Planning a surprise proposal is an exciting endeavor, filled with anticipation and love. As a DC proposal photographer, I've witnessed countless magical moments unfold. To ensure your surprise proposal is truly unforgettable, I've compiled a list of essential items to bring along. From sentimental touches to practical considerations, these tips will help you create a moment that will be talked about for years to come.

Beautiful engagement ring used at a DC proposal
Thoughtful proposal props including "Marry Me" sign, red roses, and pictures scattered around on the grass.
Couple embracing at surprise proposal in DC's Arboretum Dogwood Collections

1.The Ring

Of course, the engagement ring takes center stage during the proposal. Make sure you have the ring securely tucked away, ready to make its grand debut. Consider a discreet and comfortable ring box that won't give away your secret.

2.Personalized Keepsakes

Add a personal touch to your proposal by bringing along meaningful keepsakes. It could be a framed photo of a cherished memory, a handwritten love letter, or a memento that symbolizes your journey together. These sentimental items will add an extra layer of emotion to the moment. These items are also great memento pieces to add to decorations if you are adding rose petals and a romantic walkway for the proposal.

3.Professional Proposal Photography

Capture the raw emotions and genuine reactions by enlisting the services of a professional proposal photographer. Whether you are proposing at the steps of Lincoln Memorial or the serene backdrop of the U.S. National Arboretum, having a skilled photographer discreetly capture your proposal ensures that every precious moment is beautifully preserved forever.

4.Bluetooth speaker and Music or a Playlist

Set the mood with your favorite songs or a carefully curated playlist. Whether it's a romantic ballad or an upbeat tune that holds a special meaning for both of you, music can create an enchanting atmosphere and make the moment even more memorable. You can even dance together to the music and enjoy a few minutes to yourselves.

5.Champagne or Toasting Flutes

Toast to your future together with a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider. Pack a couple of elegant toasting flutes to savor the moment and celebrate your love right after the "Yes!" It's a classy and romantic touch that adds an element of sophistication to the occasion.


Maybe it's a little old-fashioned but flowers are never a bad idea when it comes to making a sweeping, romantic gesture. If you know their favorite flower, it'll likely go even further than your iconic roses. You can keep them in a tote and say you're planning a picnic date or tucked away carefully in a backpack for your outdoor adventure.


For those who enjoy a bit of drama (and possibly even spectacle) this can easily do the trick. While not for everyone, you may be surprised at how creative some of these signs can be. Do a quick search for a 'marry me' sign and see what kind could suit you best. A neon sign? A lantern? A blanket perhaps? There are tons of ways to effectively use a 'marry me' sign that are both big and small and they can make for excellent keepsakes for years to come.

8.Backup Plan

Even with careful planning, unexpected situations can arise. Have a backup plan in case of inclement weather, crowded locations, or any other unforeseen circumstances - all of which we know happens in Washington DC all the time. Flexibility and preparedness will help ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. This can mean a location that's covered in rain (unless you want to recreate 'The Notebook').

Engaged couple dancing during sunset on top of Kennedy Center rooftop
DC engagement photoshoot at Kennedy Center rooftop
Post-engagement photoshoot champagne cheers by the Potomac River


Your surprise proposal in the vibrant city of Washington DC is an opportunity to create a moment that will be etched in your hearts forever. By incorporating these essential items into your plans, you can elevate the experience and make it truly extraordinary. As a DC proposal photographer, I'm here to help you capture the magic and preserve this precious memory for a lifetime. Embrace the journey, enjoy the process, and get ready to embark on a beautiful chapter together.