Surprise Proposal Photography at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

A couple stands nose-to-nose on a rock that's floating in the middle of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

If you’ve never been to the Lily Pool in Chicago, you’re in for a treat! It’s nestled in the city (next to the Lincoln park zoo) and seriously feels like you’ve been transported somewhere else entirely. There’s a walking path that circles a gorgeous pond, and the trees are lush and green.

The Lily Pool can be rented out entirely for small weddings and events, or you can obtain an hour-long photo permit for photo sessions (the park will remain open to the public, though). Photo permits cost $100 and can be obtained through the Chicago Park District.

This summer, I was absolutely honored to photograph a surprise proposal at this magical secret garden! I arrived about an hour early to scout the area and set up the scene. There were “Marry Me” letters (thank you, Assortments by Jessica!), a red carpet, flowers, and, well, you can see the rest for yourself!

I’ve done my fair share of surprise proposal photoshoots, but this was my first time actually hiding in the bushes. And let me tell you, it was nerve-racking and thrilling! When I got a text from Nissim that they were on their way, I knew it was time to snap into gear. Camera in hand, I positioned myself so that just the lens was peeking through the greenery.

Through lush foliage, a couple is visible walking towards the camera.

They made it to the setup, and Nissim got down on one knee. Natalia’s face says it all!

Holding hands, a couple approaches large "Marry Me" letters perched on the edge of the Lily Pool. There is a red carpet with flowers at their feet.
A proposal in action! A man in a blue shirt is down on one knee in front of a woman with a mid-length colorful dress. She is delighted, her mouth open in ecstasy.

There were lots of people nearby who were *very* interested in what we were doing! I told them that they could stick around as long as they weren’t too obvious. A few were kind enough to record the whole thing and send it to the couple afterwards!

After the proposal itself, we wandered around the Lily Pool for more engagement photos. Every corner of that place is SO photogenic. What a treat to shoot there!

I had such a lovely time with Natalia & Nissim! So honored to be part of this incredible moment, and looking forward to their wedding very soon!