You’re engaged, major congrats! Now that you’re engaged you’ve probably been Googling yourself into oblivion about your wedding budget, planning, and what the next steps are in making your wedding day the best day ever. But, before you jump to wedding planning, we want to talk about having your engagement photos taken, and more importantly making your engagement photos feel uniquely you in an intimate way!
Why You Should Have Your Engagement Photos Taken
If you’ve never had professional photos taken together as a couple, you don’t want your wedding day to be the first time you step in front of the camera! Your nerves and emotions will be riding high that day and it’s not an ideal time to test the waters with professional photography.
Having your engagement photos taken ahead of your wedding day allows you to get better acquainted with a camera in your face. It also gives you some insight into how your wedding photographer works, while giving them more insight into how you connect and communicate as a couple. Breaking down that barrier of what it feels like to have a camera pointed at your face is important, but it’s not the only reason to have your engagement photos taken.
Another thing we love about having engagement photos taken is that it allows you time together as a couple to just celebrate being engaged. So often, an engagement is just treated as a layover on the final destination to wedding day. This is a crazy exciting moment in your life. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment by being with one another in a celebratory way. Honor your engagement as much as you will your marriage.
Your engagement session is also a great opportunity to take the day off work! Seriously, we’re not kidding! Your photographer will more than likely book your session on a weekday. Why not take the day off and make the most of it? This will allow you to carve out some time together after your session to enjoy a couples massage, catch a movie, watch a game, take a hike, or enjoy your favorite wine bar! This is your moment, together. So much of your time going forward will be dedicated to wedding planning and pre-wedding events. Relish this “alone” time and do something that you both love while you unplug from the rest of the world.
Thinking about having professional hair and makeup done for your engagement session? Schedule your trial run with your hair and makeup artist for the day of your shoot! You’ll be glammed up for your photos and you’ll have a better idea of what your wedding day look will be.
How to Use Your Engagement Photos
Wondering what to actually do with your engagement photos once your session is over? They serve so many purposes if you let them. Don’t let your engagement photos sit in a digital gallery, never to see the light of day.
If you want to include your engagement photos in your wedding day stationery, we recommend using them on your save-the-date cards or your thank-you cards. Turnaround time for wedding photos is typically 8+ weeks, so you may not have your wedding photos back in time to use for your thank you cards. But if you plan ahead, you can use your engagement photos instead! Bring a cute letter board or banner that says “Thank You” to your engagement session and use these photos for your thank you cards!
Talk to your photographer about album options. One for your own home and one or two to give as gifts for the parents! Your photographer will best be able to point you in the direction of what type of albums work for the type of gift you’ll be giving, and if you order through them as opposed to an online “photo site” you’ll receive a much better quality product.
Your engagement photos can also be used as centerpieces for your wedding shower, rehearsal dinner, or even at your wedding! Again, this one might take a little preparation on your end by bringing numbered balloons or number props to your session to make sure you are able to create a photo with a coinciding number for each table!
Hang them in your home! When is the last time you refreshed the photos hanging on the walls of your home? Yeah, we thought so! It’s time for a refresh! You can hang them in collage-style frames or frame a few of them individually to place in your bedroom or your living area.
How to Prepare for Your Session
Have your engagement ring(s) cleaned ahead of your session! You would be amazed at how easily a camera can pick up the tiniest speck that is not visible to the naked eye. Get your ring(s) shined up and sparkly so that they are camera ready. Yes, the camera will be pointed very close to your hands, both of you! So if you enjoy an occasional manicure, now would definitely be the time to make sure you are polished up, lathered, and ready to go!
The degree to which you dress will be entirely up to you and also depend on the location where you’ll be shooting your engagement photos. But, either way, you do need to have a plan going into your session. Top tip for selecting your attire for the day? Go for a feeling and let the look follow. You’ll find endless resources online about how not to be too “matchy” and how it’s best to wear neutrals and light dusty shades. We say, forget all that!
Still stuck on where to get started when it comes to selecting clothing for your engagement photos? Think about your location, and talk to your photographer!
If you are having your engagement photos taken at home as more of a “lifestyle” session, what does your day-to-day attire look like? Talk to your photographer about how the shoot will start and end. For example, do they want to catch the two of you in PJs, laying in bed enjoying your morning coffee before heading over to the couch to read a book in your daily attire?
Are you going out for your engagement session, where are you heading? To a chic museum? How about sharp cocktail attire or even a dressy casual look? If you’re lucky enough to live in a coastal state and you are planning an engagement session at the beach you could easily select flowy attire and bare feet. Or, bathing suits and cover-ups!
Locations to Shoot Your Engagement Photos
Here are a few location ideas that we love for shooting engagement photos!
- At home
- Coffee shop
- College Campus
- National Park
- Local Park
- Hiking Trail
- Streets of Downtown
- Your favorite beer & pizza spot
- On a boat
- At the fair
- Grounds of a local historic estate or mansion
- While on vacation
- Rose garden/Sunflower field
- In your RV/5th wheel
Outdoor Engagement Photos
Have you ever heard the term “golden hour”? It’s the phrase that photographers use to describe photos taken during sunrise or sunset. This time of day produces images with a stream of natural light so gorgeous it’s practically magical! If you can get up early enough for a sunrise shoot, you will 100% not regret it. Especially if the chosen location for your engagement photos is outdoorsy. Think beach, sand dunes, hiking trail. Not only will your photos reflect the gorgeous sun, but you’ll also have your location completely to yourself, removing any foot traffic that might appear in the backdrop of your photos!
You can have your engagement photos taken pretty much any time of the year unless you are deadset on having them outdoors and do not want to brave the cold winter in your town. In that case, you’ll have to coordinate the best time to work with your photographer before or after winter. Once your photographer knows the location you’ve selected, they’ll be able to consult with you on what time of the year would work best for bright, vivid, unforgettable photos.
Fun Ideas to make your engagement photos feel uniquely “you”!
Wondering how to take some of the above locations and make them feel more like “you”? Here are a few examples!
Your favorite hiking trail. If you are an outdoorsy kind of couple, why not spend your engagement session going on a hike? It’s something natural to both of you and your photographer will be along for the hike to capture the way you interact with each. Be sure to dress the way you would on any other hike and pack all of the usual paraphernalia you normally include on your adventures. As your photographer follows along, they’ll also stop you in specific locations to take advantage of the views. Want this hike to feel more formal than your normal hikes? Pack a change of formal attire for when you reach the summit!
Your local pizza and beer hang out. Some couples like to hike, some couples like pizza and beer, and some like both. If you have a place that you frequent for a slice and a pint and they know your name from their epic trivia nights, then it’s probably like a second home to you. It’s your place, together, and you feel at home the moment you walk through the door. Yes, you can 100% have your engagement photos taken there! Jeans and fun t-shirts allowed! Your food and drink will become your props and if they have some amazing kitschy posters on their walls, those will become your backdrop!
The “downtown” streets of your city. Thinking about spending your engagement session running around the city hand in hand while you stop for a New York System, or a cup of gelato? We love it! The juxtaposition of the fast-paced city behind you as time stands still for you and your person! If you’re lucky enough to have your favorite watering hole nearby, you can make your session a twofer. If you want city vibes only, that’s cool too. We love seeing glam attire strolling through the city for engagement photos that are one of a kind!
The campus where you met as college sweethearts! Super romantic right? College sweethearts always have a special tie to their alma mater. Paying homage to where you met through your engagement photos is a wonderful way to honor your journey together. It might take some coordination to ensure that you have the campus “all to yourself”, but we assure you, it can be done! Formal or semi-dressy attire works for a college campus shoot, but you have to bring along your college jerseys and baseball hats. It’s practically a requirement!
Is the fair in town? How awesome would it be to capture you riding the carousel or Ferris wheel with your person? Very, “The Notebook” inspired! Walk around, play the game where you shoot the water in the clowns mouth and feed each other popcorn and cotton candy. It’s a retro romance come to life for your engagement photos!
The beach! Do you love to surf or paddleboard? Bring your boards so you can paddle out! Don’t forget to bring along a towel, just one, so your photographer can wrap you both in it when you come out of the water!
An impromptu picnic setup is another great way to make your engagement photos feel intimate. Pack up your blanket, along with a small picnic basket and a bottle of your favorite wine or bubbly and just sit and enjoy a picnic together while your photographer captures every moment. Having something “to do” with your hands will help you feel less awkward. Thus putting you more at ease in front of the camera.
If you’re not the type of couple to attend black tie events and your wedding is on a beach in Cabo, then an engagement shoot in formal attire at a local museum is probably not going to be for you! Instead, remember to be true to who you are as a couple! The only difference is that you have to do it in front of the camera.