How to Propose: Featuring 20+ Marriage Proposal Ideas For Adventurers

So you decided to pop the question, huh? Planning an epic marriage proposal for your partner is both exciting and nerve-racking. How do you plan a marriage proposal? How can you propose in a unique way? Our how-to propose guide and list of marriage proposal ideas are the perfect resources to start planning.

In this article:

There are so many different ways to propose, which means there’s no clear right way to propose. We’ve put together some of our top tips when planning what you’re going to say and some of our favorite engagement proposal ideas from amazing elopement photographers around the world.

Let’s break down some main things you should consider when planning your proposal adventure together.

How to Plan a Proposal

When you’re deciding on planning a marriage proposal it’s important to sit down and literally plan everything out. If you’re like most people who are planning to propose, then you probably want this to be a surprise for your partner.

Here are some things to consider doing before you pop the question:

Consider What Engagement Ring to Buy

Whether your partner wants something traditional like a princess cut diamond ring, or a unique engagement ring, it’s important to think about it. This is something your partner will be wearing all day, every day, so you have to make sure it’s something your partner will like.

Things you’ll want to consider is what style of jewelry your partner usually wears, and what their ring size is. If you aren’t sure where to start, then check your partner’s Pinterest boards to see if they have any engagement ring inspiration tucked away there. If that doesn’t work, then you can always confide in one of their friends to start the conversation about rings, to see if your partner gives them any clues.

Some places we love to shop for engagement rings include James Allen, Etsy, Brilliant Earth, Etsy, and Kay Jewelers.

Talk to Your Partners Parents

Asking for permission for someone’s hand in marriage is old school, but it may be important to your partner or their parents. Talking to your partner’s parents doesn’t necessarily mean you’re asking for permission either. Think of this conversation as a way to tell the people who raised the person you love, just how much you love him or her. This is also a great way of making your partner’s family feel included in such an exciting moment.

Where Are You Going to Propose?

Planning a marriage proposal all stems from where you’re going to propose. Are you going to propose somewhere meaningful to both of you? How about somewhere you both have never been to before?

Just like elopements, there are so many epic places to plan your marriage proposal. Consider what type of environment, season, and activity you want to be doing. For some inspiration, jump to our marriage proposal ideas perfect for adventurers.

Whatever you decide on, make sure you make your proposal plan personal to your relationship. Consider your partner’s personality and what they would really appreciate.

Check out our top places to elope for some ideas.

Ask For Help From Vendors and Friends

Planning a marriage proposal and just thinking about how to propose can be overwhelming. This is the time to confide in close friends and professionals like our Wandering Weddings vendors.

We recommend only telling a handful of people to ensure your plans stay a secret, but telling someone is definitely recommended to get a second opinion or brainstorm together.

If you’re 100% sure about your proposal plans, then keep it a secret and just reach out to a professional photographer or videographer to help you capture the moment.

Write Out Your Marriage Proposal Plan

When you’re planning how to pop the question to your partner, you can start getting nervous about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to ask during your planned activity. We recommend taking some time to yourself one day and writing out all your ideas.

By writing down everything, you can be more prepared when the day finally comes, and you’ll also be able to see any plot holes in your plan. At the end of the day, don’t overthink things. Plan something fun for you both to do, think about some romantic things personal to you two, and ask the damn question! You got this!

Side note, this is a good habit to get into to prepare you to write your wedding vows (wink wink).

Photo by Emett Joseph

Include Family and Friends

Inviting family and friends is a great way to celebrate your engagement proposal together. You can include them when you actually ask your partner to marry you, or you can always have them meet you somewhere after to double surprise your fiance.

Hide the Ring

Make sure you’ve kept the engagement ring in a safe hiding place up until the day you decide to pop the question. When that day arrives, make sure you keep the ring hidden until you get down on one knee!

If you want to keep the ring in its original box, then ask a close friend or your photographer to hold onto it right until the moment you ask. If you’re going to hold onto it, then remember to not let your partner notice until you’re ready to propose!

Find the Right Moment

Don’t rush your special day together. Enjoy every moment together on your adventure up to the point you’re ready to propose. Talk to your photographer to get some suggestions on what time is usually best for your marriage proposal plans.

This moment in your life doesn’t happen often at all, so bask in the moment together and take in every detail of your soon to be fiance!

Have Your Photographer Ready to Go

Your photographer is the greatest resource you can have, during elopements AND during surprise marriage proposals. They are wonderful people to bounce ideas off of, and they are pros at being super secretive about proposals.

Search our vendors by location to get help planning your surprise proposal adventure.

Pop the Question

You did the research, teamed up with an amazing vendor, and now it’s time to pop the question. It’s ok to be a little nervous, and it’s ok to not say all the things you planned on your hidden notes somewhere in your house. Just remember to enjoy the moment, be you, and ask that person to forever be yours! We’re rooting for you!

Marriage Proposal Ideas for Adventurous Couples

It’s only fitting that all of these proposal ideas are outdoor, which means this is the perfect place to get inspiration if you’re a couple who’s always going on adventures together or making spontaneous trips.

Here are some of our favorite marriage proposal ideas for couples like you:

Go Hiking

If you both love mountains and trails, then planning a proposal around a hike is a great way to surprise your partner. This is especially true if you both go on these types of adventures together often. There are so many areas to explore including the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, or whimsical forests in Oregon.

Think about if you want to visit somewhere meaningful to both of you, or if you want to explore somewhere completely new!

Plan a Couple Session

The hardest part of planning a marriage proposal is keeping it a secret while still managing to get awesome photos of your partner’s reaction. We recommend planning a photo session in order to keep your proposal as an epic surprise.

By talking to your photographer, you can also agree on a prompt to signal when you’re planning to pop the question. If you want to guarantee your partner will be surprised, then try planning around their plans. For example, if your partner plans to take photos together, then that would be your best opportunity, versus you offering to take photos together.

“Mandy just thought we were heading to Yosemite for a fun couple session, and she was going to have a totally normal day! Little did she know that Kody and I had a huge surprise for her! We spent the day frolicking around Yosemite and having a blast, and then at the end of the day, he got down on one knee and asked her the biggest question you can ask! Once the shock wore off she of course said ‘yes’, and then started crying happy tears!” [McKenna Kleiner Photography]

Plan During a Vacation

Any of these locations we mention in these marriage proposal ideas would make for an awesome vacation together. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed planning one event, then suggest you two need a vacation.

Planning your proposal during a vacation together is an amazing idea because your partner, like most people, would be distracted by the amazing activities you all have planned together. If you’re thinking about traveling somewhere far from home, check out our elopement vendors who specialize in the area you want to visit for your proposal.

Have a Friend or Family Member Document It

Maybe you’re close to someone who is naturally always with a camera by their side. If you do, then this is your opportunity to not only plan your marriage proposal, but you can also include some of your loved ones during the experience together.

“This is my brother-in-law so couples sessions on family trips are not out of the ordinary for Christine. After a whirlwind of planning, last-minute changes, two flights, thousands of miles of driving, and low-key location scouting across Montana and Idaho, I came home with a new sister and tons of memories of the wild west.” [Chaise, The Tinsley Co.]

Get Your Photographer In On The Surprise

If you’re both planning a trip you mutually want to go on together, you can easily surprise your partner by including your proposal somewhere and sometime during your trip together. If you’re not sure how to get your photographer there without your partner getting suspicious, then check out this proposal story.

“Austin and Delaney planned a trip up to Colorado to visit their friend, Kevin, and to explore Colorado. I hiked up behind them for most of the way, and then passed them to make things look a little more natural. Halfway up, Delaney asked me to join them on the hike.,She was concerned I was out hiking by myself in the snow. Little did she know what was about to happen. When we got to the spot Austin and I had chosen, I asked Delaney if she could take a picture of me and then I would return the favor. That is when Austin got down on one knee and proposed. She was completely surprised – and of course, she said yes.” [Mariana Ziegler Photography]

Have a Romantic Picnic With a View

If you’re thinking about what you can do for a romantic and unique marriage proposal, then consider planning a picnic with a view! There are so many epic places to explore together. Have your photographer in a good hiding place until you’re ready to pop the question!

Plan a Winter Proposal

Seasons are huge for marriage proposals. Engagement season is usually around the holiday, from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. If you want to plan during this time, then a winter engagement is your way to go.

“Hannah reached out on Instagram. She and Christian were going to be up from the deserts of Southern California to visit Seattle for the weekend and she thought it would be fun to explore different scenes and get some couples photos done near Snoqualmie National Forest. Little did she know a couple of weeks after she messaged me, Christian found me on Instagram – DM’ed me the sweetest message, asking to help surprise and capture him proposing to his life long best friend!” [Rylee & Co]

Photo by Rylee & Co

Take a Stroll in a Beautiful Park

Think about what type of setting you want to pop the question. Even if it rains or snows, it will be a memorable experience together.

“Josh and I had been meeting in secret to plan the proposal together for a while before he decided to give Zory the biggest, most romantic, grand gesture ever. She didn’t even know they were flying to NYC until they got to the airport! Somehow New York looks even more beautiful in the rain, and it was perfect for this PNW couple. When Josh told me they were close to our location, I wrapped a scarf over my head, pretended to be a tourist as they walked past me, and Josh popped the question right there in the rain. They were in their own little world, and it was beautiful to document.” [Tori Osteraa Photography]

Plan a Sunset or Sunrise Proposal

Just like elopements, marriage proposals are gorgeous during sunrise and sunset. Planning your proposal during these times can also allow you to visit more popular areas without the big crowds. Talk to your photographer or videographer about the best time to propose at the location you’re loving.

“Ryan reached out to me this fall when his original proposal plans had changed due to their unpredictable schedules as they are both in the army. We decided Sedona would make the perfect backdrop for their engagement, and the couple flew out to Arizona for the weekend. We hiked out to Devils Bridge at sunrise where Ryan got down on one knee and asked Maria to marry him. She said yes, and we watched as the sun began to rise and light up the canyon walls in the distance.” [Amy Bluestar Photography]

Plan a Suprise Double Marriage Proposal

If you both have talked about eloping together, then maybe you’ll end up planning a double proposal like Shelby and Maddy did. Remember, there’s no rule on who should propose to who, so if you have suspicions about your partner planning an epic proposal for you, why not surprise them too?

Videography by Backcountry Vows

Plan a Winter Ice Skating Proposal

If you both love the snow and all things winter, then go ice skating together! By planning an activity together, you’ll be able to keep your partner’s suspicions at bay.

“Frank’s plan was to take Alexa to the Mountain top ice skating trail in Collingwood, Ontario and propose right there on the ice. Amidst a snowstorm and freezing fingers, the plan started to unfold. After a couple of laps around the trail, he got down to tighten his skate and pulled out the ring.” [Jaclyn Roth]

Photo by Jaclyn Roth

Make a Fake BackStory

When you’re planning your wedding proposal, it’s ok to say a little white lie to distract your partner from getting suspicious about your plans.

“Keith had reached out to me several weeks prior to the proposal. He wasn’t sure exactly how or where he wanted to do it. He had a friend who was in the process of building a marriage retreat. Keith and Lori came into town to work on some things for the retreat. I told Keith to tell Lori we needed footage for the retreat and asked if it was okay getting some photos that they would be able to share to promote it.” [Ross Kyker]

Plan a Proposal Around Your Dating Anniversary

This couple planned a romantic forest anniversary photo session, but it quickly turned into a surprise proposal. If you’ve been dating for a long time and enjoy taking pictures together, then planning an anniversary photoshoot is a great proposal idea to consider. After a few kisses and hugs, get down on one knee, and ask the question!

Propose During an Important Life Milestone

A great marriage proposal idea is to propose an important milestone in your relationship. This can include graduation, buying a house together, starting a family, or even getting a new job. By waiting for this milestone, you’re also making your proposal more memorable.

“Jacob surprised Kenzie with a proposal on the day of his graduation from the Coast Guard Academy here in New London, CT. She was SO surprised, twice – once when he proposed and again when his fellow cadets formed a saber arch of honor for them right afterward!” [Allie Dearie Photography]

Plan a Unique Proposal Experience

One of our favorite marriage proposal ideas has to be planning to pop the question somewhere completely different. When you’re thinking about where to propose, think about all the options and then ask your photographer how you can make that location even more special.

Photographers, especially adventure elopement photographers, are pros at knowing the best remote spots at popular outdoor proposal locations.

Let Your Proposal Location Do The Talking

If you’re not sure how to start your proposal, or if you’re afraid to stumble on your words, then consider letting your location do the talking. Some ideas you can do is have your friends spell out the words, hire a guitarist to start playing music, or even dray 10-foot tall letters on a ranch!

“I was hired by the groom’s best friend (who owns the ranch the proposal took place on). The day before the proposal, the groom’s best friends went to the ranch and spent the whole day shoveling sand at the river to carve out the words ‘Will You Marry Me’ large enough they could be visible way up on a bluff. The letters were at least 10ft tall, so it was a seriously impressive feat. ” [Anna Claire Beasley]

Plan a Brewery or Wine Tour

If you’re stuck on what to do before your proposal, then do something that will keep your nerves at ease and your partner from getting suspicious. Getting some drinks and exploring outside after is a great proposal idea to consider.

“We worked together to plan a micro-brewery tour for Luke and Brittany in Prince Edward County (in our TESLA). Being a photographer’s sister, Brittany was completely on board to have her photo taken throughout the tour, and participate in a mini couple’s session at the end. We told her that we are planning to offer this as a photography package to couples visiting Prince Edward County, and we needed sample photos. During the couple’s session, Luke took Brittany out to the middle of the wildflower field and got down on one knee to propose. Brittany was so surprised she didn’t even put the ring on her finger right away. She just cried and hugged him and then us!” [Patrick Asselin, Two Cheeks Studio]

Plan a Fake Friend Trip

Again, it’s always ok to ask for help. In fact, getting other people in on your plan can help keep your proposal a secret. Just make sure no one drops any hints about the big question you’re planning to ask!

“Meredith’s friends found a photographer in Colorado because they were scheming, with Meredith’s boyfriend, Zach, for their best friend’s proposal! The three ladies planned on going to Colorado for a girls’ trip! They convinced Meredith to get dressed up for a fancy dinner and on the way to the restaurant, they wanted to pull over to ‘take a couple of cute pics’. WELL! Zach was there, ring in hand, waiting by the shore for his lady. Mere was totally surprised that he flew from Texas to Colorado!” [Mikayla]

Go Glamping Together

If you two love adventures, then plan a weekend getaway trip somewhere like Moab, Utah, or a forest near Big Sur, California. There are awesome glamping options to consider. The couple below stayed at Under Canvas Moab where he popped the question at sunset.

Plan a Beach Date Together

Couples need more date nights! Plan a date night for your proposal and get your photographer to randomly show up and take some photos of you two. We recommend planning multiple date nights before this, so your partner won’t get suspicious (wink wink).

“I approached them, all incognito.. asking if I could take photos of them for a project I was working on. Ya’ll, I had my game face on and put my acting skills to the test.” [Oshen Davidson]

Which of these marriage proposal ideas are you loving the most? Make sure to save this on your Pinterest board for later!

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