Planning to propose in Charleston but don’t know where to start? As Charleston proposal and engagement photographers, we’ve photographed many proposals all around Charleston and would love to help you plan this milestone moment!
Step 1: Charleston Proposal Locations
In Charleston, we’ve seen proposals at the beach, in our beautiful parks, on historic properties. If you have no special attachments to a particular location yet, below are the best proposal locations in Charleston, in our opinion:
- White Point Garden: White Point Garden is Charleston’s most famous park, situated right on The Battery, and featuring some of Charleston’s oldest, most beautiful homes along one side. White Point Garden is very easy logistically. You can meet at the big white gazebo in the middle, and propose in the beautiful park right there. After you hear that anticipated “yes!” and you get the best hugs of your life, we can then do engagement portraits for you nearby in the beautiful historic district, with the gorgeous old homes and cobblestone streets as your backdrop.
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: We love Magnolia Plantation and Gardens for its spacious property and variety of environments for your proposal. You can propose along the river, or on a picturesque bridge, among the ancient oaks dripping in Spanish moss, or in a quiet, secluded spot deeper into the trails. There are endless possibilities. Note: Admission is $29/adult.
- Kiawah proposal: If you want give your future spouse the luxury treatment, book a weekend in Kiawah. Propose on the beach or in the lush tropical greenery. Do engagement portraits all around Kiawah. Then celebrate with a romantic dinner at one of Kiawah’s amazing restaurants.
- Charleston beach proposal: Charleston is home to several beautiful beaches, each with its own unique personality. On the beach, you’ll have a serene, calming environment in which to pop the question, and we can do engagement portraits on the beach afterward!
Step 2: How to Have Your Proposal Photographed
There are two ways to go about this:
- Hidden Photographer: The photographer is a secret from your girlfriend/boyfriend, and is hidden or disguised. We will have a phone call with you ahead of time to plan your proposal. We will be there before you, in place, waiting. Sometimes we are hiding. If we are in an area with other people, we are able to pretend we’re there photographing something else like flowers or architecture (which lots of tourists do in Charleston!). This way, we blend in and will not bring attention to ourselves. When we see you both walk into the area, we will have our cameras ready. Start off by simply talking with your partner, and easing into the topic of why you love them so much, why you are grateful for them, and why you couldn’t imagine going through the rest of your life without them. They won’t notice us, because we will be shooting all of this with a telephoto lens, quite a distance from you. When you drop to one knee, or whatever way fits your style and personality, we will be ready and will capture every moment. After giving you some time to kiss and hug and marvel at the ring, we will come over and introduce ourselves. Or, you can point us out. After that, we can start engagement portraits of the two of you!
- Hire us for Photos of Your “Vacation:” Tell your significant other you booked a photographer to take a few photos of the two of you in downtown Charleston, so you have nice photos from your trip. The benefit of this is that we don’t have to hide – it’s easier logistically. The other benefit is that they will know to be dressed up and looking their best (they’ll be grateful for that later!). The only potential downside is that they might know something is up, but that’s a chance you can take if you know how to play it cool! We will start out with some basic poses, and you can pick the moment that feels right to pop the question. After that, we’ll continue on doing posed pictures that are now *engagement* portraits!
Step 3: You’re engaged! Now what?
It’s time to celebrate! Fortunately, Charleston has one of the best restaurant scenes in the country. Below are our top choices for a romantic dinner to celebrate your engagement:
- Chez Nous: This tiny, charming, candlelit restaurant is in an old home off a quaint alley. It’s a set menu of two choices of appetizer, entree and dessert, with an outstanding wine list. Locals tip: Because Chez Nous doesn’t publish its daily menu till the day of, you can usually get a reservation there. People tend to wait till they see the menu before booking a table rather than booking in advance.
- Fig: This internationally recognized restaurant is always fully booked for months, so snag your reservation as early as possible.
- The Ordinary: If you’re both really into seafood, go here and prepare to be blown away. It’s in a former bank building, and it’s absolutely beautiful inside. Get the oyster sliders and the raw seafood tower!
- Halls Chophouse: If you’re more into steaks than seafood, go to Halls. Halls is an institution here, and has a piano player and a very fun, celebratory atmosphere. The owners are known for circulating the restaurant to greet everyone.
Tips for Getting the Best Proposal and Engagement Photos in Charleston
- What time of day to propose: You’ll want early morning or late afternoon. The best light of the day, for photos, will be shortly after sunrise, or 1-2 hours before sunset.
- What to wear: We’ve seen it all, so it really comes down to your personal style and what you know your significant other will feel comfortable with. Some people are dressed up in button-down shirts and nice dresses; others are in flip flops on the beach. For the very best photos, though, stick to solid colors. Avoid patterns and logos, and avoid white shirts if possible (they tend to blend in with the background).
- Where to keep the ring the day of: Here are some ideas of where to hide the ring during the hours leading up to your proposal: 1) Wear long pants, and tuck the ring box inside your sock. Some jewelers sell slim ring boxes for this purpose. This way, the kneeling down to “tie your shoe” trick works well. 2) Have a seamstress sew a tiny pocket into the inside of your pants, shirt or jacket, and keep the ring there without the box. Just make sure it’s secure and there’s no way for the ring to fall out. 3) Put the ring inside something normal you would always carry with you on a day out: empty water bottle, box of granola bars, a camera case. If you normally carry a bag or backpack with you already, then it’s easy! All you have to do is stop and say you need to grab your water, or your phone, or whatever, but instead grab the ring box.
- How to calm your nerves: Be confident, and focus on how great this is going to be, how absolutely fun this moment will be. And try this breathing exercise: Inhale slowly for six seconds, then exhale slowly for 7-8 seconds. The longer exhales will calm your nervous system. And you can do this quietly and surreptitiously so your partner never knows.
- Have an idea of what you’re going to say: This will help you not be nervous. Be prepared. Have a few key things you know you want to say. Then wing it from there. Speak from your heart. And don’t be afraid to be emotional. Both of your lives are about to change forever – let the moment have the gravity it deserves. You got this!