How to plan a magical sunset proposal

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Picture this: it’s the golden hour, that beautiful time of the day just before sunset when the light is hazy and magical, making everything look incredibly romantic. You’re with your partner at a beautiful location, sipping a glass of chilled and bubbly, and as the sun sinks slowly towards the horizon, you gently go down on one knee and propose.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? A sunset proposal has always been popular, and it’s not hard to see why: there’s just something about this time of the day when the light is ethereal and the sun is in its final fiery glow. It’s a transformative moment from day to night, so what better time to mark a change in your relationship from dating to engaged?

Finding a location for your sunset proposal

Proposing at sunset means that location is key, as you want to ensure that you pick somewhere that creates the ideal backdrop for your question! A beach is an always-popular choice for a sunset proposal, as the light reflected over the waves creates a truly beautiful setting. You could also opt for a lake, river or harbour for a similar effect. The main thing to plan is that your waterside setting isn’t too crowded, as you don’t want hordes of people spoiling your romantic moment!

Sometimes sunset proposals are the case of being somewhere at the right time. “My boyfriend Matt and I were on holiday in France at a place we’d been to before,” explains Zoë Gilbertson from London. “When we arrived at the supermarket to get supplies on the first day we spotted the pizza van we liked, which is only around once or twice a week, so we spontaneously decided to get some pizza and wine and head to this secluded beach to watch the sunset. Matt was suddenly really insistent that he had to go back and get wine glasses from the car while I ordered the pizzas. I remember thinking, he’s quite stressed about wine glasses, although in hindsight he was really going back to get the ring!”

Halfway through their pizza, as the sun was going down over the water, Matt got down on one knee and asked Zoë that all-important question. “He then got the ring and slid it on my slightly pizza-covered hand!”

Being in the mountains can also be an amazing location for sunset proposals – and not necessarily at the top! “My husband Stu proposed to me at sunset at the bottom of Colca Canyon in Peru, the second deepest canyon in the world,” says Katie Reid from Bristol. “We were sipping a cocktail at sunset, celebrating our achievement at making it down safely, and he then surprised me with a proposal. It had been a gruelling two days’ descent, and I was in desperate need of a shower – I’m not sure I would have asked me! But I’m so glad he did, and it was such a perfect time and place.”

If you prefer a city location, think about somewhere that’s high up above the rest of the buildings or on a rooftop so you can truly appreciate the beauty of the sunset. You could go for an epic, romcom-style proposal at an iconic tall building such as The Shard in London, the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center in New York, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. For something more low-key but still spectacular (that may also be less crowded), research hotels or bars with rooftop areas and amazing views, so you can casually invite your partner there for sunset drinks and then surprise them with a proposal!

Creating a picture-perfect sunset proposal

Once you’ve sorted your location, it’s now time to confirm all the fine details and ensure everything runs smoothly. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can find out exactly what time sunset is in your proposal location and plan everything around this accordingly. The best time for actually asking the question is about half an hour before sunset – aka the ‘golden hour’, the time which is beloved by photographers. The light at this time is softer and redder, causing everything to have a beautiful glow. Not only is it a gorgeous time of day for a proposal, but if you do want to capture the moment with photos or video then you’ll have an absolutely stunning backdrop. Want to go the extra mile for your photos? You could even wear clothing that complements the golden hour – think neutral shades like white, cream and grey that allow the sunset colours to really pop!

Timing really is everything with a sunset proposal, as you have a relatively small block of time to ask your question. So if you’re using vendors such as a photographer or videographer, make sure you liaise with them over timings so they know exactly where and when to be. If you are planning on including professionals in your proposal, or have some elaborate ideas for making your proposal even more spectacular, it could be a good idea to get the services of a proposal planner to help you coordinate all the timings – leaving you free to focus solely on asking the question!

As mentioned above, if it’s important to you and your partner to have some privacy then pick your sunset proposal location carefully to ensure it’s not too crowded. You could even visit the location a week or two before, if this fits with your plans, to see what that spot is normally like on the day and time you want to propose.

And if you do plan a sunset proposal, then sunset can make for a wonderful wedding theme. This is exactly what Zoë and Matt did, with sunset colours and motifs featuring on their stationery, bridesmaids dresses and bridal jewellery, plus a beautiful ombre iced cake with sun cake topper setting behind the bride and groom.

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