Secret proposals in Edinburgh - How to Plan a Perfect Moment

As Edinburgh proposal photographer I’m definitely biased – but I believe that Edinburgh is a perfect place for a romantic proposal. It’s a beautiful city which offers a great number of perfect proposal locations. And I bet you and your significant other will fall in love with Scotland. Its unique charm and how much magic it offers. The views at every corner are absolutely breathtaking!

What’s most important is to make this experience a perfect memory for your other half.

So let’s find out how to best surprise the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Surrounded by the beautiful Scottish landscapes, of course! As Scotland proposal photographer I will guide you through the steps to plan the proposal in Edinburgh.

In this article you will find out about the Edinburgh proposal ideas, best ways to celebrate your engagement and how to make the moment beautiful and memorable to the person you are proposing to.


edinburgh scotland proposal ideas
Spring proposal on Circus Lane – Amaury and Andrea, Edinburgh New Town

The guide to surprise and secret proposals in Edinburgh – Scotland secret proposal photographer

First step – decide on the type of the secret proposal photoshoot.

Would you prefer the photographer to be hidden in the bushes so the moment is as intimate as possible? Ok, just kidding, no hiding in the bushes, that would look at least a bit weird. My approach is pretending to be a tourist with a camera who’s hanging around the place trying to get the best photo. As I would always ask you to send me a photograph of the two of you in advance (preferably on the day of the proposal so I know what you’re wearing and I have no problems with noticing you) so I can recognize you when you arrive to the location of choice, I simply start to photograph you right after you arrive. This way it always much easier to keep is a secret.

Another way of arranging a secret photoshoot in Edinburgh is to approach the photographer with a phone and ask them to take a photo of the two of you as if I they were a random tourist. Then – instead of using your phone, the photographer gets their camera out and start photographing you this way. It’s great because this option also gives us an opportunity to pose you in the perfect way from the very beginning. It’s without a doubt my favourite way of capturing secret proposal photos, as this method allows to create the best images.

The last option would be arranging the photoshoot as a simple couple session without mentioning you’re going to propose to your other half and still making it a big surprise.

To sum up – go for the option that feels most comfortable and suitable for you!

In addition, the most important thing for me as a Scotland secret proposal photographer is to also have a video call with the person proposing to their other half, preferably a couple of days before the big moment. It allows us to discuss all the details, whether they would want to book me to capture the moment only or whether they are also interested in an extended couple photoshoot right after.

Calton Hill surprise proposal - Edinburgh Scotland proposal photographer
Surprise proposal at the sunrise on Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Work out the details of your proposal in Scotland – and be prepared

Once you have decided how the proposal is going to look like, you need to agree on the details. Place and time are of course the most important. Location information needs to be very specific and it would be best if the exact spot can be agreed so your photographer can find the perfect backdrop for your photographs.

It’s always good idea to exchange phone numbers with the photographer so in case of any delays or unexpected change of weather so you can coordinate plan B as well.

Whether you are planning a secret proposal in Edinburgh or a different part of Scotland, you always need to remember that in order to avoid crowds and chaos in the location of your choice, you might need to go for early morning shoot. From my experience as a photographer I can assure you that it is the best thing to do if you’re planning a proposal in a place like the Vennel with Edinburgh Castle view or for instance Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens. Time closer to the sunset can also work great – although always make sure you go with the suggestion of your photographer. We know the most popular and beautiful places and always recommend you the option which will facilitate creating the best moments and images for you!


Engagement photos in Edinburgh Old Town - Edinburgh proposal photographer
The Vennel Steps are without a doubt the most iconic photoshoot location in Edinburgh thanks to the unbeatable castle view from the top of the steps!


Best proposal locations in Edinburgh

There are so many picturesque, wonderful locations around Edinburgh to choose your proposal location from.

So let’s explore the best location for the surprise proposal in Edinburgh!

  1. The Vennel Steps – the Vennel Steps are located in the heart of Edinburgh Old town. When you get to the top of the steps, which you can reach from the side of Mary’s Milk Bar in the Grassmarket, you get the most stunning view at Edinburgh Castle. It’s definitely best to avoid midday hours when proposing on the Vennel Steps as they can be quite busy on both weekdays and weekends though.
  2. The Royal Botanic Gardens – if you prefer to avoid the noise and commotion of the city, the Botanics are a perfect, peaceful oasis which is an ideal place for a surprise proposal in Edinburgh. You can propose anywhere at the Botanics, but John Muir Grove is definitely the most stunning location for proposing. So if you’re interested in booking John Muir Grove, please get in touch with the administrators at the Gardens – and check out their current offer for marriage proposals at John Muir Grove. You can also find a footage of John Muir Grove here.
  3. The Holyrood Park / Arthur’s Seat – without a doubt, no other place in Edinburgh will give you a better panoramic view of the Scottish capital. It’s a fantastic spot for a secret proposal, but to reach the top it requires around a 30/40-minute hike, depending on the weather and your abilities. It requires more planning, but if you’re lucky enough to be proposing under a clear sky, during golden hour – then no view in Edinburgh will be more beautiful and romantic than the view from Arthur’s Seat.
  4. Princes Street Gardens / the Ross Fountain – the fountain is located in Prices Street Gardens in Edinburgh’s city centre and it’s  one of the iconic Edinburgh landmarks.
  5. Calton Hill – another location that guarantees stunning views at the city centre. It’s an incredibly busy location though, as it’s a popular place to watch sunsets from. So if you’re considering proposing at Calton Hill, you might need to do it very early in the morning in order to avoid crowds.
  6. Circus Lane – undoubtedly, the loveliest little street of New Town. Located in the heart of Stockbridge, looks beautiful in every season of the year. Much calmer and less popular than other Old Town locations, but it might be a good idea to propose there early in the morning or around an hour before the sunset.

Engagement photos Edinburgh - Arthur's Seat
Post-proposal engagement session at Arthur’s Seat – Jakob and Virginia were so lucky as sunsets in the city of constant clouds are rare! (especially in October)

Decide on the clothing for your Scotland surprise proposal – what are you going to wear?

Why not tell your other half that you’re taking them to dinner or lunch to a nice restaurant? It’s a good excuse to explain why fancy clothes are a good idea on the day!

First of all, my advice is to go for neutral colours, these look the best in the Scottish scenery. So avoid very colourful outfits.

What is more, I also wouldn’t normally recommend pink, purple, bright blue (as they don’t go well with the dramatic beauty of Scotland) or green (because there is always a risk that you will blend into the landscapes). My favourite colour choices in terms of clothing are yellow/mustard, brown, grey, beige, red/claret, black and white. They look absolutely outstanding and contribute to the colour pop effect in the photographs.

What happens in the event of weather forecast showing rain on the day? Rain is not a problem (it’s Scotland after all – of course unless it’s torrential!) but make sure you get a nice-looking clear umbrella that will look good in photographers and won’t cover you during the big proposal moment.

What if you’ve chosen a location such as Arthur’s Seat for your secret proposal in Scotland?  In those cases you need to think of the most appropriate choice in terms of shoes – you don’t want to hike in sandals, high heels or have your feet covered in mud during the engagement photoshoot!

The proposal moment – take your time!

It’s quite difficult for every single detail of the plan to always work perfectly, but it will be so much easier to make your secret engagement plans work if you think of everything in advance.

Remember not to rush it once you get down on your knee – it would be easier for the photographer to find a perfect angle for the photographs they are taking and they’ll be able to get a perfect shot of your proposal.

Another important thing to think about is that you should only be holding a ring or a ring box in your hands during the proposal and your loved one’s hands should be free. So ideally no phones, handbags or backpacks should be in the shot if you want the photos to be perfect. Take your time and arrange everything slowly. Also, this is definitely much easier to arrange if you’ve decided to go for  the recommended ‘handing the photographer your phone and asking for a photo’ method!

Therefore my favourite option for a secret engagement is the photographer pretending to be a tourist whilst you hand them your phone to take a photo of you. It gives them an opportunity to give you specific directions before the big moment happens without raising suspicions of your other half!

I guarantee that the photos will look so much better if you focus on the moment, your partner and the ring and there are no unnecessary objects that surround you (or visible phones in pockets either!).

Arthur's Seat secret proposal photography in Edinburgh
Jakob proposing to Virginia on Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Celebrate your engagement!

Photographers understand that proposal is a very intimate thing and we totally understand if you need a few minutes to yourselves after your significant other says yes, don’t be afraid to ask can we have a moment for ourselves?

Please get in touch if you need advice though! I’m always happy to help you arrange the most perfect proposal experience for both of you. I have photographed secret proposals in Stockbridge, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens and lots of other locations in Edinburgh and in Scotland. And every single one of them was extraordinary.

After the photoshoot it’s always a great idea to plan something nice to celebrate your engagement.

Maybe a romantic dinner in one of Edinburgh’s best restaurants? My favourite restaurants in Edinburgh include:

  1. Timberyard – incredibly stylish, cosy and rustic restaurant serving delicious food in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town.
  2. The Lookout – situated on top of Calton Hill, with fantastic (breathtaking!) views of Edinburgh skyline.
  3. The Kitchin – iconic fine-dining, Michelin-starred Scottish restaurant.
  4. The Witchery – rich, historic charm and Scottish cuisine at its finest. A bit on the pricey side but guarantees one of a kind experience. I suggest you book their original dining room for a romantic dinner, but their Secret Garden dining room is very charming as well.
  5. Noto – New York inspired restaurant serving delicious Asian cuisine. If you’re there make sure to try North Sea crab with warm butter.
  6. White Horse Oyster Bar – incredible, fresh seafood on Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Surprise marriage proposal at the Ross Fountain in Edinburgh - man kneeling down with an engagement ring
Early morning secret proposal at Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens


Proposal in the Scottish highlands? – Glencoe and Isle of Skye secret proposals Scotland

Edinburgh is truly wonderful. But you might be considering more remote and a wee bit more adventurous than the Scottish capital…

What about Scottish highlands?

There is no more scenic and romantic place for a surprise proposal than the highlands of Scotland.

Whether you’re thinking of Glencoe, Cairngorms National Park or Isle of Skye… I’ll be happy to travel there to capture the big moment for you.

Please get in touch if you need recommendations for a unique perfect proposal place and you need advice as you are not sure which location will be the best. I love helping clients with planning the ideal will you marry me moment.

In the meantime check out my top secret proposal locations in the Scottish highlands:

  1. Glencoe – the most magical village 2.5h drive from Edinburgh (and totally worth it)
  2. Isle of Skye – 6h drive from Edinburgh. If you want to propose in Isle of Skye make sure to make a trip out of it! Skye is not only a perfect proposal place, but also offers unforgettable travel experience. Proposing in Isle of Skye will also give you an opportunity to go on hikes in magical places, celebrate with a meal in a Michelin-star restaurant and will allow your proposal photographer to capture the big moment with the most stunning landscapes in the background!
  3. St Abbs – little fishing village on the East Coast of Scotland, 1h drive from Edinburgh.
  4. Cairngorms National Park – beautiful national park in the north-east part of Scotland with magical woodland areas and picturesque lochs. It will be a perfect location proposal if your other half loves walks in the forest, wildlife (you can say hi to the reindeer in Aviemore) and loves a road trip.
  5. Loch Lomond – the entire Loch Lomond area is wonderful, but my absolute favourite secret proposal location in Loch Lomond is Firkin Point. Incredibly scenic spot!

 

Spring surprise marriage proposal in Glencoe in the Scottish highlands
Close-up photo of an engagment ring
Mackenzie & Eden – surprise marriage proposal in Glencoe with a wet photoshoot (this was an adventurous one!)

Steps to planning a perfect proposal in Scotland

Let’s recap and summarise all the necessary steps to follow for the best proposal experience for your other half.

  1. Decide on the location. And remember that a lot of places will require getting there super early! Locations such as Calton Hill, the Vennel Steps or the Ross Fountain are always incredibly crowded. So if you want a slightly more private moment and a bit of intimacy, very early wake up call is unfortunately a must! And if you’re booking your Scotland proposal photographer for an extended photoshoot, you can always leave the choice of additional locations within the city to your (now) fiancé.
  2. Hire a proposal photographer. It’s a wonderful keepsake – photos of the moment when you asked the big question. And since most proposal photographers provide a sneak peek within 24-48 hours, you can share the big news together with a beautiful photo soon after you officially got engaged!
  3. Keep is a secret. It’s not always easy – I know – but it guarantees a fantastic surprise if you can pull it off. When it comes to early morning proposals, I suggest making an excuse for kicking your girlfriend/boyfriend out of bed early (especially if you’re on holiday). My suggested list of excuses would be: I read in a tourism guide that to get the best view from this place you need to arrive super early, otherwise it’s busy and overcrowded! Or: I’m so jet lagged I won’t be able to sleep, why don’t we get up early and explore the city tomorrow morning?
  4. Be punctual. If you have set a date a time and agreed that with the proposal photographer, make sure you stick to it. Local proposal photographers can always offer valuable advice about certain places, best timings to avoid crowds and from the perspective of beautiful light. Being even 20 minutes late might end up leading to you losing the perfect light or the location getting extremely crowded.
  5. Plan the celebration. Whether it’s something simple or more elaborate, make sure a little bit of celebration had already been planned in advance. Ideas? You can sneak a bottle of fizz in your backpack when hiking up Arthur’s Seat – propose at the sunset and then have a toast to it! (I need to add that champagne pop photos are epic, as long as you are pointing the cork away from the photographer’s camera!) Or book a table at a great, romantic restaurant. Or schedule a call with your best friends soon after. Organise a surprise party. Order a bunch of flowers to your hotel room. There are endless options – just make sure that your significant other is not too overwhelmed!

 

Best secret proposal locations in Edinburgh – Edinburgh wedding photographer

No matter the weather, I would always advise you to go for an outdoor photoshoot – it enables us to capture the moment being surrounded by the romantic and moody Scottish scenery. Planning a perfect secret proposal in an indoor location is almost a waste of the beautiful Scottish scenery that surrounds us!

In my opinion the best place for a secret proposal will depend on the weather, day of our photoshoot and how intimate you want it to be. If you don’t mind being surrounded by lots of people then Edinburgh city centre at midday could also be a great choice.

But if you want to be a bit further from the crowds then I’d suggest we go for a place that gives a bit more privacy – or at least if we choose a very popular location, we allow ourselves the time to wait for the perfect moment (without people around!).

Please get in touch if you’re looking for a different, secluded, intimate location to propose to your significant other! I will be super happy to provide you with lots of options and recommendations all around Scotland.

So fill in my Contact form on the website and let’s start planning!

Also, if you’d like to have a peek at more surprise proposals or engagements I photographed in different parts of Scotland go to the BLOG section. 

6 Comments

  1. Hi Natalia,

    Hope you’re well! I just wanted to introduce myself with the hope of you possibly assisting me with planning a proposal to my partner.

    I’m due to come to Edinburgh with her on the weekend of the 5th September, for her graduation ceremony which is being held in the Surgeon’s Quarter. For a long time now I’ve been trying to find the right opportunity to plan this, and thought this getaway may be the perfect time.

    I came across your website whilst doing a bit of research of services people offer and the work they do, and loved some of the blogs you’ve written up and also the style of photography you obviously love and are passionate about.

    I’d love to learn a bit more about how you’ve helped others, and I hope you can assist me in designing the perfect proposal for my partner!

    I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Best Wishes

    Dr V Patel

  2. Hey Natalia, fantastic blog I must say. You’ve helped bring some calm and structure to what is a pretty huge event in people’s lives. Speaking of which, I’m planning a couple of days in Edinburgh from 19-21 Nov. I would like to ask the question at Arthur’s Seat (hopefully with the weather holding out). I’m thinking Sat 20th as the day to do it though a little worried that It may be super busy..
    Interested to hear how folks have done it in the past and which times have worked out the best. Obviously the nights are drawing in so time will be of the essence…
    So long as we get a nice photo of me popping the question and a picture of the 2 of us I’m happy.
    Thanks in advance
    Dan – 07824469471

  3. I’m thinking of proposing on Tuesday 15th February at Edinburgh Castle,just outside the front of the castle. How much is it for a proposal photograph and how much is it for a photoshoot?

    Thanks

    Corina

  4. Hi – I am looking for some help I’m travelling to Edinburgh on the 15th – I am interested in some photos – I wanted to have the experience in a rooftop bar overlooking the city – have you got any recommendations?

    Thanks

  5. Hi, I am looking to propose on Saturday 12th February. I am thinking by Ross Fountain but not completely decided exact location yet. Please could you let me know if you are available and also the Costs of secret photoshoot.

    Thank you

    Joel

  6. Hi Natalia

    We are due to go to Edinburgh this coming weekend (19th and 20th of Feb 2022) and I have decided to pop the question while there.
    I have decided that I would love to have Edinburgh Castle in the background. Would you be able to assist in capturing this moment and some advice as to how to make it perfect. Thank you in advance.

    Jay Dehning

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