Updated: Jul 3
Tips and advice for planning your engagement photography session so that you and your future spouse will look and feel awesome in your engagement photos.
I love engagement sessions! I might love them even more than wedding days, I'm not sure, but I definitely recommend that every couple have an engagement session done for a few reasons.
You can get to know your photographer, their way of working, and their artistic style better.
You'll build a rapport with your photographer and feel more comfortable being photographed by them on your wedding day.
Your photographer gets to study you and learn your best angles and the poses that flatter you the most, so they're extra prepared for your wedding portraits that are often done on a more limited timeline.
So few couples get professional photos done of themselves besides their wedding photos, so it's great to have some really nice photos that aren't in your wedding clothes.
The photos can be used for save-the-dates, wedding invitations, guest books, thank you cards, and more!
Time and Place
Choosing the time and place for your session is so important. Some couples want a location that is symbolic to their relationship while others only care that the place matches a certain aesthetic. My advice to all my couples is that no matter what kind of location we aim for, that it has a lot of variety and space for us to explore so that not all the photos we take look the same. I like to deliver variety in the images I take of my client couples, so it's important that the locations we go to for engagement sessions aren't limiting in their scenic ability. The three photos below were all from the same location, but as you can see they look like three completely different locations.
Another thing that is important to me is the time of day, and the day of the week. I always prefer weekday evenings for engagement sessions. A lot of the locations we go to are popular public locations for families, so on the weekends they can be crowded with families, making it harder to frame a perfect shot without other people in the background, as well as making it difficult for the couple to not feel self-conscious about being photographed or getting a little more intimate with each other for some more romantic photos. The other thing about evenings is that the sun is at a great height in the sky for soft, beautiful golden light and that enables some of the gorgeous sun-play you see in my portfolio.
What to wear for engagement photos
A question I get from a lot of my clients is "What should we wear?" I don't like to dictate to my clients the outfits they should wear because I want them to look and feel like themselves in their photos, but a good rule of thumb is to dress in clothes that are a little nicer than your everyday casual wear but that you still feel comfortable moving around in. I say this because my client couples and I tend to be a lot more active and athletic during sessions with me than with some other photographers who might be more "glam." I'm still waiting for the couple who can execute a Dirty Dancing lift on camera for me. UPDATE: This challenge has been accepted and completed by the fabulous Melissa & Sean, who did the lift at their engagement session and their wedding! #goals
Another thing I tell clients is to wear colors that compliment each other without being too matchy-matchy. A good rule of thumb is a complimentary color scheme (blues and deep reds are a great combo) or homogeneous color scheme (blues, turquoises and greens; maroons, tan/yellows and light browns). And being the artsy person I am, I am always a big fan of neutrals, anything black, grey or white with dark blue jeans or khakis is an instant win in my book! And in general you want to wear lighter, more pastel colors for spring and summer sessions and darker or more muted colors for fall and winter sessions.
Make the Session Personal
There are lots of different ways to make the session unique to you and to help make the images more personal. I have had several couples bring along props that they wanted to incorporate that show off their wedding date for a save-the-date. Or a wedding hashtag sign so they can put the photo in a frame a their wedding and guests will know what hashtag to use for the Instagram photos they'll post. Also, I will always welcome it when couples want to include their children or fur-babies in some of their engagement photos. And definitely don't be afraid to show your unique personality during your session! If you're a little weird and kooky, I want to see it. If you love music and you play instruments together, please play a little song for me. If you want to have a wine picnic, bottoms up!
For more great tips on wedding planning or getting inspired for your big day in photos, download my free Wedding Photography Planning Guide and get instant wedding planning zen.