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29 Jan 2020
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With 200 miles of coastline and gorgeous natural scenery, it’s no secret that the Outer Banks is one of the top wedding destinations on the East Coast. But did you know it’s also a top destination for beach proposals?

What’s more romantic than visiting a place you both love and asking someone to marry you? If you’re planning on doing just that, it can be hard to figure out where to start and how exactly to pull it off. There are many factors to take into consideration when you begin to plan your proposal, especially if you’re planning for it to be a huge surprise.

Here are a few Outer Banks beach proposal ideas for you to try to ensure your moment is special. Plus, we’ve taken out the guess work for you by breaking down the cost ($ to $$$$$), difficulty (1 to 5 with 1 = ideal and 5 = less ideal), privacy level, and flexibility of each proposal idea.

Write your proposal out in the sand.

Utilizing nature in your proposal is a tried and true method but the sand is particularly perfect for special messages—it’s basically a blank canvas waiting to display your romantic intentions. You may need some help coordinating this, especially if you can’t find the time to sneak out for a few moments. If you have other friends or family members with you, now would be a good time to have them occupy your significant other!

Then, simply write your message or proposal in the sand and ask your significant other to take a walk with you on the beach. Let them walk ahead and stumble upon the message on their own as you prepare with the ring. Sunrise or sunset is the perfect time for this proposal—not just because the skies here are absolutely beautiful (which they are!) but also because there will be less people on the beach so you shouldn’t have to worry about other people walking across your message. It’s simple and inexpensive but will surely be a moment you will both remember.

Pros: You have the chance to get as creative as you want. You can incorporate seashells, flowers, or driftwood and use a wireless speaker or other props to make the moment right. Plus, you can make it flashier if you wish by drawing a long path leading up to the message, add song lyrics or quotes in the sand as the stroll progresses, or even bring friends and family along to witness. This method is entirely flexible and can be done anywhere on the entire Outer Banks—even on the sound side!

Cons: This proposal idea is weather dependent and may require assistance to plan. Depending on the location, time of day, and season, the beaches may have other foot traffic. If your message is below the tide line, it could get washed away by a wave.

Cost: $
Difficulty: 2
Privacy: Variable
Flexibility: High

Tip: If you are planning to propose on your next Outer Banks Vacation, our reservations staff can help you find an oceanfront home on a more secluded stretch of beach—just ask us for recommendations!

Shout it from the sky.

This idea is tailored to the couple who doesn’t mind a few public witnesses. To pull off this proposal, you’ll need friends and the ability to reach a pretty high elevation. Consider climbing to the top of a lighthouse, climbing to the top of Jockey’s Ridge or even booking a private biplane or helicopter. (For a less expensive and less public option, you can even simply rent a beach home with a crow’s nest!)

Coordinate with your friends and family to hold up a large sign or letters spelling out your proposal. Be sure to position your message where it’s easy for your significant other to spot up above or from a distance. Once you’re at the top of your destination, casually point out the message or wait until he/she spots it. Although there is more planning required to pull this off, your significant other will never forget the moment and you’ll have plenty of people around to celebrate the resounding, “Yes.”

Pros: This is another proposal idea that allows for a great deal of creativity but because it requires the coordination of other people and possibly a public venue, your creativity must be within reason. You can climb your favorite lighthouse and position your friends on the lighthouse grounds or simply step out onto an oceanfront deck and have your family standing out on the beach. As long as your significant other can read the message clearly, they are sure to be surprised.

Cons: If you choose a public venue, you will have little privacy and may have to work around the public. The cost is also variable depending on your location and the method you use to display the message. DIYing your signs will be cheaper than ordering them, but you still need to factor in the cost of supplies. Coordinating with others could always make a task more difficult and requires more thorough time management.

Cost: $$-$$$
Difficulty: 4
Privacy: Low
Flexibility: Medium

Tip: Our reservations staff can help you find the perfect rental home with a crow’s nest or large top-level deck! We can also suggest a home that is near your destination of choice.

Book a couple’s beach photo session.

Unlike at your wedding, the downfall of proposals is that there usually is not someone there to capture the moment on camera. Unless you have a sneaky friend or are planning a very public proposal, the chances are that the only photo you’ll be taking is a post-engagement selfie or traditional “ring on the hand” shot.

But what if you could capture the moment without giving away the surprise? If that sounds appealing, this beach proposal idea might be for you. To pull this off, you will need to schedule a professional photo shoot. There are dozens of excellent photographers on the Outer Banks so it should be easy to find one who is available during your vacation (check out our Club Seaside Partner: Brooke Mayo Photographers!)

Ahead of your shoot, communicate with the photographer and let them know your plan. Photoshoots on the beach are always beautiful and every couple should have a nice photo together so your significant other probably won’t be suspicious. Then, coordinate a location or code word so that the photographer is ready to go when you pop the question. You’ll both already be dressed up, you’ll have an ideal setting, and a professional will be there to capture the moment for you so you can focus on enjoying it.

Pros: This idea is simple, romantic, and you also get an awesome couple’s photoshoot out of the deal. This means you will already have a few shots you can use for Save The Date cards along with great material to post on your personal social media pages. You can also work with the photographer to schedule the right package price point for your shoot so you can fit something into your budget.

Cons: You will need to coordinate your plans with the photographer ahead of time and make sure they are agreeable to the plan. Try to schedule the proposal toward the end of your session so the proposal doesn’t take away too much time from your shoot. Depending on the location, the public may be around (especially if you are on the beach our by a popular tourist attraction), and if you schedule this outdoors, the session will be weather dependent so you may need a back-up plan.

Cost: $$-$$$
Difficulty: 2
Privacy: Variable
Flexibility: Medium

Visit your favorite local attraction or romantic spot.

Your proposal doesn’t have to be a big production or something planned out far ahead of time. Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut and ask when the time is right. There is something very elegant about a proposal over champagne at a nice restaurant and something very classic about dropping to your knee at a location that means something to both of you. Luckily, visiting the Outer Banks means making a lifetime of happy memories so there are likely plenty of spots you can go. 

Pros: This is a pretty open-ended and flexible idea so as long as your venue choice is open, you can pick any day of the week and any hour of the day to pop the question. Although some venues have admission cost, there are plenty of free locations so it is totally up to you to choose what will fit within your budget.

Cons: Most of these locations will be somewhat public but you can always ask for a private table at a restaurant, visit an attraction at a less popular time of day, or pick an outdoor location that isn’t as well known. As always, outdoor venues are weather dependent.

Cost: $-$$$$$
Difficulty: 2
Privacy: Variable
Flexibility: Medium – High

Seaside Vacations Blog Author Jessie See

About the Author: Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with a good book, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.