So you’re finally ready to pop the 4-word question to your partner. And you smartly decided to propose in Paris, arguably the most swoon-worthy place in the known universe.
In the hours, days, and weeks leading up to your Paris proposal, you’ll feel an almost impossible-to-describe excitement, wooziness, and even butterflies in your stomach.
Drunk in love, anyone?
Game-changing marriage proposal advice no one has taught you
Planning a dream proposal—presumably from thousands of miles away—can be a little nerve-racking unless you stick to an ironclad game plan based on proven, actionable advice.
And that’s where this guide comes in: I’m going to show you—step-by-step (with pictures and videos)—everything you need to pull off a profoundly romantic proposal in Paris that will have her in tears and make her friends jealous.
We’ll go over how to propose to a girl (or guy), what to say to your sweetheart before you pop the question, the most romantic places, how to dress, and loads of little-known Paris proposal ideas.
I can even help you put together an experienced, caring, and English-speaking vendor team.
Here’s what you should expect:
- Engagement essentials 101: a crash course on getting to “Yes;”
- how to propose: which knee, which finger, what to say (your marriage proposal speech);
- the blueprint for a picture-perfect marriage proposal;
- why propose in Paris;
- the best locations, including a deep-dive into Eiffel Tower proposals;
- the most romantic, cute, and creative ways to propose;
- where to propose when it’s raining;
- the “Dos & Don’ts” of extraordinary engagements;
- how to get her diamond ring to Paris safely (without spilling the beans);
- how to hire the right Paris proposal photographer (and videographer);
- when does a marriage proposal planner make sense;
- the paparazzi proposal vs. proposing as part of a Paris photoshoot (the pros & cons);
- your sanity-preserving Last-Minute Proposal Cheat-Sheet;
- holy moly, she says “Yes” … the first things you need to do as fiancés in Paris;
- BONUS: charming hotels in Paris for the newly-engaged.
But let me level with you first: today, there’s no shortage of readily available engagement advice.
Unfortunately, most of it is not informed by experience and is typically a big waste of your time.
You see, having planned and photographed hundreds of sublime proposals in Paris, I’m the #1 reviewed proposal photographer.
I’m also the author of several influential industry publications, including the bonafide engagement resource, How to Propose to a Girl, which has been seen on abc, FOX, NBC, and CBS.
Importantly, I, too, went through the process of proposing to the woman of my dreams.
I understand that you only get one shot to sweep your partner off her feet with an experience that exceeds her lofty expectations.
Sounds good? Let’s dive right in!
Paris proposal 101: the basics
In this chapter, let’s first nail down the basics on how to propose, shall we?
How to propose: which knee, which finger, and what to say
Which knee do you kneel on when proposing? According to My Perfect Marriage Proposal,
- your left knee should touch the ground;
- your right knee is up;
- the ring box is in your left hand; and
- you open the box with the right hand.
Interestingly, many times, men drop down to their right knee. And you know what?
When it comes to elegant engagement photos that warm the heart, it really doesn’t matter which knee touches the ground.
P.s. We’ve written extensively about which knee to propose on, whether you open the ring box when you propose, and plenty of other advice on how to get better proposal pictures.
16 amazingly awesome sanity-preserving things you need to remember right before you propose in Paris
Follow these simple steps for the most picture-perfect, jaw-dropping marriage proposal ever:
- discretely get her to create an easy updo or pull her hair back into a ponytail or bun, so we capture her reaction when she bends over to accept the engagement ring;
- text/WhatsApp your local private photographer, videographer, musicians, Paris proposal planner, and any other key vendors when you leave your hotel (ideally with a selfie photo of you both so everyone instantly recognizes you from a distance), and then again a few minutes before you arrive at the designated proposal spot;
- remove your phone, wallet, and any other bulky items from your pant pockets;
- never arrive at the proposal spot or get down on your knee before the agreed-upon time;
- ensure that your photographer is present—make brief eye-contact and give your artist a signal that you’re about to propose;
- unbutton your jacket to avoid lapel bulging when you lift your arms to present the ring box;
- position yourself parallel to your desired backdrop and your Paris photographer;
- check your surroundings for distracting people and objects (e.g., trashcans, your backpack, cars, etc.) before you kneel;
- touch the tip of your rear (left) foot to the ground;
- maintain harmonious spacing between the heel of your front (right) foot and the knee of your rear (left) leg;
- present the open ring box (facing her) with two hands as you would with anything precious;
- maintain eye contact as you make her feel like the most desirable woman in the world;
- don’t stand up before she comes to you to accept the ring (at a minimum, you need to stay on your knee for 10 seconds, which may feel like an eternity);
- It is acceptable to put the ring on her finger while you’re still kneeling or after you get up. However, leave the ring box on the ground, so you have both hands free to slide the ring on her finger;
- slide the ring up to her knuckle while maintaining effortless eye-contact; briefly pause before you move the ring to the base of her finger;
- don’t turn to your photographer right after she says “Yes;” instead, enjoy your first moments as fiancés—kiss, dance, and celebrate.
Zezhou Fang & Lishuo Liu
Luxury Marriage Proposal Pictures in Paris
Lishuo was sooooo impressed that she cried when she saw our proposal pictures! She was really touched and said that the photos were so beautiful because of the way you guided us. We’d be delighted to have you join us for our wedding in China.
On which finger do you put the diamond engagement ring?
In most Anglo-Saxon cultures, the engagement ring goes on the ring finger (the fourth finger) of her left hand.
What to say when you propose in Paris (the marriage proposal speech)
Note that your short marriage proposal speech is different and separate from the “Will You Marry Me?” question.
- your marriage proposal speech takes place before you drop to your knee; whereas
- “Will You Marry Me” is what you ask your partner after you’re down on your knee with the open ring box facing her;
- it’s ok to modify the 4-word question a touch, along the lines of “Do you want to be with me forever?” or “I love you so much—marry me and make me the happiest person in the world.”
She’ll typically be trembling all over and be so excited that things will feel like one big blur to her.
Yet, a short marriage proposal speech powerfully sets the tone for what’s about to happen: it draws a line between how far you’ve come as a couple and where you’re headed on your new life journey together.
What if you are nervous before your surprise proposal?
Sure, you’ll likely be a nervous wreck in the minutes and hours leading up to your proposal, and that’s precisely how it’s supposed to be.
There would be something wrong if you did not have butterflies in the moments leading up to such a life-changing experience.
Below is an actual screenshot that documents a gentleman’s communication with me in the hour leading up to his Paris proposal.
Unless you’re a polished speaker, I’d recommend putting pen to paper and jotting down your draft marriage proposal speech well in advance of the envisaged proposal date.
Then, over time, pull out your notes to rehearse and refine. Preparation begets confidence.
You know your partner best, so as long as you sound like yourself and believably connect the dots between where you’ve come from and where you’re headed together, then you’ll do just amazing.
With that said, here are a few questions to help you develop a kickass marriage proposal speech:
- How does your partner complete you?
- What about her inspires you to be a better version of yourself?
- When did you realize that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her?
- Tell her what you love most about her.
For more inspiration on what to say when you pop the question, check out this excellent post by Martha Stewart Weddings.
Why propose in Paris?
Look, proposing in Paris may sound a tad cliché.
Then again, Paris is undeniably the most romantic city in the universe.
So whether you’re
- strolling along the Alexander III Bridge at night with the Eiffel Tower sparkling at a distance;
- stealing naughty kisses on the stairs below Sacré Coeur, while being serenaded by a local street musician;
- making a wish as you toss the key to your love lock into the Seine River, or
- whispering sweet nothings into your sweetheart’s ear over a dreamy picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens
… Paris is the ultimate setting to move her relationship status from girlfriend to fiancée.
Another obvious, but an important reason is that your girlfriend secretly wants to get engaged in Paris.
Don’t overthink this one—it’s her day and all about her, right? Plus, there’s a certain cachet that comes from saying, “We got engaged in Paris.”
One huge advantage I see to doing a destination proposal in Paris is that it requires you to disconnect from work, pause everyday routines, and escape a familiar environment.
As a result, you should expect fewer distractions and, notably, an enhanced appreciation of the life-changing journey you both are about to embark on.
You’ll get to stroll the lively cobblestone streets of Le Marais, stumble upon fellow-lovers stealing not-so-innocent kisses in secret alleys, and say “I love you” in front of The Wall of Love (Le mur des je t’aime) …
… and toast with a well-deserved Dom Pérignon Champagne during a romantic Seine River private boat ride.
Get her dad’s permission before you propose
Before you can kick your marriage proposal planning into high gear, you need to secure her dad’s blessing.
Asking your future father-in-law for your girlfriend’s hand in marriage is not old-fashioned.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
When it comes to chivalry, there is no modern-day twist: getting her parents’ permission is the ultimate gesture of respect to her, to her family, and to the tradition of marriage itself.
I was touched when one of my clients recently sent an email informing me that he traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet his partner’s dad in-person:
If ever, it’s just not possible or desirable to ask her dad, then reach out to her mom or sibling.
It’s the thought that counts.
With that said, schedule your in-person visit with her dad’s availability in mind.
Pick a date when you know that your partner is occupied or out of town as not to give away the surprise.
I’d recommend showing up with a gift and a heartfelt message of why his daughter means the world to you.
Hey, if you already have her diamond engagement ring, consider bringing it along to reinforce your commitment.
Invest in the perfect diamond engagement ring.
Now that you’re ready to go engagement ring shopping, it’s essential that you first educate yourself a little—notably on the 4Cs of Diamonds (and, in case you are wondering, yes, the 4 C’s still matter and always will!).
I have broken down everything you need to know in simple language here.
As you’ll find out below in this must-watch 1-minute video tutorial courtesy of Blue Nile,
- the cut affects a diamond’s brilliance (i.e., sparkle) and is the single most important characteristic, closely followed by
- its color grade (the less color, the better);
- clarity (fewer imperfections = more desirable); and
- carat, or the weight of the stone.
Here are a few additional tips to help you save time and get the right ring:
- Don’t take the two-months-salary rule as gospel. Quite the opposite: whether you spend a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands on her diamond ring, it will have little impact on the quality of your marriage;
- do your research before you go ring shopping;
- Choose an engagement ring style that speaks to her personality—after all, she’ll be the one wearing it. Be receptive when she drops subtle hints about her preferred diamond shape, the metal of the band, vintage vs. modern, bold or understated, white diamond vs. natural fancy colored;
- ideally, visit a handful of local jewelry retailers to get a sense of the quality of the stone that falls within your budget; experienced and non-commissioned diamond and jewelry experts will be able to elaborate on the 4Cs and answer your questions in layman’s terms;
- Want to save a little on her diamond engagement ring? Then consider buying it online. We’re big fans of James Allen and Blue Nile—both of which offer spectacular return and exchange policies, free insured shipping, and complimentary engagement ring resizing;
- If your proposal intentions are an open secret, then it’s acceptable to go ring shopping together. The benefit? Well, she’ll get the exact ring she wants. You’ll save time and know that the ring fits—which equates to less anxiety. And when you’re ok discussing the ring with your partner as part of the marriage conversation, then you might want to see how Ramit Sethi got the perfect ring for his girlfriend, Cass;
- Speaking of figuring out your girlfriend’s ring size … if she already sports a ring on her right ring finger, simply use it to estimate her size (trace the inside of the ring on a paper after she takes it off). Alternatively—if you need to take a wild guess—the most common engagement ring size for women is 6 (16.5mm) and for men is 10 (19.8mm);
- make certain her engagement ring is ready and in your hands long before you head to Paris to propose (it can easily take jewelers 4-6 weeks … so do not procrastinate);
- We recommend that you protect her ring against loss, damage, theft, and other disappearance with comprehensive jewelry insurance—notably when you’re planning a destination proposal where travel is involved. For an extra level of peace of mind, consider laser-inscribing the ring with its GIA report number;
- finally, you may want to quickly scan these helpful travel tips on how to keep her ring unnoticed and safe as you pass through airport security and share a hotel room.
How do I keep the diamond engagement ring box a secret on the day of the proposal if it comes with a bulky original ring box?
One brilliant solution to keeping her ring discrete on the day of your marriage proposal is to invest in a flat/slim diamond engagement ring box with a rotating ring holder.
Here are our TOP 4 choices (the boxes will fit a diamond ring with a maximum diameter of approximately 9.5mm or roughly 3ct round solitaire), which you can conveniently order on Amazon:
Where to propose in Paris—the best places
I’m going to come right out at you and paint the big picture: your partner’s Paris proposal experience and, by extension, the way she’ll remember it will be shaped by two related factors:
- how does the actual surprise proposal meet her expectations; and
- your ability to create a fabulous setting and ambiance that powerfully awakens her five senses.
Fortunately, you control both factors. So, it should be easy to move the needle in your favor as long as you appreciate the influence location choice has on the marriage proposal.
Paris is the romantic marriage proposal capital of the world. The Eiffel Tower stands out as the most instantly recognizable and iconic place to pop the question.
The best places Paris engagement photos
And while there’s no tried and true formula for selecting the best place to propose in Paris, it is helpful to first filter potential location options along the following two dimensions:
- Eiffel Tower view vs. non-Eiffel Tower view; and
- private spaces (i.e., for rent) vs. publicly accessible spots.
Next, it’s time to narrow further down your options based on location-specific characteristics, such as whether a place is naturally
As you’ll note in this fabulous video, it is entirely possible to come up with a locale for your Paris proposal that is at once super-iconic and not crowded.
What’s the most popular place for marriage proposals in Paris?
The most popular spot for an Eiffel Tower Proposal is ironically not in the Eiffel Tower, but at Trocadéro (Palais de Chaillot).
If you’re after the most awe-inspiring views of the Eiffel Tower, you need to head to Trocadéro (Palais de Chaillot), where our two favored spots are located immediately below two hip restaurants, Café de l’Homme and Girafe Paris.
As you see in the maps below, Trocadéro is astonishingly symmetrical with two brilliant, publicly accessible, Eiffel Tower proposal spots (marked as 1A and 1B). I prefer Spot 1A over Spot 1B for two reasons:
- When you photograph from perspective 1B, the 210-meter-high Montparnasse Tower (often referred to as the “World’s Ugliest Building”) looms and distracts behind the Eiffel Tower at a distance. The good news is that it can often be removed in post-production;
- Soothing morning sunlight hits Spot 1A well-before it hits Spot 1B making for more flattering photos and potentially an earlier starting time.
Place du Trocadéro (Trocadero Paris proposal)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’42.1″N 2°17’17.2″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise
Suitable for Rain: yes
Take a moment now to check out this dazzling Eiffel Tower proposal, where Kevin asked Jane to marry him at sunrise on Spot 1A.
P.s. You’ll see Kevin’s adorable marriage proposal concept, including classical musicians, a make-believe art exhibition, a heartwarming love note, and a $500K Rolls-Royce PHANTOM with chauffeur).
Sunrise. Since Trocadéro is the busiest spot in all of Paris, you and your secret Paris proposal photographer need to arrive at or before official sunrise to beat the crowds and take advantage of the most beautiful light.
Mid-morning, afternoon, and evening Trocadero Paris proposals tend to be extraordinarily difficult and even stressful considering the substantial crowds, the potential for theft, and tricky lighting conditions.
What are the advantages of doing your Eiffel Tower proposal at Trocadero?
- Possibly the most iconic view of the Eiffel Tower (again keep in mind that if you want the Eiffel Tower as your proposal backdrop, you cannot propose in the Eiffel Tower). Here are ten additional amazing views of the Eiffel Tower;
- Trocadéro’s symmetrical, expansive, and elevated vantage point is spectacular;
- unlike some of the private (for rent) rooftops with Eiffel Tower view, Trocadéro is entirely free of charge.
What are the challenges of doing an Eiffel Tower proposal at Trocadero?
- little control over the environment, which means there’s a real potential for distractions by other couples, photographers, tourists, performers, thieves, commercial entertainment, and public workers (cleaning staff and security);
- Eiffel Tower views are obstructed at least twice a year by hideous cranes and construction during Paris Fashion Week;
- low on the privacy and romance scale;
- a touch cliché and, by design, not super original;
- it can be dirty.
The Louvre Museum is among the most unusual places to propose in Paris
So when it comes to unexpected locations to pop the question, anything other than the Eiffel Tower could rightfully be considered unusual.
The Louvre Museum is usually so crowded that a romantic or intimate proposal may not be feasible.
With that said, a Louvre proposal at sunrise is at once stunningly beautiful and typically devoid of distracting tourists and other couples.
Louvre Museum (The Louvre Proposal)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’38.8″N 2°20’12.6″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise
Suitable for Rain: not great
What's the best time for a Louvre proposal?
As long as you and your paparazzi photographer can coordinate the exact location and time for your Louvre marriage proposal—and the museum is open to the public for Paris Fashion Week or another special event—there are no drawbacks. It’s a fantastic location.
What’s the most romantic place to get engaged in Paris?
The most romantic location to propose in Paris is ... drumroll ... The Secret Table rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel
This has been a tough decision to make—notably because Paris offers an abundance of ridiculously romantic spots.
Plus, I had really wanted to go with a place other than one with an Eiffel Tower view.
Yet, The Secret Table is just unique and custom-made for lovers. Its stunning private terrace offers jaw-dropping views of la grande dame.
And clearly, there’s cachet in being able to say “he proposed to me at the Peninsula in Paris” … accompanied by an exquisite candlelit dinner with Champagne and a dedicated butler.
But what makes the Peninsula one of the best places to propose in Paris is that you have full control over its ambiance.
And, unlike many other exclusive Parisian rooftops and terraces, the layout of The Secret Table is remarkably spacious and easily accessible without giving away the surprise.
Proposing at the Peninsula Paris Hotel means:
- Your five senses are pampered from the moment your car pulls up to the Peninsula, and you enter the elegant hotel with your loved one, where an attentive valet will greet you and your loved one. Dim lighting, soothing spa scent, and unpretentious luxury add up to the ultimate sense of privacy, and
- it’s reassuring to know things always run smoothly at the Peninsula. No last-second surprises (as may be the case with a residential rooftop or terrace). Just well-oiled, proven processes that translate into a pleasing peace of mind;
Note: we highly recommend you enlist a world-class Paris proposal planner since there are a few critical logistics details that will be difficult for you to pull-off from abroad or even by engaging the catering staff of the hotel.
Sunset and the Blue Hour (Evening Civil Twilight).
Here’s excellent news: The Secret Table works well pretty much any time of the day and evening.
Keep in mind, however, that once it gets dark, your photographer will need to use artificial light sources.
Continuous light (even in combination with flash) works well but requires the help of an associate, whereas flash (in isolation of continuous light) rarely looks good since it tends to be harsh and has the potential to distract.
There’s something undeniably romantic about proposing in La Ville-Lumière (City of Lights) during the Blue Hour and subsequently transitioning into your first romantic dinner as fiancés.
What are the advantages of using The Secret Table for your marriage proposal?
Since you’ll have essentially privatized the terrace, you should expect the following benefits:
- unparalleled privacy: this location is perfect when you seek a public boundary of sorts to comfortably express yourself, show vulnerability, and be intimate with your partner;
- Substantial sound control: no cars, curious bystanders, or other noise translates into fewer distractions. Plus, you can typically have the Peninsula play her favorite songs or hire classical musicians to do so;
- Easy access: hey, it can’t get any easier than asking your driver to pull up to the Peninsula Hotel, and making your way up to the terrace. The ambiance is fantastic, and the helpful, friendly staff will guide you right to the rooftop terrace;
- Michelin star-quality culinary experience, including personal butler/sommelier, is already included in your fee when you privatize The Secret Table. Propose, toast, eat, and dance the night away … all in one dazzling setting with Eiffel Tower view;
- Bring your marriage proposal vision to life: you, your floral designer, and Paris proposal planner are mostly free to transform the setting as you see fit. Candles? Check. Champagne? The more, the merrier. Band & ensembles? It’s her special day, right?
Well, there are not many, except
- such an extraordinary rooftop location with Eiffel Tower views comes at a cost and will add to your overall proposal budget;
- private dining on the rooftop is only available from approximately April 1 through September 30 and books out fast (but typically you can still use the terrace for the actual proposal year around);
- In case of inclement weather, your dinner will be served in L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant, which is one of the best restaurants in Paris to propose. Yet, it’s not as romantic as the hotel’s private terrace. Keep in mind that you may still get to make your Parisian rooftop proposal despite the rain depending on your relationship with the Peninsula;
- For safety reasons, the hotel is pretty strict about enforcing a maximum number of people who can be on the Secret Table rooftop at the same time. And that number is 3, which may temporarily be expanded to 5 for set-up purposes or to record your live engagement proposal. But note that you, the couple, the butler, a musician, and the Paris photographer and videographer already add up to six, so make sure to ask your proposal planner for feasibility before investing in a substantial vendor team.
Where's a spectacular alternative for a romantic rooftop proposal in Paris?
Shangri-La Hotel, Paris The Shangri-La Hotel is an excellent (for rent) alternative to Peninsula’s Secret Table and is considered by many to be the best place to get engaged in Paris; here are a few crucial differences:
- You typically first rent a hotel room, such as the legendary 750 square foot Duplex Terrace Eiffel View Suite, from where you’ll enjoy unrivaled views of la grande dame … literally from the comfort of your bed;
- the Shangri-La Hotel offers the most intimate Eiffel Tower views among all Palace Hotels in Paris (as an FYI, the Palace designation is a level above the five-star rating);
- Unless you propose on La Terrasse Krug, you’ll be using your hotel suite’s exclusive terrace and, accordingly, the logistics of embellishing your setting and secretly escorting your partner to the proposal spot are different. Typically, you’ll first check-in to your hotel, drop off your bags, and head out to explore the City of Lights. And while you both are out, your Paris proposal planner, florist, photographer, and videographer will enter your suite to prepare a fairytale proposal setting for you.
Where’s the prettiest River Seine proposal spot?
I find the Seine River particularly romantic and quintessentially Parisian.
Hey, there’s a reason the Seine is affectionately referred to as “the most beautiful avenue in the world,” and been the subject of countless poems, films, and ballads.
The river meanders through the City of Love, with its famed bridges and quays, and extends past Notre-Dame to the East and the Eiffel Tower to the West.
With that said, not all River Seine proposal spots are created equal, so it’s again helpful to filter locations along several dimensions:
- Eiffel Tower view vs. non-Eiffel Tower view;
- exclusive (i.e., for rent) vs. publicly accessible (free);
- down by the Seine River Bank;
- on a bridge/passerelle that crosses the river;
- on a boat on the water.
Propose during a private dinner cruise on the most beautiful yacht of the Seine
When you privatize a luxury boat, your loved one is literally in for a ride: she’ll get to experience the historical monuments of Paris—the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Alexander III Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, and much more—in the most exclusive, quiet, and unexpected way imaginable.
You should expect the following benefits:
- Complete timeline flexibility: there’s no need to get up before sunrise to beat crowds since there won’t be any!
- Unequaled privacy: hey, it’s just you, your partner, and a happy ship crew (plus, some boats are large enough to discretely bring a paparazzi proposal photographer and videographer). So you’re effectively investing in the ideal space to set public boundaries;
- She won’t expect anything: most of us struggle a little to preserve the surprise element while still getting her to prep (beauty services) and dress for the occasion. All you need to say is that you’re taking her on a mind-blowing boat ride, followed by an elegant dinner in Paris;
- The ultimate unique Paris proposal idea: we’re asked all the time for unique marriage proposal ideas for her. And it makes sense since you only get one shot at pulling off the most beautiful proposal. Now, what could be more unique than asking your soulmate to marry you as you sail through the City of Love?
Kevin + Jane
Eiffel Tower Surprise Proposal
Cengiz, a world-class wedding photographer, and Chantelle, the Paris proposal planner extraordinaire (from Kiss Me in Paris), are a true power couple.
I planned my Paris proposal all the way from Malaysia … and despite the time difference, we were able to put together an epic proposal concept with the most elegant engagement photos.
They took all the heavy-lifting off of my plate and made sure I’d confidently arrive in the City of Love in peace of mind and with a singular focus of making Jane my fiancée.
Cengiz is a master of his craft and deserves special recognition as the best Paris photographer for hire. He exudes confidence and humility and friendliness—I now know why everyone wants Cengiz as their point-man.
The proposal pictures came out amazing!!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Kevin + Jane
- Some boats are too small for your photographer to join, which means the photographer will need to capture the proposal moment from the Seine Riverbank. In turn, it requires insane coordination between you, the captain of the boat, and your photographer. Importantly, it may well result in bad engagement photos;
- it will inflate your proposal budget a little—notably since it’s almost obligatory to hire an experienced Paris proposal planner to embellish the boat and sneak your secret Paris proposal photographer aboard.
How do you pull off a fabulous surprise proposal on a Parisian riverboat?
Let me be clear: amazing secret boat proposals require the utmost precision in timing and communication. Here’s what’s involved:
- You both will board the boat at a designated time and place. But since your partner can not yet know of your intentions, the actual proposal setting must initially remain inconspicuous (undecorated);
- then, while you’re enjoying a romantic lunch/dinner together in the interior of the boat, the boat will dock for a few minutes;
- it is when your vendors (photographer, videographer, musician, and florist) discretely hop on the ship;
- after the boat undocks, your florist needs to quickly and quietly create a fabulous proposal setting;
- finally, the captain will stop the vessel at a specified place (99% of the time it would be in front of the Eiffel Tower), which is when you bring your loved one out on deck to pop the question.
The most beautiful bridges of Paris (across the Seine River) for marriage proposals:
When it comes to pretty bridges in Paris, you are indeed in for a treat: Paris offers a mind-blowing variety of breathtakingly beautiful bridges.
As you might imagine by now, it makes sense to categorize Seine River bridges along the following two lines:
- Bridges with Eiffel Tower view vs. bridges without Eiffel Tower view; and
- Pedestrian-only bridges (a.k.a. Passerelle) vs. bridges where pedestrians share the deck with cars.
Where is the best location to propose in Paris when it rains?
Pont de Bir-Hakeim: one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable bridges in Paris is the 2-level Bir-Hakeim Bridge.
The lower level is used by pedestrians + bikers + cars while the upper level is reserved for the Line 6 Métro.
Importantly, Bir-Hakeim offers a prominent view of the Eiffel Tower and presents the most popular alternative to Trocadéro.
As you see in the map below, the Bir-Hakeim Bridge offers two distinct Eiffel Tower proposal settings (marked as Spot #1 and Spot #2).
While proposal Spot #1 tends to be a tad more popular, I’m relatively indifferent between the two choices. Both work reasonably well.
It’s essential, however, that you make eye-contact with your secret Paris proposal photographer and take the time to monitor your surroundings for distractions before you drop down to your knee.
Bir-Hakeim Bridge (with Eiffel Tower views)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’33.5″N 2°17’24.7″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise, daytime, and evening
Suitable for Rain: yes
What are the advantages of proposing on the Bir-Hakeim Bridge?
- one of the most iconic (and prominent) views of the Eiffel Tower;
- works well any time of the day and evening (thanks to its many hanging lamps);
- Reasonably rain-proof since it is covered from above. In other words, it’s quite possibly the best publicly accessible rain alternative for Eiffel Tower proposals;
- with a little planning, it is possible to grab a space in between two pillars with unobstructed views even during busy hours (i.e., when other photographers and couples are shooting side-by-side with you);
- easy for your Paris photographer/videographer to remain secret (i.e., paparazzi);
- photographs brilliantly from multiple-perspectives—so it’s ideal for couples who prefer to emphasize the bridge’s unique architecture instead of La Grande Dame as their backdrop or are just looking for a great photo location after she says “Yes;”
- you can even propose on a mini-island located in the middle of the bridge right next to the monument, La France Renaissante Statue.
- like most Eiffel Tower proposal spots freely accessible to the public, the Bir-Hakeim Bridge is not necessarily romantic;
- there’s a slight risk that pedestrians or cars can obstruct the view just when you kneel to propose;
- it is not private since your designated proposal spot is directly under the bridge, where you’re effectively sharing space with a mix of cars, pedestrians, bikers, and other photographers/couples.
Alexander III Bridge. With the historic Grand Palais as its backdrop, Pont Alexandre III is broadly considered the most ornate and luxurious bridge in Paris.
Alexander III is super popular for Paris photoshoots and, consequently, a total crowd magnet during much of the day and night.
Alexander III offers a more nuanced view of the Eiffel Tower than, say, Bir-Hakeim or Trocadéro.
In turn, the focus shifts to you, the couple, and your marriage proposal with the Eiffel Tower intriguingly twinkling at a distance as your instantly recognizable backdrop.
Alexander III Bridge Proposal (with subtle Eiffel Tower views)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’49.1″N 2°18’47.8″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise, midnight
Suitable for rain: no
- decidedly more elegant and extravagant than other Parisian bridges (Bir-Hakeim, Passerelle Debilly, …);
- relatively crowd-free at sunrise;
- easy for your Paris proposal photographer to remain discrete;
- photographs well from multiple perspectives;
- it is accessible and completely free to propose on the Alexander III Bridge.
- as with most well known publicly accessible locations, there is a real potential for bystanders to distract and obstruct your Paris proposal—notably during the day and evening;
- Alexander III is low on the romance scale;
- the Eiffel Tower view might be too subtle for some couples.
Propose in privacy down by the banks of the Seine River.
The third broad type of River Seine proposal involves proposing directly along the banks of the river.
You decide between an Eiffel Tower view and a non-Eiffel Tower view.
As you might imagine, the closer you move along the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower, the more likely you are to bump into people eventually.
Now, check out the video below of the most popular River Seine proposal spot with the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop.
As you can see from the map below, you need first to make your way down the stairs.
Then turn right and follow the path until you see your Paris proposal photographer.
Please consider that when you drop down to your knee right by the water, you, the couple, must position yourselves parallel to the Eiffel Tower and your photographer as opposed to the water (which is tempting).
Seine River Proposal (with Eiffel Tower views)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’33.5″N 2°17’24.7″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise and daytime
Suitable for rain: no
- beautiful, iconic and impactful;
- the closest Eiffel Tower proposal spot where you can still capture awe-inspiring proposal pictures with the entire Eiffel Tower in a vertical format;
- The Seine Riverbank works well in the morning, daytime, and evening in terms of crowds or lack thereof. Since you’re essentially proposing at the edge of the water, the odds of distracting bystanders walking into your marriage proposal setting are substantially lower versus, say, at Trocadéro or the Bir-Hakeim Bridge.
- On a bright late afternoon and evening, it’s rather tricky to capture the surprise proposal since the wall behind you will cast a shadow that renders you underexposed relative to the Eiffel Tower. The best Paris photographers will likely resort to flash to compensate for the challenging light;
- Your approach to the proposal spot is neither romantic nor simple since you, the couple, need to first make your way down a flight of stairs toward the Seine River. You’ll then briefly pass by a bridge that doesn’t smell good due to homeless people. Finally, the cobblestone path is not necessarily designed with your girlfriend’s high heels in mind;
- the Seine River proposal spot is slightly less iconic than Trocadéro;
- Typically your artist will need to shoot your proposal pictures with a wide-angle lens since there’s not enough space to step back with a zoom. A wide-angle of view implies that both the relative size of you and distance are exaggerated. So you and your partner might appear relatively large while the Eiffel Tower may feel a touch smaller and more distant.
Sunrise and mid-morning morning are divine.
As suggested above, late afternoons and evenings—notably when it is sunny outside—can result in tricky light for you and your photographer.
Which Paris proposal spot best balances beauty, privacy, and romance?
You can broadly think of the best spots to propose in Paris in terms of Eiffel Tower views and non-Eiffel Tower views.
One of my favorite non-Eiffel Tower proposal backdrops is hands-down the Tuileries Gardens esplanade (a.k.a. Terrasse du Bord de l’Eau) with its magnificent trees framing the facade of the Louvre Museum.
This particular location is at once majestically gorgeous, relatively private, iconic, and romantic.
In fact, besides a view of the Eiffel Tower, it checks pretty much all the classic boxes for a fairytale wedding proposal.
Unless it’s a super-bright day with definite highlights and shadows as in the proposal photo immediately below (in which case you’d propose in a patch of light as opposed to in the shadow), make sure to stay in the center of the esplanade for perfect symmetry.
As you see in the map below, the approach to your proposal spot is straight-forward. You’ll
- enter the Tuileries Gardens from the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor bridge;
- immediately turn right and walk up the stairs;
- follow along the path (about 150 feet) until you reach the tallest tree on the esplanade.
Critically, in case you arrive a tad early (which you should avoid), it’s perfectly acceptable and encouraged to stall for time as you enjoy awe-inspiring Seine River views from the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (bridge).
It’s the only bridge in Paris from where you can see the tip of the Eiffel Tower, the Alexander III Bridge, Musée d’Orsay, Grand Palais, the Louvre Museum, and the twin towers of Notre Dame.
Tuileries Gardens Proposal (1 Terrasse du Bord de l’Eau)
Latitude & Longitude: 48°51’44.3″N 2°19’35.7″E
Best time for a Paris proposal: sunrise, daytime, evening before sunset
Suitable for rain: not ideal, but doable
- the Tuileries Gardens is one of the most divinely beautiful settings to propose in Paris;
- the environment is incredibly private considering that it’s located in the heart of the City;
- effortless and free access for you (the couple);
- it’s easy to spot your Paris photographer (she’ll typically be seated on the first bench on the left after you walk up the stairs);
- a Paris proposal planner can embellish the setting for you with a Champagne table, macarons, heavenly musicians, florals, and other creative ideas for a proposal;
- convenient location to have elegant engagement photos taken immediately after your partner says “Yes” (hey, the Louvre is within 5 minutes walking distance).
What are the challenges of proposing in the Tuileries Gardens?
- the terrain of the esplanade is not necessarily easy on your girlfriend’s Louboutin shoes;
- depending on the time of the day of your Paris proposal, the esplanade’s trees can make for tricky shadows and highlights;
- From the last Sunday in September to the last Saturday of March, the opening hours are 7.30 AM-7.30 PM and visitors are asked to leave the gardens 30 minutes before closing time. Click here for the year-round opening hours of the Tuileries Gardens.
The royal marriage proposal fit for a queen
Let’s start with two critical assumptions:
- you’re ok to forgo an Eiffel Tower proposal;
- you have a substantial marriage proposal budget.
Every so often, we’re asked for an unexpected place to propose around Paris—one that’s exclusive, awe-inspiring, and luxurious but not cliché.
Yet, when you’re after the ultimate in WOW Factor—a majestic setting that embodies the French aesthetic and charm—then there’s nothing quite as impressive as a stately French château with expansive grounds and gardens.
While Château de Versailles is arguably one of the most stunning palaces in the world, its available spaces are pricey and typically used for significant corporate events, prestigious balls, and gala dinners.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, one of the foremost baroque French châteaux, is located approximately 65 km (40 miles) outside of Paris (and also 65km/40miles away from Charles de Gaulle Airport).
Address: Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte 77950 Maincy
While it’s relatively convenient to take a combination of trains from Paris to the Château when you’re a tourist, the train is not an option when it comes to luxury surprise proposals.
Instead, you’ll typically ask your Paris proposal planner to hire a luxury limo with a chauffeur. My favorite options include
- Bentley Mulsanne;
- Maybach S600;
- Rolls-Royce PHANTOM.
Alternatively, for those gentlemen amongst us with a more generous marriage proposal budget, I’d recommend a fabulous grand entrance (possibly with red carpet and Champagne welcome) with the SQUIRREL AS 355 N Twin Turbine helicopter departing at Paris Heliport.
The rate for the helicopter is approximately Euro 4,000, and it’s up to you and your proposal planner to negotiate.
- one of the most spellbindingly beautiful places in France;
- the zen-like atmosphere is perfect for a stress-free, elegant, and private Paris proposal;
- it’s simple to get your partner to dress for the occasion (without spilling the beans) when you mention a fancy dinner at Vaux-le-Vicomte;
- when you time your visit to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte on a Saturday (from 7:00 PM through midnight) between early May and early October, you’ll be treated to dazzling 2,000 flickering candles and fireworks as part of your Chateau visit.
- the Château is located approximately 1 hour outside of Paris with no Château rooms or nearby quality hotels for rent;
- if you’re after an Eiffel Tower proposal view, you’re out of luck;
- unless you can secure a table at Les Charmilles, which sells out fast for the entire season, your only alternative is to book private fine dining within the main château, which is pricey (but infinitely amazing!).
Château de Villette was built in the 17thy century and is widely considered one of the most important historical château in France. Villette has hosted countless celebrities, events, and movie sets.
It’s located approximately 40 km (25 miles) outside of Paris (and 60km/37miles away from Charles de Gaulle Airport).
Address: Château de Villette One, Rue de la Maison Blanche, 95450 Condécourt
You have two options to get to the Château—private limousine or helicopter.
- the interior of the Château, including its ridiculously sumptuous rooms, is among the most breathtaking of any historical estate in France and simply the perfect setting for a fairytale marriage proposal;
- unlike at Vaux-le-Vicomte, you have the option to sleep at the Château de Villette where the rooms are palace-level quality;
- it’s straightforward to get your partner to dress sharp since you’re taking her to an unforgettable château dinner after all;
- unparalleled privacy since Château de Villette is closed to the general public.
The Celebrity Proposal. If you think she's worth it, she is!
Privatize an awe-inspiring château setting with a red carpet welcome.
Ultimate culinary experience—mouth-watering Michelin-starred food & drink served on exquisite dinnerware.
Legendary personal butler service.
Dazzling palace-level luxury suite with state-of-the-art everything.
Spectacular fireworks show.
Everything a secret Paris proposal photographer should be (and more)
At this point, it should be abundantly clear that you need to invest in a caring and experienced photographer in Paris to capture your surprise proposal to cherish forever.
So how do I know when I’ve found the right Paris proposal photographer for me?
Here’s the simple answer: the perfect photographer to capture your surprise proposal should be experienced & reliable.
Yes, the experience factor is the one non-negotiable when it comes to documenting once in a lifetime moments candidly (so-called Paparazzi Proposals).
There are no do-overs.
Men (and ladies) can get nervous and sometimes forget to take their time, signal their photographer, and kneel in the designated spot.
Or perhaps an innocent bystander, car, or other unanticipated element obstructs the photographer’s view just at the moment.
Well, we’ve seen it many times, and that’s where a nimble, discrete, and secret Paris photographer will anticipate and adjust.
To be clear, it’s not enough to hire a talented local French wedding photographer with a pretty portfolio of Paris engagement-style photos.
And your artist needs to be super-reliable: hey, we’ve heard of unforgivable horror stories where photographers show up late or don’t even show up at all for the surprise proposal.
Dhar & Laura
The Most Beautiful Proposal at the Shangri-La Hotel Paris
You’re so on top of things … it’s amazing! I was listening to the audio in the video footage that the filmmaker recorded while I was out picking Laura up … and thank God you were there to direct everyone!
OMG, you saved our proposal—I can’t believe they were going to bring the overhang down. Seriously, what would we have done without you!
What's the buzz on potential Paris Proposal photographers?
Ask a handful of local couple photographers whose work powerfully speaks to you to describe their experience and approach to proposal photography.
Speaking of testimonials … any photographer worth hiring for such a game-changing event should have loads of passionate 5-Star ratings readily available across online consumer review platforms such as Google, Yelp, WeddingWire, Facebook, and TrustPilot.
Strong Communicator & well-organized. This quality may strike you as a bit unusual.
But with so many moving parts, it’s paramount that your English-speaking Paris photographer can clearly define the exact proposal location (ideally on a map, including GPS coordinates), time of the proposal, positioning, a signal, and more.
The way I see it, there are at least two elements to excellent communication with your photographer:
- Before you arrive in Paris: you should agree on a clear-cut concept. Most communication typically takes place via email, Skype, and WhatsApp months and weeks before your proposal date;
- On the day of your Paris proposal: expect the unexpected in a cosmopolitan city such as Paris. It can rain, a bridge can be blocked off for dignitaries or protests, there can be unusually heavy traffic, Paris Fashion Week, and a zillion other elements that may affect your original gameplan. Here’s where an experienced local photographer will prove calm under pressure and quickly propose an alternative plan to you (typically via WhatsApp/text, so your partner does not become suspicious).
Inspirational & resourceful. As you know, it’s not enough to go ring-shopping and drop to your knee to pop the 4-word question.
Sure, you’re already ahead of the curve just for cleverly deciding to propose in the City of Love.
However, your partner likely expects and deserves more. Enter your resourceful Paris photographer with the insiders scoop on:
- The best places to propose, including the most charming, romantic, and even little-known spots and, importantly, at what time of the day and night they work;
- swoon-worthy ideas for a proposal that will make her parents proud and friends jealous;
- seriously talented and reliable vendors, including the best planners, videographers, beauty artists, musicians, chauffeurs, florists, and more;
- experience-enhancing tips & tricks to ensure that the surprise proposal is indeed that extraordinary and life-changing moment and results in dazzling proposal pictures.
What services should be included in my Paris proposal package?
So the term Paris Proposal Package means different things to different folks.
For instance, it can refer to a service offering unique to, say, photography, videography, beauty.
Or, it might refer to a more comprehensive collection offered by a marriage proposal planner who’ll negotiate with local vendors on your behalf.
That said, and before we talk about Paris photography packages specifically, let me remind you that when it comes to hiring an engagement photographer and getting fantastic proposal pictures, you need to invest in the best studio you can afford as part of your total budget, which may include:
- her diamond engagement ring;
- flights to Paris + hotel;
- fancy dinner after she says “yes;”
- flowers, candles, and other props;
- proposal planner;
- embellishing your hotel suite;
- limousine with chauffeur;
- another gift (hey, a pair of glamorous Louboutins is never a bad idea when you’re in Paris);
- Champagne (table) with quintessential Parisian treats;
What services and products should I include in my Paris proposal package?
The specific contents of your Paris proposal package depend on the studio you hire and the collection you invest in, but at a minimum, it should include:
- the professional capture of your live Paris proposal (typically 30-60 minutes);
- a quick turnaround of your proposal pictures—ideally within 24 hours and in high-resolution and print-ready via a digital download link that you can conveniently access them from the road;
- an ironclad preparation, so both you and your photographer know precisely when, where, and how things will go down.
So what else should be included in a typical photography proposal package?
The most common request we get is for additional hours of photography coverage. And it makes perfect sense since you’ll have already
- booked a photographer whom you like and trust;
- you and your partner will be on a unique emotional high with beautiful natural radiance, energy, and happiness that works amazingly in engagement photos;
- you’ll likely need engagement photos down the line anyway—be it for your wedding website, at your wedding reception, or just because you want to decorate a new home—so you might as well take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have your photos captured in the City of Lights;
- She’ll know you went the extra mile and delight in your forethought, notably when you book a “next-day” mini photoshoot, and she has more time to select her favorite outfits and have her professional beauty services done.
While you may want to wait to see how your proposal pictures turn out, it’s never a bad idea to inquire about albums and other printing solutions.
Especially when adding products at the time of booking ends up saving you money versus the list price (after the shoot).
How much does it cost to have my marriage proposal photographed professionally in Paris?
It again depends on multiple factors, including your choice of proposal photographer and related photography collection.
Now a basic Paris proposal package typically ranges anywhere from Euro 250-500/hour and may include between 10-40 proposal pictures per hour of coverage.
Popular add-ons may include:
- an assistant to manage crowds/theft and help with lighting during a night-time photo shoot;
- A second engagement photographer for a different creative interpretation of the proposal. The additional photographer will generally capture a complementary perspective and composition;
- Basic video capture of the live wedding proposal;
- prints and keepsake albums for elegant engagement photos;
- Masterful Black & White edits (hey, nothing quite says Paris like charming B&W photos, right?);
- additional hours of photography coverage—especially when you intend to have your engagement photos taken around Paris immediately after she says “Yes” or on the next day (when your fiancée has an opportunity to dress for the occasion and have her beauty services done).
Why hire a Paris proposal planner?
Proposal planners, in general, make planning and executing your marriage proposal easier by removing stress, facilitating communication with local vendors, inspiring you with ideas, and handling the many details that go into your special day.
Should I book a planner for my marriage proposal in Paris?
Precise coordination is particularly crucial for proposals in Paris since many local vendors don’t speak English well or are less responsive than you may desire.
The very best wedding planners will inspire you with creative marriage proposal ideas, assemble a top-notch local vendor team, and even help you gain access to exclusive venues, celebrity performers, a helicopter, a vintage car or yacht, and other traditional concierge services.
It might sound a tad cliché, but time is money, and planning a dream proposal in Paris takes time.
Plenty of it.
So expect to pay a premium for an experienced local proposal planner—here are a few considerations:
- Are you considering a more elaborate surprise proposal and find it difficult to connect the pieces?
- Your time is worth a lot, and you don’t want to deal with local vendors, WhatsApp chats, and timelines;
- creativity is not your forte, and you may need the inspiration to make everything perfect;
- You want exclusive access to unique spaces, things, or people.
It depends on who you book, and how much effort is involved in planning and executing your Paris proposal.
Some planners have a fixed fee, while others will charge you a percentage of total “day-of” budget (15% is a realistic estimate).
We love to work with two planning companies since they check all the boxes and routinely exceed our high expectations.
The Proposers, whom The Knot named “The most highly rated proposal planners in the world.” Daisy, Minnie, and the rest of their talented team have seen it all—over-the-top, intimate, and everything in between.
When you work with The Proposers, you should expect to pay a premium in return for peace of mind, unrivaled experience, and a happy team of experts who care about you.
Now say hi to the founder of The Proposers, Daisy Amodio.
Kiss Me in Paris is a world-class Paris-based proposal planner that prides itself on accessibility, in-depth local knowledge, and the personal touch.
Chantelle-Marie, the company’s affectionate owner, knows everyone who’s anyone around town and, accordingly, has been known to pull off stunning marriage proposals on a day’s notice.
Chantelle will take the time to understand you as a couple and work within your budget to deliver an extraordinary experience.
Need a private Paris proposal on a fabulous rooftop? Check. How about a 20-person girls choir who’ll divinely perform your partner’s favorite song? Yep. What about a magician, pantomime, or caricaturist? No problem. You get the point—your wish is her command.
And now meet Chantelle-Marie, your Paris proposal planner!
Secret Paparazzi proposal (total surprise) vs. proposing as part of a Paris photo shoot
You smartly decided to hire a professional Paris photographer to capture the moment of your proposal, her priceless reaction, and photos of you both as newly engaged.
So far, so good.
What you may not realize is that there are two distinct ways to have your engagement photographed:
- as part of an engagement-style Paris photoshoot that she knows of and will prepare for; or
- secretly, in the form of a total surprise paparazzi proposal, where she has no clue of your intentions or the whereabouts of the local photographer.
What’s a Paparazzi proposal photographer?
While “paparazzi” may sound intrusive and even bring to mind the less-than-savory tabloid paparazzi, it’s just a fancy term for a secret photographer who’ll take candid Paris proposal pictures for you.
Your paparazzi proposal photographer is typically highly experienced and will help you brainstorm creative Paris proposal ideas while sharing her local expertise and tips.
Together, you’ll nail down the final surprise proposal concept, meeting time, signal, and where your paparazzi photographer should hide.
The alternative to a paparazzi proposal is to propose naturally as part of a Paris photoshoot.
The idea is that you’ll be a tad less nervous, and your partner will prepare … thinking it’s for a couple photoshoot instead of the actual engagement.
She’ll dress sharp, be on-time, and ideally pull her hair back so we can capture her emotional reaction when you drop to your knee.