach location
After a few moments of hugging and kissing, Lindy tried on her shinny new engagement ring. By the way, yes it fit perfectly.

Watching a memory making event unfold in front of my lens is what I consider to be the best part of event photography.  At the haired photographer, this moment comes with lots of preparations that start well before I leave for the job.  The day before the photo shoot is spent charging batteries, preparing memory cards, and looking at Google maps satellite images so that I have a clear understanding of the shooting location.  By looking at a satellite map of the spot where the boyfriend will propose, I can tell where the sun will be, and  the direction of the shadows.  When preparing for  a photo shoot in which I have only a few seconds to get the shot it’s helpful to gather all the information possible.

Picture of the soon to be bride and groom surrounded by beautiful flowers.
As the day progressed into evening the lighting because softer and prettier. This picture was one of the last pictures taken at the end of a very exciting and fun filled marriage proposal.

BELOW: As a South Florida photographer who shoots, weddings, marriage proposals & engagement sessions I really enjoy wedding ring photography.   Photographing engagement rings requires the ability to be creative while working with small and very valuable items.  One thing to always remember, if you are photographing wedding or engagement rings, especially on the beach be careful!  It’s very easy to loose a ring in the sand.  I once shot a wedding in Delray Beach in which the best man dropped to brides ring during the ceremony.  After looking through the sand for hours the ring was finally found with the help of a metal detector.  I’m always super careful when ever I handle a wedding or engagement ring.  This fear doesn’t stop me from photographing rings in creative ways.  Here are some links to a few of my favorite wedding ring shots. This shot was taken at a wedding that featured a cigar roller.  Since the cigar roller had the ability to make any sized cigar, I asked him to make a custom one for this photo. Check it out here:  An outside the box wedding ring shot.     Setting up this unique wedding ring picture drew a crowd if spectators.   Normally I photograph the wedding rings during the dinner as the food is being served.  Being creative with the wedding rings requires extra time and patience.  It’s very difficult to make a cool ring photo quickly.  This shot required a martini glass, perfect olives, and lots of extra time.  It’s another one of my favorite pictures.  Check it out here: Olive this wedding ring shot!  My hands were a bit sticky after taking this ring shot.  A very unique ring picture. I had fun making this weddinig ring picture.

wedding ring photo taken during a South Florida marriage proposal.
The ring is a huge part of any marriage proposal. One of the best aspects of wedding and marriage proposal photography is the fact that so many different types of photography needs to be addressed. In this case, I’m a small product photographer. When the boyfriend asked the bride, “Will your marry me?” I’m a photo-journalist, after she says yes, I turn into a portrait photographer.

BELOW: After she said yes, I photographed the posed family pictures, the happy couple celebrating with some champagne and a few pictures under that beautiful arch.  As the sun was setting, I took the newly engaged couple to the ocean for some fun, engagement pictures.

Marc has a question for Samantha.   

When it comes to asking, “Will you marry me?”   Doing it in a unique way that gets attention is very common.  In the past I have photographed and witnessed marriage proposal at sea, in stadiums, on video billboards and underwater while SCUBA diving.  The underwater one is a very popular way to ask the question given the large SCUBA diving community here in South Florida.  As a South Florida photographer, it’s pretty much a given that any marriage proposal I photograph is going to have a unique twist.  Normally someone who is proposing hires a photographer when something special and unique is happening.  In this case Marc, the proposer, chose to ask the question by having an airplane fly past their beach hotel where he planned on taking Samantha for drinks and dinner.  We arrived about one hour early armed with still cameras and video cameras.  The hotel, the Boca Raton Beach Club, set up a special place for the couple to sit and look out at the ocean.  The beach side of the resort is the perfect place for photographer to take ocean scenic pictures so Samantha had no clue that we were there waiting for her big question to fly past.

This surprise marriage proposal came in the form of an airplane flying up the Boca Raton shoreline.
Everything was relatively calm, aside from the usual poolside guests relaxing and enjoying their afternoon at The Boca Raton Resort Beach Club. There was a slight breeze, and the setting sun provided perfect lighting for a spur of the moment photo session. THEN, a propeller plane could be heard arriving from the South. If course no one noticed the sound of the airplane, except for us. As the plane approached, we gripped our cameras and casually looked over at Samantha and Marc sitting on their beach chairs. Then Samantha looked up as Marc stood up taking her hand. As a huge smile came across her face, Marc dropped to a knee and presented an engagement ring. At that point the crowd of hotel guest started cheering. Over the cheers, we could hear Samantha saying, “How the fu(K did you arrange this?


Shooting action scenes like this required flexibility on the part of the proposal photographer.  It’s impossible to know exactly which direction the couple will face in the key moment.  From experience I can tell you, as a photographer, your can plan and plan, talk with the guy, make special hotel arrangements, even set up the beach chairs for the perfect shot.  When the time comes, a photographer and videographer, will need to move quickly to get the best angle.  In addition the lighting may change and a camera setting adjustment is usually needed.

During this South Florida marriage proposal we really focused on her expression.
In marriage proposal photography, concentrating the focus on the unsuspecting person’s face is most important. It’s the facial expression combined with the hands as they slip on the engagement ring that conveys the emotion of the moment. The beautiful setting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club made for perfect pictures.  If you are a photographer reading this, here’s my camera setting info.  I shot this with a Canon 5D Mark 4, the lens was a 70-200 F2.8, I shot this at F5 because I wanted to have some leeway in regards to focus depth of field.  The shutter speed was 1/250th, fast enough the freeze the action and prevent any unexpected camera shake.  The iso was 500, given the F5 and 1/250th, combined with the flat lighting I needed to bump up the iso to compensate for the action and lighting conditions.

After Samantha said, Yes, I will marry you, we spent some time taking couple pictures both on the Boca Raton Resort Beach Club property and on the beach.  The airplane flew around for about 15 minutes giving us plenty of time to get picture with the newly engaged couple on the beach and on the pool deck.   If you are planning a marriage proposal in South Florida then you should definitely consider planning the special moment at The Boca Raton Resort and Club.  This entire surprise proposal was orchestrated by the Boca By Design with is part of the Boca Resort.

You can check out their website here:  Boca by Design  The event planner at the hotel who arranged this moment was Mariel Mackintosh-Eldridge, CMP  In case you are wondering what CMP stands for, its Certified Meeting Professional.  Boca Resort, has an extensive department with the best wedding and event planners in South Florida.

Newly engaged couple photo session at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
After Samantha said Yes, I will marry you. We were able to take some pictures with the airplane flying in the background.

The Boca Raton Resort and Club features both a Beach Club and a main hotel.  The grounds around this South Florida venue are perfect to Weddings, Corporate events and even Family photo sessions.  A photographer can always find the perfect place with a beautiful background to create an amazing picture.

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