7 Tips for Proposing Marriage on a Hot Air Balloon

Proposing marriage on a hot air balloon is a BOLD move. For such an important life moment though, bold is certainly the way to go.

If you’re considering proposing on a hot air balloon, there are some things you need to know! Being bold can also bring unique challenges, and you definitely don’t want to mess this up.

From bringing extra tissues to being flexible with the timetable, here are 7 tips for proposing marriage on a hot air balloon!

1. Bring Extra Tissues

Have you ever been watching a movie on an airplane and you just couldn’t stop crying even though the movie was a comedy? If so, you’re not alone.

It’s actually been proven that humans are more prone to crying at higher altitudes! There’s a couple of reasons for this.

The first reason involves psychology. Although you may not notice it, being at a higher elevation increases your emotional vulnerability. You can try to deny this all you want, but your brain is naturally programmed to fear heights.

Because of cultural pressure and experience in the air, most of us don’t notice our emotional vulnerability while flying. Instead, we bury it deep down inside of ourselves. No matter how far we bury it though, that vulnerability will still affect us.

The second reason for this phenomenon is much more tangible. The higher we travel, the thinner the air gets. Since we’re not designed for such thin air, many people suffer from a form of hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency.

Sometimes this condition can cause drowsiness or even exhaustion. However, for many, it contributes to our emotional susceptibility. This is especially true for those who are less experienced with high altitudes.

Proposing is already such an emotional event where either one, or both individuals involved often shed a tear or two. Coupling this emotional event with higher altitudes may lead to a LOT of tears.

This isn’t a bad thing! In fact, because of the way we remember things, a few tears could help you remember this moment even better! That having been said, its certainly a good idea to have a few extra tissues handy!

2. Don’t Forget to Tell the Pilot

This piece of advice comes with a caveat. You may read this and think to yourself,” but, I am the pilot!”. No matter how experienced an aviator you may be, being the pilot and proposing at the same time is a bad idea.

Proposing is a nerve wracking event (at least for the one who is asking!). Trust me, my wife still makes fun of me for how obviously nervous I was when I proposed.

Even if you’ve already discussed marriage a thousand times, or if you’ve known your partner since birth, this will still be a high-strung event. With all those extra nerves, you don’t want to also be in charge of piloting a hot air balloon.

Putting that aside, you really, really need to let the pilot know of your plans before hand. There’s a ton of reasons for this.

The first is simple courtesy. You likely don’t know the pilot personally, and this is their balloon. You don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable at any point, so be kind enough to give the pilot some heads up.

The second reason is that the pilot is the one in charge of how long your flight lasts. A pilot actually has little to no control over where the balloon is going, but they do have a lot of control over how long a ride will last. Letting the pilot know what you’re doing will ensure that he or she will give you enough time to make your move.

Third, the pilot can actually make a great wing man (get it?). Odds are that the pilot has done rides in your area plenty of times. They’ll know where the most scenic points are, and can give you a little wink to let you know when the best moment is.

The final reason is that you’ll probably have a few special requests, and the pilot needs to know about those. We’ll discuss more about pictures and family involvement in a second, but there’s a lot of special requests that will have to be passed by the pilot first!

3. Be Creative with Pictures

You’ll most likely only want you, your beloved, and your trusty pilot up in the air. This will create an opportune amount of intimacy for this special moment.

While a level of intimacy and privacy is important, so are pictures. There are a couple of good ways, and also some not so good ways to get pictures taken of your totally awesome hot air balloon marriage proposal!

One route many people go is just asking the pilot to take pictures for them. This could be okay in some situations, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. Pilots already have plenty going on, and unless you plan on paying them for the pictures AND the flight, I would skip this option.

That having been said, there are ways a pilot could help you take pictures without being distracting or asking too much. A lot of pictures for a hot air balloon proposal involve a GoPro, so I would definitely consider investing in one if you don’t already own one!

If you go the GoPro route, ask the pilot if you can attach one somewhere in the basket or on the frame beforehand. Hidden camera shots are a classic in proposal photography and videography.

Another way the pilot can help you is by suggesting some good spots for the ground to sky photography. While you’ll definitely want some shots taken in the hot air balloon, some shots from the ground are cool too. We’ll discuss in a moment how you can have more involvement from the ground.

Ground to sky photography can also go horribly wrong. If you don’t do enough planning beforehand, or if you aren’t prepared for the weather, you can totally miss out on this awesome opportunity.

There has been a growing trend to film your proposal on your phone while you’re proposing. I can’t overstate how bad this idea is! It’s not just tacky, it will also take away from the moment forever. You want to be prepared with a plan well in advance with outside help so you can just enjoy the moment.

Ultimately, you just need to be creative here. You know your situation best. Maybe the pilot is a close personal friend! Asking them to snap some pictures could be a great idea!

Or maybe you spelled out your proposal on the ground, so you want to use a selfie stick to capture when your significant other sees that for the first time. In that case, self-photography could be the best way to go!

The bottom line is just be creative.

4. Involve the Family

This section includes involving family, friends, or whoever you want to be a part of this magical moment! No matter who you want to be involved, there are some ground rules to follow.

There’s actually an easy way to get people involved outside of going up in the hot air balloon with you. If that’s your cup of tea, go for it! But if you’re looking for some privacy while still being able to share the excitement with others, here’s how to do it.

Most balloon pilots will have one or more of their ground crew follow them in a car. This part of the crew is in charge of constantly keeping eyes on the balloon and alerting the pilot if there are any impending hazards.

Do you know who could join the ground crew? That’s right, your friends and family! You could even have your photographer follow along with the ground crew if you want some ground to sky shots.

Not only does this mean that you’ll have a welcome party waiting for you when you land, but you can also incorporate your loved ones throughout the process.

The pilot could “accidentally” leave their radio on for the duration of the flight so your friends and family can hear the very moment when you pop the question!

One thing to avoid is having everyone there to see you and your sweetheart off. This is a dead giveaway for what’s about to happen. As much secrecy as possible should be involved with this step. The more surprise, the better.

5. Don’t be a Downer

This one gets into a personal pet peeve. While all of the other tips are based in fact or well-tested practices, this tip is absolutely based in my opinion. Read on at your own risk!

If you’re going to propose marriage in a hot air balloon, you should actually do it in a hot air balloon. I am appalled at the number of people who propose on the ground and then jump into a hot air balloon.

Don’t do that. Don’t be a downer.

Proposing on the ground and then going up is wrong on many levels. First of all, half of the fun of proposing is being able to share it shortly thereafter with your loved ones.

There is a time and place to jump into a hot air balloon and escape from everyone. Imagine proposing in a hot air balloon, and then a year later at your wedding reception, you and your new spouse leave the party in a hot air balloon. How cool would that be?

But this isn’t your wedding reception. It’s your marriage proposal. Believe me when I tell you that you’ll want to celebrate it with others.

Perhaps the biggest reason for proposing in the air is for the story. Imagine explaining for the rest of your life that you had the opportunity to propose in a hot air balloon, but you didn’t. Instead, you proposed in a random field NEXT to a hot air balloon.


Do it the right way. Propose in the hot air balloon.

6. Invest in a Banner

This suggestion is totally up to your budget. Depending on the hot air balloon service you’re using, you might have already spent a lot of money on the hot air balloon ride itself. Then there’s the photographer, a GoPro if you’re going that route and any travel expenses that may be involved.

However, if money is no object to you, I would highly recommend getting a banner. In fact, you could actually get a few banners!

While considering buying a banner, remember tip #2: don’t forget to tell the pilot! Attaching a banner to a hot air balloon is no easy feat, especially if you’re being secretive about it. Communicating with the pilot beforehand is not only courteous, it can also be very helpful!

There are lots of things you could put on a banner. Some banners don’t even have to be on the balloon. A banner could be laid out somewhere on the ground with the question “will you marry me?” Be creative with your banner(s)!

If you’re working with a larger hot air balloon ride company, you may actually find that they include banners as a part of their package. This is the ideal way to go if possible. It’s easier and tends to be cheaper.

You may ask what’s so cool about a banner on your hot air balloon. Have you ever felt like shouting your love from the rooftops? Well, this is your opportunity to do just that!

Along with letting the whole world know, if you have family and friends following along, a banner will also let them know what’s going on up there. If you’re not a fan of the radio suggestion I made earlier, this is a great alternative.

Perhaps most importantly, this will be a touching gesture to your new fiance. It will be a symbol of how you feel about them!

7. Be Flexible with the Timetable

This tip is by far the one that makes people most anxious. If you’ve ever gone hot air ballooning before, you know how much the weather affects a flight.

Planning ahead for the weather is a good idea, but it can only accomplish so much. The hard truth is that sometimes it’s just unsafe to fly in a hot air balloon.

Your pilot will be the one who makes the final call on whether or not you can go up. Trust them, and don’t be frustrated if the pilot postpones your adventure. It’s for the safety of everyone involved.

If your grand plan is postponed, don’t give up! The best thing you can do is be patient. This will be beneficial to the pilot, to your significant other, and to your own sanity.

Because of this potential risk, it’s best to communicate well with everyone involved. This is especially true if friends and family are traveling!

Most of the time, a balloon trip will only be delayed a day or two. If your pilot knows how important this is to you, I guarantee they’ll do everything in their power to be of assistance.

In some cases, the trip will only be delayed an hour or so! Whatever the case, don’t lose hope! Your dream hot air balloon marriage proposal will happen, and it will be awesome!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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