Hey, I'm an elopement photographer based in Alaska! I love genuine moments between people and love that I get to document them for a living <3

Meet Donna

First off, if you’re here that means you’re likely planning to propose to your person, AHHH! How exciting! Shhhh, shhh, I’ll keep your secret, promise. If you’re here it also means you’re trying to plan and make it the best it can be, and well…HELP IS ON THE WAAYYY DEAR! HELP IS ON THE WAYYY! Sorry, had to get a Mrs. Doubtfire quote in here haha!

Planning out how to propose to the person you love can be an absolutely nerve-wracking process! Chances are you want it to be a surprise that is special, memorable, and obviously, you want them to say YES!

As a professional photographer who has been a part of quite a few proposals, I’ve got the inside scoop on how to make it go off without a hitch and am here to share. Going into this guide, do take into consideration that every relationship is different so it’s important to note that not everything will be applicable, and that’s okay! Read everything suggested in this ‘How to Propose’ blog through your relationship goggles and take what fits best!

1. Be on the same page about marriage

Before planning anything at all it is key to make sure you’re on the same page and that you want to marry each other someday. It may seem obvious, but it might get overlooked! It is possible to love someone SO so much and just not quite be ready to marry them because there are some things to work through or whatever the situation might be.

I feel like a lot of nerves when it comes to proposals can sometimes stem from the ‘what if’ situation of your partner saying ‘no’. I’ve personally never witnessed a ‘no’ and I sure hope I don’t ever have to!

2. Don’t stress

Honestly, if you’re on the same page and you know that you’re both on the same page of marriage, you’re GOLDEN! So don’t stress or lose too much sleep on this. Just the pure fact that you’re asking your best friend to marry you is freaking exciting and the rest is just the cherry on top!!

3. Chat with your in-laws

This can be a case-by-case situation depending on family relations, of course. I know it can be considered ‘old fashioned’ and be a frequently skipped step, but it’s such a sweet concept to speak with parents in advance and let them about your intentions. Even just communicating how much you love their daughter/son will be special for them. They spent a huge chunk of their lives raising their child from a baby and this is a big step for them too.

4. Finding a ring to propose with

If there aren’t any family rings being passed down that they’ve mentioned wanting in the future, then it’s time to start the hunt for an engagement ring. There are a couple of ways of approaching this method which you can personally choose which is best. You can also ask close friends or relatives if they have any insights if your partner hasn’t insinuated wanting a specific scenario.

-Ring shop together

This is a good option if they know that a proposal is coming eventually and have mentioned they want to be a part of picking out the ring. Alternatively, you could propose with a ring meant just to be the engagement ring, and then go together to pick out the wedding ring and band if they want something different for that. Or just a band and keep the original engagement ring. They can be a part of the ring choosing process without knowing when the actual proposal is going to happen. Only a little bit of the surprise factor is lost, but the emotions will all still be there!

-Surprise route

If you want the entire process to be a surprise, then you can stealthily ask their friends and family, and stalk their Pinterest boards if they have any. Gather any insights you can into what kind of a ring they prefer if they haven’t dropped major hints yet.

5. Choosing a location to propose

The ‘where’ is the first step to figuring out the how/when parts of your proposal. I recommend thinking of someplace sentimental in your relationship already; where you had your first date, living room snuggled up, where you met, favorite hike, etc. Likewise, you can plan it around a vacation you’re going on if you want to create a new memory in a new place. It’s always exciting to plan a proposal around a trip! Just think about what would make the most sense for your relationship and go for it!

Specific locations to propose in Alaska: Top of ANY hiking trail haha!

But to be more specific there’s Beluga Point, Eklutna Lake, Matanuska Glacier, Virgin Creek Falls, Carr Gottstein Park at sunset, the Butte, Homer Spit and many others!

6. What to do for your proposal

Next up is planning what you’re going to do in the location you’ve settled on. Keep it simple? Go big? This is dependent on your relationship and what would mean the most to your partner. If they don’t like to be center of attention the planning something low-key and casual might not be a bad idea. If they like adventures and new things then planning something exciting is always a good bet! This is also one of those ‘depends on your relationship’ instances and what you personally feel they would appreciate most. That’s not to say that someone who generally prefers one scenario over others doesn’t like to switch it up a bit, but you know better than I!

Some ideas include: romantic candlelit picnic, hiking or walking to your favorite outdoor location and keeping it casual, during breakfast in bed, at a family gathering (if family is really important to them and this would be nice for them!), at a concert, go ATVing, snowmachining, horseback riding, go on a helicopter tour somewhere epic, try a new activity together, on a private cruise or sailboat, on a horse ride, romantic dinner with live music, skydiving (OKAY BUT HOW EPIC?! Also don’t drop the ring! This would definitely be for the daredevil types haha). If you’re wanting to really go all out and hire a musician or coordinate with other vendors, you can contact a planner in the area that can help with logistics!

Whatever you do here, read your person and really take them into consideration. While you might be all about making a big deal of it and going bit, they might be more inclined to enjoy an intimate afair, and vice versa. Try to make it about your person and mutual interests you have.

7. What to say when you propose

Be sincere here, but it’s okay to keep it short and sweet! Chances are they’re going to be so excited/emotional that they will be saying yes before you’re even done talking. Or, forget to listen or answer entirely because of excitement haha! I say this from experience because when my husband proposed I was so shock-and-awed that I said “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” as he was proposing, and then he had to ask me “Is that a yes?!”.

If you want to say something more that’s okay too! Share your heart! You can do this while you’re on one knee or after the fact so that you can have full attention outside of the initial excitement.

I have a blog on “How to Write The Best Wedding Vows” but honestly a lot of it can be applicable to what you might want to say when proposing, just a more condensed version, but this will help if you want to go big!

9. Who to bring/include

This is relative to who your partner is and what would be best for them. If your have close friends and family that you know they’d LOVE to be around, then have them present, or have them hide out to pop out after. You can also plan a celebration with them for after as well. I’d still recommend keeping it pretty intimate as this is a special moment in your relationship and you’re going to want to spend more time together than with other people afterwards.

Bringing pets is always a winning idea if they are a big part of your relationship as well!

8. Hire a photographer

Sometimes this can depend person to person and the scenario, but having someone present to document the moment is always a good idea! The moment itself will pass so fast and having photos to look back on facial expressions and reactions will be super sweet! I’m a huge proponent of documenting memories, so I’m a little biased, but even if you don’t hire a pro (which I recommend) at least have someone snap a photo and/or take a video.

If you’re planning on proposing and already know you want a professional photographer and will be in Alaska or want someone to travel in, then contact me and I can help you with the planning process as well as document the occasion! I’m really good at hiding out, playing nonchalant, pretending to be a tourist, and all the things to avoid suspicion!

Bonus tips on How to Propose

If she’s hinted at wanting her nails done, check in with her friends and see if they can plan a day to get their nails painted, make it as nonchalant as you can as to not raise suspicions!

Proposing in Alaska? Here are my top location recommendations & inspo!

Plan a helicopter landing with Alaska Helicopter Tours. You can land on a glacier or alpine location, or both, for the ultimate adventure and pop the question with an epic backdrop.

Love horses or like trail riding then reach out to Alaska Horse Adventures for a private trail ride, or a sleigh ride if it’s wintertime!

Looking for a private getaway on the ocean, then Between Beaches would be a lovely place to take them on a romantic getaway and propose on the beach!

If you’re into adventurous activities, Snowhook Adventure Guides can hook you up with dog sled, ATV, and snowmachine tours where you can propose along the way!

And sooo many other ideas that I’d LOVE to chat over with you if you need a photographer and some help!

Ultimately if you know you’re on the same page about marriage, and you know your partner, the answer will likely be yes no matter what the proposal itself was like which is awesome!! But, of course, it’s important to make it special and a moment that our partner will appreciate, so be sure to see what the options are and what would be best suited to your relationship!

Curious what a proposal looks like? Here is a blog of a Proposal on Oahu. Ready to get the ball rolling and hire a photographer who can guide you through your Alaska proposal? Contact me!

couple standing on glacier as he is down on one knee proposing in the sun


The Ultimate Guide on How to Propose to Your Love

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If you’re a adventurous couple that loves epic experience and being on the water, Glacier Paddle Boarding might be for you! You can check two things off your bucket list between the glacier paddle and the helicopter flight! It’s also a great addition to your engagement photos or elopement day. Incorporating activities into your session […]

A couple paddle boarding in blue waters near a large white glacier, both smiling and paddling together.

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