A Surprise Wedding Proposal at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh

February 8, 2024

Natalia Baqueiro

Engagements, Pittsburgh Locations

Couple looking at each other at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Chris surprised Lindsey at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, with a memorable wedding proposal that will be one for the books! Right after their surprise wedding proposal, we began their engagement photos inside of Phipps botanical garden.

Phipps Botanical Garden is a green oasis in the middle of Pittsburgh’s vibrant Oakland neighborhood with so much versatility and cozy corners to have a little tropical gateway for your engagement photos.

A Hidden Gem in Pittsburgh

Whether you’re having your engagement photos, or a romantic couple session, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a true gem we have access to, and the perfect spot if you’re a nature lover.

As a Pittsburgh wedding photographer, it’s important for me to have a location where my couples can not only feel comfortable to have some privacy, but a beautiful place, and Pittsburgh’s Botanical Garden is full of little cozy corners.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Garden is a hidden gem in Pittsburgh. I say hidden because people often overlook how beautiful the architecture of this building is.

Its glass structure is seen from miles away, especially at night when you can spot the lights coming from it. If you’re thinking of having your wedding at Phipps, you’ll never regret it!

Phipps Conservatory, a historic place in the ‘Burgh

To give you a bit of history, this is a Victorian-style glasshouse designed by New York greenhouse manufacturer Lord & Burnham and was completed back in August 1893.

Isn’t it crazy how antique this building is? Yes! It’s part of Pittsburgh history and legacy.

Phipps Conservatory opened to the public later that year, and it showcased over 6,000 exotic plants. It’s now one of Pittsburgh’s leading wedding venues and it usually books out months in advance. If you’re considering Phipps for your wedding, make sure to book your wedding day in advance.

Henry Phipps made sure Phipps was always open on Sundays so workers could go and enjoy it as well, which I think makes the story even better.

Couple kiss surrounded by plants at the Phipps Botanical Garden

How to have a surprised wedding proposal

Chris contacted me to help him document his surprised wedding proposal to his girlfriend Lindsey. These are some my my favorite moments to photograph, so the adventure began!  

As a Pittsburgh engagement photographer, I tried giving Chris as many tips as I could. Pittsburgh winter is always unpredictable, but December is one of the months when you don’t know if you’ll get rain, snow, or a perfectly sunny day emulating Florida’s sunny weather.

Chris was deciding between the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland, which is another Historic Pittsburgh spot, or stick to the botanical garden.

He tried to reserve one of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ private rooms used for private events and wedding venue, but they were all booked.

Having their engagement in Oakland was very important to Chris because they started dating while they were both still living there. Going back to relive those memories and have such an important moment in their lives take place there was incredibly important.

To start planning your engagement, reach out!

Couple celebrate their Proposal in front of Phipps botanical garden with roses in the air

Nostalgic and Romantic Engagement Photos – Make it meaningful

We started off with the surprised wedding proposal at the very front of Phipps Conservatory entrance where Lindsey was caught off guard when Chris got on one knee and asked her to marry her. It was a very special moment to witness!

Right after we took photos outside where there were Christmas trees and where Lindsey had time to catch her breath to really take in the moment and noticed how real this moment was. They were now an engaged couple!

Couple laugh at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Photos are meant to be emotional: As soon as you see them, you must feel something

After their Phipps surprise wedding proposal, we started the engagement photo session inside of the glasshouse, and the romanticism and intimacy we were able to document was incredible.

Even though it was very busy and there was a lot of people, I managed to get these two into beautiful cozy corners inside of this botanical garden where the sun would filter in through the glass creating nothing else but perfection.

If you’d like to see the video, you can check out my TikTok for it!

The mood for the botanical garden photos and the outfits

The idea behind this part of their engagement session was meant to be casual, intimate and represent the meaning behind their proposal.

Lindsey wore all black. A black skirt, with black leggings and a black sweater, which made her look sleek with the perfect amount of casualness with her black boots.

Chris dressed for the occasion with a dress shirt and dress pants that paired up perfectly with Lindsey.

Hands of engaged couple showing engagement ring in botanical garden

Trust your wedding photographer for their creative vision

After we walked around in some of the many Phipps exhibit rooms where they have hundreds of plants from all over the world, we ended up in one of the rooms leading to the exit where the sun filtered in, giving us beautiful soft light with the occasional sun rays making it a magical moment turning it into artistic and unique shots.

I’m freaking obsessed with how these Pittsburgh botanical engagement photos came out. The tropical plants all around Phipps gave us the perfect backdrop for a romantic film look.

How to enhance your engagement photos?

By bringing props, or meaningful things such as red roses or a champagne bottle to enhance your experience.

Lindsey had the red roses Chris had giving her when he proposed to her, and I used that as one of the props to photograph the engagement ring.

One of my-all-time favorite exhibit rooms at Phipps Botanical Garden is the Desert room. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially when it’s so cold outside, and you can see some of the beauty the western part of the US offers.

Couple kiss in Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The Japanese Garden at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

It’s another special place, located in one of Phipps outside gardens is the beautiful Japanese garden.

The big pine trees, water and small bridge make this area serene and private enough to have some quiet moments with your loved one.

The glasshouse in the background is the perfect touch for these romantic engagement photos of Lindsey and Chris

Black and white couple embracing each other at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

While we were outside walking around Phipps outside gardens, we saw some of the holiday decorations and lights Phipps is known to have during the holiday season, which is where we got one of the most iconic photos of their engagement ring!

It was the perfect photo to ring in the new year and announce their engagement to friends and family.

If you need help planning your surprised wedding proposal, wedding, engagement session or want my input as to what Pittsburgh location would be best for you, reach out here!

New Year Engagement ring with firework in front

The Experience of your Engagement Photo Session will set the tone to your wedding day

As a local Pittsburgh photographer, I enjoy crafting an experience that is unique to you—whether that is by incorporating the beautiful city of steel into it, or helping you plan the perfect surprised engagement.

When Planning your Engagement Session in Pittsburgh

When you start planning for your engagement, remember that your engagement photos should serve as a reminder of the first chapter of your lives together. That’s why Chris sentiment to have his engagement in Oakland was important for me as well.

Engagement Ring with plants in the background

Engagement Session in Oakland

For the second half of their engagement photo shoot, we focused on the surroundings of Phipps where the architecture of this stunning glasshouse is breathtaking.

As a Pittsburgh photographer I believe it’s a fantastic area, not only because it’s pretty big, but because it offers different areas that will make your photos special.

The front of Phipps has two staircases leading you to the top of the glasshouse, which I felt it was a memorable spot to have photos done. We even had time to do a GIF in front of the big Christmas trees which were by the entrance of Phipps.

Couple dancing in front of Christmas trees at Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Gardens

The cathedral of learning in Oakland

Since Chris had expressed his interest in doing the photos at The Cathedral of Learning, a skyscraper that it’s the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus in Oakland, I thought it would be great for them to have photos with it in the background.

There was a moment full of red petals that sealed the deal and ended their engagement photo session as a celebratory day. I can’t be happier with all the photos we got and the variety in all of them. Chris and Lindsey will be getting married in 2025 at one of Pittsburgh’s wedding venues showcasing.

Engagement ring tucked inside a bouquet of red roses.

If you’re planning a surprised wedding proposal, or an engagement session and you want an experience of a lifetime, make sure you send me an inquiry so we can start crafting the right experience for you!

Some wedding collections include an engagement session, find out more information about the packages and collections Natalia Baqueiro Photography offer for wedding photography.

If you need more inspiration when it comes to locations, here’s two guides on the most Iconic Pittsburgh Locations in the Steel City and the Best Pittsburgh Engagement Locations to consider so you can get more ideas on what vibe you’d like.

Below the TikTok video of the beautiful surprise wedding proposal in front of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh.

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