While having a drone fly over your “will you marry me?” might seem like the domain of Instagram influencers, with social media becoming the most common way couples let their family and friends know they are due to be wed more people are turning to professional photographers to covertly capture their proposal.
Tania Saad, co-founder of my proposal co., the proposal planning service which staged the Serenis proposal, says 90 per cent of her clients request a secret photographer.
“The most important reason behind hiring a photographer is to capture the moment they surprise their partner and drop down on one knee – this moment and their partner’s reaction to it is something they will never want to forget and it goes by really quickly,” Ms Saad says. “Many of our clients are too shocked to realise what is going on.”
Since opening shop in 2015, my proposal co. has planned over 500 proposals for couples who spend anywhere from $1500 to $15,000 for the service, depending on the amount of help they need and the scale of their plans. To keep things a surprise for the person being proposed to, her photographers go to extreme lengths: dressing up as waiters in restaurants, hiding up trees and, yes, sometimes operating drones.
“Last week we had a client who convinced his girlfriend to enter a fake couples photoshoot giveaway on Instagram – our photographer even contacted her letting her know she had won the prize and planned all the logistics with her directly,” says Ms Saad. “She had no idea that the whole time, this was a part of an elaborate proposal plan and that her boyfriend would be proposing to her during the photoshoot.”
Rachael Bentick, director at Sydney’s Inlighten Photography, first received a request for a proposal shoot 10 years ago. Now, the company can book five a year, with photographers also donning disguises and using long lenses in bushes to make sure their client’s partner doesn’t suspect a thing.
“As [people] put more and more effort into the big proposal, I think that’s why it’s increasing in popularity,” she says. “And they know their fiancée will want to share on socials.”
For those wanting to post pictures of the event ASAP, Bentick’s team sends the candid snaps plus some portraits taken once the proposal is done (“we make ourselves known and let the bride know that her future husband was wonderful enough to plan to have the moment captured”) over wifi at the site.
Although she agrees social media has contributed to the demand for her service, Ms Saad says there is something nice about commemorating a proposal as an important life event, regardless of whether it is going on the ‘gram.
“People take photos of birthdays, weddings and other special events, so why not proposals too?”
But, although they can result in some incredible shots, neither Ms Bentick or Ms Saad are particularly keen to use drones when photographing in secret for one important reason.
“They are so noisy!” Ms Bentick says. “Definitely not secret.”
Mary Ward is Deputy Lifestyle Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.