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How to plan the perfect surprise proposal in Austin

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 when do weddings happen? Yep. Saturdays.

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. For example, shooting pictures outside at 2pm without any shade results in super squinty raccoon eyes. 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 at Christmas or summer (concerts outdoors), Zilker Park during ACL or the Trail of Lights.

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

If the city is your scene, try during the week to see if your favorite restaurant can get a secluded spot to set up props like flowers, decorations, candles and photos of the two of you. During the week is your best chance for a SURPRISE.

  • The Long Center is a an expected choice down on the patio area. Great 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 champs ready and offer tours to make it seem legit. Check out Nico & Palavi‘s indoor proposal. I recommend proposing on the top balcony floor for best privacy, but if it’s Christmas or wintertime you may want to be indoors. Please check with the hotel staff.
  • Make dinner reservations at Mattie’s and then a stroll around the grounds with the white peacocks. Surprise her with a photographer you found on Instagram for a couples’ session.
  • South Congress Hotel  or Cafe NoSe will help set up a private space.






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 the easiest surprise ever!


  • Hawk’s Shadow
  • Spicewood Vineyards
  • Fat Ass
  • Pontotac Winery
  • Duchman Family Winery is closer than Fredricksburg and still great.
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Duchman Wineries

Nature, parks and scenic overlooks

  • 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.
  • It does get crowded and VERY WARM in the summer, so if sweat and onlookers aren’t your thing, choose SUNRISE or a more private location – maybe rent a VRBO for the weekend and have all your friends meet you there with champagne and banners.
  • 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. This has to happen exactly at sunset or sunrise in order to get the best photos.
  • 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.
  • Botanical gardens are always nice. The Zilker Botanical Garden is ours!
  • Want something like Morocco but also a super private, SECRET GARDEN? 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 a string quartet and candles everywhere. This is great if you don’t want ANYONE around to see.

Got somewhere in mind that has meaning for the two of you? Like a really cool private, personal location? Email me below and let’s get started.

Kyle really did the best job of surprising his girlfriend at Laguna Gloria with rose petals and sentimental flowers.

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