Surprise Proposal Do’s and Don’ts: A Guide for a Colorado Proposal Photography Session

The decision to propose to your partner is an exhilarating and life-changing event. As you prepare to take this significant step in your relationship, careful planning can make the moment unforgettable for both of you. From choosing the right setting to selecting the perfect ring, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to plan the ultimate proposal.

1. Know Your Partner’s Style:
Before diving into the details of the proposal, take some time to reflect on your partner’s personality and preferences. Consider their style, whether it’s intimate and private or grand and public. Is taking your partner on a big hike in order to propose to them something THEY would enjoy/be able to do? Or would they prefer something a lower altitude in the foothills - where you can go on a walk and not get too sweaty, but still have mountain backdrops? Tailoring the proposal to suit their taste ensures a more meaningful and memorable experience. 

2. Choose the Right Setting:
The location of the proposal sets the tone for the entire experience. Whether it’s a scenic spot that holds sentimental value or a place that aligns with your partner’s interests, the setting should reflect your relationship. Consider picturesque landscapes, favorite restaurants, or even the place where you first met. With all consult meetings held via phone call or video call, we discuss the setting that makes the most sense for your proposal, and I’ll do some scouting to find the perfect spot. This helps to ensure we are aligned as to where you should stand to get the BEST photo of your proposal. 

3. Incorporate Personal Touches:
Adding personal elements to the proposal can make it even more special. Consider including elements that reflect your journey as a couple, such as photos, mementos, or shared memories. Personal touches demonstrate thoughtfulness and make the proposal uniquely yours.  Vaughn, seen below, took his partner on a scavenger hunt and gave hints and clues along the way. 

4. Seek Help if Needed:
If planning an elaborate surprise seems overwhelming, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of friends or family. Whether it’s coordinating logistics or capturing the moment on camera, having a support system can alleviate stress and ensure everything runs smoothly. Your photographer should be helpful and understanding of this, and should offer help! They too want to make sure the photos work out! 

5. Timing is Key:
Choose a moment that feels right for both of you. Whether it’s a significant date, a holiday, or a random day that holds personal meaning, timing adds an extra layer of sentiment to the proposal. Be mindful of your partner’s schedule and make sure they’re in the right frame of mind to fully enjoy the moment. Considering the time of day is also very important for your photographs to come out beautiful - early morning or late afternoon/early evening often offer the best light! 

6. Practice Your Words:
While spontaneity is appreciated, having a general idea of what you want to say can help calm your nerves. Express your feelings genuinely and from the heart. Consider writing a letter or jotting down key points to ensure you convey your emotions effectively. 

7. Capture the Moment:
Capturing the proposal on film allows you both to relive the special moment for years to come. Having tangible memories adds an extra layer of joy to the occasion. Working with a professional photographer who has experience with proposals is the key to ensuring you have the imagery you want from your surprise proposal! Most offer a little extra time after the proposal itself for some couples portraits. 

In the end, a successful proposal is not just about the grandeur of the moment but the sincerity and thoughtfulness behind it. By considering your partner’s preferences, selecting the perfect ring, and planning a personalized and meaningful setting, you can create a proposal that reflects the unique beauty of your relationship. Embrace the journey, enjoy the process, and get ready to embark on the next chapter of your lives together! 

The Magic of Autumn Family Portraits

The Magic of Early Autumn Family & Couples Portraits: Why Now is the Perfect Time

Autumn – the season where nature paints every leaf in fiery hues, and the air is filled with a crisp anticipation of the holidays. As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, it is a poignant reminder that time is fleeting. The same can be said for family moments, making early autumn the perfect time to capture these memories before they, too, fade away. Here’s why scheduling your family portrait session now, in the early days of autumn, is a decision you won’t regret:

1. The Backdrop of Dreams 🍁🍂 Early autumn provides a unique and vibrant backdrop that can’t be replicated in any other season. The trees are ablaze with colors – reds, oranges, yellows, and browns – offering a picturesque setting. With nature at its most splendid, the resulting photos often look magical and timeless.

2. Comfortable Weather Conditions ☀️🌬️ Unlike the unpredictable chills of late autumn, early fall is comfortably cool. This ensures everyone feels at ease during the shoot, preventing sweaty faces or discomfort. The gentle wind adds a playful element, letting scarves fly and hair flow, adding life to the images.

3. Festive Wardrobe Options 🧥👢 The season’s transition from summer to winter allows for a fusion of wardrobe choices. Mix and match summer dresses with autumn cardigans or incorporate boots and hats. The options are endless, letting your family’s personality shine through.

4. Ahead of the Holiday Rush 🎄⏳ With the festive season approaching, families often get swamped with preparations. By capturing your family portrait now, you’re ahead of the game. Plus, these photos can double up as personalized holiday cards or gifts for relatives.

5. Time Flies, Memories Don’t 🕰️❤️ Children grow, families expand, and moments pass. Autumn symbolizes change and transition. Capturing your family now means cherishing your current phase, whatever it might be. Next year, things might look different, making this year’s memories all the more precious.

6. Natural Lighting Galore 🌅 The golden hour seems even more golden during autumn. With the sun setting earlier, there’s no need to keep the little ones up late. You can achieve those sought-after warm tones without compromising bedtime routines.

7. The Anticipation of Winter ⛄❄️ There’s a unique energy in the air during early autumn. It’s the mingling of the remnants of summer warmth and the fresh, invigorating scent of the approaching winter. This energy translates beautifully into candid, lively family photos.

In Conclusion:

Autumn is nature’s last hurrah before the stillness of winter. It’s a season of beauty, change, and reflection. By choosing to have your family portraits done in early autumn, you’re not just getting photographs – you’re freezing a moment, a phase, a feeling. And as the leaves continue to fall and the world transforms once more, you’ll have a tangible memory of a time that once was. So don’t wait for the leaves to disappear and the snow to set in. Celebrate your family’s unique story now, set against the backdrop of autumn’s resplendent tapestry.

Skyview at Fall River Estes Park Colorado Wedding

Nikki & John found me in January 2023 and we immediately hit it off. They stressed that they wanted a photographer who not only really captured the vibrancy of their day (hint: they had TROPICAL flowers!) but also was able to blend in and hang with their family and friends! I have to say, we had a blast! Their tropical floral theme was EVERYTHING amongst the backdrop at Skyview at Fall River Village in Estes Park, Colorado. 

The details of birds of paradise and palm fronds against the stark intensity of Colorado Mountains was so fun to photograph! We had a blast throughout their day and Skyview was amazing to work with! 

Because Nikki & John went with the 6 hour package, and wanted to stretch it out until grand exit, I got there right before ceremony but still managed to sneak in a few getting ready pics in the bridal suit of Nikki. 

Then it was ceremony time! The ceremony was filled with everything you could want at a wedding - laughter, tears, and great views! Everyone was in great spirits. 

After ceremony, John & Nikki took a moment to themselves to have a drink and connect. Then we popped back out to the ceremony site for bridal party and family photos! 

After formal photos, we sent family and friends back to cocktail hour so we could take a few couples portraits of just Nikki & John. The view from and around Skyview of Estes Park is literally breathtaking. I love it there! 

After couple portraits we hoofed it back to the reception for a grand entrance, toasts and first dances. John is a DJ and had some of his friends come to spin tracks and put on a visual show during the dance party. At the end of the night, they were sent off with a grand exit of glow sticks! It was truly the best time. 

Congrats again to Nikki & John! Who else is getting married at SkyView? 

80’s Wedding Dress, Pizza and Disco Engagement Shoot in Denver

Hanna & Joe came are a wedding client of mine that came to me STOKED on making amazing imagery for their engagement session. Joe was a photographer himself, so he had a very specific vision for their shoot: his fiance, Hanna, would wear her mothers 80s wedding dress and they would dress up and play around at a bar they love - The 715 Club! They wanted their shoot to be fun, neon, and FILLED with flash. I couldn’t resist saying YES

We met up at the 715 Club in Denver where Joe & Hanna had gotten a drink at the bar. If you are someone who’s into alcohol or weed, I’m all about you having a little drink/puff before our engagement shoot to just relax a bit. It can be scary in front of the camera! Although, these two absolutely crushed the direction I gave them and put a spin on the poses I suggested and truly did their own thing to show their love. Regardless, if you need a lil help form substances, I’m all for it. Just don’t get plastered and we are GOOD

After their drinks, we started outside across the street just to capitalize on the nice lighting we had. 

We then popped back into the 715 Club and got these two dressed to impress. Inside the 715 is a disco ball and an old photo booth. We took advantage of both of these bad babies while we waited for the pizza to be cooked! 

We also made good use of 715’s sick martini glass sign out front and the setting sun. 

When pizza was ready, we popped out back (715 has a patio with a pizza bar! so rad) and went to finish up our shoot with some lovely pizza eating, feeding, and smiles! 

If you’re looking for a different kind of shoot, talking with your photographer is absolutely a collaboration I recommend! We are open to creative ideas and making them come to life. I’m so happy I got to work with these two! 

Colorado Fall Wedding - Caity & Mike’s Wedding at The River Bend at the Lyon’s Farmette

It’s fall and HOLY cow, I’m stoked on the weather, the trees changing, the fact that I’m not sweating anymore at a weddings and am just absolutely BLOWN away by the weddings from this season! I’m trying to do a recap every week so y’all can see just what I mean by how AWESOME a fall wedding is here in Colorado. So let’s dive into Caity & Mike’s! 

Caity and Mike’s wedding at The Riverbend at the Lyon’s Farmette was one for the record books. I just want to state that they found me through Cherry Bomb Events owner, Shayna Paptke, who I absolutely ADORE and love working with. They had told Shayna about all of their rock climbing adventures and she sent them my way. Shayna is a matchmaker like that, knowing that I’m a huge rock climber, having photographer rock climbing and coaching youth climbing for quite some years, she just knew our connection would be instant and it was! We all bonded quickly on our love for the rocks, getting outside and creating beautiful imagery. That’s what inspired their rock climbing photo above, and why I wanted to touch upon that immediately because it was a such a huge part of how Caity & Mike met and really embraces the importance trust, partnership and love in their relationship. 

Anywho, check out the super rad day that they created with Shayna. Filled with family and friends, the LARGEST wedding crew I’ve ever had, beautiful views, super rad table scapes, gorgeous florals and of course, a SILENT DISCO. WHAT?! Enjoy the beauty, the love, and the awesome ideas that came together to ensure one badass celebration of Caity & Mike’s love :) 

70’s Themed Wedding Inspiration

Thanks to the summer vibes of the new Harry Styles album,  flared jeans and crochet tops coming back into style, and the movie Licorice Pizza reminding us of the good ol’ days, the 70’s are BACK and this gal couldn’t be happier! With this resurgence of 70s nostalgia comes weddings and celebrations that mirror the same!  I just shot a wedding that embodied the beauty of a laid back, low key 70’s themed wedding without breaking the bank and I think the internet needs to know about it and see how you too can get creative with your 70s themed wedding without spending oodles of money! 

It all started with Sam & Jaime reaching out to me. They liked my style and I loved their humor, love, and warmth that they exuded in our conversation. It turns out, Sam is ALSO a teacher in the same school district as I am, so I couldn’t say no. Btw - shameless plug here - if you are a teacher and want family photographs, I give teacher discounts! 

Within out first chat conversation, Sam & Jaime said they had planned a 70s themed wedding and wanted that to come through in photos. The couple explained they had a few ideas up their sleeves, but didn’t spill all the beans, so I was excited for their day purely because of these decorative surprises! 

Flash forward to day of - I showed up that Sam & Jaime’s family’s Denver condominium, where the community space was our venue for the day, and I was greeted with at patio filled with disco balloons set up on the guest dinner tables and a step and repeat with a Studio 54-esque backdrop, as well as a family member photographing guests with a polaroid for fun memorable photos and take home keepsakes from the day. What a cool way to enter a party and welcome guests! 

The disco ball balloons and the Studio 54 backdrop were fun and versatile for the whole day. During the cocktail hour, reception and dinner, the disco ball balloons served as decorations but when it came time for cake cutting, speeches and dancing, the disco balls transitioned to either side of the backdrop and created a new space for Sam & Jaime and their guest to party. So if you are working with an open space and have the ability to move around your decorations, by all means, grab a few people and outline an area with balloons for dancing! It creates a new depth and intentional space for everyone to gather once dinner is over and the party begins. 

Using the condominium’s green space was also an important part of Sam & Jaime’s wedding. They rented a few chairs and set up a little aisle next the community space where reception will be held. This allowed easy movement for all family & friends, as well as a great space for kids to run around and play in as the adults relaxed. They specifically told their guests to dress in 70s themed garb and they did not disappoint! Even their officiant, Sam’s brother, showed up in head to toe hippie costume to ensure the guests were INTO it all. Each person who had a part in the wedding were on point with their outfits and really helped to keep the theme cohesive and fun for the wedding party and their guests. 

OH! And the arch. I can not STRESS how amazing their ceremony arch was. Not only was it a beautiful yellow and on brand with the small disco balls, it was also an awesome backdrop for the sweetheart table that Sam & Jaime had in the reception. Again, another versatile decoration that can be transformed and transitioned with ease! Something to truly keep in mind for your day if you are trying to keep it more DIY and save that extra cash for something else! 

The last thing that really pulled together Sam & Jaime’s dream of a 70s wedding were small details scattered about on like center pieces on dinner tables, guest book information and even a crocheted ribbon on Sam’s wedding bouquet. 

With ALL of that, I highly suggest pulling the following ideas from Sam & Jaime’s 70s wedding: 

      1) Disco Ball & Disco Ball Balloons! 

      2) Studio 54 Discotech Backdrop

      3) Sparkly table clothes, golden goodie bags, golden frames with printed Disco Ball & 70s font 

      4) White detailed Men’s Suit & Crochet wedding dress with fringe 

At the end of the day, it’s not about how much you spent on your wedding. It’s about the time you get to spend celebrating your love with your partner, your family and your friends. Finding fun ways to add flair and versatility is key for creating different spaces in your venue while ensuring you don’t go overboard. Follow Sam & Jaime’s footsteps and you’re guaranteed for an unforgettable 70s wedding. 

Silverthorne Pavillion Summer Wedding

Rich & Billie Jo’s gorgeous late June Silverthorne Pavillion wedding in Silverthorne, Colorado (Ute Land) was one for the record books! I’m so honored I was chosen to photograph their beautiful day, filled with family and friends. This is one of my couples that I’ve felt instant connection with and KNEW we were going to have the best wedding day ever. 

     Both Rich & Billie Jo are teachers in Colorado, and much like myself, Rich teaches Art! We all bonded over the crazyness 2021 brought as a school year over outdoor coffee and tea at Starbucks, and even set up a time for Rich to take my husband fishing for his birthday (one week before their wedding!) Rich is an EXCELLENT fisherman and fishing guide and you will see why I mention this later in my post! Anyways, needly to say, I was stoked for their wedding day. 

   When it finally came around I met Bille Jo at her Airbnb just up the hill from the Silverthorne Pavillion, where Billie Jo, her dearest friends and family and step-daughter to be, Julia, all spent the morning getting Billie Jo all set up. We were also lucky to find a gorgeous secret spot to take scenic Summit County mountain photos behind their Airbnb (seriously I want to live in this lil outcove!)

            We then headed down to the Pavillion where Billie Jo was whisked away to the bridal suite while I went to find Rich, his son Josh and his all his friends who had finished up their early morning fishing in the Blue River (with a major rainbow trout catch!) and had gotten all dolled up for the ceremony. Julia walked in before me to see her dad, and instantly we all got mushy and teary eyed with their embrace! There’s nothing like watching your dad get married to the person they love the most. 

   From there our ceremony started out in front of the Blue River with Summit County mountain views, the warmth of sunshine, and the beaming love of all who attended. You can tell the laughter and love from their community really help to shape who Rich & Billie Jo are. I’m so honored to have spent time with their families in this moment. 

     Post ceremony, Rich & Billie Jo wanted to have their own special moment together back at the airbnb, so we took a quick 5 minute drive back up the hill and went to the secret out cove with those scenic mountain views for some couples portraits and I think this is literally the best Summit County mountain view spot I have yet to find! 

     After the quiet moment, we zipped back down for the reception! Where a memorial table set up near the dance floor allowed for guests to pay respects to those we wished could have joined us, Bille Jo did her Father Daughter dance with all FOUR of her brothers to one song, which again, left us all teary eyed right until the very end where “I like Big Butts” came on and Billie Jo & her brother really got the party started! 


    And with the last bit of light, Billie Jo & Rich wanted to escape the crowds one last time for some sweet sunset photos near the Blue River. I love the Silverthorne Pavillion because the Blue River is RIGHT off the property and it takes mere seconds to go from shaking your booty to taking in a deep breath of that fresh summer mountain air! 

   I’m so happy I was able to be apart of Billie Jo & Rich’s wedding day and gain some new friends while I was at it! Seriously, if you’re considering the Silverthorne Pavillion, we all highly suggest it! The location is easy to get to off of I-70 for those from out of town, it’s located nestled between river, small town vibes and mountains, so getting those iconic Summit County shots is more than doable as long as you have a car and getting your fish on is possible on the morning of your wedding! Highly recommended from us here at Simone Schiess Photography! 

Wash Park Late Summer Wedding Mount Vernon Denver

Caroline and Brad’s late summer/early fall Wash Park wedding was nothing short of AHMAZING, including a first look, a jaunt through the Mount Vernon Garden, and a reception at the Wash Park boat house! 

We started out at the Caroline’s Airbnb for getting ready photos, about a 5 minute drive from Washington Park (fondly known as Wash Park) in downtown Denver. I love when couples find gorgeous homes to get ready in. The outdoor space was beautiful with a small garden space and unique gateway to hang bride Caroline’s dress. Caroline and her sisters, mother and cousins all gathered in the beautiful open air bedroom to bathroom space to get dolled up while I played around with details. Putting on Caroline’s dress was so special and sweet, with her mom and all of her sisters around her. The feminine energy was beautiful and bold and made me wish I had sisters! (Just kidding I love my brothers). 

We then set off in my car to Mount Vernon Garden for a first look with Brad, who was happily hanging out in the park that he and Caroline first met in. Brad and Caroline are both huge runners, so it was only fitting that they got married at where they first met in a running meetup group! When we got there, excited ensued and we got to take in a lot of extra time to relax, chat, and of course have fun with our first look shots. 

We then made our way to ceremony spot in Washington Park, where close friends & family gathered to celebrate the union of these two love birds. It was a gorgeous Denver day, sunny, a little wind to cool us all down, and a few clouds to give us a break from the sun. We all hung out inside of the Boat House where bridal party put on their boutonnieres, mamas put on corsages and we all shared some snacks. It was a nice quiet moment before the ceremony. To ensure there was an element of surprise, Caroline hired a Pedicab to take her from the BoatHouse down to the ceremony so no one would be able to sneak a peak of her prior to walking down the aisle. It was so cool! Loved the Pedicab dude too. I wish I remembered his name. Will ask Caroline!

After the ceremony, the Peddy Cab came back around and grabbed Caroline & Brad at the end of the aisle and whisked them away for a ride around the park and quiet moment to really settle into the “WE ARE MARRIED!!” feeling. 

Huge thanks to Caroline & Brad for choosing me to safely take photos of their big day and to Cherry Bomb Events for putting on on heck of a party!