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By this point, I’m practically an Austin proposal photographer expert. I’ve fielded many last minute panicked texts from concerned guys, located over a dozen secret hiding spots, and even pretended to be a professional family photographer for a few. It’s a real treat to be a part of a surprise and I still get chills every time.

Here are my tips for how to plan the perfect surprise proposal in Austin.

Location: Have you ever been set up for a surprise and find it out through context clues? Location is the key to a successful proposal. Choose a location that is easy to make up a story for, one that has a bit of background sentimentality or just something normal.

Do I have to propose on a weekend? NO! I’m also a full time wedding photographer and Saturdays will typically be booked 6-9 months out during busy fall/spring seasons. Consider choosing a non-Saturday day like Thursday or Monday for a total surprise.

Time of Day: Depending on your location, but as close to sunset as possible, or very early in the morning like sunrise, for best weather, light and lack of crowds. If you’re set on proposing outside: shooting close to solar noon results in harsh lighting and sunglasses. Ugh. Not exactly romantic or the way to remember “That Moment.”

Nature and outdoor areas photograph best during the late afternoon/early evening hours when the sun is just about to set, aka “golden hour.”  Make sure you research your public space just in case there is a conflicting event going on!

Places I don’t recommend: Auditorium Shores, Red Bud Isle, The Long Center during summer concerts outdoors, Zilker Park during ACL (closed)

Below, I’ve listed all my favorite proposal location ideas that I think are the most romantic locations for proposing in Austin.

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downtown austin proposal, austin rooftop proposal ideas, where to propose in downtown austin
Downtown Austin Rooftop Proposal
Laguna Gloria Austin Outdoor Art Museum Proposal

Downtown Austin proposal places

If the city is your scene, try during the week to see if your favorite restaurant can get a table reserved in a well lit, private area. Not by the kitchen or trashcans. During the week or during happy hour is probably your best bet for this to happen.

  • The Long Center is a a great choice for views of the skyline and easy to park/walk to.  
  • The Driskill is a beautiful, traditional, classy option and the staff is full service. They will set up flowers, have a bottle of champagne ready and offer tours to make it seem legit. This is a great idea at Christmas because of the giant tree in the lobby.
    • Check out Nico & Palavi‘s indoor proposal. I recommend proposing on the top balcony which is open air, but covered. But if it’s Christmas or super cold you may want to be indoors. Please check with the hotel staff for suggestions.
  • Azul Rooftop Bar has an incredible 20+ story view of downtown Austin. The best views are in the far western corner of the pool deck and will need to be decorated or have special provisions made.
  • Make dinner reservations at Mattie’s and then a stroll around the grounds with the white peacocks. Surprise her with a photographer you booked on Instagram for a private couples’ session. Serenade her with a solo guitarist on the lawn.
  • Eberly Austin has beautiful light and a private dining space in the middle of the restaurant that will definitely surprise and delight your partner.

Winery proposals

Wineries are the perfect spring and summer weekend activity away from Austin.

Fredricksburg has a ton of great places to pick from – just call one and set it up secretly! Most wineries will be happy to “give you a tour of the vineyard” to the specific spot where I’ll be hiding with my camera. This is a basic and simple choice for proposing.

Recommended:

  • Hawk’s Shadow – Dripping Springs
  • Southhold Farm & Cellar is in Johnson City, so a bit further out of Austin but what a perfect weekend trip away! They only have private wine tastings and some of THE best views of the hill country at sunset. Tell her you’re on a wine tasting trip and I’ll be there to taste along with you, ready to jump into action when you’re about to propose!
Andy surprised Jaqui with a birthday trip to a winery in November. The look of surprise on her face is everything!!

Nature, parks and scenic overlook proposals

  • The most popular and with the best view of the water is at Mt. Bonnell. This is always a classic choice. The view is gorgeous and it’s a romantic place to watch the sun go down.
    • Just don’t expect to be alone for your proposal.
    • Since it’s a location that faces due West and you can literally watch the sun set, it does get crowded on a pleasant day and VERY WARM in the summer. Consider your partner’s level of dressiness and choose SUNRISE or a very close to sunset.
  • Town Lake Boardwalk at dusk will give you the lake, trees, downtown skyline a clean, man-made spot to drop to your knee and a great bump out for night shots of downtown. Since it’s a hike and bike trail, you will have to deal with runners, dogs and potential other photo shoots. Because of this, I recommend going the extra mile and decorating it a bit. Flowers or signs can all be added to your package.
    • We ran a bit late and missed sunset but here’s an example from December. Boardwalk Proposal
  • Laguna Gloria has a beautiful gazebo tucked away down a gravel pathway lined with string lights and trees. The grounds are gorgeous and reminiscent of an Italian villa so you really can’t go wrong wherever you pop the question.
  • Botanical gardens are always nice. The Zilker Botanical Garden is ours!
  • SECRET GARDENS? Talk about incredible privacy and something unlike anyone else’s photos.
    • Jennifer’s Gardens looks like an oasis in the middle of the city. Make it an evening your partner will NEVER forget and have flowers and candles (LED powered!) everywhere. This is great if you don’t want anyone to see you.
    • Sekrit Theater feels like it’s straight from Alice in Wonderland. It’s a popular spot for proposals day or night. There are costs to reserve both of these locations but the price is worth it.

Got somewhere in mind that has meaning for the two of you? Like a really cool private, personal location or an epic scavenger hunt across the city?

Email me with your idea & date(s) and we can compare calendars.

Despite neither being outdoorsy, Jeffery knew the way to propose to Raven was through a surprise trip to Enchanted Rock.

from our couples:

TESTIMONIALS

Caitlin went out of her way to make my proposal better than I could have imagined. Her pictures were out of this world.

WILLIAM - MT. BONNELL

My fiancé hired Caitlin for a surprise engagement! She did such an amazing job and I had no idea she was there for us! Her pictures are absolutely amazing and I’m so glad she was there to capture our day! It’s a day I will never forget.

JAQUI - SPICEWOOD VINEYARDS

My fiancé hired Caitlin to capture the day he proposed to me, and she did an absolutely amazing job!! She was extremely easy going throughout the day yet eager and responsive as we needed her. We so appreciate you, Caitlin! Thank you for allowing us to always cherish our special day.

Allison - Horseshoe Bay Resort

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