Recently, I had two phone calls come in. One man was from Florida and the other was from Indiana. They were so excited to get their plans together for their proposal. The only problem was they didn’t have a clue on what to do. They asked me for my advice and I gave them some ideas. When you are planning your trip and have never visited the area, it is hard to know what to do. Here are some of my ideas.

I have been a photographer in the Smoky Mountains for 8 years. My favorite thing to photograph is a proposal. I have to be all sneaky and hidden. It is lots of fun on my end. Also, GUYS, SHE LOVES THAT YOU CAPTURED THE MOMENT!!

1. At Cades Cove

Going to Cades Cove should be on everyone’s list of things to do while you are in the Smokies. There are beautiful mountain views, old cabins, churches, barns, deer and some bears along the way. If you plan on having your session over there I must give you some advice.

-Go on a Weekday-

The traffic on the weekends is TERRIBLE!! You can be stuck in traffic for hours!

-Go EARLY in the morning-

With traffic being an issue, try to go as soon as they start letting in cars, typically around 9am through the week except for Wednesdays and Saturdays they open it up for cars at 10am

Cades-Cove-engagement-proposal-family-photographer-photos-shoot-session-Pigeon-Forge-Knoxville-Gatlinburg-Smoky-Mountains-2 Cades-Cove-engagement-proposal-family-photographer-photos-shoot-session-Pigeon-Forge-Knoxville-Gatlinburg-Smoky-Mountains-1

2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift

This is a great location with having a mountain view. When doing a well known attraction, she won’t realize something is being planned. I usually go up before the couple, that way I can get a picture of them coming up and as he proposes.

The great thing is mostly everyone has a camera in their hands so she won’t realize a photographer there.


Gatlinburg-Sky-Lift-Marriage-proposal-engagement-Photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Smoky Mountains-3 Gatlinburg-Sky-Lift-Mountain-View-Pigeon-Forge-Wedding-Marriage-Proposal-idea-Photographer-captures-moment-engagement-session-Emerts-Cove-Pigeon-Forge-Sevierville-Smoky-Mountains-0 Gatlinburg-Sky-Lift-Mountain-View-Pigeon-Forge-Wedding-Marriage-Proposal-idea-Photographer-captures-moment-engagement-session-Emerts-Cove-Pigeon-Forge-Sevierville-Smoky-Mountains-4

3. Space Needle

The Space needle is a good choice because it is covered if it rains. There are some benches up there so the couple can sit and talk, look through the binoculars and enjoy the view. I love doing proposals up here because it is such a large area, I can stay far away from the couple and have my camera around me and she not notice I am there.

Guy-proposes-to-girlfriend-in-Gatlinburg-Space-Needle-Photographer-captures-idea-Pigeon-Forge-engagement-photos-will-you-marry-me-Smoky-Mountains-2 marriage-proposal-secret-photographer-on-top-of-the-space-needle-mountain-view-Gatlinburg-Pigeon-Forge-Sevierville-Townsend-Knoxville-TN-surprise-engagement-wedding-5 marriage-proposal-secret-photographer-on-top-of-the-space-needle-mountain-view-Gatlinburg-Pigeon-Forge-Sevierville-Townsend-Knoxville-TN-surprise-engagement-wedding-1 Engagement-Wedding-Proposal-Space-Needle-Gatlinburg-TN-Pigeon-Forge-Smoky-Mountain-National-Park-Photographer-Photo-secret-marriage-2 Space needle marriage proposal engagement in Gatlinburg TN photographer Pigeon Forge idea-3 Space needle marriage proposal engagement in Gatlinburg TN photographer Pigeon Forge idea-4

4. On a hike

There are so many hikes in the Smokies, but one of the quickest hike is Laurel Falls or Grotto Falls. It takes maybe 30-45 mins to walk. There is a beautiful waterfall at the top of Laurel Falls and at Grotto Falls you can walk behind the waterfall

-Keep in mind if it is winter the falls could be frozen and all the leaves are dead so the beauty isn’t the best as it would be in the summer.-

-Try to go early in the morning so it isn’t TO HOT! She would hate to be all sweaty and gross when you propose-


This couple hikes Elkmont. They didn’t do the whole hike, just the beginning and he proposed next to the water.

Marriage-proposal-on hiking trail-secret-photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Gatlinburg-Sevierville-wedding-will-you-marry-me-engagement-session-Emerts-Cove-photography-Knoxville-12 Marriage-proposal-on hiking trail-secret-photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Gatlinburg-Sevierville-wedding-will-you-marry-me-engagement-session-Emerts-Cove-photography-Knoxville-10 Marriage-proposal-on hiking trail-secret-photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Gatlinburg-Sevierville-wedding-will-you-marry-me-engagement-session-Emerts-Cove-photography-Knoxville-4

5. During a magic show

If you can get in touch with The Wonders Of Magic at the Wonderworks theater or any other magic show in the area and some how work it into the act, that would be fantastic!

This guy got in touch with Terry Evanswood and worked it into the show. We got his permission before hand to take the photos.

wonders-of-magic-show-wonderworks-marriage-proposal-Dollywood-Pigeon-Forge-Engagement-Photographer-1 wonders-of-magic-show-wonderworks-marriage-proposal-Dollywood-Pigeon-Forge-Engagement-Photographer-4

6. At an Arcade

There are so many arcades in the area, I am sure you can have the ring to be a surprise as one of the prizes at the end.


7. During a dinner show

So many shows in the area have volunteers to come up on the stage. I know Hatfield and McCoy as well as the Comedy Barn bring people up on stage and if you called ahead and told them your idea. They would be happy to work it in the show.

8. The Wheel at the Island

Proposing in front of the wheel with the fountains dancing behind you would be a beautiful backdrop! A Photographer could easily hide in the crowd. There are also so many cute spots to take some photos of you afterwards!

You could also propose inside the wheel while being up at the very top.

proposal-secret-marriage-wedding-photographer-family-gatlinburg-pigeon-forge-the-island-knoxville-sevierville-dandridge-seymour-smoky-mountains-townsend_0021 proposal-secret-marriage-wedding-photographer-family-gatlinburg-pigeon-forge-the-island-knoxville-sevierville-dandridge-seymour-smoky-mountains-townsend_0026

9. Dollywood

Going to Dollywood, she would not suspect anything. They have a chapel there that would be really cute to propose at. Then afterward, we can take some fun photos in the park!

wonders-of-magic-show-wonderworks-marriage-proposal-Dollywood-Pigeon-Forge-Engagement-Photographer-21 wonders-of-magic-show-wonderworks-marriage-proposal-Dollywood-Pigeon-Forge-Engagement-Photographer-13

10. During a photo session

Most girls love the idea of having a photo session with their boyfriend. This would give her the freedom of picking her own outfits, having her hair fixed, and makeup done because she knows she will have her photos made.

Here are some ideas guys thought of to incorporate it into a session…

Pigeon-Forge-engagement-photographer-wedding-proposal-Gatlinburg-Smoky-Mountains-idea-photo-session-Knoxville-Maryville-6 Pigeon-Forge-engagement-photographer-wedding-proposal-Gatlinburg-Smoky-Mountains-idea-photo-session-Knoxville-Maryville-7

11. An Overlook

This guy wanted to propose to his girlfriend at the Gatlinburg Overlook. He told me what time he would be there and I sat there and waited. Her reaction was the best!

surprise-proposal-at-Gatlinburg-Overlook-Smoky-Mountains-Secret-Photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Knoxville-Seymour-engagement-Photo-session-7 surprise-proposal-at-Gatlinburg-Overlook-Smoky-Mountains-Secret-Photographer-Pigeon-Forge-Knoxville-Seymour-engagement-Photo-session-3

12. At a resturant

Most restaurants would love to help you out. This young man called Calhouns in Gatlinburg and told them he wanted to propose. They decided to put it in the dessert. I came at the end of their dinner and captured her reaction. We then went to a cute park behind the restaurant and took some cute photos!

marriage-proposal-in-Gatlinburg-Pigeon-Forge-Calhouns-Smoky-Mountains-1 marriage-proposal-in-Gatlinburg-Pigeon-Forge-Calhouns-Smoky-Mountains-4 marriage-proposal-in-Gatlinburg-Pigeon-Forge-Calhouns-Smoky-Mountains-10

13. Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is actually located in North Carolina. The drive out is so pretty! You do have to walk a very steep incline for at least a mile to get to the observation deck, but it is very beautiful once you get up there. The only draw back is the observation deck is pretty small. If you go on a weekend day you could have lots of people in your way, but if you plan it right, you can have it to yourself.


It is pretty cold and windy even in the middle of summer so plan to bring a jacket!

Clingmans-dome-marriage-proposal-secret-photographer-engagement-gatlinburg-tn-Smoky-Mountains-Chimney-tops-picnic-area-Pigeon-Forge-Tennessee-Sevierville-Knoxville-5 Clingmans-dome-marriage-proposal-secret-photographer-engagement-gatlinburg-tn-Smoky-Mountains-Chimney-tops-picnic-area-Pigeon-Forge-Tennessee-Sevierville-Knoxville-6 Clingmans-dome-marriage-proposal-secret-photographer-engagement-gatlinburg-tn-Smoky-Mountains-Chimney-tops-picnic-area-Pigeon-Forge-Tennessee-Sevierville-Knoxville-9


14. Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s does have a proposal package you can buy from them. They have a diving show and ask for a volunteer and you can propose in front of the fish. You will have a large crowd watching since it is part of their show. You get to keep the sign they provide, but you could always propose anywhere in the aquarium.



15. Sitting on Santa’s Lap

You can sit on Santa’s lap at the Christmas Store and get your photo taken. Santa really can make all your wishes come true!

Secret proposal engaged photographer_1 Secret photographer for when you get engaged_2 Photographer to photograph engagement_4

16.Ober Gatlinburg

Ober is a fun place to spend the day. They have a sky lift that goes to the very top. You can sit and listen to music and enjoy the view. I think it would be a great place to propose!

proposal-secret-surprise-engagement-ober-family-photographer-knoxville-sevierville-pigeon-forge-dandridge-gatlinburg-seymour-smoky-mountains-seymour_0069 proposal-secret-surprise-engagement-ober-family-photographer-knoxville-sevierville-pigeon-forge-dandridge-gatlinburg-seymour-smoky-mountains-seymour_0072 proposal-secret-surprise-engagement-ober-family-photographer-knoxville-sevierville-pigeon-forge-dandridge-gatlinburg-seymour-smoky-mountains-seymour_0071

17. The Village Fountain

The village is a cute quant little area located in downtown Gatlinburg. I love walking around there. They have a water fountain that is cute to propose at. I also love the old England telephone booth. There are lots of cute spots. She wouldn’t think anything of it, because it is right in the middle of town.

 Space needle marriage proposal engagement in Gatlinburg TN photographer Pigeon Forge idea-14 Space needle marriage proposal engagement in Gatlinburg TN photographer Pigeon Forge idea-9


18. Wonder works Hot Air Balloon Ride

This is a great attraction to do on your trip even if you aren’t proposing. The flight is only 5 mins up in the air, but you have great views of the town. I have saw even wedding performed in the balloons.  Just make sure the wind is calm that day.

19.Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Lots of people drive down this trail so it is a great scenery view. We secretly arranged to meet up and I followed them to the area he wanted to stop at. There are lots of rivers and cabins to stop at and explore.

marriage-proposal-wedding-engagement-ring-marry-me-getting-engaged-ideas-Gatlinburg-TN-Photographer-Secretly-photographed-photographing-photography-pictures-kids-fiance-engaged-couple-Pigeon-Forge-National-Park-Smoky-Mountians-1 marriage-proposal-wedding-engagement-ring-marry-me-getting-engaged-ideas-Gatlinburg-TN-Photographer-Secretly-photographed-photographing-photography-pictures-kids-fiance-engaged-couple-Pigeon-Forge-National-Park-Smoky-Mountians-3 marriage-proposal-wedding-engagement-ring-marry-me-getting-engaged-ideas-Gatlinburg-TN-Photographer-Secretly-photographed-photographing-photography-pictures-kids-fiance-engaged-couple-Pigeon-Forge-National-Park-Smoky-Mountians-10


If you are looking for a few more ideas, I have posted another blog post on this same topic. CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE IDEAS


I love to photograph proposals. If interested in having me come out to photograph your special moment.

Message me at info@alifetimephotography

call/text me at 423-341-1100