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 universe. In the hours, days, and weeks leading up to your Paris proposal, you’ll feel almost impossible-to-describe excitement, wooziness, and even butterflies in your stomach. Drunk in love, anyone?
Lucky her (him)!
Game-changing Paris Proposal Advice You Weren’t Taught in School
The truth, however, is that planning a dream marriage 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 Paris Proposal Guide comes in: I’m going to show you—Step-by-Step (with pictures and video)—everything you need to pull off a deeply romantic proposal in Paris that will have her in tears … and make her friends jealous.
We’ll go over the prettiest places to propose in Paris, what to say when you pop the question, and the most epic ways to propose to your sweetheart … including loads of Paris-specific marriage proposal ideas.
Then I’ll help you confidently put together an experienced, caring, and English-speaking Paris proposal team.
It gets better:
Here’s what you should expect:
- Paris proposals 101: a crash course on getting to “Yes”
- How to propose in Paris: which knee, which finger, what to say
- Your blueprint for a picture-perfect marriage proposal
- Why propose in Paris
- Where to propose in Paris, including a deep-dive into Eiffel Tower proposals
- The most romantic, cute, simple and creative ways to propose in Paris
- How to propose in Paris when it’s raining
- The “Dos & Don’ts” of extraordinary engagement proposals
- Get her diamond ring to Paris safely (without spilling the beans)
- How to identify, evaluate and hire the right Paris proposal photographer (and videographer)
- When do you actually need a marriage proposal planner?
- Making sense of paparazzi proposals (the pros & cons)
- Your sanity-preserving Last-Minute Marriage Proposal Cheat-Sheet
- Holy moly, she says “Yes” … the first things you need to do after you get engaged in Paris
- BONUS: kickass hotels in Paris for the newly-engaged
But let me level with you first: today, there’s no shortage of readily available Paris engagement advice. Interestingly, 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 marriage proposals in Paris, I’m the #1 reviewed Paris proposal photographer and author of several influential industry publications, including the bona fide proposal guide, How to Propose to a Girl, which has been seen on abc, FOX, NBC, and CBS.
Importantly, I actually went through the process of proposing to the woman of my dreams myself and understand that you only get one shot at a memorable proposal that will sweep your girlfriend off her feet.
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, 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, most of the time, men actually drop down to their right knee.
And you know what?
When it comes to proposals that warm the heart, it really doesn’t matter which knee touches the ground.
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—without giving away the surprise—get her to create an easy updo or pull her hair back into a ponytail or a bun so we see her reaction when she bends over to accept the ring;
- text/WhatsApp your Paris photographer, videographer, musicians, 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), and then again several minutes before you arrive at the proposal spot;
- never arrive at the proposal spot or get down on your knee before the agreed-upon time;
- remove your phone, wallet, and any other bulky items from your pant pockets;
- unbutton your jacket to avoid lapel bulging when you lift your arms to present the box;
- ensure that your Paris photographer is present—make brief eye-contact and/or give your photographer a signal that you’re about to propose;
- position yourself parallel to your desired backdrop and to your photographer;
- check your surroundings for distracting people and objects (e.g., trashcans, your own backpack, cars, etc.) before you kneel down;
- 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 5-10 seconds);
- 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 available to slide the ring on her finger;
- slide the ring up to her knuckle while maintaining effortless eye-contact; pause briefly before you move the ring to the base of her finger;
- don’t turn to your Paris photographer right after she says “Yes;” instead, enjoy your first moments as fiancés—kiss, dance, and celebrate.
On which finger do you put an 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
Note that your 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 questions 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 man 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, the marriage proposal speech powerfully sets the tone for what’s about to happen … and draws a line between how far you’ve come as a couple and where you’re headed on your new life journey together.
Sure, you’ll likely be a nervous wreck in the minutes and hours leading up to your proposal … and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
Unless you’re a polished speaker, I’d recommend putting pen to paper and jotting down your marriage proposal draft 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, you’ll do just fine.
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—besides the obvious—check out this excellent post courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings.
Why Propose in Paris?
Look, it may sound a touch cliché, but you should propose in Paris because it’s undeniably the most romantic city in the universe.
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 why to propose in Paris is that your girlfriend secretly wants you to do so. Don’t overthink this one—it’s her day and all about her, right?
Plus, there’s a certain cachet that just 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, importantly, 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, 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 first 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.
In fact, 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 all the way 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 simply reach out to her mom or sibling. It’s really 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 otherwise occupied or out of town as to not 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 important 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 clear, 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 ring, it will have little impact on the quality of your marriage;
- most of your research should be done before you ever go ring shopping;
- choose an engagement ring style that speaks to her personality—after all, she’ll be the one wearing it, right? Be receptive to her dropping subtle hints with respect to 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 well before you head to Paris to propose (it can easily take jewelers 4-6 weeks … so do not procrastinate);
- it’s highly recommended that you protect her ring against loss, damage, theft, and other disappearance with worldwide 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 secret on the day of the proposal when 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
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. Needless to say, the Eiffel Tower stands out as the most instantly recognizable and iconic place to pop the question.
The Best Places to Propose in Paris
And while there’s no tried and true formula for selecting the best places 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
- exclusive spaces (i.e., for rent) vs. publicly accessible spots.
Next, it’s time to further narrow 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 to Propose in Paris?
If you’re after the most awe-inspiring views of the Eiffel Tower, you absolutely need to head to Trocadéro (Palais de Chaillot), where our two favored spots are located immediately below 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 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.
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).
Since Trocadéro is the busiest spot in all of Paris, you and your Paris proposal photographer need to arrive at sunrise in order to beat the crowds and take advantage of the best light.
Mid-morning, afternoon, and evening proposals at Trocadéro tend to be extraordinarily difficult and stressful considering the substantial crowd levels, the potential for theft, and tricky lighting conditions.
- possibly the most iconic view of the Eiffel Tower (here are 10 additional amazing views of the Eiffel Tower);
- Trocadéro’s symmetrical, expansive, and elevated vantage point is splendidly beautiful;
- unlike some of the private (for rent) venues with Eiffel Tower view, Trocadéro is completely free of charge.
- little control over the environment, which means there is 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 per year by hideous cranes and construction during Paris Fashion Week;
- low on the privacy and romance scale;
- by design not really original;
- can be a touch dirty.
What’s the Most Romantic Place to Propose in Paris?
This has been a tough decision to make—notably because Paris is blessed with an abundance of ridiculously romantic spots.
Plus, I had really wanted to go with a romantic place other than one with an Eiffel Tower view.
Yet, The Secret Table of the Peninsula Paris is simply unique and custom-made for lovers. Sure, 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 I really love about The Secret Table is that you have full control over the ambiance … and, unlike many other exclusive Parisian rooftops and private 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 5 senses are pampered from the moment your car pulls up to the Peninsula, where you’ll be greeted by attentive valet before confidently striding inside the elegant hotel with 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 just always run smoothly at the Peninsula. No last-second surprises (as may be the case on a residential rooftop). Just well-oiled, proven processes that translate into pleasing peace of mind;
So whether you enlist a world-class Paris proposal planner or Peninsula’s catering team, the only limit to creating a fairytale proposal is your imagination.
Sunset and the Blue Hour (Evening Civil Twilight).
Here’s great news: The Secret Table at the Peninsula works well pretty much any time of the day except for nighttime (almost no surprise proposal photographs well when your photographer needs to use flash or other distracting light sources).
Yet, 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.
Since you’ll have essentially privatized The Secret Table, you should expect the following benefits:
- unparalleled privacy: The Secret Table is perfect when you seek a public boundary of sorts in order 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 easier than asking your driver to pull up to the Peninsula Hotel, and making your way up to the Secret Table. The ambiance is amazing and the helpful, friendly staff will guide you right to the rooftop;
- 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 free to transform The Secret Table 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 location comes at a cost and will add to your proposal budget;
- The Secret Table is only available from April 1 through September 30 and books out fast;
- in case of inclement weather, your dinner will be served in L’Oiseau Blanc, which is spectacular in its own right (the restaurant is in competition for a Michelin Star), but not as romantic as the private terrace (you may still get to propose on the terrace, though);
- for safety reasons, The Peninsula 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 can temporarily be expanded to 5 for set-up purposes or to record your live Paris proposal. But keep in mind that you the couple, the butler, a musician, and your Paris photographer and videographer already add up to 6 … so make sure to ask your proposal planner before you invest in a substantial vendor team.
Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris is an excellent (for rent) alternative to The Secret Table—and here are a few important 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 own Shangri-La Signature bed;
- the Shangri-La Hotel offers the most intimate Eiffel Tower proposal view among all Palace Hotels in Paris (the Palace designation is a level above the five-star rating);
- since you’ll be using your hotel suite’s exclusive terrace, the logistics of embellishing your proposal setting and secretly escorting your partner to the proposal spot are different. Typically, you’ll first check-in to your suite, drop-off your bags, and head out to explore Paris. And while you both are out, your marriage proposal planner, floral designer, and photographer will enter your suite and prepare a fairytale proposal setting for you.
Where are the Best Places to Propose Along the Seine River?
I find the Seine River particularly romantic and quintessentially Parisian; hey, there’s a reason it’s 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 Seine River spots are created equal … so it’s again helpful to filter prospective proposal 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 Seine;
- on a boat on the Seine.
When you privatize a luxury boat, your loved one is literally in for a ride: she’ll get to experience the historic 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 even unexpected way possible.
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/videographer). So you’re effectively investing in the ideal space to set public boundaries, which means that privacy is practically guaranteed;
- she’ll not 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 boat ride, followed by an elegant dinner in Paris;
- the ultimate unique Paris proposal idea: we’re asked all the time for unique surprise proposal ideas. And it makes sense since you only get one shot at pulling off a dream 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 team. I planned my Paris proposal all the way from Malaysia … and despite of the time difference, we were able to put together an epic proposal concept. Important, 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. He exudes confidence and humility and friendliness—I now know why everyone wants Cengiz as their point-man. The photos came out amazing!!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Kevin + Jane
- some boats are too small for a proposal photographer to join … which means the photographer will need to capture the proposal moment from the Seine Riverbank … which, in turn, requires insane coordination between you, the captain of the boat, and your photographer;
- a private Seine River boat, including crew, will inflate your proposal budget a little;
- it’s almost obligatory for you to hire an experienced Paris proposal planner—especially when you desire to embellish the boat and secretly sneak a proposal photographer/videographer aboard;
Let me be clear: amazing secret boat proposals necessitate 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 she can not yet know of your intentions, the 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;
- this is when your vendors (Paris proposal videographer, photographer, and floral designer) discretely hop aboard;
- after the boat undocks, your florist needs to quickly and quietly create a worthy proposal setting;
- finally, the captain will stop the boat at a specified place … which is when you bring your loved one out 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 truly in for a treat. Paris is blessed with a mind-blowing variety of breathtakingly beautiful bridges.
As you might imagine by now, it makes sense to broadly 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 bridge with cars.
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 important, however, that you make eye-contact with your Paris proposal photographer and take the time to monitor your surroundings for distractions before you propose.
- one of the most iconic (and obvious) 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 available to the public, the Bir-Hakeim Bridge is not necessarily romantic;
- it is not private either since your designated proposal spot is directly under the bridge; so effectively, you are sharing the space with a mix of cars, pedestrians, bikers, and other photographers/couples;
- there’s a slight risk that pedestrians and/or cars can obstruct the view just when you kneel down to propose.
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. As a result, Alexander III is incredibly popular for Paris photoshoots and, by extension, a total crowd magnet.
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.
- 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 legal 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 proposal view might be too subtle for some couples.
Propose in privacy down by the banks of the Seine River.
The third broad type of Seine River proposal involves proposing directly along the banks of the Seine River. You decide between an Eiffel Tower view and non-Eiffel Tower view.
As you might imagine, the closer you move along the Seine River toward the Eiffel Tower, the more likely you are to eventually run into people.
Check out the video below of the most popular Seine River proposal spot with the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop.
As you can see from the map below, you need to first make your way down the stairs, and then turn right and follow the path until you spot your Paris proposal photographer.
Please consider that when you drop down to your knee right by the water, you (the couple) must position y0urselves parallel to the Eiffel Tower and to your photographer.
- beautiful, iconic and impactful;
- the closest Eiffel Tower proposal location where you can still capture your surprise proposal and the entire Eiffel Tower (in a vertical format … so you only get the full tower on a photo and not video);
- 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 Paris proposal setting are substantially reduced versus, say, Trocadéro or the Bir-Hakeim Bridge.
- the 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 great 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 Paris proposal photographer will need to shoot your marriage proposal 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 (the couple) and distance are exaggerated. So you might appear relatively large while the Eiffel Tower may feel a touch smaller and more distant.
Which Paris Proposal Spot Best Balances Beauty, Privacy, and Romance?
As mentioned, you can broadly think of where to propose in Paris in terms of Eiffel Tower views and non-Eiffel Tower views.
My favorite non-Eiffel Tower proposal spot 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.
It’s not an overstatement to say that this particular Paris proposal 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 boxes for a fairytale Paris proposal.
Unless it’s a super-bright day with strong highlights and shadows as in the 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.
Importantly, in case you arrive a tad early (which you should!), 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).
In fact, 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.
- the Tuileries Gardens is one of the most divinely beautiful places to propose in Paris;
- the setting is incredibly private considering that it’s located in the heart of the City;
- effortless access for you (the couple) and 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);
- it’s possible for a Paris proposal planner to embellish things for you with a Champagne table, macarons, musicians, florals, …;
- convenient location to have Paris engagement photos taken immediately after your partner says “Yes” (hey, the Louvre is within 5 minutes walking distance).
- 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 7.30AM-7.30PM 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 important assumptions:
- you’re ok to forgo the 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.
Sure, as we’ve already established, you can’t really go wrong with a fabulous Paris rooftop proposal at the Peninsula or Shangri-La.
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 large 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).
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
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 really 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, private marriage 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 7PM-through midnight) between early May and early October, you’ll be treated (as part of the entrance fee) to the 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).
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 true fairytale marriage proposal;
- unlike at Vaux-le-Vicomte, you have the option to sleep at the Château de Villette … and 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.
- a Château de Villette proposal will inflate your marriage proposal budget meaningfully;
- it’s located approximately 40 minutes outside of Paris (which means no Eiffel Tower view).
Everything a 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 Paris proposal photographer 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. Yes, experience is the one non-negotiable when it comes to documenting surprise proposals or so-called Paparazzi Proposals.
Why? Well, because there are no do-overs when it comes to professionally capturing a once-in-a-lifetime moment in a way you want your marriage proposal remembered.
Men (and ladies) can get nervous … and sometimes forget to take their time, signal their photographer, kneel down 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 experienced Paris photographer will anticipate and adjust.
To be clear, it’s not enough to hire a talented portrait photographer with a pretty portfolio of Paris engagement-style photos.
What's the buzz on potential Paris proposal photographers?
Ask a handful of photographers whose work powerfully speaks to you to describe their experience and approach to proposal photography, provide sample galleries and videos, and point you towards Paris proposal reviews by real couples.
Speaking of testimonials … any Paris 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 elements, it’s paramount that your English-speaking photographer can clearly define the exact proposal location (ideally on a map, including GPS coordinates), time of the proposal, positioning, a signal, and much more.
The way I see it, there are at least two parts to excellent communication with your photographer:
- before you arrive in Paris: you should agree on a clear-cut proposal concept and related foolproof gameplan to execute the concept. Such 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, and a zillion other elements that may affect your original gameplan. Here’s where an experienced Paris proposal 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 proposal photographer with the insiders scoop on:
- the most charming, romantic, and even little-known places to propose … and, importantly, at what time of the day and night they work best;
- swoon-worthy proposal ideas 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 your surprise proposal is indeed extraordinary and life-changing.
What services should be included in my Paris (photography) 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, etc., … or it might refer to a more comprehensive package offered by a proposal planner who’ll negotiate and coordinate the invoicing for you.
For this particular guide, we use the term Paris Proposal Package to refer to a collection of photography-related services and products.
With that said, I’m going to come right out and connect the dots: when it comes to the photography decision, you need to invest in the best Paris proposal photographer you can afford as part of your total proposal budget, which can include:
- her diamond engagement ring;
- flights to Paris + hotel;
- fancy dinner after she says “yes;”
- proposal planner;
- limousine with chauffeur;
- floral design;
- Champagne (table) with quintessential Parisian treats;
So what services should be included in my Paris proposal package?
The specific contents of your Paris proposal package depend on the studio you hire and the collection you commission, but at a minimum, the proposal package should include:
- the capture of your live proposal (typically 30-60 minutes);
- quick turnaround of your proposal photos—within 24 hours—ideally in high-resolution and print-ready via a digital download link that you can conveniently access on the road;
- ironclad preparation so both you and the photographer know exactly when, where, how things will go down.
How much should I pay to have my Paris proposal photographed professionally?
It again depends on multiple factors, including your photography collection and the quality of your photographer. With that said, a basic Paris proposal package typically ranges anywhere from Euro 250-500/hour and includes between 10-40 photographs per hour of coverage.
Popular package add-ons may include:
- an assistant to help manage crowds and theft or help with lighting for nighttime proposals;
- a second proposal photographer for a different creative interpretation of the proposal. The second photographer will generally capture a complementary perspective and composition;
- a super-basic iPhone video capture of the live wedding proposal;
- additional hours of photography coverage—notably if you intend to have your engagement-style 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);