California Proposal Ideas: Best Places for an Epic Engagement

California is a popular place to propose – we help capture dozens of engagements here per week! Coming up with great California proposal ideas and planning the details may feel like a challenge… there are just so many beautiful places to choose from! But don’t let all the details overwhelm you. The most important thing is that your proposal reflects you both as a couple, no matter how casual or grandeur it is.

Whether your style is uber-romantic, unique and eccentric, or private and intimate, we have some great suggestions to help you pick the perfect (and most photogenic!) proposal spot. Below we list some of our favorite marriage proposal ideas, the best places to propose in California, as well as our tips on hiring a proposal photographer to capture it all.

California Proposal Ideas

We’ve helped so many couples just like you plan and capture this momentous occasion, so we’d like to think we have learned a thing or two along the way. Allow us to give you some pointers.

Your proposal moment is not the best time to wing it. You want your future fiance to feel like some serious thought went into it – it’s a big deal! You have probably already been stressing about the big moment, but take a deep breath and start with our 4 tips to pulling off the perfect California proposal:

  1. Choose a special location. Our favorite places to propose in California are listed below! You have probably already daydreamed about the big moment, and it’s important to imagine the type of proposal you want to have – romantic, intimate, adventurous, unique, or casual. Most importantly, your proposal should reflect you both as a couple. Once you have your proposal vibe in mind, you can start thinking about locations.
  2. Ensuring that your proposal remains a complete surprise is all about having a solid backstory. If you are going somewhere you wouldn’t normally go, make sure you have a story in place to explain why you are going there.
  3. Consider hiring a secret proposal photographer to snap professional photos of the special moment. Tell your photographer all your proposal ideas and goals, and they can help you plan the location, where to stand, and the ideal time for the best photos. On the big day, your photographer can be ready at the designated spot to capture the moment, paparazzi-style. If your partner has no idea that the proposal is coming, you’ll capture all the joy, the tears, and most importantly, the yes!
  4. Practice getting down on one knee beforehand and think about what you will say. You don’t need to have your speech memorized, but spend a little time jotting down what you’d like to say. Stick to an idea, not a script. Of course, don’t forget to finish with: Will you marry me?

Best Places to Propose in California

Choosing a gorgeous destination is a great way to start, so you are already on the right track! We see a lot of engagements every week and know the best places to propose in California. Check out our list below to start getting some California proposal ideas.

Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Modern art deco architecture and twinkling lights set the romantic mood, making it one of the best places to propose in LA. It is an LA landmark and was even featured in the La La Land movie… “City of stars, are you shining just for me?”

A Griffith Park proposal offers unobstructed scenic views of the LA basin, Hollywood sign, and the Pacific Ocean. It has a little bit of everything – a planetarium, exhibits, special events, public telescopes, a cafe, and a bookstore. Admission is free, and but there is a parking fee.

Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park is filled with things to do: museums, a zoo, theaters, restaurants, botanical gardens, bridges, a huge outdoor piano organ, a church, and beautiful grounds to walk around and explore. You could spend a whole day here easily. This is a great opportunity to pull off the picnic proposal idea!

Golden Gate, San Francisco

Choose to bend the knee at one of the many beautiful viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge for an epic Southern California proposal spot:

  • Baker Beach
  • Fort Point
  • Battery Spencer
  • Sutro Baths
  • Alamo Square
  • Pier 7
  • Chinatown
  • Haight-Street Ashbury
  • Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park.

The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles

Few things are more LA iconic than the Hollywood sign. Although you can no longer can hike up to the actual sign, there is a trail on Mt. Hollywood near the Griffith Observatory that offers great views!

La Jolla Coast Trail, San Diego

La Jolla Coast Walk Trail has one of the most picturesque views of the coastline, making it one of the best places to propose in Southern California. It is best enjoyed early in the morning before crowds arrive, especially in the summer.

Private Places to Propose in California

Maybe you are looking for more intimate California engagement ideas? Or you may prefer something simple yet creative? Finding a proposal spot in California that is private, quiet, and intimate can be challenging, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Private picnic in a quiet area of a park.
  • Cater a private dinner and celebration at a luxury Airbnb.
  • Rent a scooter, motorcycle, or maybe even a boat to cruise around until you find the perfect engagement spot.
  • Book a private table at your restaurant of choice and get help from the staff to pull it off.

Other Romantic Places to Propose in California

  • Moorten Gardens: Adult entry costs $5 per person and there is a $25 photography fee on top of the entrance fees.
  • Palm Springs Windmills: Over 3,000 windmills spinning in the desert just 10-20 minutes from town create an unreal backdrop with a bit of whimsy. No entrance fees!
  • Palace of Fine Arts: Don’t miss one of the most iconic sights in San Francisco. Popular for proposals!
  • Windansea Beach: This beach in La Jolla has secluded shores and windswept bluffs – stunning at sunrise, but the sunsets are gorgeous!
  • Scripps Pier: One of the best spots to take in San Diego’s picturesque coastline.
  • Bakers Beach: The most popular photo spot in San Francisco! Go at sunset.

How to Hire a California Proposal Photographer

The moment you reach for the ring, adrenaline and emotions start to kick in and you might not even remember the moment! Hiring a secret California proposal photographer for your surprise engagement will allow you to capture and relive that moment again and again.

Your marriage proposal is a story you will never tire of telling, so it definitely deserves better than selfies! Capture it with California proposal photography that you’ll look back on for years to come.

How does a proposal photoshoot work?

Before choosing a photographer, we recommend having some California proposal ideas in mind first! There are two ways a proposal photoshoot usually happens:

  1. Hire the photographer for a “normal” photoshoot with your partner, but let the photographer in on your secret proposal plan! This is the best way to ensure the photographer captures the moment perfectly, usually at a closer distance and better positioned.
  2. The photographer can be waiting at the designated spot to secretly capture the moment, paparazzi-style. After the big moment, the photographer can introduce themselves and proceed to capture that post-engagement glow.

After your photo shoot is booked, you will be able to plan and coordinate with your photographer directly.

What’s included in a California proposal package?

With every proposal photography package, you’ll get high-resolution engagement photos that are professionally edited and delivered by email in a private online gallery within 5 business days. In your gallery, you will be able to see all the photos from your proposal photoshoot and get to download a certain number of your favorites, depending on your package. It also includes:

  • one-on-one planning with your proposal photographer
  • photos of the big moment and post-engagement
  • private online gallery
  • high-resolution photos that are professionally edited
  • photos delivered within 5 days

How much does a California proposal photographer cost?

We have photographers on our team that specialize in capturing proposals and engagement photoshoots. Check out our list of the best California proposal photographers to see pricing, compare portfolios, read customer reviews, and check date availability.

Choose between different photo packages in the best places to propose in California (prices vary by city):

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