A Guide for Your Surprise Proposal in the Ocean State.

“The best thing in life to hold onto is each other.” ~ Audrey Hepburn.

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting decisions you will make! Luckily, Rhode Island makes the perfect backdrop for a surprise proposal. There are many beautiful places in the Ocean State to propose to that special someone. However, it is important to consider the location based on these criteria:

Meaningful: somewhere that has significance to the couple


Convenience: if a couple dressed up to go to dinner while staying in a hotel, it might be more practical to do something local than drive to a more famous location.

I wrote this article based on my experience shooting surprise proposals throughout the beautiful ocean state. Many of my clients are from out-of-state and ask for guidance on picking a suitable location. The majority of my out-of-state clients visit the Newport area to have a romantic vacation and propose during their stay. I have a collection a wide selection of proposal photoshoots and have included them on this page, ‘Where to Propose in Newport.

The following are some more popular places to propose in Rhode Island.

After you have reviewed this article, you may want to read Planning a Proposal in Rhode Island? What you Need to Know

The Castle Hill Inn & Castle Hill Lighthouse, Newport

Castle Hill Inn, Newport offers two points of interest for the proposal photographer. The Lighthouse at Castle Hill sits on the edge of Narragansett Bay and displays sweeping oceanside views. The Castle Hill lighthouse was finished in 1890 on property formerly belonging to the naturalist, oceanographer, and zoologist Alexander Agassiz. It’s always great to have a point to discuss.

A prime location for a proposal shoot is on the lawn at Castle Hill Inn, with the Newport Bridge and Narragansett Bay as a backdrop. After your proposal, you can dine at the prestigious Castle Hill Inn.

Make a dining reservation.


  • Beautiful ocean side location with view of Newport Bridge
  • Lighthouse and the lawn are walking distance (10 mins)
  • Valet parking
  • Superb location for dinner after the proposal
  • Great reason to ask your partner to dress up (for the proposal)
  • Watch the sun set with a cocktail on the lawn, or at the lighthouse


  • Can be breezy
  • It can be very ‘peopley’

Goat Island Lighthouse, Newport

Goat Island Lighthouse, Newport: This lighthouse is on the picturesque Gurney’s Resort property, so it is relatively easy to book a table for dinner and take a walk to the lighthouse before dinner. In addition to the lighthouse, there are spectacular views of the Newport Bridge.

Make a dining reservation.

Note: Goat Island is private property: weddings and planned engagements organized by the hotel take place in front of the lighthouse. If your proposal clashes with a wedding, you cannot go to the lighthouse until the wedding ceremony is over. There are, however, other beautiful views of the bay and the Newport bridge on Goat Island.

Update: The Gurneys resort was sold in the summer of 2022, read more.


  • Beautiful ocean side location with view of Newport Bridge
  • Valet parking and self-parking
  • Superb location for dinner/cocktails after the proposal
  • Great reason to ask your partner to dress up (for the proposal)
  • Great late afternoon/evening location (for light)


  • When weddings take place: the lighthouse is out of bounds (see above)
  • Can be very busy

Beavertail State Park, Jamestown

Beavertail is a public coastal recreation area encompassing 153 acres, and the state park’s main attraction, at its southern end, is Beavertail Lighthouse, which, in its current form, dates back to 1856.

Photographers love Beavertail as a location because, depending on the light, you can use different parts of the park surrounded by the ocean. However it can be windy, but there are areas secluded from the ocean breezes.

I have found Beavertail to be a perfect location for a couple holidaying with a dog. A great place to walk your dog before dinner before springing a surprise proposal on your partner.


  • Beautiful ocean side location
  • Ease of (free) parking
  • Can always find a quiet spot, even when busy
  • Perfect for couples who travel with dogs or just love the ocean/lighthouses
  • Superb for picnics
  • Popular location to watch the sun set


  • Can be breezy
  • Little shade on hot summer days

Cliff Walk,  Newport

Cliff Walk, Newport: It is easy to surprise your partner with a proposal on Cliff Walk by asking your partner to go for a walk.

Cliff walk is a 3.5-mile public access walkway that borders the shoreline and is the first designated National Recreation Trail in New England. Newport’s Cliff Walk boasts stunning oceanside views; it is lush with local plant species in the warmer months. You will also walk behind the Newport mansions, adding to the moment’s beauty.


  • Beautiful ocean side location
  • Famous Newport tourist spot
  • Easy to pull off a surprise when visiting Newport
  • Picturesque walk behind the Newport mansions
  • Beautiful sunrises


  • Parking can be problematic
  • Busy with people all-year-around
  • Not good for sunsets
  • Little shade on hot days

Rhode Island Vineyards

Vineyards: Rhode Island has many vineyards of which some are listed below. You can enjoy a wine tasting and in some cases have a meal after which you can enjoy a peaceful, serene walk amongst the vines.


For diversity it is difficult to beat the city of Providence, whether you desire a cityscape backdrop, street photography photojournalistic style, parks, rivers, cruises…Providence has it all


  •  Diversity of locations for different photo styles


  • It will be ‘peopley’  – it’s a city and we will have to deal with people moving in and out of our shots
  • Difficult to isolate my couples from the crowds  – you may have people in the background (depending on location)
  • Parking (depending on location)


Rhode Island Beaches

Rhode Island Beaches: where to start, Rhode Island is not called the Ocean State for no reason, it has 384 miles of coastline. There are approximately 40 beaches in Rhode Island, with each offering its own character.


  •  Picturesque
  •  It’s the Ocean State


  •  Can be windy
  •  Can be very busy (all day in summer)
  •  Difficult to isolate my couples
  • Parking (depending on location)
  •  Light direction can be challenging
  •  Blowing sand and cameras don’t like each other

There are beaches that can avoid some of the cons, please call me to discuss.


Westerly is a popular place to drop to one knee, either at the deluxe Ocean House Hotel or Weekapaug Inn; or on many of the beautiful sandy beaches


  •  Picturesque
  •  Beautiful high-end hotels with waterfronts
  •  Beautiful beaches
  •  The hotels are a great cover for a proposal


  •  Can be windy like all beachfront locations
  •  Can be very busy
  •  Difficult to isolate my couples
  •  Parking for some areas can be very difficult during the summer
  •  Blowing sand and cameras don’t like each other


What could be more beautiful than a surprise proposal under a sunset? That said, photographers need light, and so please plan the actual proposal before sunset; afterward, we can cruise into the sunset.

There are many marinas in the Ocean State, with Newport being the largest center for a cruise.

This type of surprise proposal is not easy to pull off, but it can be done with a bit of planning.

Brenton Point State Park, Newport

Brenton Point State Park (named after the Colonial Governor, William Brenton) is a beautiful coastal location with typically easy parking. It is one of  Newport’s grandest estates, Brenton Point State Park affords its visitors  spectacular views on the East Coast. The park boasts gardens, walking trails, and picnic tables. There are magnificent bay and ocean views, with access to the rocks at Grave’s Point.

Please note that the park is a favorite place to fly kites and can be breezy.


  •  Oceanside/picturesque
  •  Grassy park
  •  Parking is typically easy
  •  Great place for a picnic
  •  Easy access to rocky shore at Graves point


  •  Can be windy

Fresh Water Ponds

Freshwater Ponds: For a quiet personal experience, one of Rhode Island’s  237 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs can provide a picturesque backdrop for a proposal. Scattered thoughout the state you will not have to travel to far to find an idyllic spot.

Roger Williams Park, Providence

Roger Williams’ Park: is a beautiful city park of 427 acres, a very popular spot from the famous black bridge to the carousel to the features listed below:

  • The Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • The Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
  • The Roger Williams Park Botanical Center
  • Japanese Gardens
  • Victorian Rose Gardens
  • The Dalrymple Boathouse and boat rentals
  • The Temple to Music

I am just scratching the surface of the opportunities for a surprise proposal in the wonderful Ocean State. Do have an idea, or need an idea? Either way please call me and we can explore your thinking.

If you would like to learn more about surprise proposal photoshoots, pop-over to the Proposal/Engagement web page for details on pricing and lots of information for planning the perfect surprise proposal.


After photographing many, many, surprise proposals…

Never do anything different. A behaviour change will give the game away!