What to wear for your surprise proposal

When it comes to proposing to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can either wing it or you can prepare for it! If you’re here, chances are you’re ready to plan. 💍 

Wondering what to wear for your proposal moment? We’ve got you covered with engagement photo ideas for every couple, occasion, and location you can imagine!

We’ve planned and captured thousands of picture-perfect proposal memories around the world. Capturing this magical moment with photos allows you to look back on the exact moment when you or your partner said “YES!” for years to come. 📸

Woman wearing a red dress is being proposed to on a doc in Mauritius

1. Colours are key

A proposal is an iconic moment where your love and emotions for each other are front and centre, so don’t let your clothing become a distraction. When in doubt, our rule of thumb is don’t overdo it. Colour is the anchor of your outfits, so aim to stick to two or three. 

Play with some shades of warm and cool colours and see what you prefer. Warm colours are reds, oranges and yellows, and they give a feeling of energy and brightness. Cool colours are blues, greens and purples, and they give a feeling of peace and serenity. 🔮

Once you’ve chosen your base colour, build the rest of your outfit with neutral colours such as grey, black, white, navy or taupe to tone it down and keep the focus on you!

Woman wearing a red dress is being proposed to on a doc in Mauritius
a woman wearing a taupe coloured dress is being proposed to on a bridge in Singapore, the man is wearing a colourful shirt and is on one knee

2. Formal attire

The streets of Paris … a rooftop restaurant in Barcelona … a private terrace for two. If your proposal is a formal occasion, we suggest leaving the flip-flops and t-shirts at home. What … floor-length gowns and bowties don’t make regular appearances in your everyday wardrobe? Plan an occasion that warrants the glam without arousing suspicion, such as a fancy dinner reservation or brunch before the surprise proposal. Your partner will be dressed to the nines and none the wiser about the upcoming surprise! ✨  

For women, long gowns, high heels and styled hair will have her feeling like the belle of the ball. For men, a well-fitted suit and tie paired with dress shoes will leave him feeling equally confident. (Pro tip: treat your partner to a manicure the day before so their nails are picture-perfect and ready for their close-up.)

one woman is on one knee proposing to the other woman, both women are wearing formal dresses and are standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
a man is on one knee proposing to a woman wearing formal dress in Madrid
the man is on one knee proposing to the woman in Paris, both are wearing formal attire.

3. Semi-formal attire

If you still want to feel dressed up for the proposal without the gusto of a gown, semi-formal attire feels a touch more relaxed. A flowy skirt or cocktail-style dress and a button-up shirt, pants and a jacket still feel special for both partners. 

man is proposing to a woman and is on one knee on the beach in Positano, both are wearing semi-formal attire
man is kissing the woman on the beach in Positano, the woman is showing her ring
Man is proposing to the woman in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, the man and woman are both dressed up in semi-formal attire

4. Coordinating outfits

Repeat after us: coordinating outfits does not mean matching outfits! 🙅  While some matching is good, too much matching turns into cheesy overkill. Your coordinating outfits should be partners, not twins, and just a little bit of planning goes a long way.

Keep your location and weather in mind. For example, Italy’s array of pastel-coloured houses pairs well with a neutral palette, while a natural background offers the chance for a pop of colour. The season can also influence your outfits. A fall wardrobe is full of earthy tones like rust, mustard and olive. A summer wardrobe is perfect for whites, blues, yellows or bright pink. A winter wardrobe is best for neutral pieces, as you’ll be layering up to keep warm! ❤️

5. Beach-appropriate outfits

Whisking your love away to a romantic beach destination? 🌴  Your outfits should be as easy and breezy as your vacation. If you like a pop of colour, we recommend bright pinks, teals, purples and shades of blue. If you prefer more neutral pastels, opt for light blues, greens, corals and other light colours. If you are wearing light or bright colours, your partner should wear light or bright colours too.  

There’s no better feeling than your toes in the sand, so leave your shoes behind and keep those feet bare! Rolled up pants are a dressier choice or nice shorts are a more casual choice. We’re fans of a comfortable t-shirt, but choose a solid colour that is logo-free. For ladies, maxi dresses are as airy as your location and choose a breathable fabric like cotton or linen that can get a little wet when you dip your toes in the ocean. 🌊

6. Casual outfits

Our most important rule is … to forget the rules! 😎  We encourage you to wear what you feel most comfortable and confident in, and you likely have the perfect outfits in your wardrobe already. 

If you’re keeping your photo shoot outfits casual but still feel overwhelmed by choices, we have some tips for narrowing down your pieces. 

  • Start with a palette of no more than 2-3 colours max. For example, a neutral combination of cream, grey and tan always do well together. Then, add pink for a light and airy look, or go for a bold look by adding in orange or navy. 
  • Another option is to start with a statement piece with a pattern or variety of colours, and work off those colours for the rest of your outfit. For example, a bold floral dress would coordinate well with an olive green shirt and neutral pants. 
  • Find inspiration from your location: the Mediterranean blues of Santorini, the bold colours of Tokyo, the warm pinks of Venice or the soft green palm trees of Maui. Every destination tells a colour story that can continue into your outfit.

If this starts to feel complicated or overwhelming, remember our two favourite words: simple and clean. 👏   When you’re looking back on your photos years from now, a timeless outfit with simple pieces won’t feel dated. 

A man is proposing to a woman on a lookout point in Florence. The woman is laughing with joy. Both are wearing casual outfits.

7. Weather-appropriate outfits

Especially in colder climates, your favourite dress or short-sleeved shirt might not be the best choice for your outdoor shoot … unless goosebumps and red noses are your favourite accessories. 😉

Winter offers the perfect opportunity to layer up with winter-appropriate accessories and confidence, and it all starts with a great base. While many coats are black, a lighter colour like grey, tan or brown will help you stand out from the crowd, or opt for a warm sweater to mix it up. Pair with jeans and boots for a functional and photo-worthy outfit. Winter hats, a colourful scarf, mittens and socks are optional accessories for showing off your personalities!

A man is proposing to a woman on a lookout point in Cinque Terre. Both are wearing weather appropriate outfits. The woman is wearing a white coat.
A man is proposing to a man while on a hike in Kauai. The one one man is kneeling. Both men are wearing hiking outfits.

8. Florals and patterns

Choosing the perfect floral pattern can feel impossible with so many options available. While we’ve never met a flower we haven’t liked, some patterns will lend themselves better to photos. 🌺

Consider going a more neutral pattern with your florals, so you still have the benefit of adding texture and interest in a subtle way. For example, a small print will be less distracting than a large print, or choose a print with similar colours rather than a large and bright variety of colours. Build the rest of your outfits around the floral print by pulling your accent colours from the pattern itself for your partner’s wardrobe. Mix solids and patterns to add visual interest, or keep patterns to a minimum and add interest through varying textures and fabrics. 

A man is holding a woman after he proposed in Santorini.

9. Adding props

When you’re planning your perfect proposal, a prop can make your proposal even more personal and special. Feel free to get creative! 

A few ideas we love:

  • Sign or banner to mark the spot.
  • Heartfelt love letter.
  • Twinkle lights to add extra sparkle.
  • Keepsake that represents your unique relationship.
  • Custom ring box.
  • Flowers or a custom arch. 
  • Drinks and glasses for a celebratory toast. 🍾

10. Proposal posing tips 

The proposal shot is iconic and one you’ll treasure for a lifetime. To capture the shot, we have a few tips to keep in mind to help your Flytographer capture every precious emotion that you and your (very, very excited) partner will experience. 

  1. Hire a professional Flytographer. We’ve captured thousands of proposals across the world, so we’ve truly perfected the proposal process. Our local photographers have recommendations for the best times and locations in your destination to make the proposal everything you’ve dreamed of. 
  2. Practice kneeling. Whether you’re getting down on one knee in pants, shorts or a dress, this probably isn’t a pose you get into every day. Make sure your clothing is kneeling-friendly (the back of your pants don’t gap or pull down, for example), the ring is easily accessible and you feel comfortable. 
  3. Act natural. As you ask your partner to marry you, nothing is more important than just being in the moment! Tears, laughter, a Breakfast Club-style celebratory fist in the air — feel free to let your joy take over.
  4. Stay on your knee longer than you think you need to. While you’ve probably been thinking about this moment for what feels like forever, the moment itself is fleeting. We invite you to savour every second by staying down on one knee as you ask the big question, get the “Yes!” and slide the ring onto your now-fiancée’s finger. 💍  This also gives your photographer the opportunity to capture as many shots as possible of you and your loved one. 

The outfits are selected, the proposal plan is ready to go, and all that’s left to do is pop the big question! Are you now inspired and full of romantic engagement ideas to surprise your partner? Don’t forget to book your proposal Flytographer to capture the magic of it all! ✨

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