Photo by Amanda Hedgepeth

He’s down on one knee, you’re in tears, and he slips on the ring you’ve been dreaming about. Wishing you could capture this unforgettable moment of pre-wedding bliss? Don’t worry; your groom is looking out for you. Lately grooms have been earning major brownie points for hiring a photographer to capture the big moment. We consulted two local photographers, Amanda Hedgepeth and Gian Valdivia, to get the scoop on this clever trend. 

Coastal Virginia Bride: What’s the process when you’re asked to do a surprise proposal photo shoot?

Amanda Hedgepeth: Typically, I get a sweet, semi-nervous but ambitious email from the boyfriend. They go into when and how they are planning to propose during the shoot. Meanwhile, I’m grinning ear-to-ear at being let in on this surprise.

CoVa: What do you feel is most unique about these sessions?

AH: The girl’s reaction! Some girls just cry immediately (that was me, haha!) and some are in total shock … like they can't quite take it in—it’s adorable! 

Gian Valdivia: The element of surprise. It’s so cool to capture these moments because you see everything unfold so naturally. Once “the moment” happens, there’s no going back. It’s just me, my camera and “the proposal.”

CoVa: Why do you feel this has become such a trend?

AH: I think people are valuing photography more now in a way that they never have before. Hiring professionals to capture quality images and moments is becoming more of an investment and to me, of course, that’s such a joy!

GV: Many couples today have developed a great appreciation for good photography. With social media at the forefront and having many ways to share our life journey, we want those moments captured beautifully for the world to see.

CoVa: What has been your most memorable surprise proposal photo shoot?

AH: [The] first one I ever shot at the top of Jockey’s Ridge, [N.C.]. Both of their families were there together on vacation, so they all got to witness from afar and cheer so loudly when they came back down the dune! We had my family there pretending I was shooting pictures of them playing, but really I was focused on them with a zoom lens!

jockey's ridge surprise proposal photography amanda hedgepeth jockey's ridge surprise proposal photography amanda hedgepeth

jockey's ridge surprise proposal photography amanda hedgepeth

GV: David is to take Stephanie out to dinner for her birthday. On their way to dinner, David’s brother, Kelly, calls to tell him that he had broken his knee while out running at First Landing State Park. The idea is for David and Steph to reroute to the park and tend to the injured Kelly at our determined spot. As Stephanie and David approached the agreed upon spot, she discovered a spread of pillows, chocolate-covered strawberries, flowers and a card. 

first landing state park proposal

first landing state park proposal Gian Valdivia

Kelly hits the play button on a boombox, and “Song for Zula” starts to play. As Steph reads the card, David gets down on one knee and pops the question. Steph is in awe as she simultaneously wonders where Kelly is as she is saying yes to David! 

first landing state park proposal Gian Valdivia first landing state park proposal Gian Valdivia

first landing state park proposal Gian Valdivia first landing state park proposal Gian Valdivia

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