Choosing the Right Proposal Location
Looking for a Place to Propose in Colorado?
Below are some steps we recommend you take as well as some considerations as illustrated with a couple popular locations:
Step 1: What Would She Want?
Some guys seem to skip over this step and jump right into the where they would want to do it. There is nothing wrong with this certainly if you on the same page with a lot of things. If she is just thrilled to be getting married to you then you are in luck cause all the flare is nice but more like icing on the cake icing. Nonetheless, do think about what she would want at least for a moment. Is she a surprise me or give me the slow build up of romantic something is about to happen? Does she want to be in an awesome place, have a good story to tell, or have something to make it unique?
Step 2: Where Could You Do it?
Lets assume your looking at somewhere in Colorado. If so, above are some places we love using! There are however a ton of places you can use. We currently have over 65 proposal plans that map out and detail spots you can propose in with a hidden photographer. If you just Google places you will likely come across some places that are definitely gorgeous but attract crowds, have limitations to getting there, or may have weather concerns. Worst yet you find someone listing out a lot of places without showing you what they have shot there with someone on one knee implying they are feeding you ignorant information. Looking on the websites you likely won’t get that inside scoop and you might only see images from year ago. Before you get sold on a place you perhaps should consider the variables of a given location. We believe in low risk proposals that are predictable as for a guy it is already enough pressure. Let me illustrate some things to consider using some popular examples that we hear about time to time from guys proposing.
- Botanic Gardens, Denver. If she is a Botanist then who cares about the crowds because she will love the place. Perhaps she might love it too much and not see you get down on one knee if that is her passion or profession. If she might want something a little more private looking then this will not be the ideal place. For its size there are lots of little nooks where things are semi private. We have two plans for the Monet Pond and Japanese Garden. These are tucked away more and will allow for having less people impacting the shoots. In the spring through the fall this place is a wedding factory on the weekends with multiple weddings in multiple places. Over the winter the christmas lights draw in a crowd. While this all sounds great there is a cost to get in and an even greater cost if you want someone to take pictures at Botanic Gardens. Without a photography permit you could be kicked out or you would be limited in the quality of photography you could do due to using a simplistic gear setup (non-professional). Without the right camera equipment you might as well not even have a photographer. We love the place but think there are a lot of good Colorado Mountain Locations if you do not like funding a $100 permit. Here is our work at the Botanic Gardens.
- Maroon Bells, Aspen. It is so popular there that you must get reservations to enter at all times of day. The primary way of getting in between 8AM to 5PM is via bus during the limited months when it is open. The bus might be so full that you have no place to sit cause a dog is in the seat next to you. If you want to skip the bus there is still a cost but then you also have the parking concerns and reservations to drive into the location. In the winter you must snowmobile in but you may not be able to access it due to avalanche danger. Regarding the location imagine all those photos you see of it. Now imagine yourself a couple feet from the people taking the photo you saw online. Having been there in the morning we have literally counted 150 people lining the shore for sunrise. All that may however be out the window as of 2018 for something worse – Maroon Lake and the field being roped off meaning you must stay on the trail. No one seems to know this and all this does is keep people more condensed making it a place where you have a fence through your body as you propose next to someone. Realistically you just need to target a time when the bus isn’t running, the sun is up, and the road is open. The main take away is that it is a highly regulated location. It is an epically gorgeous mountain location. If you saw photos of the perfect light with yellow aspen leaves, a touch of snow, and a perfect lake water level know that is literally a once every year type chance that passes in minutes. Here is our work at the Maroon Bells. If you are seeking this place in the winter (November to May) know you cannot get there without some kind of alternate transportation like a snowmobile.
- Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs. It is a hike so make sure you leave the high heels at home. It is over 1100 feet elevation climb in 3.2 miles. It can be icy in the winter and generally it is winter conditions November till June. We have been snowed on in August so anything is possible. Backing up a bit parking is a risk. It is so predictably full that there is a sign advising of the status on the highway. The talk for years of charging people to get in is happening. It looks like the only way in is via a permit with the 615 other people. Related to the permit to get in you also will have to have a shuttle you must pay for to get there. If you can park prepare for a workout. At the location expect limitations in where you can go with platforms and rails. Unless you have a sign on your back that says your about to propose you run the risk of someone else coming up to you. Realistically for photography it is a cool place but unless you can do something to inspire no one else to go even when they paid for their tickets it may be a better place to just hike after a proposal.
- Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs. It is a 14er so it has amazing views but there is a donut shop up top. While big enough to have a restaurant you still will likely have people around as it is on the front range and there are multiple methods of getting to the top. If you were to want the 14er view with less people go for Mt. Evans. It is subject to the same weather conditions but is further in the mountains so has a different kind of crowd and better mountain view. Key to any location above tree line will be doing it at the right time of day. After 11 AM the risk begins to increase for passing thunderstorms. Sunset looks the best due to the sun setting in the direction of the mountains but also means there could be more clouds in the sky. We recommend doing it with a view of Pikes Peak rather than being on it.
- Red Rocks Park, Morrison. In the summer there are concerts or events most days. Early in the morning people are doing yoga, running in the park, or setting things up. For photography purposes the best looking time of day is the evening though having used it at sunrise that is also quite nice. The biggest limitation to this location is the limited access to being on the rocks or stepping off trail. You can still make things work it is just a little more challenging than other mountain locations. If you would want to use this spot the key thing to note is if there is an event going on. If there is something on the calendar you likely will want to avoid this area at all costs. Have we shot at Red Rocks? Of course – hence our recommendation.
- Bear Lake. We get this one a lot from people finding it online. While we love lakes this is probably one of the worst to use for a proposal because you have ranger patrolled well defined trail areas in a highly trafficked tourist spot. At the link we include a Google Maps walk around to show the limited views as you are in the trees with high railing to keep people on the trail. There is a huge parking lot there that seems to be full often. There are lakes that are a hike further back but the terrain makes it so like at Bear Lake you would need to have photos taken feet from you. All the lakes would not be secluded and to have you hike in to the deeper ones might produce less people but then you have the clothing issue / sweaty look and you might not actually make it if you are not well conditioned. We recommend avoiding Bear Lake at all costs. Sprague Lake might be better but it is still a touristy like most places in RMNP and a little limited in where you can shoot. We love RMNP but think there are a lot of other places you can use if you do not want the tourist trap feel and if you do not like funding a $50 permit and $25/day vehicle pass. Outside of the summer you also have mixed information on the road status.
- Hiking. This is not an exact location but rather the general idea applied many different ways that we hear a lot. There is nothing wrong with a hike but there are a lot of things that may not go as envisioned. To illustrate with a story that made the news in October 2018. The couple flew in from Texas and his aim was to find an “isolated scenic location”. This led them to hike a 13er along the continental divide. The hike was 8.2 miles and over 3K elevation change. We do not know the specifics but it is clear there was a lot of things not considered. They got engaged likely close to sunset based on the timing but were lost, hungry, hypothermic, and dehydrated crying out for help at midnight needing rescue. The mistakes made included above treeline hiking on a less developed trail, not knowing you need to be acclimated to the altitude for physical activity resulting in altitude sickness, doing it later in the day when you could be caught in a thunderstorm or snowstorm, not bringing enough supplies (food, clothing, and water), and not understanding how to mountaineer as they were caught on a cliff edge. To put it another way they could have died – how romantic! Outside of that in this case she was likely dressed down, sweaty, and then likely also traumatized by the way things played out. Again, there is nothing wrong with a hike in Colorado but like many people who do not live out here or are not experienced in the backcountry a good idea could become a nightmare.
We are all for proposals at these places or places like them but just believe you need to make sure you understand the risks, limitations, or impact from seasonal restrictions. Our taken is to balance using a place that captures the Colorado beauty with a predictable setting. Below are some of the places we have used. As you may notice there are some repeats. The reason is a lot of guys want the more sure type of setting that has the Colorado Mountain beauty year round, allows her to go there slightly dressed up, and ideally would have a lack of people around.
Step 3: How Should You Do It?
Maybe the question is if there is anything unique that you both love that you would want to incorporate into the proposal. If you don’t have anything that is perfectly fine because often if you want to bring in an idea it might complicate things for the location. Realistically she is going to care most about you proposing. This is what we find makes the photography of a proposal exhilarating to capture because it is what matters most to many women. In Colorado guys often incorporate one of the many recreational options. Some moving ones are hiking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, carriage rides, hot air balloons, horseback riding, white water rafting, mountain boarding, climbing – should we go on? If your feeling more classical there is always a romantic dinner. If you think she would want to be a little more dressed up but yet you still want to surprise her you can do it on the way to a place that requires the clothing she would count ideal. In other words if she wants to be in 4 inch heels you likely want to do it on the way to a fancy place rather than hiking.
Step 4: Need Any Help to Pull it Off?
Currently, 96% of the guys who have come to us have been interested in the core service of proposal photography. This includes not just taking photos but giving the guy a detailed plan about where to go, how to stand, tips to make it successful and minimize risks. We have however seen there is a potential for guys to want something more than just photos but to have a grand event planned out that is crazy over the top beautiful. When guys want a step beyond just photography and have a small setup they would like we have the guy send us what he is wanting to use provided we can work it into the scenario. Often this kind of thing is able to fit in a car and is a short walk from the car. In other words, carrying a table and chairs with the table cloth, candles, strawberries, and champagne to the top of a 14er isn’t what we count as an ideal workout. If however you are wanting a more elaborate idea of a limo showing up with an elegant dress to pick her up to take her to get her hair and nails done then route her to a private dining experience lavishly setup then we would likely want to enlist an event planner. If you going for this kind of idea you likely have a very large budget and just need someone to make it happen. We have some recommendations we can give on this front if you are looking for someone to plan out a day and set everything up. Ultimately, we think if your spending on an over the top idea having photos of it to document it make it all the more special.