There’s something inherently romantic about beaches. Maybe it’s the front row seating to swoon-worthy sunsets, or the sound of waves kissing the shore, or the caress of the sea mist against your face. Either way, there’s no denying these beautiful spots where the sea meets the shore are some of the most popular question-popping places for good reason.
What do you need to know before getting down on one knee in the sand? We turned to the experts to collect all the dos and don’ts for the ultimate guide to beach proposals. Here, Todd Gehrke of Florida’s iconic The Don CeSar St. Pete Beach shares his insight from the shores of one of the best beaches in the U.S.
Meet the Expert
Todd Gehrke, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Don CeSar, has over 25 years of experience in hospitality from the slopes of Telluride, Colorado to the beaches of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Pros of a Beach Proposal
“Couples from all over the world retreat to beach destinations for relaxation and reconnection,” says Gehrke. “As a result, the beach is the perfect environment to utilize a healthy and romantic setting to create memories that will last a lifetime.” Beaches offer plenty of space to get creative with your proposal and make the perfect backdrop for gorgeous engagement photos to share with family and friends, he adds.
Cons of a Beach Proposal
As with most outdoor activities, the weather will be the most important factor to consider when planning a beach proposal. Gehrke cautions those doing the proposing to consider the time of year, research any rainy seasons in the destination, and check whether high temperatures may be predicted during that time. One more thing to remember: “Many beaches are public, so I would encourage couples to try and secure a permitted or private arranged location,” Gehrke says.
How to Plan a Beach Proposal
Having a local expert or events professional on your side can help calm nerves and create a contingency plan for surrounding risks. “Many beach resorts and coastal communities offer specific packages or services which can be arranged in advance to ensure a smooth proposal experience,” Gehrke shares. “We find that sometimes the proposer is a bit nervous about the process, so having someone who can assist with logistics is a wonderful benefit.”
Whether you decide to go it alone or enlist the help of an expert planner, keep these tips in mind to ensure your beach proposal will go off without a hitch.
- Scout the perfect place. Check for privacy, look for an aesthetic background for photos, and most importantly prioritize any locations that have special or sentimental meaning to you and your partner.
- Mark where you’ll make your move. It’s a good idea to plot out where you’ll guide your partner before you pop the question. Try not to get too close to the water – nervous hands and emotional gestures could knock the ring into waves.
- Hire a photographer to capture the moment so you can share it with friends and family and look back on the occasion with your fiancé over the years.
- In the days leading up to the big question, check the weather for any impending storms, high winds, or uncomfortable temperatures. Be sure you have a plan B in place should your original idea get rained out.
- Plan for Mother Nature as best you can and bring bug repellent, or try to incorporate citronella candles so that you and your other half aren’t distracted by pesky insects.
- Think about what your better half might be wearing and if you’ll need to coerce them into an outfit change. They may be less inclined to take a walk on the beach if they’re wearing their favorite heels or a pair of pants they don’t want to get dirty.
- When traveling with an engagement ring, be sure to keep the ring in your carry-on as opposed to your checked bag to ensure you don't have to deal with a lost luggage scenario.
Below, browse through these ideas from coast to coast to find your perfect beach proposal inspiration.
Make It a Walk to Remember
At The Don CeSar, couples can participate in a seemingly standard walking tour around the property highlighting some of the Pink Palace’s most romantic and historical features with a “tour guide” (photographer) taking photos throughout the tour. The tour ends at the oceanfront with rose petals and champagne setting the scene for one last photo. You drop to your knee to propose and it’s all caught on camera.
Have a Champagne Picnic
A luxurious beach picnic for two is the perfect setting for popping the question along with some bubbly. “There is nothing more romantic than walking up to a styled scene with your fiancé-to-be,” says Alyssa Abshier and Victoria Nadler, co-founders of Amber Sol Collective. “Complete with an abundance of flowers, artisan charcuterie board, vintage goblets for when you bring out the champagne, and all set under a billowing canopy with layers of pillows to lounge on.” Here, you can linger, savor the moment (and the charcuterie!), and enjoy the afterglow of the proposal while your favorite photographer captures it all.
Leave a Message in a Bottle
Write a list of reasons why you fell in love with your partner posing your question at the end and hide it in a corked bottle. Work with a friend or event planner to have them hide it along the beach in an inconspicuous spot that you and your partner happen to stumble across during a stroll along the waves.
“You’ll also want to ensure that the spot you choose for the proposal is a little off-the-beaten-path,” says Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “Depending on the time of year, beaches can be extremely crowded with tourists, and the last thing you want is for someone to interrupt your plan, intercept your hidden ring, or end up in the background of your photos.”
Planning for an early-morning proposal could be your best bet, as it’ll supply the most lighting and likely be the most unassuming timing for your soon-to-be fiancé.
Go Digging for Diamonds
Take your partner on an interactive proposal journey where they get in on the action of finding their own ring. Beaches like the one in Seabrook on the Washington coast offer one of the most unique and popular activities visitors can find: razor clam digging. Place the ring box into a safe container and bury it in the sand when your partner isn’t looking. Call them over to where you “see signs of clams” and watch them dig it up with delight. Celebrate with a fresh seafood dinner, of course.
Say It With the Surf
If you and your to-be-fiancé are self-proclaimed surf bums, head out to catch some waves and pop the question after you glide back to the sand. “Get creative and use painter’s tape to write out ‘Will you marry me?’ on the bottom of a surfboard,” says Lily Walsh, director of marketing for Seabrook, WA. Pro tip: Leave the ring on shore with a celebratory picnic ready to go.
Write It in the Sand
Getting engaged while away on a beach vacation is a love-story scenario many people dream about. “We recommend contacting a romance travel advisor or the resort's wedding department directly for assistance with making the celebration extra special,” says Jen Avey, VP of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group. Many resorts create packages that come with a complimentary candlelit dinner on the beach and the option to write 'Will You Marry Me?' in the sand.
JW Marriott Marco Island, for example, handles a number of beach proposals annually, offering everything from a toes-in-the-sand private dinner next to a simple handcrafted sand logo or an elaborate proposal carved into a sand sculpture.
Do Dinner on the Shore
From giant LOVE letters in the sand to a lavish private dinner for two, a beachside favorite is the oceanfront dinner proposal. Take a stroll on the beach at sunset to pop the question, and then enjoy a private dining experience in the sand curated by the pros. Rosemary Stevenson, Sales and Weddings Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, has helped to design several over-the-top tablescapes that go well beyond candles. Intricate florals, a luxe table setting, and a custom gourmet menu from the hotel's executive chef all set the stage for a wow-worthy proposal against turquoise waters and sugary white sand.
Go for a Sunset Sail
Select a location with a stunning jetty such as One&Only Mandarina where you can choose from a fleet of boats and a crew who can tailor a sunset sail to your desired activities. While on the water, indulge in an assortment of beverages and onboard amenities while the team on land prepares a spectacularly romantic setup that comes into view as you return to the shore.
Enjoy Some Beachside Reading
Plan for a relaxing day at the beach and slip a little something extra into your partner’s beach bag. Personalized photo books from companies such as Artifact Uprising create a proposal that recaps your most special memories together and captures the moment you pop the question all in one place. Have your partner flip through the pages until they reach the end where your most heartfelt words are printed on the last page. Your customized proposal book will become an elevated complement to any bookshelf or coffee table, keeping the memory of that magic moment alive for years to come.
Light Up Your Love with a Lantern
“A stationary lantern that glows from a gobo stating will you marry me would be an awesome proposal with a beach background,” shares Cynthia Najares, creative coordinator and logistic manager at For All Time Events. Set the stage for the big moment with a bonfire or a gathering with friends and family at the beach that night, then make time for a private walk along the shore towards the light and your life-changing question.