How To Plan A Surprise Proposal: Do it in Glacier National Park!

Are you traveling all the way to Montana and want to do something epic? Have you thought about hiring a professional photographer & planning a surprise proposal? Glacier National Park is the crown of the continent - it’s the most beautiful place to pop the question.

Curt contacted me a couple of weeks prior to their trip to Glacier. In his initial message he wrote he was looking for a photographer to capture him proposing in front of Lake McDonald. We booked the session, discussed the meeting time to be 5:30am, right before their morning hike (also excellent time for photographs). Curt had a custom ring made just for his girlfriend, his family hiding in the bushes as well as myself to document the moment. The morning of the proposal I arrived a half an hour before sunrise, waiting at the dock pretending I was photographing the scenery. I watched them walk in front of me to watch the sun rise over the mountains and I of course pretend to take pictures of the view. He asked her to walk down to the water and face the mountains so he could take a photograph of her looking across the lake. Instead of taking a photograph he pulls out the ring, walked up and got down on a knee. The way it played out couldn’t have been better. It was breathtaking.

This surprise proposal was the first of many this year in Glacier National Park! Residing just outside of the park makes it really easy to give my clients a memorable place to pop the question. I want to share with you my experience working with this couple as well as how we were able to pull of this surprise without her knowing.

If you’re planning on a proposal and want to document the surprise with a pro here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:


Make sure to pick a spot that is easy to find and photographer approved.  The last thing you want to do is get lost or not be in the same spot as your photographer. Discuss time and place ahead of time and the best way to do this is using google pins. You cannot go wrong with exact coordinates. Below I’ve provided you with some beautiful locations in Glacier Park you should consider using as THE SPOT!

The Bend, Going To The Sun Rd.

Lake McDonald Lodge Shoreline

St. Mary Lake, Sun Point

Many Glacier Lodge Overlook

Visit: A Guide To Glacier Park Elopements for more location ideas!


Send your photographer a photo of the both of you the morning of the proposal. The park can get a bit crowded so knowing who to look for is super helpful! I always make sure to let my clients know the morning of what I’ll look like prior to meeting.


When proposing make sure you are in clear view of your photographer. Make sure when you propose your soon to be fiancé is facing the camera. That seams really obvious, but you’d be surprised what happens in the heat of the moment. Also, don’t run up to the photographer right after you propose. Take in the moment and when you’re ready you can go meet your photographer. This is all about documenting the moment - it’s important you forget about the photographer and just enjoy your time together.


Trust your photographer! Your photographer has experience with lighting, placement and timing. You do not want to have bad lighting or change locations last minute. If your photographer is professional and experienced they’ll make sure to get you in the right place at the right time ahead of time, so choose a local photographer that knows the area.


Enjoy the moment. Don’t over analyze, breath. It will be perfect! Just make sure you plan ahead of time. If there are other people or tourists around just play it off as if you are the only two there.

And the rest is history! Planning a surprise proposal does not have to be stressful or seam impossible. It’s more than possible and it will be a lot of fun bringing it all together! Documenting this moment is such a special gift you could give yourselves as a couple. If you’ve decided to go this direction you’ve made a great decision and your future fiancee will appreciate it!