Denver Botanic Gardens Proposal | Ellen & Dylan

Dylan reached out earlier this spring with the hopes of planning a surprise proposal at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and to do it in a specific spot — the Japanese Zen Gardens.

Capturing a secret proposal session always requires planning, but the kind of planning matters. Sometimes, we aim to hide or at least blend in with our surroundings so as not to attract attention from couples. Other times, we make our presence known — potentially booking a shoot as a couples session, or, say, coming up with a story about why we’re trudging through snow in the middle of the forest in Colorado’s mountains.

In this case, the luscious Denver Botanic Gardens provided the perfect excuse for someone with large cameras to hang out in the general area without attracting much attention. I checked in about 30 minutes before the planned shoot time at the front desk and then wandered to the northwest corner of the gardens, dropping off some of my gear behind some bushes. I talked with guests, and nearby, one of his friends had set up a picnic, away from our location.

I finally got a text from Dylan — they were in the park and headed our way. He quickly took a selfie so I knew what he and Ellen looked like, and then I waited. I’ve done enough proposals to get used to the waiting, but for the person proposing it can feel like an eternity. For Dylan, it was no different.

When I finally spotted them some 20 minutes later out of the corner of my eye, I turned take some photos of flowers, and then I walked slowly over to a nearby bench and sat down across from them. Dylan walked her to the edge of the deck, looking over the water. I had told him to say something about the nice weather, which would be my queue to get ready. He said the words, then a few seconds later bent down on one knee.

Ellen expressed surprise and joy, saying afterward that she had no idea the moment was coming. I spent another 10 minutes with them around the gardens photographing them, and they then walked off as the sun was setting to a specially prepared picnic to celebrate.

Picture of Daniel Petty

Daniel Petty

Dan has photographed weddings and done work for editorial and commercial clients, including The Denver Post, Running Times, The Associated Press and others.
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