Where was The Proposal filmed?
Rockport, Massachusetts, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, Boston, MA
Victorian, Beach/Oceanview, Buildings/Offices
Americana/Anywhere America, Cape Cod, Office Building Style
About The Proposal
The Proposal is a 2009 film starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. However, Golden Girl Betty White also has a leading role in the film. Sandra Bullock is Margaret Tate, a Canadian-born executive editor working at a leading New York publishing company. Ryan Reynolds plays the role of Margaret’s abused assistant, Andrew Paxton.
Margaret has just fired one of her editors when she’s called into the office of Chairman Bergen, one of her superiors. Bergen tells Margaret that her visa to work in the United States has been denied because Margaret defied an immigration rule that she couldn’t leave the country while her visa was being reviewed. As a result, Margaret had her visa denied, and she was about to be deported. Margaret seems to take this in stride until Bergen tells her she can’t work for an American company while she’s reapplying for said visa. That’s when Margaret hatches a plan to marry her assistant, Andrew.
The news comes as a surprise to Paxton, but he plays along. After all, Margaret gets what she wants, and this is nothing new in Andrew’s servitude to his boss. Margaret promises she will give him a quickie divorce and no harm will come to him, although the plan is illegal.
Margaret and Andrew visit immigration agent Mr. Gilbertson, who knows from the beginning that the couple isn’t legitimate. However, Margaret insists on going to Sitka, Alaska to tell Andrew’s family about the upcoming nuptials.
In Sitka, Margaret meets Andrew’s parents as well as Gammy, Andrew’s beloved grandmother. Although she is initially annoyed by the Paxtons at first, Margaret comes to realize that she had forgotten what having a family was like. She realizes that she can’t use Andrew to get her way, but by this time, Andrew has already fallen in love with her.
Mr. Gilbertson shows up at the Paxton property, and the pair contemplate calling off the wedding. Andrew insists that they go through with the ceremony, but Margaret tells the crowd gathered exactly what is going on. She leaves with Mr. Gilbertson.
Back in New York, Margaret is packing up her things when Andrew comes in and tells her how he really feels. Although she’s reticent at first, saying she’s happier alone, Margaret can’t say no to Andrew’s marriage proposal.
The Proposal Locations
Most of the shooting for The Proposal took place in various locations around Rockport, Massachusetts. The production staff spent some time prior to the filming transforming a portion of Rockport so that it mimicked Sitka, Alaska.
The principal photography of The Proposal took place at Bearskin Neck, which is a community in Rockport. Bearskin Neck is said to have received such a name because a fisherman saw a bearskin left by Ebenezer Babson to dry. Babson is said to have procured the bear attacking his nephew, and Babson lured the bear to its demise in the water.
Filming between April 14 - April 17 took place at the following locations: Motif Number One building on Bradley Wharf, the Haskins Building, and the central business district of Rockport.
The final filming took place at Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
Betty White and Ryan Reynolds developed a close friendship that lasted until Betty’s passing in early 2022.
Margaret’s proposal scene in The Proposal
Rockport’s Business District; Rockport, MA
Shortly after Chairman Bergen tells Margaret that she is about to be deported, Margaret and Andrew leave the office building. Andrew tells Margaret that he will not be a part of her scheme because not only is it illegal (Andrew: “I’m facing a $250,000 fine and five years in jail), but Margaret usually treats Andrew very poorly. He’s even taken to getting her the same coffee as his in case he spills one of them; Andrew is expected to bring her Starbucks coffee every morning.
Andrew then tells Margaret that he expects to be made an editor if he agrees to marry her. At first, Margaret refuses. However, she realizes that Andrew holds all the cards. Either she can make him an editor, or she can leave her job and head back to Canada.
Andrew tells her that he will only agree to marry her if she proposes. So, in the middle of Manhattan, Margaret gets down on one knee and formally asks Andrew to marry her. Promising it’s merely a business deal and nothing more, Andrew agrees. He then accompanies Margaret to the office of Mr. Gilbertson, who warns them sternly about committing fraud just so Margaret can stay in the country.
Margaret meets the family scene in The Proposal
5 Gales Point Road, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts
After flying in a rather small plane to Sitka, Andrew and Margaret have to take a boat to get to the Paxton family home. When they pull up to dock the boat, Margaret looks at Andrew and says, “You didn’t tell me you were rich!” She goes on to describe the Paxton family as Alaska’s answer to the Kennedys.
Margaret is greeted by Andrew’s mom and his Gammy, Andrew’s grandmother played by Betty White. Gammy tells Margaret she’s so happy to meet her, then proceeds to ask Margaret if she’d prefer to be called Margaret or if she’d rather be called “Satan’s Mistress,” which is apparently Andrew’s nickname for Margaret.
Margaret and Andrew are also greeted by a welcome home party. One of the guests is Andrew’s former girlfriend, Gertrude (“Just call me Gert,” she tells Margaret.) Oddly, Gert will eventually help Andrew to see how he truly feels about Margaret.
Gammy chanting in the woods scene in The Proposal
One of the funny scenes in The Proposal is the scene in which Betty White’s character, Gammy, is attempting to carry out what appears to be a Native American ritual. This scene follows Mom and Dad Paxton bringing the happy couple breakfast in bed and announcing that they want the wedding to take place on their property the very next day.
Gammy is a part of the scene, and when Margaret and Andrew agree to say their vows on the family property, Gammy exclaims that the Universe must be thanked. Off Gammy goes, and Margaret decides to go for a walk. Unbeknownst to Margaret, Gammy is in the woods carrying out her ceremony of thanks. Gammy is even robed in Native American garb for the ceremony. She appears to be chanting some type of unknown language when Margaret happens upon her.
Margaret is skeptical at first when she spies Gammy chanting nonsensical phrases, but she does decide to join in. Margaret begins singing a Lil Jon song while awkwardly dancing.
“But I don’t know any chants,” says Margaret. “Just use your vowels!” (Gammy)
As only Betty White could, she steals the scene by joining in the awkward dancing with Margaret. She even joins in singing the Lil Jon song! Gales Point Road is where the family home is and the dance takes place in the woods nearby.
Wedding scene in The Proposal
5 Gales Point Road, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts
One of the best scenes - albeit the saddest - in The Proposal is the wedding scene. Margaret and Andrew are getting married in the barn on the Paxton property, and all the Paxton family and friends are in attendance. However, one guest isn’t quite welcome. Mr. Gilbertson has flown into Sitka, and he’s already met with Andrew’s father. Although Mr. Paxton has confronted Andrew and Margaret, they still decided to go through with the wedding.
That’s until Margaret’s conscience gets the best of her. She tells the guests that she has an announcement to make, and she tells the Paxtons “You have a beautiful family.” Margaret then tells everyone present that the marriage is a sham. Mr. Gilbertson tells her that she has 24 hours to get on a plane and leave with him.
Margaret goes upstairs to the home where she’s been staying with Andrew. She leaves Gammy’s wedding dress, the necklace gifted to her by Gammy, and a note for Andrew. At this moment, Andrew realizes he must go after her. Gammy fakes having a heart attack so that a plane will take her to the airport. The family understands that Andrew really cares for Margaret, and they all try to get the couple back together.
The boating scene in The Proposal
Margaret has been spending time with Gammy as well as Andrew’s mom, and Margaret feels particularly sad after Gammy fitted Margaret with her own wedding gown. Gammy also offered Margaret a necklace that has been in the Paxton family for generations. Margaret begins to feel guilty about her using Andrew just to stay in the country, and she becomes reluctant to go through with the marriage.
Although Andrew is prepared to take Margaret out on the boat, Margaret takes the wheel and begins speeding off. She comes clean about her feelings for the first time in this scene, and this scene shows that Andrew actually cares about Margaret even though he’s been reluctant to admit it.
Margaret talks about how nice the Paxton family is, and she tells Andrew that he should be happy about having such a wonderful family. Seeming to forget what she’s doing, Margaret lets go of the boat’s steering wheel. Andrew takes control of the boat, and he continues to talk to her until he realizes that Margaret is no longer talking. “Margaret! Margaret!” he yells; he can see her in the water. (Margaret was flung from the boat when Andrew took the wheel.)
Andrew races back to rescue Margaret from the water, and it’s evident that the pair have both developed feelings for one another.
Andrew proposes to Margaret scene in The Proposal
Rockport’s Business District; Rockport, MA
The final scene of The Proposal takes place in the same office where we met Margaret and Andrew, so it’s fitting that Andrew would propose marriage here. We begin by seeing Margaret saying goodbye to her former colleagues and packing up her things. She’s about to carry a box of things out of the office for the last time when Andrew shows up. Andrew has just flown in, and he seems to have run straight to the office in pursuit of Margaret.
Andrew tells Margaret that he realized he hated her for a long time, but their time in Sitka changed things. Margaret admits she learned a few things about herself in Sitka as well. He tells her that he still wants to marry her, but this time, Andrew wants the marriage to be real. Margaret tells Andrew that for the longest time she was content because she had learned to be alone. Meeting Andrew and his family reminded Margaret of how wonderful having a family really is.
Andrew says, “Marry me so we can date.” At first, Margaret refuses, but she can’t really hide her feelings for Andrew. She accepts, and the scene wraps as does the film.
The Proposal is chiefly filmed in the state of Massachusetts. Principal photography initially took place in Bearskin Neck, just outside Rockport. However, major scenes such as the boating on the water scene were filmed in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
The Paxton family home is a real home at 5 Gales Point Road in Manchester-by-the-Sea. The home is 15,000 square feet, with nine bedrooms. The production staff was tasked with transforming the home into an Alaskan lodge much as someone would own in Alaska. A stone fireplace was added to the set, but most of the transformation was the result of Photoshop.
Shooting began for The Proposal in April 2008, and around Rockport filming took place at the Bradley Wharf as well as the Haskins Building. Filming took place for two weeks at the Manchester-by-the Sea location. Some filming had to be postponed due to a car accident in which Sandra Bullock was involved.