When it comes to popping the question, seasoned Springs wedding and engagement photographers Allison Daniell, of Stellar Propeller Studio, and Adonye Jaja have seen it all. Do yourself a favor and take their advice on what to prioritize, what to plan for, and what to avoid like the plague. You’ll still be nervous, but for all the right reasons.
Pro Tip 1: Stay true to yourself and your love.
Allison: If your partner doesn’t care about sports, don’t propose on the Jumbotron. If your partner just wants to be outside every chance he or she gets, don’t propose in an upscale restaurant. One couple whose wedding I photographed met on a Southwest Airlines flight to Seattle (thanks to that “pick your own seat” policy). Three years later, he surprised her by proposing to her on a Southwest flight to Seattle. He even got on the intercom and told the whole plane how they met, and the staff on board was all part of the plan!
Adonye: There isn’t anything worse than someone trying to fit into a mold they are not designed for. Some proposals are big and flashy, and some are quiet and intimate. The best advice I can give is to use your relationship as a guide. A televised proposal or an elaborate plan can seem flashy and showy, but can be just as special as a quiet proposal at home depending on the relationship. It should feel honest and in line with who the two of you are together.
Pro Tip 2: Plan ahead.
Allison: Have a Plan B. This is especially helpful for Colorado proposals, because the majority of ones I know about are planned for outdoors. And while that 300 days of sunshine seems like a sure bet for good weather, it’s always good to have something else up your sleeve if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
Adonye: Practice opening the ring box. Seems like a simple thing, I know, but when you are proposing, it really does become the last thing you’re thinking about. You are on cloud nine and firing on all cylinders, but your hands might not be. I can’t tell you how many times people have opened the ring box upside down only to have the ring fall out…. I’ve seen someone do this at the beach in knee-high water, losing the ring. They had to wait while all of their friends searched for about 45 minutes until they found it. So if you are proposing in a precarious place like on a cliff or in the water, you might consider tying a tiny string around the ring and attaching it to the ring just in case.
Pro Tip 3: Celebrate your partner’s personality.
Adonye: Use the parts of her life that excite her. Be it hiking, music, family or friends, incorporating her loves into the proposal will ensure that it is unique and personal. So if she loves to read, maybe make the ring box out of an old book.
Allison: Would it be a nice touch to have a surprise engagement party planned for after you pop the question? If your partner is super social and your friends are both really important to you, then maybe so. If he or she is extremely introverted, perhaps it’s better to have that moment with just the two of you.
Pro Tip 4: The ring doesn’t have to be a surprise—but something else can be.
Adonye: It’s OK to ask her what kind of ring she wants beforehand. I love the idea of being sneaky and making it fun, but make sure the ring fits and that it is her style. If you aren’t keen on rings this can be daunting, so checking out her Pinterest board, bringing in a sister or friend to help narrow down her style, making sure that it is her ring size are all things to make the asking more special. She will wear this for the rest of her life and maybe pass it on to her children, so if you don’t want to ask her what she wants, start paying closer attention to what she already wears and enlist a friend to guide you.
Allison: Including milestones from your relationship, like photos, letters, ticket stubs, etc. is a nice touch. For many couples, it’s fun to see it all displayed together and to be able to take a walk down memory lane before moving in that big step toward the future.
Pro Tip 5: Get friends to help capture the moment.
Allison: Especially if your proposal involves staking out a particular spot—like a certain part of Garden of the Gods or the top of Gold Camp Road—enlist some friends to guard that spot for you or at least let other people know that something is happening there, so they can stay out of the way. It’s often fun to have a friend take pictures of the proposal from afar—or close up if they have a good foxhole, rooftop or window bay to hide in.
Adonye: I am partial to mementos; I love to leave an experience with something to hold onto. In the case of a proposal, there is of course, the ring. But isn’t a photo almost better than a ring? Just kidding, but I found something online that said “the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text.” An image can bring up such a wealth of emotions, memories and ideas in a very small amount of time. So having a visual reminder of such a special moment in your lives can help you relive that experience for years to come.
You Have an Engagement
If there’s a moral to the love story of AJ and Emily Tumminello, it’s that first dates probably don’t matter as much as you might think. That, and the receipt might come in handy.
Read their story — and see more photos — of how they and wedding photographer Adonje Jaja pulled off a quintessential Colorado Springs proposal and captured the photos to prove it in You Have an Engagement.