Okay first of all, if you’re out here Googling “How to Propose to Your Partner” – CONGRATULATIONS! This is one of the most exciting times in your life, and I’m so excited for you!

As a wedding and engagement photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to see and hear about way more than my fair share of engagements and proposals. They are always so joyful – and truly, it’s pretty hard to mess up something so happy! But… that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some advice for you to make it as smooth as possible.

How to Propose to Your Partner: 6 Things You’ll Need

#1 - Their Ring Size

Okay, when you start thinking about how to propose to your partner, getting their ring size is the first thing you’ve got to figure out. If you already have it, amazing! If you don’t, it might be time to get sneaky. 

Maybe you have the kind of relationship where you can just ask them for their ring size, straight up. Maybe they even want to help you pick out the ring! But if you were hoping for your proposal to be a total surprise, it’s time to get into stealth mode. You can try asking one of their family members, like a sister, for their ring size, or you could ‘borrow’ one of the rings they already have and take it into the jewelers to help size the engagement ring.

Bride smiling at camera as groom holds her hand showing her engagement ring, taken by CA photographer Melina Garcia
Couple share an embrace as they look out into the distance, captured by Corazon Photography

#2 - The Ring

Once you’ve got the ring size, it’s time for the ring. Now, if you’re thinking about how to propose to your partner, you’re probably already dreaming about the ring. This is the part of proposing that everyone knows!

If I have any advice for you here, I’d just say this: don’t be afraid to over-communicate. Ask your partner not only to describe their dream ring, but also to show you photos of the kind of thing they like. You could even go ring shopping together! It’s always better to be 100% sure about the kind of ring your partner is hoping for than to be guessing in the name of surprise.

Close-up shot of woman hugging her fiance showing the ring on her finger during engagement shoot with Melina Garcia

#3 - What You Want to Say

You don’t need to write a script, but when you’re planning how to propose to your partner, make sure you have at least some idea of what you want to say in the moment. It doesn’t have to be epic and romantic (but if it is, I’m cheering you on!) – it can be simple and understated. But knowing what you want to say before you’re in the situation is going to help you feel calm and prepared, and it will make sure you say everything you want to say without leaving anything out.

Guy getting down on one knee as he proposes during their beach engagement shoot with Corazon Photography

#4 - A Special Location

Honestly, the location is one of the most important parts of an engagement! When you’re planning how to propose to your partner, it’s so romantic to choose a place that has a special meaning for the both of you. Maybe that’s the place that you had your first kiss, or where you asked them to be your partner. 


Personally, I think it is also super romantic if it’s just a favorite place of theirs – somewhere they enjoy. Choosing somewhere like that is a great way to show how well you know them and how much you want to make them happy. 


And, of course, if it’s beautiful and aesthetic, that’s a total perk! I’m thinking hidden beaches, cliffsides, rooftops with views over the skyline… you know what I’m talking about!

Engaged couple holding hands as they pose at the beach, taken by Mexico wedding photographer Melina Garcia

#5 - Plans for Later

There so much build-up to the proposal itself, but don’t forget to have plans for later! Do you want to have it be just the two of you? Do you want your families to be waiting nearby? Are you thinking about a small party?


Whatever you have in mind, ideally it should involve food, drinks, and the space to savor the moment (and maybe Facetime some of those important people!) Make the reservation or pack the picnic, fly in the family members, plan the party – just make sure it’s all locked down before the big day. 

How to Propose to Your Partner: Guy opening bottle of wine as his fiance smiles and looks on.
Couple sitting at outdoor picnic setup after their engagement, taken by LA wedding photographer Melina Garcia

#6 - A Game Plan for Photography

Do you want the proposal to be captured by a photographer? 


If so, how do you want that to go? Would you like the photographer to be far away, shooting from a distance? Check out this Laguna Beach surprise proposal for a sweet example of this. Do you want them to be close up, pretending to be part of the crowd? Honestly, most photographers (including me!) are usually pretty up for a little bit of acting / hiding skills to get that perfect moment.


Another option is to schedule a photoshoot and let your partner think it’s just a couple’s shoot – and then you can turn it into a proposal.It means you don’t have to worry about hiding the photographer, and it’s a great excuse to get all dressed up and go somewhere nice. If you go this way, make sure you let your photographer in on it! These are really fun.


Of course, you might want to keep the moment totally private. You could always book an engagement session for later, after the proposal, and keep it to selfies for the proposal itself. Whatever you opt for, just make sure that you have a game plan for photography when you’re planning how to propose to your partner.

Girl smiling at camera with her fiance behind her during their surprise beach engagement, taken by Melina Garcia
How to Propose to Your Partner: Bride smiles at camera as her fiance stands behind her with ring in box.
Guy getting down on one knee as his fiance acts surprised at their engagement shoot with Corazon Photography

Final Thoughts

There you have it! If you’re planning to propose to your partner, work your way down this six-point list and you should be golden! A little bit of planning truly goes a long way to making this the perfect memory.

But it does have to be said that even when things go wrong, those moments often become things you laugh over in years to come. You can (and should!) do the work to cover your bases and try your best to create something special, but at the end of the day, it’s your love that makes this such an incredible moment – and no amount of dropping the ring box or spilling the champagne will change that.

If you’re planning to propose in California, check out these 6 beautiful locations to get some inspiration on where to do it!


Couple share an embrace as woman holds bouquet; image overlaid with text that reads How to Propose to Your Partner
Guy gets down on one knee during beach proposal; image overlaid with text that reads How to Propose to Your Partner