I get to play spy proposal photographer a lot! After photographing a first romantic surprise proposal in 2013, I’ve been lucky enough to get to take photos of even more surprise proposals as the years go by!
About surprise proposal photography
I’ve got to give major props to the folks who contact me to plan secret pictures of their proposals! They really wanted to plan something romantic and special by proposing to their girlfriend or boyfriend during a trip to Montreal. And what’s most important, they wanted to capture the moment forever in photos.
Proposals happen so quickly–5 minutes or so, and the words have been said and have faded into space. Tears are being dried, mascara’s being fixed, and even though all the big smiles and hugs are still there, it was all a blur! That’s why it’s such a gift to have the memories of that one brief instant captured in photos you can keep. It’s personal history in the making.
I love being able to document that history for couples over the years. I worked with them to get the timing and location right so everything would go smoothly. And it was amazing to be able to witness and document these big emotional moments in their relationships!
Planning your proposal photos
If you’re planning to propose in Montreal, I would love to photograph it! I really enjoy being a secret photographer while pretending to be “just another tourist”.
Once you have the engagement ring, the next step is to choose a location and time to pop the question.
What’s the best time for proposal photos?
My favourite time for a surprise proposal is late afternoon. The sun has started to go down and the light is softer. There’s enough daylight for some engagement portraits afterwards. And once you’re done taking photos, it’s the perfect timing to go off and celebrate with a nice dinner out.
Of course, there are other options, like sunrise, which is also beautiful light. And we can always work around your schedule if you’ve got other plans. But the simplest way to get great light for photos is to plan for late afternoon.
Next, after you’ve selected the time, you’ll have to choose a location! Just keep reading below for a detailed rundown of the best locations to propose in Montreal:
Best surprise proposal locations in Montreal
If you’re hoping to have a photographer capture the moment of your proposal while keeping it a secret, some of the best spots are favourite tourist locations, because a stranger with a camera will blend right into the crowd.
Here are some of my favourite locations:
Old Montreal/Old Port
- Place d’Armes square in front of the Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal (2023 update: The Notre-Dame Basilica is currently under renovations that make it less attractive as a proposal background, with lots of scaffolding and construction signs. If you’d like to propose in Place d’Armes square, I would suggest the other side of the square, with the background of the beautiful Hotel Place d’Armes or the historic Bank of Montreal building.)
- Cours Le Royer courtyard in Old Montreal
- Along the boardwalk in the Old Port
- Near the Clock Tower pier
- Place Jacques Cartier
- Near the giant ferris wheel in Old Montreal
- De la Commune street
- Near the Farine Five Roses sign
- Near Mount-Royal chalet and the Kondiaronk belvedere for a view over downtown
- Near Beaver Lake
- Near Georges-Étienne-Cartier statue
- Summit lookout and Summit woods in Westmount
[ See full story here: Rainy day wedding proposal ]
The Plateau Mont-Royal
- Carré Saint-Louis
- the colourful houses in Plateau Mont-Royal
[ See full story here: Proposal in Carré Saint-Louis ]
The Botanical Garden and surroundings
- Montreal Botanical Garden
- Olympic Stadium grounds
- Maisonneuve Park
[ See full story here: Surprise proposal at Montreal Botanical Garden]
- Near the Biosphere
- Near the Trois Disques sculpture with nearby view of the Montreal skyline
- Débarcadère Navette Maritime for a quieter spot to view of the Montreal skyline
- Esplanade Ernest-Cormier: This small quiet park downtown has a row of small trees and modern concrete structures with green vines.
- Place des festivals: In the heart of bustling downtown Montreal, right next to the Musée d’art contemporain. Usually there’s lots of life, crowds, food trucks, fountains and art installations.
- Avenue du Musée: This street heading north from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts usually has some sculptures and colourful installations that can be really fun to explore.
- McGill University campus: If you are university alumni and especially if you met each other while studying, McGill campus is a really meaningful and beautiful spot for couples photos. It has a lot of pretty spots that would make a good place to pop the question as well!
If you need more suggestions on where to do a surprise proposal in Montreal, I’d be happy to help. Just write me a message and we’ll chat!
For more private locations: don’t hide the photographer
If you’d like to do your proposal in a quieter, more private spot, it might not be possible for me to hide and follow you discreetly.
Instead, I recommend we set up a “just because” couples photoshoot. You can tell your partner you’d like to take photos together for fun, as a gift to them. Make up any excuse you’d like, whether it’s a special treat or because you don’t have enough photos together. That way, you can choose any beautiful, out-of-the way place you love for the place your proposal will happen.
I’ll play along with your story and make it seem like a normal couple’s photoshoot just for fun.
You can then choose your moment during the couple photoshoot and when the timing feels right, surprise your partner with a proposal!