An engagement photo session is a great way for couples to show off their love and excitement for one another as they prepare for their big day, and then come away with some beautiful engagement photos thereafter.
This session typically takes place in the lead-up to the wedding day, with the photos forming part of your wedding memories forever. In addition to this, you can also incorporate the images into your wedding celebrations by creating personalized save-the-date cards, a guest signing book, and more!
If you are not sure if an engagement shoot is right for you, then read on. In this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about planning an unforgettable session, including:
- The benefits of the shoot
- How to choose a photographer
- Deciding on a location & outfit
- The best times of year (& day) for your photo session
- What to expect on the day
What is an engagement photo session?
An engagement photo session, also referred to as a pre-wedding photography session, is a photo shoot that couples undertake to capture their love and commitment to each other. It’s a beautiful experience captured during the wedding planning process and something lovely you can do together as a couple to create a long-lasting memory as you make the exciting journey toward your big day.
The engagement session not only gives a bride and groom-to-be the opportunity to get comfortable in front of the camera ahead, but it also allows them to build a rapport with their photographer ahead of their big day.
The couple can use the photographs taken at the session for engagement announcements and save-the-date cards or may even incorporate them into the décor at the wedding reception.
How to choose a photographer for your engagement photoshoot
Typically, you would have your engagement session with your chosen wedding photographer. Although, if you are planning to have your photo shoot in another country, you may choose to hire a separate destination couple photographer to capture it for you.
There are many things to consider when it comes to selecting a professional photographer for your wedding and/or engagement session. So if you haven’t yet decided who you want to capture your big day, you can find more information on how to go about this in my blog: What to Consider when Choosing a Wedding Photographer.
Do you need an engagement session?
Although not an essential part of the wedding planning process, there are many benefits to having an engagement session. These include:
The opportunity to build on the relationship with your photographer
The session gives you a chance to get to know your photographer better and vice versa. This is important because it helps you develop a rapport with each other and ensures that your photographer understands your vision and wedding style. It also allows for open communication between you and your photographer, which ultimately leads to better results.
Experience being in front of a camera
Most of the couples that inquire with me tell me they don’t like having their photos taken as it makes them feel awkward, shy, or uneasy. So the thought of having a photographer take photos of them on their wedding day fills them with dread – and I completely understand why this is the case. Therefore, an engagement session allows you to spend time and start to feel more comfortable being in front of the camera ahead of your wedding.
Set expectations for the wedding day
The session will help you to gain insight into what to expect on the big day when it comes to the photography side of things. As a result, you will feel more relaxed and confident going into (and on) the wedding day itself, translating into a more positive experience and better results overall.
Adds to your overall wedding experience
An engagement photo session is a great opportunity to enjoy an experience together as a couple. There’s no doubt that wedding planning can be stressful at times. There’s often lots to prepare and seemingly endless decision-making involved. Therefore a photo shoot can be a fun opportunity to take a well-needed break from the pressure of planning and enjoy this exciting season in your life. It’s a good time to focus solely on each other, with no other distractions, and enjoy this special moment together – just the two of you.
You can use your engagement photographs to create memorable keepsakes to incorporate into the wedding in the form of save-the-date cards and wedding invitations. They also make a great addition to a wedding album or guest signing book, creating a timeless heirloom to cherish for years to come.
When to Take Your Engagement Photos
The next step is to decide when you would like to have your shoot. For this, you’ll want to consider a few different factors, including whether you wish to use the photos in any save-the-dates and where you want to have the shoot.
The desired use of your engagement photos
For couples who want to use their engagement pictures for save-the-dates or other wedding-related materials, it’s essential to schedule the photo session well to ensure you have your products in enough time before your wedding date.
Time of year
While you can choose to have your engagement session at any time of year, certain seasons will provide different backgrounds and lighting opportunities, which can impact the look and feel of your photos.
- Spring is always popular because of the beautiful natural scenery, which provides blooming, colorful flowers and lots of interesting greenery.
- Summer can be an excellent option for beach or outdoor sessions. However, it’s worth noting that the light, heat & humidity may be harsh at this time of year. Summer is also likely to be a time when your photographer is in demand due to high wedding season and therefore, may have fewer dates available.
- Fall is another popular choice and one of my favorite seasons for portraits due to its beautiful foliage and warm, romantic vibe.
- Winter can be more challenging due to the colder weather and limited daylight, but it can provide a cozy and intimate backdrop for your photos, particularly if you want an indoor session.
Where to have your engagement photo shoot?
You can choose to have your engagement session wherever you like – the options are endless! However, to help narrow your selection, I would recommend starting with your desired style & vision for the shoot. Do you have a particular theme in mind? For instance, if you want something soft, romantic, and dreamy, then a flower garden might be a good setting for this.
Otherwise, if you love the hustle & bustle and want to include some dramatic landmarks and scenery, a city may be a great option for you.
If a cozy & rustic theme is more your vibe, then maybe consider having your shoot at a snug log cabin or a beautiful woodland setting.
Or, if you love to be by the sea, you may prefer a cosmopolitan harbor or beachside location.
Alternatively, think about the favorite places you like to visit as a couple, like a local park, a place of outstanding natural beauty, or other special places. Or maybe you would like the shoot to take place at the location of your proposal?
You may also want to consider a destination location and make a vacation out of it! Paris is one of my favorite destinations for photos, offering endless opportunities for creating those special memories. Check out one of my couple’s photo shoots in Paris here.
What time of day is best for photos?
The best time of day for your photography session depends on the location, time of year, weather & quality of light. I’ll discuss this in more detail below…
Quality of Light
The best light is usually in the early morning or late afternoon to evening, when it is softer, creating a romantic and dreamy atmosphere for your engagement photos. The golden hour, which is the short time around sunset and sunrise, is often considered an ideal time for outdoor photography, particularly if you like warm natural light & love the glowy look.
If possible, it’s usually best to avoid having your portrait session in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest because the direct sunlight can be harsh and not very flattering on your skin.
It’s also important to consider your location when choosing a time of day, as certain areas may be too busy to shoot at. For example, if you want to have your session in an urban or city area, you will want to schedule this during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and ensure clear shots.
What to wear for your engagement photography session?
Deciding on what to wear for your pre-wedding shoot will very much depend on the location of your session & the time of year. Either way, I would always recommend going for something that makes you feel special but comfortable wearing.
To create a timeless look, it’s generally best to avoid strong colors, patterns & anything that is bang on trend or ‘of the moment’ as these looks can become outdated very quickly. There’s nothing worse than looking back at photos and thinking, ‘What was I wearing?’!
Pay attention to the type of scenery that surrounds your chosen location and choose colors that are complimentary. You can never go wrong with a muted, neutral color palette, like beige, cream & white, which always combines well with something stronger like black, navy & khaki.
If you want to showcase some color, keep to one or 2 at a time and make sure it doesn’t clash. For autumn & winter, I love rich greens, auburn, brown & navy. For spring & summer, you can’t go wrong with pastel shades like dusky pink, soft peach, pale blue, muted yellow, and mint green.
A great tool for looking at color theory and working out which colors are complimentary & harmonious is the color wheel. View and find harmonious color combinations here.
If you are looking for some outfit inspiration, social media can be useful for this. Try typing #outfitforphotoshoot or #outfitideas into Instagram & browse through the feed for ideas.
Alternatively, Pinterest is a great tool for serving up a variety of outfit options. I’ve added a good selection here to my Pinterest board that you may find helpful: Engagement Photo Shoot Outfit Ideas.
Depending upon the brief of the shoot, it will usually involve walking, so comfortable shoes are a must for getting from location to location. Don’t worry, though; you can always carry a change of shoes or heels in a bag to swap into for your photos!
Another great idea is to bring a few different pieces of clothing to allow for outfit changes, creating some different looks. Just ask your photographer to plan some breaks into the schedule with somewhere suitable to change.
To make you feel at your best, I would highly recommend going all out and having your hair & makeup done professionally. When you feel amazing, it can help to boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
How to prepare for the day
Once you have decided on a general location, you will want to work on a shoot plan with your photographer. Let them know what sort of backdrops you would like to include, and they can develop a schedule around your requirements.
Remember to book your hair and makeup appointments in plenty of time, and treat yourself to a manicure to get some lovely, close-up photos of your hands and engagement ring!
What to expect on the day
I always like to start my sessions as relaxed as possible, with some general chatting to put you both at ease and help you acclimate to your surroundings. As we move around the locations, I like to capture a lovely mix of awe-inspiring portraits alongside some beautiful, candid shots of the two of you laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company.
As you have your pictures taken, interact with each other & maintain a close personal connection. Keep the chat happy and light-hearted by talking about positive memories, such as your first day, and exciting future events, like the plans for your honeymoon.
During the session, I always offer up lots of tips & advice on the most flattering ways to pose and guide my couples on how best to interact with each other to capture those perfect shots.
Just remember that there are no rules – the most important thing is to enjoy yourself.
Top Tips for the Perfect Shoot
- Avoid leaving your phone or keys in your trouser pockets, as they can look bulky and create an unflattering silhouette.
- In the weeks leading up to the photo session, be mindful when you are out in the sun to avoid any unsightly tan lines from showing up on the photos!
- Make a day of it. Although the shoot itself may only take 1-3 hours (depending upon your requirements), I would advise blocking the whole day out to enjoy time together either before or after. Go for a nice meal or cocktail, and spend some quality time with each other, away from wedding planning. It will add to your whole experience & tie into the occasion perfectly.
- Your session is also a perfect opportunity to ask your photographer, in person, any questions you may have about their involvement in your big day, so ask away. No question is ever small or silly. Your photographer understands that a wedding is a big deal, so don’t ever feel awkward about asking ANY sort of question.
I hope you found this guide useful; however, if there’s anything I haven’t covered that you would like to know, please do not hesitate to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me HERE.
The main points to consider for the perfect engagement session are:
- Find the right engagement photographer – talk to friends and family, compare portfolios and styles, & read reviews. For more help, please refer to my blog: What to Consider when Choosing a Wedding Photographer
- Choose the perfect location for you as a couple- consider the time of year, natural beauty, and layout of your chosen spot
- Get prepared beforehand – consider clothing and accessories that fit your personality as a couple. And book your professional hair, makeup artist, and nail appointment ahead of time
- Make a day, or even a vacation, of it, and above all, have fun – don’t be afraid to laugh or show emotion during the shoot. These emotive, candid moments often make for the best photos
If you are still wondering whether or not to have an engagement photo session, I’d say definitely go for it & enjoy the special day! It’s a wonderful opportunity to capture some beautiful couple photos of your unique love story, create long-lasting memories, and develop a stronger bond between you and your photographer.
You can find out more about the photo sessions I offer: including Engagement, Couple, Honeymoon, & Proposal HERE.
Would like to know more about my Wedding Photography Services? If so, please do not hesitate to contact me HERE.
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