ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I created this guide because I know how overwhelming it can be to plan the perfect engagement session- there is so much to think about! But I promise, after reading through this guide, you'll feel completely prepared (& EXCITED!) for your own engagement session!
First off, I'm a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how we pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is significant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding. There's no wrong or right, so no matter your timeline, you deserve engagement photos!
To make the most of your session, keep on reading!
In this guide I’ll cover what to wear, how to successfully include your pet, timing, posing and more! Let's get into it!
I created this guide to help take some of the to-do's off of your list, 'cause I know you've got a lot of them!
Whether you're in the middle of planning your wedding or maybe you're hoping to be engaged soon, I hope this guide makes your planning a little easier & more fun! Enjoy!!
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
A NOTE TO
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
Sessions typically last about an hour and a half and when when I can—I love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While I shoot most engagement sessions between May and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most of our couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats
If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. We recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up, if necessary. If your session will take place in a colder climate, make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues for that pesky runny nose!
walks on the beach hand in hand
In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.
If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready.
While I shoot most engagement sessions in the Florida area,
I’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Waterford, Virginia to Santa Fe, New Mexico to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let me know because if our schedules align, I might be able to take your engagement photos outside of our normal area.
Our dogs are a huge part of our family, which is why we love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. We won’t use your fur-baby in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pet's favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “compliment” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. We recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accesorries! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
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Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
I love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
for the ladies
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Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress!
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
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Engagement sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better for humitiy and wind.
We think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos - and if you’re planning to do a hair & makeup trial anyways, the engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera.
for the ladies
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There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).
for the ladies
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You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen!
Layer with a blazer and a fun tie - you can even wear jeans with this look.
Bowties are always a good idea.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.
for the gents
what to do if it rains
It’s typical for me to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and I’ve found that the best way to make sure our couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
I’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for an engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
When I can, I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session - so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
champagne is always a good idea
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met; however, trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.
In addition, adding a bouquet to your session always works! Bonus- you get some practice holding a bridal bouquet before the big day!
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you’re anything like me and my husband, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
You can expect a sneak peek of your session within 12-24 hours of your session!
I'll get to work on editing your images and your full gallery will be delivered within 10-14 days! I strive for a quick turnaround, so I promise I won't make you wait too long!
I know that this guide is a little long but hopefully it covers everything and you're feeling prepped for your engagement session! If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a note!
I can't wait to hear from you!