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A Surprise Pismo Beach Proposal Near The Cliff's Hotel


Guy proposes to girl at tide pools near Cliff's Hotel at Shell Beach from Pismo Beach Photographer Mackenzie Rana

Planning a Surprise Proposal at Pismo Beach

Planning a surprise proposal and keeping it a surprise is no easy task. When Gage was referred to me by another local family photographer, Lauren Hargreaves, I was excited to help him plan the evening.


Gage was looking for a Pismo Beach photographer within a tight window for his surprise proposal. The ring had come in early and Hannah was visiting San Luis Obispo area for a work related trip and Gage made a last minute trip to join her. Neither have been to the Central Coast and in-between getting his rental car, he was secretly calling me to get a game plan going. He expressed how Hannah knew it was coming but he really felt this was his last opportunity to surprise her. So after a few questions I got a sense of how to attempt to throw her off and gave some tips along the way. First step was to identify a location that suited them and his goals.


Newly engaged couple embraces at coastal access point near The Cliff's Hotel during surprise proposal captured by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Hidden Beach Near The Cliff's Hotel in Pismo Beach

Hoping for an intimate setting, Gage initially mentioned Pismo Beach for the location. Although I love Pismo Beach and the two were staying at Vespera Hotel, I thought they would have the opportunity to explore the Pismo Beach area the night before. The pier is great at night and told him to take advantage of it, but I recommended a low tide beach not far from Vespera Hotel and told him to tell Hannah, the front desk recommended they check out the tide pools at low tide the following evening.


A coastal access point just along the Cliff's Hotel features a beautiful beach along the bluffs that is home to locals and wildlife. At low tide it becomes a magical place to explore the tide pools and watch the sunset with the outline of local surfers catching the next wave. It's one of my favorite spots and I love to share its beauty. Gage agreed and thought it would be a great spot to stop before their dinner reservations at Novo in San Luis Obispo.


The Perfect Evening in Pismo Beach

With cotton candy skies above, Gage walked Hannah down the steps at Shell Beach to explore the tide pools. On the beach, locals would surfing, exploring, or enjoying a picnic. I would be waiting with cameras hidden in my lap and under a magazine while I watched Gage and Hannah from afar until he gave me the signal. Gage then got down on one knee and proposed to Hannah and she said, "Yes!"


After a few minutes soaking up the moment and admiring her engagement ring, I greeted the two newly engaged, congratulated them both and invited them over to do some engagement photos.


Newly engaged couple admires ring at Shell Beach Tide Pools during Proposal photographed by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

5 Tips for Planning a Surprise Proposal

  1. Try to be careful over suggesting to dress nice, or having their nails done. It's often that they know it's coming so these suggestions tend to be alerting.

  2. Be relaxed on time frame. I know I typically give a time for reference, but I like to buffer proposals 15-20 minutes so you don't alert your partner.

  3. Leave items like sunglasses, purses, phones behind. Or ditch them for your partner. Keeping hands free helps that picture perfect moment

  4. Hold the kneel. Nerves kick in and you might not hold the kneel long enough. I recommend a solid three-count.

  5. Don't rush the moment! Embrace, kiss, scream... I want to see all the emotion and don't feel rushed to acknowledge my presence.

Booking Your Proposal Photographer in Pismo Beach

Proposals are becoming one of my favorite things to capture. Helping plan a romantic evening and the adrenaline of the candid moments are all part of my passion for photography.


All of my proposals include a generous time frame and all of your images. As an added bonus I offer a same-day highlight gallery to my proposal clients so they can share the professional portraits that day with friends and family.


To book your surprise proposal, contact me! I'd be happy to help you plan a romantic proposal of your dreams for the one you love the most!




Couple embraces during engagement photo session by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Couple walks on beach below The Cliff's Hotel in Pismo Beach by Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Couple laughing during engagement photos at Pismo Beach coastline by Photographer MacKenzie Rana

A couple embracing at the beach during engagement photos by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Hands of a newly engaged couple and engagement ring during Pismo Beach Proposal photographed by MacKenzie Rana Photography


Couple runs along beach near Cliff's Hotel during sunset captured by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Couple on blanket at beach after proposal at Pismo Beach by photographer MacKenzie Rana


Couple cuddles on beach during engagement photos captured by Pismo Beach Photographer MacKenzie Rana

Couple on blanket at beach after proposal at Pismo Beach by photographer MacKenzie Rana

Couple holds up wedding ring finger to celebrate recent engagement with Pismo Beach proposal photographer Mackenzie Rana

Couple on blanket at beach laughing after proposal at Pismo Beach by photographer MacKenzie Rana



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