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Table of Contents:
- PNW Proposal FAQ’s
- How to Propose in the PNW
- Top 11 Best Places to Propose in the PNW
- PNW Proposal Photographer
Proposing to the love of your life is probably one of the most exciting, most nerve-wracking, most butterfly-inducing moments you’ll ever experience—and hell, it can be really stressful to plan. I remember how nervous my own husband was when he proposed, and I’ve photographed a ton of proposals over the years, so I’ve witnessed alllll the different emotions that come with it. I want this to be an overwhelmingly exciting moment for you and your soon-to-be spouse, so I’ve put together this proposal guide to hopefully help make it as easy, smooth, and stress-free as possible! I’ve included a few FAQ’s, a mini guide to how to propose, and a list of the top 11 best, most beautiful PNW proposal locations.
Ready to put a ring on it? 😉
PNW Proposal FAQ’s
We’ll kick this off with a few questions that I’ve had couples ask me in the past, because I want to ensure that you not only leave this guide with a few awesome location options in mind, but also feeling confident + excited knowing that all your questions have been answered, and your hesitations/fears have been addressed.
Where can I propose in Washington?
This is an easy one: pretty much anywhere! Assuming you’re following local and federal regulations (especially in state + national parks and other protected land), as well as being respectful to others around you, you can honestly propose whenever you want to in Washington. I’ll be going through some of the most popular outdoor locations for epic proposals, but you could also propose while you’re eating dinner at a fancy restaurant, on a rooftop at sunset, or even in your own home during a romantic night in. It’s completely up to you and what type of atmosphere you’d like, as well as what would feel the most special and meaningful to your partner!
Where can I propose in Oregon?
I’ll give you one guess: pretty much anywhere, just like WA. As long as you act in accordance with local regulations, rules, and restrictions, then you’re good to go. Whether you head to the coast, into the rainforest, to the top of a mountain, the valleys of the desert, or to your favorite local pub, the world is your oyster. Or in this case, Oregon is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearl 😉
Should I invite friends & family to my proposal?
There’s not really a “should” or “shouldn’t” here (as much as that might make it easier on you)—it’s 100% your decision. I’ve worked with some couples who wanted their proposal to be completely private, as that’s what was the most special for the two of them, but I’ve also known couples who had family and/or friends present in some form. If it would be really amazing to you and your partner to be able to celebrate with your loved ones immediately after you get engaged, then by all means, invite them along for the fun! You can have them hide somewhere until after the proposal, and then come out with some champagne or snacks in hand.
What is the best time of year to propose in the PNW?
It depends on what location you’d like to propose at, as well as the environment you’re envisioning for the big moment.
If you want to propose in the mountains: propose in the summer, between June-August. This is when most spots in the PNW mountains are open and snow-free, and you may even find beautiful fields of wildflowers if you time it right.
If you want to propose on the coast, in the rainforest, or in the desert: you can usually propose at any time of year! Summer will obviously be hotter, drier, and more crowded at certain places, and winter will be cooler + rainier, but there likely won’t be as many road/trail closures you need to watch out for as there would be in the mountains.
Other factors to take into consideration when choosing a time of year for your PNW proposal:
- Crowds: You’ll probably want to avoid crowds as much as possible for your proposal, so opt for a proposal in the shoulder season, or pick a location that won’t be super busy.
- Photographer availability: I’ll talk more about this in the next section of the guide, but I recommend hiring your photographer before anything else to make sure they’re available for your proposal. Busy season in the PNW is typically from late spring through mid-fall for photographers, so make sure that your dream photog is available for the date you want—and if they’re not, work with their schedule as much as you’re able to!
How to Propose in the PNW
Next, let’s talk about how the heck to actually propose to your partner!
1. Hire a PNW proposal photographer
Before anything else, I recommend hiring your PNW proposal photographer. This way you can ensure they’re available for a date that works for you, and you can have their help planning the entire thing—because trust me, going at it alone can be a challenge. Take advantage of the expertise and experience your photographer has, and listen to their advice! As your photographer, I’ll help you come up with a story, choose a location, and walk you through the whole plan to make sure you know exactly what’s going on. Reach out to me now and we can get started planning your dream PNW proposal!
2. Pick a date + location
Once you hire your photographer, pick a date that works for both of you, and then have them help you pick a location. Don’t be afraid to ask for their guidance and advice when it comes to weather, scenery, crowds, and other logistics such as parking, getting there, etc. They’ve likely done this MANY times, so they’ve got experience making proposals happen as smoothly and beautifully as possible! Tell them what you’re envisioning, and they can help you find the perfect location to make it happen.
3. Come up with a good story
The most important part of executing a successful surprise proposal is coming up with a good story that’ll leave your partner totally, completely surprised and unsuspecting from the get-go! There are essentially two ways you can do this: fabricate a complete lie, or surprise them during a planned photo session.
1. Fabricate a complete lie
Option 1 is to make up a totally fake story to get your partner to go with you to a certain location, at a certain time, and probably get dressed up a little bit, without them suspecting anything. For example, tell them, “We’re going to get drinks with so-and-so, but let’s stop by here real quick.” This’ll hopefully encourage them to dress nicely (to some degree), and then you’ll pop the question before they even have time to know what’s happening—with me hiding and documenting in the background, of course! To make sure I know where you’ll be, we’ll choose a location + I’ll walk you through exactly how to get there so you don’t have to worry about where you’re going. I can send maps, pins, videos, and pictures, and if you still get it wrong, I’m good on the fly! I’ll gladly low-key chase you around if you accidentally go rogue.
2. Surprise them during a planned photo session
The second option is to surprise them during a planned photo session! If your partner already wants photos done, that’s perfect—just give me a heads up that you’re going to propose so that I’ll be ready. If not, I can message them and ask if you two could model for me, and that we we can get the ball rolling without raising suspicion. You and I will come up with a little cue of some sort, and then I’ll know when the big moment is about to happen!
4. Plan a little celebration
Finally, plan a little celebration for after you propose. The emotions are going to be flowing, so take advantage and just allow yourselves to live in that exciting moment as long as you can. Bring out a bottle of champagne, have a friend come in with your pup for some family photos, or have a picnic with a cute charcuterie board. Whatever would make the moment as special and as memorable as possible for the two of you!
Top 11 Best Places to Propose in the PNW
Alrighty, friend, now onto what you came here for: the 11 best PNW proposal locations, from the Oregon Coast all the way up to the Olympic Peninsula, and everywhere in between.
Where to Propose in Washington
1. Artist Point | Mt. Baker
Artist Point is one of my all-time favorite locations to recommend to couples, be it for elopements, intimate weddings, adventure sessions, or proposals. It’s easy to get to via a drive up a stunning scenic highway that winds up the mountain, the panoramic views from the top are impeccable, and the summer wildflowers + lush greenery is every mountain lover’s dream. This is actually where my husband and I got married, so it holds an extra special place in my heart and I get so excited every time I get to help other couples make new memories here! I could easily hide somewhere at Artist Point without your partner noticing, so this is a good option if you want a surprise proposal without a photographer in sight.
Artist Point is the perfect place to propose if you want any of the following:
- Drive-up breathtaking mountain views
- Gorgeous summertime wildflowers
- Glorious autumn colors and vibrant foliage
- Plenty of hiking trails that take you through alpine lakes, beautiful greenery, and dramatic mountain peaks
Head over to Brandi & Jordan’s Glam and Moody Artist Point Elopement to see more of this stunning location.
2. Lake Crescent | Olympic National Park
If you’d rather head up north to the Olympics, Lake Crescent is a phenomenal place to propose. Located in the foothills of the Olympics, about 18 miles from Port Angeles, Lake Crescent offers everything you could dream of for a PNW proposal location: mountain views, a beautiful blue lake, dense greenery, tranquil beaches, nearby waterfalls, and access to other incredible parts of Olympic National Park. Because it’s super easy to get to Lake Crescent and doesn’t require a big hike (plus there’s plenty of space on the lakeshore), it would work for any kind of proposal—a total surprise with me hiding in a tree on the shore, or a sneaky lil’ photo session with a surprise partway through!
3. Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout | Mt. Rainier
The Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout is one of the most popular fire lookouts inside of Mt. Rainier National Park, located near Sunrise Inn, about 7,000 feet above sea level—the highest point in the park! To get there, you’ll hike the Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail via Sourdough Ridge, which is around 5.7 miles out-and-back with just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s a great proposal location if you and your partner enjoy exploring the trails together and you know they’ll be down for a moderate hike. I’d say this is a better location if you want to propose during a photo session, as it’ll be harder to me to hide from you on this trail up the mountain, and the lookout area isn’t very big. Pretend like you’re helping me create some epic portfolio content and then surprise your partner with the question once we’re at the top—bonus points if we time it right for sunrise or sunset. Note that unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in Mt. Rainier National Park, so if you really want to have your dogs be a part of your proposal, you’ll want to opt for a different location.
4. Panorama Point | Mt. Rainier
Panorama Point is another beautiful, world-class Rainier hike, located on the Paradise side of the mountain, accessible via the Skyline Trail, which starts just steps from the visitor center. You’ll take a 3.8-mile out-and-back trail through blooming wildflowers (in July-August), patches of snow at higher elevations, and unbeatable mountain vistas, all the way to Panorama Point, where you can either hike back or extend your adventure to take the full loop (5.4 miles total). The best time to hike this trail is between June and early September, so plan for a summer proposal—you may or may not get clear views of Rainier depending on the day, but even if you don’t, the surrounding alpine scenery is stunning and just a beautiful environment for a proposal!
5. Gold Creek Pond | Snoqualmie
If you’re loving the idea of a peaceful lakeside proposal with dramatic mountains + dreamy PNW greenery surrounding you, then you should consider proposing at Gold Creek Pond. Yes, it’s technically a pond, but it really looks like a stunning lake at the top of Snoqualmie Pass. It’s got everything Lake Crescent has, without quite as far of a drive: deep blue waters that reflect the trees & mountains on a clear day, charming picnic areas along the shore, and, most importantly, drive-up views that don’t require more than a few ounces of effort. And a huge bonus is that the loop around Gold Creek Pond is paved + ADA-accessible, which may be important for the two of you or any family/friends you’re inviting to tag along for the celebration. Dogs are allowed here, so no need to leave your pups at home—it would be so fun to include them in the big moment 🙂
Our final Washington proposal location is the cute little riverside town of Index, WA, located in Snohomish County just over an hour from Seattle. Index is known for its outdoor recreation (like most of WA is, if we’re being honest), scenic Skykomish River views, and endless protected wilderness areas to explore. There are a TON of cozy cabins in Index that would be perfect for a proposal, if you’d rather propose in a more home-y atmosphere, or if the weather isn’t ideal. You could also disguise your proposal as a quick weekend getaway with an “in-home” photo session, and I bet your partner wouldn’t suspect a thing! Find a place with a warm, inviting atmosphere, and maybe a hot tub, a nice patio/deck area, and a spacious kitchen where you can make coffee, brunch, whatever you please. Make a weekend out of it and have a whole day or two to celebrate together!
Where to Propose in Oregon
7. Cannon Beach
Want to propose to your love at an iconic Oregon destination that feels like it was literally made to be on the front of a postcard? Cannon Beach is the place to go! Home to the ever-recognizable Haystack Rock, the coziest little beach town full of adorable local shops + eateries, and rugged coastal views that people come from all over to admire. You truly cannot go wrong proposing at ANY part of Cannon Beach, whether you keep it classic and propose right in front of Haystack Rock, or you go a few miles further along the coast to the caves + cliffs of Hug Point. It may not be the same as the warm, sun-filled beaches of California, but Cannon Beach sure is an idyllic beach atmosphere that all ocean lovers will fall in love with.
8. Cathedral Park
Want to propose somewhere in the city (Portland) instead of out in the mountains or along the sandy beaches of the Oregon Coast? Cathedral Park is one of the most popular parks in Portland for weddings, elopements, and photoshoots of all kinds, located on the banks of the Willamette River. It was aptly named for the soaring, gothic-inspired towers of St. Joseph Bridge that feel very cathedral-esque, and in the middle of the city no less! The park is quaint, peaceful, and the scenery is one-of-a-kind thanks to the surprisingly beautiful architecture of the undersisde of the bridge. I can just picture you getting down on one knee right in the center of the arches or along the little overlook at the top of the stairs, with gorgeous views of the bridge + surrounding parts of Portland serving as your backdrop—dreamy!
9. Deschutes National Forest
If you’re feeling more of a forest vibe but still want mountains nearby, check out the Deschutes National Forest. Spanning over 1.5 million acres of beautiful wilderness in central Oregon, this national forest is brimming with scenic views + endless opportunities for adventure among the trees, mountains, and lakes that fill the area. You’ll have access to 250+ caves, five wilderness areas, six nationally protected scenic rivers, stunning scenery surrounding the eastern Oregon Cascades, and recreational opportunities galore, from hiking to biking to swimming to boating & more. It’s also super close to Bend, which is one of the best towns in central Oregon for a mini getaway—you could find an epic spot to propose in the forest, and then spend the next day or two exploring Bend and all it has to offer!
12. Painted Hills
We’re venturing away from the greenery-filled mountains and into the desert for this one: ever heard of the Painted Hills? They’re this insane, awe-inspiring group of hills just northwest of Mitchell, Oregon, and are covered in various stripes of red, tan, yellow, even pink-ish tones that will blow you away. It’s probably the closest thing you can get to the epic, colorful deserts of Utah without leaving the PNW, especially if you visit at sunset or sunrise when the sun is shining down on the hills, or you get an equally beautiful painted sky above you. The Painted Hills are an out-of-this-world location for an unforgettable proposal, as they’re easy to get to, the overlook trail is just 0.5 miles long & is all flat, and the landscapes are phenomenal to explore.
11. Crater Lake National Park
Did you know that Oregon is home to the deepest lake in the country, and one of the ten deepest in the world? That’s right—Crater Lake, known for its rich blue color and crazy clear waters is located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon. This national park has got to have some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire PNW, boasting a a scenic road that offers stunning views of the lake’s volcanic formations, an abundance of amazing trails, and even boat cruises around the lake. I don’t know about you, but riding a boat around this crystal clear lake sounds like a pretty epic post-proposal celebration to me 😉
PNW Proposal Photographer
By this point, you probably understand why it’s so important to hire a photographer you love for your proposal, right? Not only will they snapping photos and documenting this incredible moment for you to keep forever; they’re also going to help you make it happen + plan it in the first place. You absolutely do not have to go at it alone—if you find someone you trust and who truly cares about you, they’re going to help you devise the perfect story to make sure your partner is surprised, thrilled, and overcome with joy. I’d love to chat about photographing your PNW proposal, and to help you bring your dream engagement to life—let’s connect here and get the process started!