Charles River Sunset Proposal

Charles River Sunset proposal
I'm Bella!

My work has a very editorial look. I am for classic, clean imagery that isn't heavily altered from real life.  My art is created through framing, composition, emotion and connection rather than props and trends.

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Looking for a Boston proposal photographer

Carter reached out to me about a week before he was set to propose to his girlfriend. He knew he wanted a Charles River Sunset proposal. He found me via Yelp and apparently great things were being said about me and my services. If you would like to see other reviews, please check out what wonderful couples have said about me on Google Business, or The Knot.

Carter was very certain he wanted someone that could handle candid moments when searching for a Boston proposal photographer. He asked for samples of “unscripted” moments as he knew he already loved my style of rich colours that were true to life. I sent him several examples since I’m a child photographer. There is no such thing as a scripted moment when working with kids. You have to move quickly and think fast. You have to keep an eye out for the light, the background and the composition. I also sent a gallery of a wedding so he saw how I would photograph a day since it would be comprised of scripted and unscripted moments.

There is so much to consider when searching for a surprise proposal photographer and I’m glad Carter knew what he was looking for and asked the right questions. The work I sent him sealed the deal.

The Charles River

The Esplanade along the Charles River provided the backdrop for this sunset surprise proposal and engagement session. We really lucked out that day with the most stunning weather and light. Carter really knew how to pick the date.

Charles River where the surprise proposal took place
Charles River where the surprise proposal took place

The surprise proposal

After several emails back and forth planning the big day, it was time. We finalized the details and the timing of when they would arrive at the Esplanade along the Charles River. I had a vague description of a jacket and a dress on them. I didn’t have a photo to work with but going forward I think that would help me identify the couple. Before Carter arrived with his fiancee, I actually mistakenly started stalking another couple that matched his description. Thankfully I didn’t get the right queues from them and went back to my hiding spot before Carter and his girlfriend arrived!

The proposal photos

When they finally came into view on the bridge I started to capture the process. The story begins for me before the actual proposal. I love to provide the context of the day. This way, their family and friends can relive that moment when the images are shared.

The setup of the surprise proposal situation
The couple heading towards the proposal spot

They passed me and Carter headed toward the waterfront. I waited to see where he would set up shop so that I could choose the best location to capture the moment without being obtrusive. I used a long lens, meaning I was photographing the moment from over 20 meters away but it didn’t look as removed in the images. This way I didn’t intrude on the moment and they were free to be who they were and react however they wanted.

Couple about to propose during sunset on Charles River
The sun was just about to set on the Charles.

I love the runner crossing into the image because it gives a sense of place. If you’ve ever been to the Charles River, you know that it’s absolutely flooded by runners and bikers during the warmer months.

The proposal is about to happen.
The sun was setting fast and the timing was absolutely perfect. I was hiding in the bushes trying to get a good angle while staying out of the way.

Angling to make sure my view wouldn’t be obscured I had a few seconds to decide how to shoot this. And then the moment happened.

He bent down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage
He got down on one knee.
Surprise Proposal on the Esplanade Charles River Engagement photo
The moment and the reaction.
Sunset proposal ideas
I never rush up to a couple afterward. I love to give them space after the moment until they’re ready for me to intrude. It’s such a special time. There’s never any rush to get into picture mode.
Surprise Proposal on the Esplanade Charles River Engagement photo
Surprise Proposal on the Esplanade Charles River Engagement photo

A new perspective of the proposal

This is where I started to get a bit closer to get a new angle and a different perspective.

Surprise proposal idea in Boston. Charles River Engagement session.
Sunset couple photo during surprise proposal in Boston

After I was noticed, I was invited into the moment. I introduced myself and congratulated the newly engaged couple. Now it was time to move into the engagement session portion of the session.

The Engagement photo session

I love to do a mini posed engagement session after the proposal since the proposal is super short usually, and the images can be used for saved the dates and replace a standalone engagement session. Something to note is that I include a complimentary engagement session with my wedding packages, so do reach out for details if you are in the market for my wedding services.

Sunset couple photo during surprise proposal in Boston
Proposal in Boston

That light! It was golden and just made the moment incredibly magical.

Sunset kiss phoot engagement session
Boston surprise proposal photographer
Sunset kiss phoot engagement session
Photography by Bella Wang Photography
Couple hugging after surprise proposal.
I love how they felt so free to express themselves.
Newly engaged couple kissing during an engagement photo session.
Couple portrait was taken during an engagement session on the Charles River.
The posed classic portrait of the happy couple
Photography by Bella Wang Photography
Photography by Bella Wang Photography

Including the family

Sarah wanted to share the happy news with her family immediately. This sequence is one of my favourites because they are just being so natural and present. This is who they are as a couple. Nothing scripted. A session doesn’t have to be about a million poses. I love my couples to direct and lead a session. It takes a lot of pressure off of me and allows me to do my best work.

The family were so excited to hear about the couple’s Charles River Sunset proposal.

Surprise proposal couple telling family of engagement
Newly engaged couple engagement photos
She had to tell her family the good news
Newly engaged couple engagement photos
I love just watching couples to see how they hold themselves and in their own element. These are the best moments because it captures who they truly are.
Photography by Bella Wang Photography
candid photo taken during engagement photo session.
Newly engaged couple engagement photos
Newly engaged couple celebrating their engagement
Time to celebrate
enjoying her new ring
Just staying with the couple and observing them as they walked towards their dinner reservation
Couple walking along esplanade on Charles River
The session has ended, but I’m still capturing the moment

I never pressure couples for more photos, or poses of any type. I fall into storytelling mode when a couple expresses their desire to end the posed portrait section. This way every session turns out differently for each couple. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Esplanade sunset surprise proposal

Boston and Mother Nature were really showing off that evening for this Charles River Sunset proposal. We were blessed with the most stunning sunset. I photograph outdoors several times a week and I would say we get gorgeous sunsets maybe 20 times a year. If even that many. I definitely tell my couples not to expect this.

Boston Sunset over Charles River
Boston Sunset over Charles River
The engagement Ring being sent to friends and family during engagement session
Time to show off the gorgeous ring to family & friends.
Sunset over the Charles River with boats in the background and city skyline, the couple in the foreground during engagement session
The sunset that evening was surreal. If you’re a local to Boston, you know these sunsets aren’t a regular occurrence.
Couple on the Charles River pedestrian bridge
They’re headed off to celebrate with dinner reservations.

Then it was time to say our goodbyes. The happy and newly engaged couple had dinner reservations that evening. I’m so thankful that they chose me to document this incredible moment in their life story. Congratulations Carter and Sarah.

Other Surprise Sunset Proposals

Check out this LINK to see a sunset proposal that took place at Fan Pier in the Seaport District of Boston. It was featured on How They Asked by The Knot

Seaport District Boston Surprise Proposal

Boston City Hall Elopement

A related post can be found in this LINK for a Boston City Hall Intimate Elopement. It was featured on the Blog What If We Elope. Check out this great blog for tips on Elopements!

Pricing for surprise proposal

For information on pricing, please head to my wedding website: https://bellawangphotography.com/weddings

Specific Pricing Link: https://bellawangphotography.com/engagement-and-proposal-services

If you’d like more information on pricing as well as some Tips on How to Find a Boston Proposal Photographer, click on the below image and it will take you to my wedding pricing page.

How to find a Boston Proposal Photographer
How to find a Boston Proposal Photographer

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About me

My path here is a bit different than most. I have a background in engineering and accounting/auditing. Like every good Asian daughter, I wanted to make my parents happy. With my first paycheck I bought a camera. I was instantly addicted to capturing life's details and observing people's interactions. When I moved from Toronto to Boston, I found myself without a job but with a fresh start. I got my first gig off Craigslist (crazy!) and have been fully booked ever since. The family that had booked me on Craigslist still keeps in touch with me to this day and I've photographed them quite a few times since. I've been featured in numerous publications both online and in print (Martha Stewart Weddings, Boston Magazine, The Knot). 8+ years later, you've stumbled onto my page.  

I am candid, communicative and caring. For those that know me, they know I have a pretty wicked sense of humour to get people to relax. My goal always is to ensure you are heard and that you are comfortable throughout the process. In my portfolio you can see each family's genuine happiness and comfort in their body language. It takes a lot to create the environment of trust. The rave reviews from my families afterward show you how much they care about me in return. This environment of trust builds from the beginning and I honestly attract the kindest families that allow me to create consistently strong images with heart in order to tell their story.


Starting in late Summer of 2021, Bella Wang Photography will be offering Studio Sessions in a brand new studio location right in the heart of the South End in downtown Boston.

Currently only accepting clients willing to sign a model release for these special portfolio-building rates.

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