A Surprise Proposal at Devil’s Thumb Ranch (and 3 Ideas!)

black and white photo of a man proposing to woman at devils thumb ranch on new years eve in the winter. He is down on one knee opening a ring box with a huge diamond ring on the inside asking her to marry him.

I’m so excited to share this surprise proposal at Devil’s Thumb Ranch today!

Daniel did such a great job keeping this proposal a surprise and Shea was so shocked! I’m such a sucker for surprises and even though I was in on it, it still made me feel all the emotions.

I’ve also got some fun tips in store for anyone ready to pop the question— it’ll be towards the end of the post, so stay tuned!

Meet The Couple

Shea + Daniel met at a mutual friend’s wedding in Steamboat, CO. Shea was friend’s with the bride, Daniel the the groom. The day of the wedding all the guests were being shuttled from the hotel to the ceremony.

Knowing no one beside the wedding party, Shea walked onto the shuttle and sat in a row by herself. A minute later, Daniel walked onto the bus asking Shea if anyone was sitting in the empty seat next to hers.

They talked the whole way to the ceremony, sat at the same table for the reception, and danced the entire night together. They had an absolute blast and have been together ever since.

The Anticipation of the Surprise Proposal

In Shea’s words…

“I have been totally on edge for the last few months, knowing a surprise proposal was coming soon. I was hoping it would include our family and friends, but also knew #Covid and the holidays would make that really difficult to plan.

So, when Daniel mentioned wanting to spend NYE at Devil’s Thumb, I was totally pumped and slightly hopeful. I knew something was up that day because he was acting strange. Then half way through the day he said he really didn’t feel well, so I drove us to Devil’s Thumb Ranch.

When we parked, Daniel asked if we could go for a walk (which I thought was strange/my best friend was with us and he made her go “check us in”). But then naturally it all made sense.

Daniel started reading our poem “True Love” by David Whyte. Then he walked me to his pre-planned spot where all our friends and family could see (little did I know).

Then he got down on one knee! It all happened so fast that all I could manage to get out of my mouth was “What are you doing?!”

I finally got a ‘yes’ out and then all our friends and family came bolting out of the lodge. It was the best!”


In Daniel’s words…

“Proposing to Shea was the most nerve-racking experience of my life. I had put so much planning into it and when the day finally arrived every nerve in my body was fired up with anticipation.

The whole drive up from Denver to the ranch I felt sick. When we arrived it all became a blur. I had selected a poem to read to Shea that is special to us both while we walked to “the spot”.

I was overwhelmed with emotion and could barely get words out of my mouth. I’m not even really sure what I said after reading the poem. Not exactly how I had planned – but I guess it worked!

In the end this is what makes it so special and memorable. It was perfectly imperfect… It felt like an eternity that I was down on one knee but she finally said yes! Once the big moment was over the scene of our families and friends running out to greet us dissolved all of my nerves and I felt a huge rush of joy.”

Their Favorite Parts

SHEA: “I, of course, loved the whole thing, but all our friends and family running out to us right away is something I will truly never forget. I was overwhelmed with so much love and excitement… not to mention beauty! There was a gorgeous sunset in the mountains that night!”

DANIEL: “My favorite part of the surprise proposal was of course the moment she said “yes.” And then being able to share the moment with those who are closest to us.”

So there you have it, Daniel and Shea’s sweet proposal captured at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. I hope you enjoyed their story, their fun pictures and if you’re looking for some inspiration for your own proposal, keep reading!

3 Creative, Romantic + Simple Proposal Ideas for Your Own Engagement!

Engagement season is here and people all over the world are trying to rack their brains to impress their soon-to-be fiance’s with the most spectacular proposal ever. Amiright?

Proposal’s are the culmination of your relationship thus far and I’m here to share some good news with you: it doesn’t have to be extravagant to be spectacular. But according to most of the women who voted via my Instagram poll (only people who identified as women voted), it DOES have to be thoughtful and meaningful.

Ready to impress your future spouse?

Here are 3 proposal tips to wow your future spouse:

  1. Make it meaningful. The little things are the name of the game in the world of marriage proposals. This is the time to make all those details and little moments of your relationship come alive. Whether it’s sharing your favorite things you love about your partner, recreating your first date, or revisiting your favorite location together (and if you need some inspiring ideas, I have some here for you).
  2. Do some digging. It’s time to play detective. Friends and family love to be on it and here’s the way. Have them ask questions for you, or ask your partner what they want. Talking about it in advance won’t take away from the surprise. Here are questions to ask that might help you:
    • Would you prefer to be alone or with friends
    • What are specific things you want (nails done, photographer?)?
    • What’s your dream proposal?
    • Is there anything you’re totally opposed to?
  3. Hire a professional photographer. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I always do when I run into a shameless plug, buuuttttt who would I be if I didn’t add this little detail in? hehe. Okay, but really, you want these moments captured, pinky promise. Hiring a professional photographer will not only be perfect for the actual proposal to capture this special time in your life, but chances are, they’ll be able to help you plan out the parts that still need special attention because they’ve seen plenty! 

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The intersection of aesthetic and personality. Fueled by good light, wanderlust, and cookies. Chasing magic like I chase my kids; laughing always.

Whether I'm building legos or putting the final touches on your album design, it's always with intention and love. I believe life is too short not to live for today. My goal? To offer you the perspective of presence with my camera so you can sink into the moment.


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