On the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe, you’ll find one of the most incredible gems of the Sierra Nevada Mountains- Emerald Bay . Emerald Bay is a National Natural Landmark. Ask anyone and they will agree that it is one of the highlights of a visit to the area. All of these factors make this the ideal place for a surprise wedding proposal!

If you were to create a list of the best wedding proposal locations in Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay would be at the top. With views of the lake, sky, and surrounding peaks, this has to be one of the most scenic places for an engagement. Needless to say, it is also one of the most popular and crowded spots in Tahoe. I photographed this special event early on a summer morning, under a few rain clouds and dramatic skies.

A gorgeous backdrop for a surprise wedding proposal in Lake Tahoe.

How to Plan a Surprise Proposal in Emerald Bay

As soon as the groom-to-be contacted me, we scheduled a quick consultation call. On the phone, we discussed location options and he quickly chose Emerald Bay. In order to arrive before the crowds, I recommended he propose to his girlfriend as early in the day as possible.

When it comes to a surprise proposal, one of the biggest challenges is keeping the plan a secret. In this case, the bride-to-be already agreed to an early morning hike. The only change would be a quick stop at Emerald Bay first, to “check out the view”.

When I photograph these special events, I pretend to be an anonymous bystander. Most of the time, I just pretend to be a tourist taking photos of the landscape. Since I won’t be able to provide any directions, I make sure we have a clear plan beforehand. For this shoot, I emailed the groom-to-be a few photos of the correct location. I also sent a short video, explaining exactly how to reach this picturesque location.

A couple admires the wedding ring at a surprise wedding proposal in front of Emerald Bay.
A sweet kiss for a newly-engaged couple at a picturesque engagement location next to Lake Tahoe.

Best Places to Propose in Lake Tahoe

When he got down on one knee and asked the big question, she said “Yes”! During all of this, I captured the laughter, the tears, and all the candid expressions that make these moments so special.

Soon afterwards, I introduced myself as their photographer. She was totally surprised, and could not believe he had gone to the trouble to hire a professional photographer to capture the proposal. Double win!

During the next half hour or so, I shot more candid portraits of them. Since the crowds were slowly arriving, I offered some guidance and a few professional tips to get the best images without tourists in the background. Our timing could not have been more perfect. From the photos I took, it looks like they had the entire place to themselves!

Candid engagement portrait of an outdoorsy couple in front of Fannette Island in Emerald Bay.
A candid moment admiring the engagement ring at a surprise proposal in front of Lake Tahoe on a cloudy day.

Wedding Proposal Photography Packages

My rates include more than just the photos. An important part of planning and photographing a surprise wedding proposal is having a solid plan. With over 13 years of experience as a Lake Tahoe photographer, I can offer recommendations for the best places to propose to your partner. I can also recommend the ideal time of day, depending on the time of year and season. If you already have a date and time in mind, that works too!

In addition to the shooting time, I also include professional editing, hosting in an online gallery, and high-resolution copies of the photos. If you like, I can also include some photos with your camera so that you have photos you can share instantly.

Considering that you may also be hiring a professional wedding photographer in the next year, I also include a full credit. If you choose me to shoot your wedding, I will discount your wedding photography package with the amount of your proposal shoot.

Are you planning a surprise wedding proposal? Let’s talk! Go to my contact page and shoot me a quick message. To see more photos from surprise proposals, check out my proposals portfolio page.

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