A great engagement session is one of the best wedding investments you can make. In planning this experience, you’ll learn alot about or be refreshed on some key things that drew you and your partner together. It’s also a helpful way to gain a better understanding of your priorities for your wedding day, what elements are important for you to showcase, what colors and styles you are naturally drawn to and just refocuses all of that happy energy onto you, not the flashy party, as well as getting you to think about the best way to tell that story.
Planning for a fun engagement session can help your pictures tell the love story of you and your partner in an intimately unique way, that you won’t forget.
Below are five tips to make your engagement session an intimate, fun experience. If you’re planning on having an engagement session, these five tips will help you plan the perfect way to get amazing photos while also creating a fun, memorable, intimate experience.
Choosing a photographer is a decision you don’t want to take too lightly. When picking someone for your engagement session, you’ll likely also be considering them for your wedding day. It’s a great idea to have the same person for both, that way you three aren’t total strangers when the big day comes along and allows you to really get a good sense of how they will communicate on the day of the wedding. You want to make sure that you really choose someone who feels like an old friend since they will be spending your entire wedding day right next to you. Their work should truly speak to your heart and be exactly how you want this moment in your life to be recorded and celebrated. The work that you see on a photographer’s portfolio should be the outcome you expect with your gallery. So if you’re hoping for your wedding album to be bright with soft colors and lots of posed portraits, you may not want a photographer whose style is warmer with bold colors with lots of lifestyle candids. So much more goes into a photographer’s job outside of pressing a button. The settings that they have mastered for their camera, the editing style that they’ve spent countless hours on perfecting, and their creative energy that they bring to your session are all a part of their specific craftsmanship. When you choose a photographer, you are asking an artist to tell your love story from their unique perspective. Make sure their work is something that you and your partner will want to see for years and years as you grow on together.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices for a photographer, reach out and ask to see a couple galleries and keep in mind the different types of lighting (sunny/overcast/night), skin colors, and body types that are represented in their work to make sure that you are confident in their ability to accurately capture your best selves. All professional photographers will have a contract with their specific terms and conditions. This contract should outline:
Every vendor you book should offer you a contract that outlines plan b’s for emergencies when life happens, a turnaround time for product delivery, and state everything included with the services purchased. Don’t be afraid to jump on a phone call, video chat, or meetup for some coffee to learn more about them, their approach, and ask all of the questions you may have for them. So if you like what you see and think you’ve found the one, don’t hesitate on getting them booked! Most wedding photographers book anywhere from 1-2 years in advance and it will make it more difficult for you to find the perfect artist the longer you wait.
When you think about your engagement photos, do you imagine yourself on a sunny beach? Do you see yourself frolicking through wildflowers or jumping into a pile of leaves? Or maybe you are hiking up a snow capped mountain or soaking up a rainy day? Is there a type of vibe you’re going for specifically? Maybe you two like cuddling up with a good book and some tea on a serene cloudy day. The colors and light available the day of your engagement session all set the mood for what your photos will be like, so it’s important that it matches your vision. From the colors of the leaves and the plants to the light available with the weather, the season set the stage. Consider the activities you want to do, the type of clothing you want to wear, and what you want to feel when you look back at this stage of your life.
The time of day also plays a big role. Lighting is super important and also plays a big role in helping you look your best. Finding the right time of day for your photo session is key. If you’re doing something more indoors, your photographer may suggest a time when the light looks best in the room through the windows. Maybe it’s blue hour for something a little more edgy and daring with the city lights. Usually it is an hour before sunset when the sun is creating that beautiful golden glow.
Keep in mind if you plan on using your engagement photos for your “Save the Dates”, it is a good rule of thumb to send your Save the dates six (6) to eight (8) months before your date so your friends and family can mark off their calendars or make any flight preparations. The purpose of “Save the Dates” are to announce to your friends and family that you have picked a date and that there will be more information to follow as you get closer to your day and further through your wedding planning.
Is there a special place you both share? It could be where you first met or your first date. A place you both spend a lot of time together or do you like exploring new places? What things do you like to do together? Do you watch movies, go to museums, go hiking, are you very active together? Is there anything you ever wanted to do or a place you would really like to visit? It can be a local hangout or neighborhood. You could take an adventure to some place you’ve both never been. Talk to your photographer and tell them all of these things you like to do. They should have a good resource of what could be available locally and they may even have a bucket list of inspirations, items, or locations they’ve been dying to use, that may be just what you’re looking for.
Don’t forget to check if there are any permits required as well as closing times for the location you select (and yes, parks do have a closing time). Locations such as National and State parks may require a photo permit fee, a date reservation, and may have closures during different seasons. Keep in mind how trafficked an area may be depending on season and popularity, you might consider a weekday for your engagement session to avoid large crowds during peak visiting hours to get the most out of your time with your photographer and keep distractions to a minimum.
Ask your photographer about locations you think you may want to use to get their opinion and help nailing down a solid plan. Or if you’re feeling a little stumped, ask them if they know of a rad location that reflects your inspirations and interests. Personally we have a ton of cool ideas that we’ve been dying to use with the perfect couple who’s daring enough to give it a go, as well as a list of wonderful locations across DFW, PNW, and the Rockies that we can suggest!
Now that you’ve thought about the season and your location, picking your outfit should be a little easier. Big suggestion that most photographers will make will be to avoid any big logos, super distracting patterns, and bright bold colors. Choose clothing that fits you well and comfortably, avoiding material that is too tight and clingy or oversized clothing that you’ll worry about malfunctioning during your session. This can be true for most instances unless your outfits are super intentional and align with your personalities and the vibes that you’re going for! We encourage people to always keep comfort in mind but never be afraid to try something that has caught your interest or makes you feel extra special when you put it on. Never be afraid to embrace yourself and remember, your engagement session is about you, your partner, and celebrating the unique journey you’ve taken together falling in love with one another, as you are.
If you’re having trouble deciding between a couple of outfits or are unsure of what direction to go, talk to your photographer about style trends and what they think compliments the look of your location. You may be surprised to find there are tons of online shops that offer rental dresses/clothing exclusively for photo sessions or special occasions.
So you’ve thought through a lot of your session- you’ve got the time, the place, and the look. Is there anything worth adding for a little extra fun to make your engagement session a little extra special? If you like being fun or silly, bringing something with movement, color, or sparkle can break things up and can get you busting out the big grins. Is there a hobby or activity that you both like to do together? You can bring pets, go rollerblading, or if you play music bring along your instrument. Maybe you’re a couple who likes fine dining on pizza and cracking open a couple of cold ones with your bestie! Whatever elements sing your song, they’ll add a special something to make your session so much more about you!
We also recommend bringing the essentials like 2 bottles of water, a hairbrush, any extra makeup for touch-ups, and a good pair of walking shoes. Talk with your photographer about any suggestions that they feel may add to telling your story.
Most importantly, bring your willingness to explore and let loose! Bring your excitement, bring your passion, bring your whole heart! Bring all the moments you’ve had together and all your hopes for your future. Bring the same reasons you’re bringing to the altar, to your session. The time we photograph is entirely about you and your partner’s relationship. Bring the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad. Bring your strengths and your weaknesses, your hopes, your apprehensions. Be prepared to feel out of place but right at home. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the time we spend together, with the memories you’ve made together.