You’ve either booked or are planning your engagement session, which means that you’re engaged, which is incredibly exciting. After almost ten years as a wedding and engagement photographer, my passion is to provide not just my clients, but all couples, with amazing information to prepare for their best photography session ever. Here are a few of my favorite tips to ensure that you have an absolutely stunning engagement session.
01. Your outfits are key
The thing that can make or break your shoot more than anything else is what you’re wearing – it may seem simple, but trust me, this is a big one. I’ve seen so many couples show up for their engagement session in their favorite formal outfits, but they don’t think about a few key things, and the photos end up not getting nearly as much use as they could have.First thing to consider is that you want these photos to be incredibly classy and elegant – these will be what you use to prepare your friends and family for your wedding, these may be used as a guest book during your wedding, and most likely, these will be what you’re sharing up to your wedding day… so make sure that your engagement session vibe matches the one you have planned for your wedding!
I know it may seem more formal than needed, but I love long dresses for ladies, and simple but formal outfits for the men. Basically, you’re never going to be too dressy for your engagement session – stay comfy, of course, but when picking out your outfit, unless you decidedly want to go for a casual session, err towards the dressier options.
02. Plan for 1-2 different outfits
I always advocate for the outfit change, because it gives you a lot of beautiful and varied photos from our session, but try to stay away from bringing more than 3-4 outfits, and plan to only wear one or two of your options. If you’re focused on getting a photo in every outfit you bring, that will allow for a lot less tine to really get comfortable and natural in poses and locations. If you stick to just one or two really knockout outfits, we’ll have plenty of time to comfortably pose you and let you truly interact with each other.
03. Keep it fitted
Men, stay away from baggy clothing, please! Fitted shirts just look better, and while we don’t need you to wear crazy tight pants, saggy, baggy, or poorly fitting pants are definitely not a good look either. Keep your clothing well-fitting and flattering. If you don’t know how to do this, please just ask your fiancé. She has some great suggestions, I promise.
04. Hair and makeup
Ladies, this one is important, almost as important as your outfit. This too can make or break a session – I’ve had clients who were super bummed with how dark their eyeshadow was, or who didn’t like their hair curled, and it ruined the session for them. I’m always happy to re-shoot if there’s something you don’t love about your session that is fixable, but let’s save both of us the time by being absolutely certain of your look on the front end. I know a photo session is already an expense, but since you’re committed, consider a highly recommended hair or makeup artist to make your session even more special. If that’s not in the budget, then I recommend doing your hair and makeup the way you usually do instead of trying something new on portrait day. I’ve been there – you’re running late, the curling iron is making you sweat, you’re wondering if anyone will *really* notice that uncurled section of hair in the back? Yeah, you will, and it’ll really bum you out. Just say no. Do it naturally, or do it professionally, in my opinion.
05. Keep the weather in mind when planning your outfit
If it’s humid in these sticky North Carolina summers, or if there’s a chance of rain, consider an updo instead of curls. Consider dark clothing instead of light ones that could become see-through or show sweat. Unless you are a blessed human who doesn’t ever sweat ever (lucky!), save grey for the colder months. Trust me.
06. Plan for it to be just you two at your engagement session
Moms are amazing for bridal sessions, best friends are absolute godsends on wedding days, but for engagement sessions, keep it to just you two. The reason being? I need you to be able to get “in the moment” for us to get the best shots from this session. That means no mom telling you to “pull your top up!” or no best friend egging you on, but just you two, staring into each other’s eyes and being madly in love. I’m a distraction enough, so leave the other ones at home.
07. Think about personal elements you can add to your session
A great way to get a really special and personalized engagement photography session is to add some of your personality into your session. A really easy way to do this is to bring a dog, if you have one – you’ll be so focused on wrangling your dog that you’ll forget to feel nervous!
08. Schedule yourself a manicure
We’re going to be putting a lot of focus on your hands during this shoot, so make sure that your nails are done, your hands are moisturized, and everything is ready to be highlighted!
09. Write a letter
The night before your engagement session, take a few minutes to write a letter to your partner. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or fancy, no pressure to write a second set of wedding vows here. Just jot down something simple, letting them know how much you love them and how incredibly excited you are to marry them. When I have couples show up to their engagement session with letters for each other, we start the session off by letting them read each other’s letters, either outloud or quietly to themselves. This is an amazing way to pull yourselves out of your nerves and jitters and just get grounded in why you’re doing this session in the first place. Every single time a couple has brought letters to their engagement session, it’s made it much more natural and emotional… and less awkward!
10. Take a shot
Seriously. If you’re nervous, if you’re not typically into PDA, or if you’re just feeling a little jittery before your session, I love to tell my couples to take a shot of tequila while getting ready for your session. Please just limit it to 1-2 shots, especially if you’re not typically a big drinker, but just enough to take you away from any stiffness.