East Coast natives Jen and Max relocated to San Francisco to pursue their professional careers. In their spare time, they both love outdoor activities, especially skiing and snowboarding. So when Max was ready to propose, he planned a wintertime trip to Lake Tahoe to pop the question.
For this surprise proposal, the groom-to-be hired Marie-Louise Palmqvist, owner of Vild Photography, to capture the special moments on camera. “He didn’t plan to have a photographer there originally but decided it would be worth documenting,” says Palmqvist.
In addition to surprising his bride to be, Max had to contend with a surprise from Mother Nature – a huge snowstorm moving in. While snow in Tahoe is the norm, this particular storm was supposed to drop several feet of the white stuff, which meant that the lakeside view Max had originally planned would be a white-out.
But Max knew he wanted to pop the question at Edgewood Tahoe since that’s where he and Jen were staying. Plamqvist helped him find a good spot that was easy to get to, beautiful and special. The photographer met with Max while Jen was in the Edgewood Spa, finishing up her hair for dinner. “That gave us a chance to show him the location we had in mind. It was all very quick and uncomplicated,” Palmqvist recalls.
So, after a day of skiing and getting warmed back up in their room, the couple made their way to dinner. Along the way was a cozy outdoor fireplace, where Max dropped down on one knee and pulled out the ring. The proposal was a complete surprise.
“We managed to capture the moment perfectly – everything from the traditional on-the-knee proposal to the just-after-saying-yes reactions,” says Palmqvist. “And, of course, we made sure to find those perfect show-me-the-ring shots, too.”
Afterwards, the newly engaged couple enjoyed a champagne toast inside the restaurant at Edgewood. The restaurant’s dark wood and black trim decor served as a great contrast to the rest of the snowy pictures.
Jen and Max plan to return to their East Coast roots to get married. Our best wishes to the nearly-weds!
Proposals from the Photographer’s Prospective
Palmqvist and Rob Cole, her fellow photographer, work hard to be sneaky and blend into the background when they’re shooting proposals. “We normally just pretend to take photos of each other or the landscape before we aim our cameras towards them,” she says. “It’s really exciting and we always feel like CIA agents.”
Palmqvist wants couples to know that with surprise proposals, “ANYTHING is possible.” She continues, “Do something that is special and true to you! Don’t just follow trends because you think that that’s the right thing to do. Make it about you.”
She reminds couples to document the proposal too so you can “treasure it forever.”
While it’s smart to keep things low key when planning a proposal, make sure you communicate your plans with key people, such as the hotel, server, photographer or any other vendors/people you’ll be working with.
Other Pro Tips for Proposals and Engagment Sessions
What to wear for proposals: According to Palmqvist, “They are totally free to wear whatever they like.”
What to wear for engagement sessions: “We always suggest they wear something they love that has neutral colors and that complements the season. Our number one priority is for them to feel comfortable. Then we always suggest that they should coordinate, not match each other.”
Plan ahead. Both proposal and engagement sessions typically last about an hour. However, some sessions last longer. Palmqvist notes, “Some of our engagement sessions can be two to four hours if we decide to go hiking.”
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be right. “Proposals always happen quicker than you think and no matter how much you plan and think about the details, it never quite goes according to plan, normally because of nerves,” says Palmqvist. “But that’s OK! Those imperfect moments become perfect as they are the ones making it truly special and cute.”