A Surprise Proposal at Mohonk Mountain House

June 1, 2023

Surprise Proposal Photographer | Mohonk Mountain House Proposal | NY Proposal Photographer

She was so surprised, he proposed twice on the quirky, majestic grounds of the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York.

Photos by Hudson Valley surprise proposal photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

mohonk fall in upstate new york new paltz

Surprise Proposal Photographer at Mohonk Mountain House, NY

Kyle reached out to me about photographing his top-secret proposal to his girlfriend, Hanah, while traveling upstate for the weekend. But when he called me, he was in Chicago looking at rings. In fact, when he finalized plans just a few days before meeting, he was in Chicago to pick up the custom-made, 3-diamond engagement ring he’d had made for her.

I knew he was serious when he said he couldn’t wait to propose, and he had indeed planned everything out. For the fall weekend, he had booked them a room in one of upstate New York’s most amazing hotel resorts: Mohonk Mountain House.

Lake view of Catskills hotel Mohonk Mountain House New York by Kathryn Cooper

About Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz, NY is a fantastic sight for the eyes, and a famous location. Upload and Billions is filmed here. Anthony Bourdain, John Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie used to visit here. SNL uses Mohonk for its retreats. And distinguished guests love staying at this 150-year-old, one-of-a-kind hotel in the Catskills.

Though staying at Mohonk comes with a hefty price tag, you get access to exclusive grounds including 4,000 acres of trails, rowboats on the lake, mini-golf, gardens, an ice skating rink, and more. You can’t get in unless your name is on the list—or if you make the 5-mile hike in through Mohonk Preserve.

Lucky for me, I was given access at the gate (which is 2 miles from the actual hotel via a narrow, beautifully windy road). I’ve grown up here for about 30 years, and worked as a Hudson Valley photographer for a while now—so I know the area well. Having a Mohonk Mountain House wedding, elopement, or engagement is absolutely amazing, because there are SO many locations to photograph, inside and out.

There’s world-class rock climbing right nearby, unique hiking trails that require a bit of contortionism to get through, amazing viewpoints, and activities all around the hotel. Plus, the uniquely pieced-together sections of this colorful hotel make it a destination no matter what time of year.

That said, fall here in the Hudson Valley is incredible, and we had an amazing day for this oh-so-secret proposal.

(P.S. I always thought all proposals were secret, but since many couples don’t pick out rings together or even discuss a proposal moment, it’s called a “secret” or “surprise” proposal when a party has no idea.)

shocked bride being proposed to on the lake

Surprise Proposal Photos

We had everything planned, including the secret signal and exact rock on which he was going to propose. Kyle had brought Hanah to breakfast, and then they were to take a stroll around the picturesque lake. I had texts and photos, so I saw them immediately as they walked my way.

Well, Kyle just couldn’t even wait until the rock, so he proposed right here on the path around the lake—even as passers-by saw what was happening. Hanah was in utter shock, so they jumped down to the rock and he proposed again! She just couldn’t believe it was all happening, and as a surprise proposal photographer, I had blended into the background so well, she didn’t even notice me. Okay okay, suffice to say she was a LITTLE bit distracted with, I dunno, being proposed to?

And yes, she said yes!

After she came to, she showed off her ring to folks nearby who had seen the surprise engagement take place, and then we did a bit of hiking around Mohonk Lake. Given that it was a perfect fall day, Mohonk Lake was framed by yellow, green, and rust-hued trees, and the sun shined brightly.

Does it not look like a unique fairy tale out of a children’s story book?!

Mohonk Mountain House Engagement Photos

We strolled around the property, then hiked up into the wooded handrail-lined trails, until we could see the Catskill Mountains and all of the Mohonk Mountain House behind us. It’s a gorgeous, classic photo that is a must when visiting the area. Taking Mohonk engagement photos are beautiful any time of year, but fall engagement photos have to take the cake.

Hanah was a bit shy (and still in shock) in front of the camera, while Kyle was a ham and grinning ear-to-ear with excitement, so to make hem both feel comfortable, we took the time to see the Mohonk garden, dip in and out of the hotel itself, walk around the boat docks, and more. They even sat in the famous Mohonk rocking chairs to take in the moment. Then she called her family, who—surprised—already knew what had happened, and that their upstate NY trip was actually a ruse for the proposal. They were headed up for a surprise visit to her family next, so we got a few last photos, I said congrats, and it was time to head out.

All in all, it was a successful surprise proposal for Kyle and Hanah, and I had a wonderful time on my mission to hike in and photograph their moment without her knowing.

Fall is the perfect time to take in the beauty of New York’s Hudson Valley, and this marriage proposal made the day that much sweeter~

For proposal photography bookings in New York, California, and beyond, contact me here

proposal reaction New York wedding photographer Kathryn Cooper Weddings

engagement photos in fall in New England on the lake - Lake Mohonk at the mountain house
she said yes after proposal
Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Mohonk Mountain House NY | Hudson Valley Proposal Photographer | Bride Taller Than Groom

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Mohonk Mountain House looks amazing and what a sweet memory. I love that he was so excited he couldn’t wait.

What a beautiful surprise proposal at Mohonk Mountain House. Love the variety of color and this certainly makes for a great story!

What an awesome location for a proposal! I absolutely love how happy and surprised she looked!

Ahh!! What a beautiful moment you got to capture! As always amazing photos!

OMG I love it!! I would be like woah wait! haha But I love that he was so excited he just couldn’t wait! Photos are beautiful and totally can see why the actual location was chosen for the proposal – gorgeous! So sweet – Love this! 🙂

Awesome proposal! Looks like an absolutely amazing location!

OMG! So funny that he did it before the planned spot and then did it again! What a great surprise and an awesome backdrop!


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