Surprise Proposal at Chatsworth House

March 27, 2024

Surprise Proposal at Chatsworth House

March 27, 2024

A Pride and Prejudice inspired proposal in the Peak District

Just after Christmas 2023, I received a message from Chase on Instagram asking whether I was free to photograph a surprise proposal for his girlfriend, Maddy, during their trip to the UK. Travelling almost 4000 miles from Illinois, he had planned to surprise Maddy with a trip from London to Derbyshire and then pop the question in front of Chatsworth House in the Peak District. He told me that she is a huge Pride and Prejudice fan and that it has been a dream of hers to visit the estate – famously known as Mr Darcy’s home. How romantic?!

Dive into this post to learn how I, as their proposal photographer, supported and coordinated with Chase to bring this magical proposal to life!

Before the day…

Exclusivity rights

It’s important to note that there are exclusivity rights at Chatsworth, as they only allow engagement photos for couples within the main grounds, for those who are getting married at the estate. Although this was a proposal, we still honoured these rights. This meant a few locations were off-limits, but the estate is big enough to find plenty of gorgeous places for photos.

A romantic picnic in the countryside

Currently, Chatsworth House & its gardens are currently closed for renovation, so it was disappointing that Maddy & Chase couldn’t get the full experience of visiting the estate. But in an effort to give them something to sit down and do during their trip and tie in with the pride and prejudice theme, I suggested the idea of having a romantic picnic (with lots of British goodies!). This meant that they could enjoy exploring the grounds of Chatsworth for a couple of hours, and then make their way over to their picnic area when they were ready.

Location Scouting

Before the day, I helped Chase with scouting the perfect location to have the picnic. I visited Chatsworth House for an engagement photoshoot last year, and there is a quiet, romantic spot directly in front of the estate, just over James Paine’s bridge. It’s walking distance from the estate, underneath two oak trees overlooking the river and in direct sight of the house. The perfect spot!

Restaurant Guide

Chase & Maddy were staying local to the area at Fischers Baslow Hotel, and Chase reached out needing restaurant suggestions for their evening meals. Although bustling during the summer, lots of local businesses in the Peak District close early during the winter and use the slow seasons for renovations. This means there are limited places to eat, forcing people to travel outside of the area to find somewhere open. So, to save hours of him researching on Google for the best place to visit, I created Chase with a restaurant guide – which included the top three suggestions of where to eat – all rated by food quality, reviews and within travel distance from their hotel.

Getting to Chatsworth

As Chase & Maddy were travelling up from London via the train, I created Chase a travelling guide and timeline of the day so he had all his travel details in one place so everything could run smoothly and on time. This included everything from his train leaving London when it arrived in Chesterfield, and up until us finishing at Chatsworth and me driving them back to their hotel (it was 7 minutes away, so no point in them booking and waiting for a taxi!). When planning a proposal, there can be lots of moving parts and it can get tricky to organise in secrecy! This is why when photographing my couples, I’m willing to be as involved as you need me to be in the planning process, so that you can focus on looking forward to the shoot / day.

The morning of…

The morning of the day, I visited M&S to buy all of the British goodies for their picnic basket and flowers from my local florist to add detail and elevate their picnic. Goodies included: Jaffa Cakes, Mini Cheddars, Colin the Caterpillars, Jam Tarts, Fresh Strawberries, Sausage Rolls & Raspberry & Elderflower sparkling water. When arriving at Chatsworth it was a little chilly, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue – it was the perfect day for Maddy & Chase to see Chatsworth House in all its glory!

After setting up the picnic and getting everything in place, I hid behind a tree and waited for their arrival. It was so exciting hearing them approaching the picnic and within a few moments, Chase got down on this knee and asked Maddy to marry him 🥹 So cute… obviously I cried haha!

After excitedly meeting them both, I let Maddy & Chase enjoy some time together, take in the view, gaze at the ring and tuck it into their picnic. With all the months of planning, nerves and excited emotions built up to this very moment, I gave Chase & Maddy space and asked them to let me know when they were ready to have some photos taken together. It was important for them to take some time together to relax and just be present in the moment – there was plenty of time to take photos.

It was such a pleasure to be their proposal photographer and to be able to support Chase during the build-up to bring this day together. Congratulations to Chase & Maddy!

If you’re looking at popping the question to your loved one, and would love to make it happen at Chatsworth or within the Peak District, simply get in touch via to contact form and I’d love to help you.

Elee Smith

British adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer,  travelling to all corners of the globe to capture your unique love stories. Documenting the real, natural and genuine moments of your special day. 


Styled Shoot



British adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer,  travelling to all corners of the globe to capture your unique love stories. Documenting the real, natural and genuine moments of your special day. 

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