An American photographer has found himself in hot water after he hiked up a mountain at dawn to capture a wedding proposal from afar - only to snap the wrong couple.

Jacob Peters rose at 2am, packed 13kg of gear and trekked for more than an hour to reach the picturesque Hawksbill Crag in Arkansas, where his client was due to propose at sunrise.

When he finally reached the spot, he found a young couple in the distance and took several photographs of the romantic moment, satisfied his efforts had paid off.

“Basically I spent six and half hours, (US) $40 in gas and food, 450 photos, and took the wrong couple's photos,” Mr Peters said. Photo / Caters
“Basically I spent six and half hours, (US) $40 in gas and food, 450 photos, and took the wrong couple's photos,” Mr Peters said. Photo / Caters

"Around 6:17am a young couple shows up. It's them. I'm sure of it. A little late but still not too late," the embarrassed photographer wrote in a post on Facebook. "They go up onto Hawksbill Crag. Hang out for a few minutes and then it happens.

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"He pulls out a ring, kneels down behind her. She turns around and starts crying and hugs him and it's obvious she said yes and all went well."

But when Peters sent a text message to congratulate his clients, he realised he had made a catastrophic error.

The client sent a confused reply, saying that the couple arrived late to the beauty spot and that the photographer was nowhere to be found.

Peters said it then dawned on him that by sheer coincidence another couple had climbed the mountain to propose that day, and that he had captured them by mistake.

Jacob Peters was hired to shoot the surprise proposal from afar. Photo / Caters
Jacob Peters was hired to shoot the surprise proposal from afar. Photo / Caters

"Basically I spent six and half hours, $40 ($58) in gas and food, 450 photos, and took the wrong couple's photos," Peters said.

He said he was unable to confirm the couple's identity at the time as was there no phone signal in the mountainous area. Mortified by the error, he took to social media and eventually tracked down the couple he had photographed by accident: David Le and Jenny Pham from Dallas, Texas.

The couple, who saw the funny side of the mix-up, told the BBC that Peters was "really kind-hearted" and offered them the photographs free of charge.

Please share this. I goofed. The person who contacted me goofed. But whoever this couple is might want these photos. Lets find them.

Posted by Jacob Peters on Monday, 8 May 2017

"We love hiking and David was planning this special trip that he wanted to be perfect. Now I know why he was a bit stressed," Pham said.

"The view was breathtaking. He asked me to film the sunrise, which at first I thought was a bit sentimental, then I turned round and he was on one knee holding a ring. It was perfect. It felt like a movie." she added.

Peters described the mishap as "bittersweet", adding: "On one hand I've made one couple's engagement very memorable in a good way and on the other someone didn't get anything."