Are you recently engaged or planning on getting engaged?? Then you're in the right place, my friend. Today I'm going to be answering the most commonly asked questions that I get about engagement sessions and sharing some of my own top secret (shhhh) tips that I've learned along the way through my years of photographing engagement sessions!
First things first, Why should you do an engagement session?
For many reasons....
1. To CELEBRATE your engagement! - This is a HUGE milestone in your life and definitely a reason to celebrate. Your marriage will be long but your engagement will be short and fly by so SO fast. Doing an engagement session allows you to slow down a little before the craziness of wedding planning picks up, enjoy your time together being engaged and to document this special time in your life so that you can remember it always.
2. To get comfortable with your photographer and vice versa! - An engagement session is your chance to work with your photographer before your big day! It's allows you to get comfortable with them in front of the camera and it allows your photographer to get comfortable posing you and to get an idea of how you interact as a couple. Doing an engagement session just makes things run that much more smoothly on your wedding day... think of it as a practice session before the big day! This is why I have a complimentary engagement session included in all of my wedding packages, because I find it to be so beneficial! A lot of couples will say we don't want to do an engagement session because we don't like getting our photo taken.... well, that's all the more reason that you should be doing one, so that you can start to get comfortable and maybe even enjoy getting your photo taken. Many couples will also say, we don't need to do an engagement session because my cousin or so-and-so is going to do it for us. That's all fine and well, but I do highly recommend that you do your engagement session with the photographer that will be photographing your wedding, to give you both a chance to get comfortable with each other!
3. To have professional photos that you can use for your Save the Dates, guest book, wedding decor, ect. - Engagement photos are great to use on your Save the Date cards that you will be sending out to all of your guests, to personalize your wedding website or registry, to make a guest book or canvas that guests can sign at your wedding, to have on display at your bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and wedding. They also can look great on display in your home as framed prints or canvases!
When should you do an engagement session?
If you are planning on using your engagement photos for Save the Dates, then you should do your engagement session 10-12 months before your wedding because it is customary to send Save the Dates out about 6-8 months before your wedding date. You'll want to give your photographer enough time to edit the photos and get them back to you, and you'll also need to factor in enough time to get your Save the Dates designed, printed, delivered, stamped, addressed and sent out to your guests!
Is there a certain season that is best for engagement sessions?
No, not necessarily. The season that you choose to do your engagement session in is totally up to you but there are a few things you can consider when choosing the season. First, I want you to consider what season you are getting married in. If you are planning a fall wedding for next year, then you might want to consider doing a fall engagement session this year because it will go along with the overall theme of your wedding. Second, I want you to consider what season is the most special to you as a couple. Do you love winter because you do a lot of skiing together? Maybe you got engaged in the fall while apple picking. Think about what you really love to do together and what brought you together in the first place. Lastly, I want you to consider any locations that you have in mind and which season would work best for that location. Are you dreaming about doing an engagement session on top of a mountain but the mountain trail is closed off in the winter? These are all things to consider when planning the season of your engagement session.
How do you pick a location for your engagement session?
Now, this is kind of a loaded question because there are A MILLION different location options out there that you could do your engagement session at. What I want you to consider when choosing the location of your engagement session is, What is the theme of your wedding? Will it be rustic? Urban? Artsy? Fancy? I suggest picking a location that will go along with the overall theme of your wedding. If your wedding will be rustic at a barn venue, then I suggest picking a more rustic location (like in the woods, in a field in the countryside, ect.). I also want you to consider again, what you love to do as a couple. Is there a certain winery or brewery that you love to go to? Is there a certain location that is super meaningful to you as a couple? Maybe the location that you first met, had your first date or got engaged? And lastly I want you to consider what activities or hobbies do you love to do as a couple. Do you love kayaking? Or maybe you're artists and love painting together.... consider a location that will allow you to incorporate your special unique hobbies into your engagement session.
What should you wear to your engagement session?
This is kind of a tough question to answer because I could go in any which direction here. I won't be giving you specific outfits to wear (I'll save that for a future blog post!) but I can share some of my general outfit tips that I share with all of my couples! I recommend planning two different outfits for your engagement session. The first will be business casual (ex. For the ladies- Sundress or skirt, kakis, etc. For the guys- kakis, polo, button up short sleeve shirt, dress shorts, boat shoes, ect.) and your second look will be more formal (ex. For the ladies- Cocktail dress, an evening gown, dress pants, dressy top, blazer ect. For the guys- suit, tie, dress pants, bow tie, vest, tuxedo, ect.). How formal or how casual should you go? That depends again on your wedding. Dress according to what the dress code will be at your wedding. If you're having a super casual backyard wedding, then you can be more on the casual side with your engagement session attire. If you're having a super formal black tie affair wedding in a grand ball room, then you're going to want to go all out and be super formal for your engagement photos. It really sets the tone for your wedding from the beginning when you dress according to your wedding dress code for your engagement session.
Now, let's talk about what you should AVOID when choosing your outfits for your engagement session. Avoid neon colors at all costs. Don't get me wrong, I am all about being bold and colorful, that's my style and you'll see bold colors reflected in my work. But neon colors are just too much for your engagement photos.... they come out too bright in photos, they clash with backgrounds, and they reflect up at your face making your skin tone look off in your photos. I know, I know, you want to stand out.... but don't stand out so much that you literally stop traffic! Don't wear the exact same colors as your partner either.... let's avoid looking like those awkward old-school family photos where everyone is wearing a white t-shirt and jeans (you know the ones I'm talking about!). Wear colors that coordinate with each other and compliment each other but you don't have to be completely twinning with your partner. Avoid writing on t-shirts and lets just take that a step further and say avoid t-shirts! There are ways to dress up a t-shirt with a vest or blazer or a skirt over it, but I would avoid coming in just a frumpy looking t-shirt. In my opinion your engagement session attire should be a little bit more dressy than that, you don't want to look like you just rolled out of bed. Avoid super funky patterns. Simple patterns are fine like a small floral, polka dots, or stripes and work great to accent an outfit but avoid patterns that are too busy because that will deflect from your faces and we want YOU to be the center of attention in your photographs. I would also avoid clashing patterns... I wouldn't recommend having both of you wearing a pattern, because that can clash with each other and look too busy.
Lastly, when considering what to wear for your engagement session, be mindful of the location you will be doing your session at and what colors will work there. You'll want to choose colors that complement the colors and tones in your location as well. Also, be mindful of your own wedding colors. It could be a great idea to wear your wedding colors at your engagement session, because it will really tie everything in your wedding together and set the tone of your wedding from the beginning.
Should you bring your pets to your engagement session?
I have a lot of couples ask if they can bring their pets to their engagement session and my answer is always, Yes! Absolutely, I love having your fur babies in your session with you. If you are bringing your pets to your engagement session with you, I would highly recommend bringing someone that can watch your pet when they are not in the photographs. Your pet won't be in all of your engagement photos, so it's great to have someone there that can take your pet for a walk and play with it while you're doing the rest of your engagement session. It is way too hard and stressful to try and watch your dog yourself, while you're getting your photo taken and we'll all feel horrible if your dog is locked in the car the whole time, So please, save yourself the stress and headache and just a bring a friend that can love on your fur baby while you're having the time of your life getting your photos taken!
Should you bring any props to your engagement session?
Don't go overboard with props, less is definitely more! I personally prefer not to use "Pinterest" props in my sessions (Like a sign with your date on it or a sign with a quote on it). I find those to look kind of corny and unnatural in your photos. My goal is for your session to be as natural and "candid" looking as possible, so having you standing there robotically with a sign... yeah that's just not the vibe we're going for here. Some fun natural props that involve interaction and movement are champagne (you can pop a bottle of champagne together, shake it up for some really fun shots, pour it in champagne glasses and cheers!), a picnic basket (filled with treats to share with your photographer of course, LOL), a bottle of wine with wine glasses, helium balloons on a string, streams or confetti that you can pop or toss up in the air, colorful smoke bombs, and vintage cars. I loveeee all things vintage, so I have a ton of vintage props that can be used in your session such as vintage suitcases, vintage coca cola bottles, ect. Incorporate your hobbies or things that you both love as your props. For example, maybe you both love a certain kind of craft beer (beer drinking is a hobby, right? lol), bring a couple bottles to crack open at your session. Or maybe you both love to play tennis. Bring your rackets and tennis balls to incorporate in your session! The goal is to find props that will be super natural and not make you feel stiff or posed during your shoot.
What time of day should you do your engagement session for the best lighting?
I ALWAYS try to do engagement sessions 1-2 hours before the sun sets. This is when the light turns to pure magic. If you've ever heard of the term golden light or golden hour, this is what is being referred to. It's the time when the sun is setting and makes an orangish yellow glow on everything. It makes everything it touches look like something out of a fairy tale. Golden hour is my favorite time to do engagement sessions!
What advice would you give to a couple that feels awkward in front of the camera?
First of all, let's unpack this here. Every. single. couple. I have ever photographed has told me the same exact thing at the beginning of their session, "We're really awkward in front of the camera." It's perfectly normal to feel awkward in front of the camera! Because unless you're like a professional model or something, then you're not used to someone watching your every move and following you around with their camera like they're your paparazzi. Some advice I would give is, first of all, if there's something physically that you're particularly self conscious about (for example, my teeth are crooked on the left side, so I like to be posed on my right side), tell your photographer ahead of time. Don't be afraid to voice these concerns to your photographer! That's what we're here for. We're here to make you feel comfortable and to look your absolute best. But we aren't mind readers. There might be something that you're self conscious about but most people would never even notice. Your photographer will be able to pose you to show off your best assets and mask your "flaws", if you let them know ahead of time what those flaws are. Then you won't have to worry and focus about that your entire session. Put your focus on your partner and how much you love them, not on worrying about you and your looks. Also, just keep moving! Movement is always best for those candid, natural looking photographs. Nobody wants to look super stiff or robotic so just move around and have some fun with it... do a little dance, tickle each other, and when in doubt go in for a kiss!
Some additional tips for your engagement session:
-Don't be afraid of the rain! - Some of my favorite engagement sessions that I've ever done have been in the rain. I bring a large clear umbrella to every session (just in case), that you can cuddle under and it just makes for some really fun and intimate photos!
-Invest in professional hair & makeup. - Having your hair and makeup done professionally just gives you a much more polished and airbrushed look. I can always tell in my camera when a client has had their hair & makeup done professionally. Your engagement is a super special moment in your life so why not invest in yourself and be sure to look your very best! Maybe try to plan your trial on the same day and kill two birds with one stone!
-Go out for a drink for your session or make a day date out of it. - Now I'm not saying to go out and get hammered before your engagement session (Absolutely not... lol), but if you're superrrr nervous about getting your photo taken, like shaking in your boots nervous, then why not go out for a drink together before your session to take that edge off. Or better yet make an entire day date out of it! Take the day off from work, do some exploring, go out to lunch, and your engagement session will just be part of your day date. This will help you to be more relaxed when you arrive at your session, so you won't be rushing to get out of work, rushing to get ready, and rushing to get to your session on time. Plan your day accordingly!
-Don't come to your session on an empty stomach. - I have to add this one in there, because I'm the type of person that gets HANGRY on an empty stomach. If I'm hungry all I want is food, all I can think about is food, and all I care about is food. I don't want you guys to be rushing through your session because your stomach is rumbling like a thunderstorm. Please, have something substantial to eat before your engagement session!
-Bring extra outfit option and accessories. - Even if you have your outfits picked out, always bring extra options with you. Your photographer will be able to offer their expert opinion on what will photograph the best, what pairs the best together and will be able to help style your look.
-Bring oil blotting sheets or translucent powder for oily skin. - If you are prone to having oily skin like myself, then you'll want to bring oil blotting sheets (found at any drugstore) or translucent powder with you. If you feel your face start to get greasy, you can easily touch it up in the middle of your session.
-Bring extra lipstick or lipgloss. - You're going to be doing a lot of kissing so your lipstick might wear off. Be sure to bring some extra with you for touch ups if needed.
-Bring face wipes. - If you're wearing a dark shade of lipstick, that's going to wipe off on your partners face when you're kissing. He's probably not going to want to have red lipstick on in the photos too... so bring some face wipes to easily wipe any lipstick marks off.
-Clean your ring your before your session. - Your photographer will be taking close up photos of that bling, so be sure to clean it right before your session. You can find jewelry cleaner at any drugstore or jewelry store, just make sure that it's specifically for the material that your band is (gold, platinum, silver) and for diamonds and precious stones. You can also bring your ring to the jewelry store that it was purchased at to have them polish it or even re-dip if for you (For example, my engagement ring is platinum, so they would re-dip it in platinum for me). This makes it extra shiny and brand new looking!
-Get your nails done. - Since there is going to be a lot of focus on your sparkly engagement ring, I recommend getting your nails done before your session to for a more polished look.
-Steam or iron your clothes before your session.- Nobody wants to look like they just pulled their outfit out of the dirty laundry hamper before coming to their session. So please, steam or iron your clothes the night before!
And lastly one of the biggest and most important tips that I can give you when it comes to your engagement session is to, trust your photographer! You hired your photographer for a reason. Hopefully that reason was because you love their work and you feel comfortable around them. So trust in them. Photographer's have a creative vision and see things differently from the normal eye. It is our job to make you look and feel your best, and we will do just that!
I hope this article helps you as you prepare for your engagement session. For more information about my engagement sessions and for some inspiration pics click here.
I would love to work with you! If you'd like to schedule an engagement session with me, please fill out my contact form.