HECK YEAH! So you have finally booked your engagement photos and you are pumped as heck or a bit unsure how to start preparing for them? Orrrrrr maybe a bit of both. Over the years and 100+ couples later, I am stoked to share this short and sweet guide to help make the most out of your time, energy, and money.
This guide is laid out to help the months, weeks, and days leading up to your engagement session stress-free and to PUMP YOU UP! This helpful article is here to help you prepare so you can focus on what should be the most important part of your session, YOU AND YOUR BOO!
I use this same exact list for my own sessions that I have for myself, my boo and I, and my family every year! TRUST ME – it works!
1. Preparing for Your Engagement Photos
The last thing you want to do is scramble and choose your outfit and vibe the night before. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more confident you will be and the more relieved you will be leading up to and at the session. Does anyone remember our mom’s pre photoshoot mega stress sessions growing up? Uhh, I do and I am not trying to make my boo feel that. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Pre-session tension and stress can weirdly show up in your final photos so here are some things you should do prior to your session:
- If you tan or get a spray tan done on a normal basis, do these both 5-7 days before. I would avoid doing these the day before or of, in case you burn or the color of the spray tan is wrong.
- When getting your hair color cut and/or colored, schedule your appointment 1-2 weeks beforehand.
- TREAT YO SELF. There will be multiple engagement ring photos as well as close-ups of you holding hands, hugging, etc so you want your nails and hands to look their best!
- Plan your session outfits ahead of time. Pinterest is an amazing place to get inspiration or ask your photographer if they have an “Engagement Session – What to Wear Guide”.
- After you buy your outfits, sometimes time has passed depending on the type of planner you are, so be sure to try them on again a few days before in case you need to exchange anything.
- The day before or go take your engagement ring to be cleaned. Most jewelry stores will do it for free and normally online takes 10-15 minutes.
- Worried about hair and makeup? This is the perfect time for your hair and make-up trial! Make sure to have a buffer of a few hours between being done at the salon and your session’s start time. You don’t want to be rushed and late to your engagement session. Don’t miss that perfect light!
- The night before, set out your outfits!
- Don’t be me! Eat a light meal or snack before your session and maybe bring snacks too! I get hungry and no one wants to be hungry during a session. In my sessions, I do a lot of walking, skipping, jumping, and movement, so having energy is key!
- The number one thing you should do is, clear your day or night! This is exciting. You are getting a beautiful and romantic gallery of you and your boo. These are memories! I tell my couples to plan date day/night. Get ready together, have a glass of wine or beer (trust me it helps with nerves haha), have a boom time at your session, and have reservations at your favorite dinner spot made, enjoy dinner and RELAX!
2. Choosing a Location for Your Engagement Photos
This seems to be the most daunting part and where people feel it will make or break the whole thang. There are endless locations. Think of places that mean something to both of you! Whether the place is popular and gorgeous place or simple, the session will mean more when it means something to you both. Here are some ideas that my past clients have done or that may spark your ideas:
- A park you spent a lot of time together
- Your favorite coffee shop
- Local brewery
- Carnival/amusement park
- Baking or cooking in your home
- Lifestyle/inside your home
- Food trucks
- The farmers market
- Vacation (destination)
- Local cat cafe
- Ice cream parlor (Looking at you Jeni’s 🙌)
- Drive-in movies
- A picnic
The list goes on and on, but you can see how simple but fun and exciting your session can be! I whole heartedly believe your session’s vibe and feel is 100% based on the two of you! If you both are happy and feeling good, then no matter if you are taking engagement pictures downtown in a quiet town or in the mountains of Banff, the session will be incredible!
Note: be sure to call ahead of time in public spaces or have the right permits for state & national parks!
3. What to Wear to Your Engagement Photos
Once you figure out where your session will be, let’s plan what you will wear! The goal is to match the vibe/energy/mood of the location and what you would normally wear at that location.
An amazing excuse to SHOP!
Heck yeah, let’s shop! This might be the most exciting thing about preparing for your engagement photos. If you don’t want to buy anything new, renting is a great way too! You are investing hundreds into an engagement session, you should invest in your wardrobe too! The most important part though is to feel comfortable. You don’t want to not feel like yourself while trying to be natural and feel confident.
Comfort Over Anything!
If you are wearing fancy shoes or you will be getting dirty/wet, bring a change of clothes and shoes to wear before and after. If you don’t feel comfortable in tight-fitting clothes, avoid them.
Coordinate Don’t Match
Your outfits should complement one another. This isn’t JcPenny Portraits, you don’t need to be matching. Dressing in the same color family will help the photos feel balanced and blend into your locations,
Colors & Patterns
Choosing patterns and colors that don’t fight with what is around you, is important. You don’t want to be wearing colors in the green and yellow family and be photographed in a field/trees. Stick to light and neutral colors avoiding white. Blush, short blues, light grays, & cream are great starting points. Inside of patterns uses textures. Flowy dresses, blazers, non-patterned scarves and cardigans, leather, and layers! Don’t be afraid to add small splashes of colors too!
If one shows up in a t-shirt and jeans and the other dressed up, it will stand out majorly but not in a positive way. Look as if you are both are going to the same place. Match the levels of dressiness and casualness, while also being intoned with your location
DECISIONS. DECISIONS. DECISIONS
If you are having a hard time choosing outfits, bring the extra outfits with you! You can also snap a photo and send it to your professional photographer! Your photographer is there to help, and will never object to helping you choose the best combos for each other and the location. Don’t be afraid that the option you left at home, would’ve been the one that worked perfectly. Better safe than sorry!
4. Be prepared for anything!
You don’t want to bring a suitcase full of things preparing for your engagement photos, but bring things you may need to make the session better. A small tote bag is a perfect example. Here are some things you can put in the bag to bring with you to your engagement shoot:
- WATER! Especially in the summer months.
- A pack of gum – there will be lots of kissing!
- Small makeup kit for touch-ups on lip color and foundation
- Hair kit – brush, hair ties, bobby pins, gel, and spray!
- SNACKS! – don’t be hungry.
- Extra change of clothes
- Comfortable shoes
- A small towel for dabbing sweaty foreheads
- Medicine for headaches
5. Hire a professional
If you want the best photos, go with a professional! Avoid a bad experience and get it right the first time! If at all possible, book your engagement session with your wedding photographer. It is a perfect time to get to connect with your photographer and get comfortable with their camera before the wedding day.
6. What time should my engagement shoot start?
I know you have heard this term more than once, but lighting is EVERYTHING! If you haven’t, there are certain times of day that are ideal for the warm glow and dreamy photos. Be aware of when the sun will set. If you hired a professional, they have this whole topic taken care of. The early afternoon may sound great schedule-wise, but the lighting during that time will be harsher than the late evening sun since the sun is overhead. Early morning sessions are just as dreamy. If scheduling conflicts are what is causing stress, consider a sunrise start time!
7. How To Not Feel Awkward
Don’t be hard on yourself! It can be easy to feel like the whole session needs to feel perfect and not have a hair out of place. The number one thing you can do is to be yourself! Your boo loves you for YOU and you want your engagement photos to reflect that. Don’t overthink a thing. Your professional photographer will know the angles and light to photograph you in, so trust them!
I know it’s hard to “relax, smile, and have fun” when there’s a camera 3 ft from your face! It’s not easy for me, and I know it’s not easy for you. Hopefully, you picked a photographer that doesn’t make you do a thing! My couples are just required to show up, be excited, and trust me! I have prompts, poses, and directions to give, so their personalities shine through and they feel relaxed and comfortable with me! I play music and just make the whole thing a fun hangout session!
If the nerves are INSANE, be patient with each other leading up to the session, and sip your favorite drink before your shoot. When overly nervous and in doubt, just kiss! HAVE FUN!
- Get silly. Play with one another during the shoot.
- Think of the session as a date, and I promise it will seem more fun!
- Don’t overthink your session! Look at your boo if you feel nervous. That’s your rock, lean on each other!
- Refer back to this article as much as you need while you are preparing for engagement photos.