February 20, 2018

Perfect Proposal at the Pavilion Grand Hotel | Proposal Photography

Pavilion Grand Proposal Photos

As a photographer, I get to spend time with people at some pretty pivotal moments of their lives.  One of the most meaningful moments in any couple’s life together is when they decide to get married.  A while back, I photographed a pretty perfect proposal in Saratoga Springs at the Pavilion Grand Hotel.  I asked Jordan to write a little something about how he pulled off this wonderful proposal, and here it is:

Saratoga Engagement Photos Grand Pavilion
Rainy night–not problem!

Planning the Proposal:

  1. What tips or tricks would you recommend?  I would separate these into two different questions.  My main tip would be to make the proposal as personal as possible to your relationship.  We had been dating for 7 years and we had plenty of memories, knew each others likes/dislikes, and are just so involved in each other’s lives that there is no reason for the biggest moment in our relationship to not be completely surrounding what we know about one another.
Romantic Engagement Pictures
Jordan remembered to pack a change of clothing for Jane for pictures.  The lobby made the perfect backdrop!

When it comes to tricks, I would say keeping it a secret and at the same time, acting as cool, calm and collective at all times.  When you date someone for so long and you have also discussed getting engaged and starting a life together – it is not a surprise that you would eventually give your partner a ring.  For me, I knew that she would love to be blown off her feet at a moment’s notice without ever having a clue.  I told 2 or 3 of her friends that were key to my plan and waited until the last possible moment (a week or 2 before) to tell our families.  This made a 7 year relationship obviously going to marriage into a complete stunning and romantic evening that ended in tears of joy.

Proposal Photos Pavilion Grand Hotel Saratoga
How romantic is this? Jordan decorated the stairway leading to the rooftop!
  1. How did you choose the time/place? A lot of this was based on the fact that I wanted to surprise her.  Choosing a destination proposal and placing her 3 hours (and change) away from our home would keep her mind off the engagement as it would be “ridiculous” for me to be there as she was enjoying the weekend with her friends.  The time had a few aspects. I was planning on doing it during football season as that would also completely shock her that I would “miss” football.  I also loved the idea of the start of the fall.  Once we found Saratoga as the perfect romantic destination to go about our plan – the end of summer/beginning of fall seemed like a stunning time to execute it.
Hotel Engagement Photos
Waiting for Jane to be done with dinner.
  1. What was the most difficult aspect of planning the proposal?  Execution.  Dating for 7 years, living together for a year and a half – she is immune to surprise.  Keeping this secret was rather difficult.
Engagement Proposal Photos
Jordan was so nervous–it was super cute.
  1. Did you fake her out in the weeks leading up to the actual proposal?  Kind of.  She had always wanted to go to a sunflower field where she could be surrounded by sunflowers.  The week before my proposal, my football team had the week off and the weather was nice so I told her we were going on an adventure. I took her to a sunflower field and it was a lovely day that she would never forget, but just not like the weekend after…… She told a friend that if I didn’t do it that day – it may not happen until March (after football season – haha!)
Proposal Ideas Photo
The level of execution was truly impressive.
  1. What made you realize this was the person you wanted to spend your life with?  I would say being away from her during college (I was in Michigan and she was in Ithaca, NY) and then coming back and realizing that there was no one else like her.  She was always my best friend since high school.  We have the same likes/dislikes. We rarely get into arguments.  We love spending time with one another and we can’t stand not being together for any lengthy amount of time.  It was pretty clear once we moved in together, that this relationship was only going to get better and better.

Proposal Detail Photos

  1. Was there anything you would have done differently? No, I think we executed this one on all levels.  I may regret not bringing 2 or 3 of my guy friends as the night after the proposal was celebrating with all of her friends and it really was about both of us.  This was just a short time – so I had a blast either way.
Proposal in Saratoga Photos
She said “Yes.”
  1. How did you choose the ring?  I had gone to Tiffany’s with her (knowing we would not buy anything from a brand name store like that) – and we got sized up and saw a few items.  She went with a friend 2 weeks later and tried on a lot of different rings. The friend and I coordinated and nailed down several details that she would absolutely love in a ring and I think I nailed it!
Saratoga Pavilion Grand Proposal photo
Diamond Solitaire ring that Jordan carefully researched at Tiffany’s
  1. You had tons of personal details–can you elaborate a little on the elements you used and why?  Let’s start from the top:
Engagement Party Photos
Of course you need friends to celebrate with afterwards.

1) The 2 best friends: Her two best friends in the world couldn’t actually make the weekend – I told them what I was doing and they drove up with me day of and helped me set up.  I had them waiting in the bathroom of the first surprise room and they would later stun her as she could never imagine going through this night without them there.

Engagement Ideas Photo
Jane saw this when she went back to her room with her friends after an amazing dinner at Mouzon House.

2) The memories/photo clothes line: We had saved tickets, mementos, brochures, pamphlets, menus, etc… since we started dating in 2007 in a small shoebox.  The shoebox sits in a desk in our living room and we rarely notice it except for when we just add items to it.  I brought that box up and hung about 100 of these items from her hotel room ceiling with some photos of us over the years so she would easily recognize that this was an homage to our relationship.

Grand Pavilion Hotel Saratoga Proposal Photos

3) The music: As she walked in that first room, I had the girls in the bathroom (the 2 best friends) put on “our song” from high school that we loved to listen together from Bluetooth speakers so they would never have to open the door.  When she came into my room (from the sign that said go to room 401) – I had your husband play another one of “our songs” but from our relationship nowadays.

Saratoga Proposal
Champagne is a definite must for lifetime milestone events.

Saratoga Springs Grand Pavilion Proposal Photos

4) My room: Not as much personal details and more just romance – the white roses (she would think red is cheesy), the lighting, candles, etc…

Engagement Ring Photos
Jane loves York Pepperming Patties. So of course Jordan brought some for later in the evening.

5) The snacks: I figured if we were going to be celebrating after – we would need food with our champagne! I got her favorite snacks to go along with the festivities: red Swedish fish, York peppermint patties, goji dried berries, raspberries and blueberries from our farmers market in the city, chocolate babka from our favorite bakery, her favorite artisanal chesses, etc..

Pavilion Grand Hotel Engagement Photo
On the rooftop of the Pavilion Grand Hotel.

Engagement Photos Saratoga Springs NY

It was truly the perfect night and I really cannot thank you enough for capturing it.

Sperry's Engagement Photos
I think this might be one of my favorite Engagement Photos
Saratoga nighttime Engagement photos
Sperry’s is a quintessential Saratoga Springs nightspot.

I personally loved this session so much!  The level of planning involved on Jordan’s end was so impressive!  And let’s face it, they are just a super cute couple!

Did you enjoy reading about Jordan and Jane’s proposal?  You might also enjoy this post on Planning an Engagement Photo Session.

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Photographer Susan Blackburn of Susan Blackburn Photography specializes in photographing Seniors, Family, Weddings, Glamour, Boudoir & Commercial Photography sessions. With a photography studio location in Saratoga Springs, NY, Susan serves the Saratoga Springs, Lake George and the Adirondack Regions. She is also available for travel assignments.  Susan has been a professional photographer for 20 years. Her goal has always been simple—take pictures that her clients love.