Hi there! Congratulations on your engagement!
It’s time to officially celebrate your new status with gorgeous images of you and your significant other- and that stunning ring of course!
I’m a strong believer in engagement sessions. This is where we find our groove and this is your time to get comfortable with having your photo taken (because let’s be real, no one is used to having their photo taken) so that your wedding day isn’t the first time you see my camera. Engagement sessions help me understand who you are as a couple so that I can tell your story in the best way possible. These sessions give you a look into how I work and how we’ll work together on your wedding day to create beautiful images.
This is also your chance to get photos for your save-the-dates, official wedding invitations, website registries, social media announcements, your wedding guest book album and other reception decor!
I threw together these tips to making the most of your engagement session based on a lot of frequently asked questions and my experiences.
But, this is definitely not a rule book. At the end of the day, the location you choose and outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. I want you to relax and enjoy your engagement session. Laugh a lot. Let me take care of the rest!
Choosing your session location:
Consider the time of year
Some locations photograph better at certain times of the year. For example, if you want to shoot at a vineyard, you’ll want to have your session in the early fall when the grapes are fully ripened and trees are still green. Shoot for early spring if you’re looking for lush garden or orchard photos, and mid summer for gorgeous lakeside images.
What do you and your partner love to do? Where do you enjoy spending time? Let’s head there! Think about your hobbies, likes and dislikes and that will help you determine the right spot, and vibe for your shoot. After all, your engagement photos should be a reflection of you as a couple!
Of course, I will provide some location suggestions if needed. I’ve photographed sessions all over Washington state and have some gorgeous locations I like to frequent. Keep in mind if we’ve settled on a location out in nature (i.e. woods, river, beach, etc.), be sure to come prepared for that specific location. If we’re heading out in the woods, be sure to bring bug spray and even shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Styling for her:
Don’t be afraid to dress up
Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! You can always do one casual look and then change into a more glam outfit. Remember, there is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of my brides love Rent the Runway for their session because it’s such an affordable way to feel like a million bucks. Other brides love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
Make a statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
When choosing colors for your outfits, I usually recommend selecting lighter tones and more muted shades. By avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, it will help bring all the attention to your faces and let the eye focus on the way you feel about each other. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
Coordinating the looks
As you’re coordinating your outfit with your fiance’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. Most of my brides choose their dress first, and then put together their fiance’s outfit based on that.
Styling for him:
A good suit
Men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If he doesn’t have one, now’s the perfect time to invest in something he’ll wear for the rest of his life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. If you feel like a suit doesn’t suit your man (pun intended!) then aim for long pants and a nice button down. Long pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts and sandals at home. FYI, brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look.
It’s all in the details
Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any suit!
One more styling note
Once you have a few options picked out for the both of you, try them on and stand next to each other in the mirror. Do you love it? Do this a week before your session so you’re not scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out what to wear.
Here are a few things to avoid:
Other things to think about:
Take traffic into consideration and map it out a few hours before you leave for your session. With my approach to photography and photographing couples, light is everything – and when we’re shooting in good light, I’ll probably be doing some sort of happy dance. That being said, it helps to be on time. It’s likely that your session will be scheduled 90 minutes before the sun goes down, so if we get a late start, that cuts into the amount of light that we’ll have to work with.
Clean your ring the morning of your session! You want it to be as sparkly and bright as possible! On a similar note, go ahead and get your nails done too. #treatyoself
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
Be sure to eat before your session. Beyond that, consider grabbing a drink beforehand. A beer or your favorite cocktail might be exactly what you need to calm any nerves. If you’re up for it, I’d love to join you for that drink too!
Don’t forget to plan date night. You’re already going to be all dressed up! Why not take advantage of it? I know the wedding planning process can feel all-consuming, so take some time after the session just for the two of you to relax and have some fun together.
… and those are all my tips for slaying your engagement session! I hope you got a lot of value out of it.