In our previous post, we talked about ways to involve family in your proposal when they are also here on Maui. In this article, we’re focusing on how to incorporate family when they aren’t going to be here in person.

Congratulations from your family

Having your new fiancé read messages of congratulations from your family is such a special way to start off this next step of your future together. Of course, you’ll probably get text messages and comments on social media once you reveal the big news, but going old school with hand-written congratulations shows you really put some extra thought into, not just your proposal, but afterwards too.

You could have your family members all sign a card and give your new fiancé this card after they say yes. If your family lives all over the place and signing one card isn’t feasible, each of them could mail you a letter or card by a certain deadline before you leave.

To prevent any suspicion, you can have the letters mailed to you at work. Or you could ask another family member or close friend to keep them safe for you until you’re ready to pack the cards into your suitcase. If it’s too risky to pack them, you can also mail your family letters directly to us.

This does require some advance planning, but if you have time to do this, it will be such a sweet gesture welcoming them to the family.

For Lawton and Maddy’s proposal, we took our message in a bottle add on and changed it to incorporate Lawton’s family. Normally, we use a message in a bottle before the proposal. You write a message on it for your sweetie to read right before you get down on one knee.

This time, we gave Lawton and Maddy the message in a bottle after the proposal. Lawton’s mom was in charge of getting family members to write messages of congratulations on a scroll. She mailed the scroll to us. We put it in a bottle and gave it to their photographer so Maddy and Lawton could read the messages while she captured their reactions.

Lawton and Maddy read the scroll his family has filled out congratulating them on their engagement

Messages from Lawton's family written on a scroll to Maddy

Lawton and Maddy read messages written on a scroll from his family

Lawton kisses Maddy on the forehead. She holds the message in a bottle.

If your family prefers talking to writing, another thought is to have them send you videos of them giving you well wishes that you can watch together after the proposal. Since this is likely to take a while to watch, we recommend playing the videos when you are back in your room, instead of during your photo session.

Presents after your proposal

A classic way to celebrate your engagement is with a bottle of champagne. If you’re staying at a resort, it’s easy for family to call and order a bottle to be delivered to your room. If you’re staying at an Airbnb or somewhere without a front desk or room service, then we may be able to help deliver the present during their photo session.

We love how Francis’ family contacted us to add champagne with a little note to his engagement session with Brianna. You can see their story here.

If your loved ones want to put a Hawaii spin on their surprise, leis are a beautiful addition to your photos.

Tony’s sister Brenda lives on the island of Oahu and worked with us to help plan his proposal to Katie. She wanted them to have beautiful leis after the proposal. Brenda purposely picked specialty leis that you can’t just find in the grocery store – maile intertwined with tuberose for Tony and a white orchid and pink rose lei for Katie.

Tony gives a white orchid and light pink rose lei to Katie

Katie give a maile and tuberose leis to Tony

Katie and Tony look at each other and hold her engagement ring out towards the camera

Tony and Katie smile for the camera. Katie rests her head on Tony's shoulder and has her arms above his waist.

Katie and Tony frolicking on the sandy shores of Maui together after getting engaged

Tony and Katie sitting on the beach. Tony is sitting behind Katie and whispering in her ear.

Using technology to bring family to you

If your sweetie is super close to someone who won’t be there for the proposal itself, you can go above and beyond by calling that special person right before the proposal and putting your phone in your pocket. After the proposal, you can reveal that special person was “there” the whole time. Mikey introduced us to this idea when he proposed to Caitlin with her mom on the phone in his pocket.

If you decide to do this, put your phone in your back pocket or somewhere it won’t be bulky and distracting in photos. Do a test run by calling the person, sticking your phone in the pocket you’re planning on using, looking in the mirror to ensure it doesn’t create an unsightly bulge in pictures, and confirming they can hear on the other end.

You can also FaceTime loved ones after the proposal. Just keep in mind that any time you spend chatting will be taking away from your photography time, so you’ll want to keep it short or save the FaceTime for when you don’t have anything to do or anywhere to be.

You’ll also want to double check the time difference as it may be very late where relatives live. We’re 5-6 hours behind EST depending on the time of the year, so it could be midnight when you’re calling.

Woman holds cell phone during FaceTime to announce engagement


Your engagement is an exciting time, not just for you two but for your friends and families as well. We hope these ideas will inspire you on how you can incorporate your nearest and dearest when they won’t be here for the proposal in person.

If you have any new ideas on how you want to involve family in your proposal, we’re all ears! The sooner you contact us to start planning, the better!

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