Surprise Lakeside Proposal

As a wedding photographer, capturing a proposal was high on my bucket list. Not only that, but I wanted a more intimate setting, something like a lakeside proposal has always been part of my vision. Since my friend Jay is also a photographer, we had discussed that when the time came, she wanted to have me shoot it. Even if it meant that I had to hide in the bush with a long lens. Figuring it was only a matter of time until her boyfriend would pop the question, I waited patiently. Lo – and – behold, Phil reached out to me about purchasing rings a few months ago to plan what it would look like to propose to her. I was instantly ecstatic and got to work!

Otter Lake Surprise Lakeside Cottage Proposal

Planning the Surpise Proposal

Phil is a great guy, in fact, he’s pretty much perfect for Jay. The problem though is that they live together, so there was no way for him to get the information he needed to make it perfect without raising suspicion.

That is where I came in. I had always wanted to do be a part of someone’s proposal story, so I knew I had some work to do; I quickly, and casually gathered the information I needed. Ring styles she liked, her size and stone preferences. That was just the beginning though. 

I started asking what she wanted – how she’d react to having people around. Did she want friends and family there? What kind of setting would be ideal? How did she picture it going? Did she want to be ready for photos and looking good?  Should I make sure she had a manicure?

The family cottage or the Shawville fair would be perfect. They are both locations she holds dear to her heart. Unfortunately, the fair got cancelled due to COVID-19, so that was ruled out. But the cottage was still a great option and I believed would suit them better anyway.

Phil and I shopped around for the perfect ring, ordered it and prayed. We knew there were shipping delays and we knew that the chosen weekend was coming up fast. When I reached out to Jay about being a model in a couple’s shoot so I could promote lakeside proposals and weddings, she was in. I told her she’d need to convince Phil since he doesn’t love being in front of a camera. It worked almost too well! He was so convincing that she had NO idea what was happening. 

We had a date, location, a plan, and ring ordered. All we needed was a little magic and some details to iron out the day-of.


Things didn’t quite turn out the way we wanted to. While Phil and I kept our eyes on the ring shipment, we saw that it had crossed the Canadian border a week before the scheduled date. Surely, that meant we would have it before Friday so everything was going to be perfect. 

Unfortunately, by Thursday night, there were no updates on the ring’s location. Phil and I were talking, trying to figure out a solution. I wanted him to do it anyway for a few different reasons and he was hesitating. Then, in true Phil fashion, he suggested something adorable and hilarious that MIGHT not be taken seriously. “I should do it with a Ring Pop!”. 

So, my task before heading up to the cottage was to hunt down some Ring Pops. Do you have idea where to get Ring Pops these days? Yeah, me neither. I turned to Instagram, blocked Jay (as well as any friends who could potentially spill the beans) and explained the situation on my stories. A few minutes later, I got quite a few suggestions. I was told Dollarama would have them, guaranteed.

They did, and so we were in business. I texted Phil that all was ready and that we would get to the details the next day. Off to the cottage I went! 

Otter Lake Surprise Lakeside Cottage Proposal
Otter Lake Surprise Lakeside Cottage Proposal

Surprise Lakeside Proposal

We woke up to a beautiful day. The skies were blue and my heart was already pounding from nervousness – I could not imagine what Phil was feeling. After a hearty breakfast and some caffeine, I told Jay that now would be the perfect time for the photoshoot we had discussed. She happily started to get ready and began rounding up Phil – having to still continuously convince him as he playfully complained about being coerced into another photoshoot. 

She even brushed his hair and told him what to wear – she totally thought she had the upper hand here. Jay clearly still had no idea what was happening. While she was busy, I quickly whispered the plan. I had given him a specific prompt as a cue and I knew exactly where I wanted him to do it. It was going to be the PERFECT lakeside proposal! 

Cue the fake engagement session where my legs were shaking and my usual confidence was out the window since there was no amount of training or experience that had prepared me for this.

It took me asking him to do the “prompt” twice before it happened. I think Phil’s brain was way too focused on the task at hand and he forgot. So, I looked at him over my lens and said ” Let’s do that again! Phil, I just need you to do what needs to get done okay?” It finally dawned on him that he has missed the cue the first time around. 

He had planned on saying some very sweet things but when he pulled out the Ring Pop, she thought it was a joke. She stomped away and laughed. It took a second, but when he pulled her back and she realized what was happening, her attitude changed. I am pretty sure the tears were instantaneous. 

After a few moments, she turned to me. Called me a jerk, since I was clearly an accomplice and had helped orchestrate it all. After a moment of shock, she ran over to hug me and the tears came back.

If you need help planning...

All in all, it was an amazing day. I would love to be a part of as many surprise lakeside proposals as possible (or any other kind of proposal). For those of you looking to pop the question and have it captured… reach out to me. I will happily help you plot and photograph your proposal. It is a great experience and it felt even more amazing that my friend had just agreed to spend the rest of her life with such an amazing man. He clearly knows how to keep her happy and for that, I am forever grateful. Here’s to you guys, I love you. 

Ps, your modeling careers are not over. I do still need a real engagement session now that she has the ring. 

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Sophie Fortier Photography © 2021