Lincoln Memorial Surprise Proposal

Tips for a Successful Proposal Photoshoot!

Thinking of proposing to your special someone in the Lincoln Memorial? If you are planning to surprise your loved one with a romantic proposal in the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, or at any of the monuments in Washington DC, don't forget your photographer! A talented, thoughtful and compassionate photographer can help you be in the moment during the proposal so that you can enjoy your time with your partner instead of just posing for a photoshoot.

Below are some general tips to help you with your day. 

Before Your Proposal

Meet & Greet: Meet your photographer beforehand to get to know each other and scout out the spot where your photographer will be waiting for you/ hiding to capture the moment. Talk everything out as the planning stage is really important to help you calm your nerves. It helps your photographer understand you more and the type of vision you have for your photoshoot. 

Young caucasian couple looking at each other in the Lincoln Memorial for a photoshoot

Leah & Alex Proposal in the Lincoln Memorial @NiNeCapture


There might be little opportunity to influence what your partner is wearing, and that's ok, but for your outfit, try to be in something comfortable, weather-appropriate, plain, and preferably neutral. Try to avoid black, white, striped, or plaid shirts. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes (Not running shoes!) around as there are a lot of grounds to cover. The overall here is that you are in something that could be timeless, that you could enjoy looking at for years to come. The picture would be a fundamental part of the legacy that you will leave behind for your family.

Perfecting Your Surprise!

Most of my clients think this one through carefully to not ruin the surprise. Come up with a story of why you are going to the National Mall. This is often the most challenging part for couples, especially those with partners who can easily see the proposal coming from miles away! A few of the stories that the client has made up included "going to meet up with friends in the Lincoln Memorial before dinner," Going for a stroll in the National Mall early in the morning before it gets crowded," or "Wanting to capture pictures of the cherry blossoms (around March only of course)." Any of these stories could take pressure off you in hiding your intention just enough so your partner gets excited and surprised with your proposal. 

Time & Crowds

It is likely to be crowded in the Lincoln Memorial unless you arrive at a very early hour, typically around sunrise. If you see a lot of crowds, don't panic! Your photographer will try to navigate and get the best shots without people in the background. However, for the actual proposal, you should try to avoid people directly in front of you or behind you. You don't want to pick a spot where there is a lot of walking activity between you and the photographer.

For the time, it really does not matter. Golden hour is always nice but not really in the National Mall as it gets crowded. And when there are no crowds, there are often events. But a good photographer will help you navigate this and discuss the perfect time with you!

Beyond the Lincoln Memorial...

Make sure to plan enough time to explore all the grounds of the lincoln memorial. A few of our favorite spots are the DC World War Memorial, the reflecting pool, and the Constitution Gardens. These spots are breathtaking during spring and fall, so make sure you budget enough time for them. A two-hour time frame would be reasonable to help you explore key spots around the Lincoln Memorial and give you so many different perspectives throughout your photoshoot!

Finally! The proposal mechanics:

If you plan on getting down on one knee, stay there long enough to process the moment and allow your partner to respond. The entire getting down on one knee should last 5-10 seconds, as you are proposing. Still, if you can be thoughtful enough to stay until your partner comes down and gives you an embrace, that would be wonderful. When your partner does that, make sure to put the ring in their hand and enjoy the moment. I can't tell you how many times it has been where this entire process was rushed, and the partner was left to figure out the unboxing and putting the ring on their finger, which felt somewhat awkward!

  • Be in the moment…Many couples try to immediately pose for a picture, which is fine. Still, it is better if you both enjoy the moment to allow the photographer to capture candid and authentic images of the moment. It's important to remember that a photographer is helping you document your journey and would need to interfere as little as possible in the process. 
  • After the surprise: Your photographer will help you capture moments from a different perspective after your proposal. A good photographer will guide you smoothly and show you many poses (which can still catch an authentic moment.) There is so much ground to cover in the National Mall. Some people would instead cover so much ground and book for a bigger time frame. Discuss with your photographer what you would like to do in the vision photoshoot. 

Your photographer will help you make the most out of this experience. If you decide to book with us here at NiNe Capture Photography, we will help you plan your proposal experience from A to Z. So, make sure to contact us today so that you do not go through this planning experience alone! 

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