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PLANNING YOUR perfect
choosing the perfect season, location, outfit & more!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I'm so excited to be working with you and can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken - and I do this for a living! Haha!
I'm a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes a little practice to learn the few core poses I'll teach you, but it's completely worth it. Wedding day timelines can be pretty tight and sometimes 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits. However, your engagement session teaches you all you need to know so you'll already feel comfortable and confident during portraits!
Second, your engagement session is a time for you to show off more of your personalities and what you love doing together. Have a favorite date night location? What about something you love doing together? Ever wanted to go somewhere or do something together? Let's do it! Not to mention, if you have pets, we can include them as well! I love including your puppy dogs!
Since there is a lot to think about for your engagement session, I've put together this special guide just for you. I will go over many of the most common questions and help you plan your perfect engagement session. Let's get started!
I get it, having your picture taken might not be in your top 10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. However, I think you’ll find that by the end of your session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun! I've not had a groom yet tell me it was miserable. Haha! Usually they say it was a lot more fun and laid back than they expected. I'll teach you everything you need to know and plus, you'll get amazing photos of you and your future wife!
A NOTE TO
In short, yes and no. Engagement sessions can take place anytime after you book me up until 1 month before your wedding day. However, if you are looking for a specific look, season, or have a specific idea for your session, then we can plan around that. Most couples tend to get their engagement photos taken soon after booking so they can use them for the save-the-dates, wedding invitations, and other wedding decor.
As far as the time of day, I try to schedule sessions 2-3 hours before sunset. This gives us that dreamy "golden" light look you probably already love. If you're an early riser, I also offer sunrise sessions. These are the first two hours after sunrise!
While most couples prefer the Summer or Fall look, your session can take place in any season/month. Just keep in mind what type of "look" you are wanting so we can make sure the scenery matches your vision or activities.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during each season:
colorful leaves and snuggling close
Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year in the midwest and because of the cooler weather, my schedule typically books up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book! For the pretty Fall leaves, I recommend October and early November.
snowfall, hot cocoa and cozy coats
If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 3:45pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running. Hand warmers are a must as well!
If your wedding is local, save-the-dates should be sent out about 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save-the-dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. This gives you plenty of time between inclement weather, me editing your images and you designing your save-the-dates.
I love when couples choose a location that either is special to them or compliments their wedding venue. For example, maybe your first date was to get ice cream. Let's incorporate stopping to get ice cream at the end of your session! Or, if you don't have a certain location to use, let's stick with your wedding venue vibe. For example, if you're planning a chic, elegant wedding, let's have your session among some classic architecture in the downtown area. Or if you're having a more rustic wedding, let's choose a state park or outdoors location with fields and wildflowers. If you need help choosing your location, I would be more than happy to help you choose something that fits your style and love story! The options for engagement session locations are endless! Here are some of my favorites!
Disney & Other
The above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations to you both as well!
While most of my engagement sessions take place in from coast to coast in Central Florida,
I'm always up for traveling! If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let's chat about the possibility of adding a little travel to your engagement session!
Travel fees may apply depending on the location and my availability.
If you're anything like me, your dog is your baby and a part of the family! If you have a fur-child, and have been wondering if he/she can come along, the answer is YES! I do have a few suggestions for you though since I know that pets can be a handful. The last thing I want is for you to be stressed during your engagement session.
Tip One: Recruit a friend or family member to help with your dog. I recommend having them come to the first part of your session to help assist with your dog, then take them home when we are finished with photos with him/her. That way you get some great photos at the start of the session and then can relax knowing your fur baby is in good hands.
Tip Two: Exercise your dog before heading to your session. This will help manage the excitement of being in a new place with all kinds of new smells.
Tip Three: Bring his or her favorite toy, treats, or anything else you know will get your pups attention. I will hold this to get them to look at the camera.
Tip Four: If your dog isn't behaving, don't fret. We can get candids of you loving on your pup if they're too hyper. No need to stress if they don't sit still.
Tip Five: Depending on the type of dog you have, consider grooming him/her about a week before your session. This way they look their best as well and you don't forget until last minute!
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. I recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accessories! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
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Heels pair great with flowy dresses, but don't choose heels that aren't comfortable. You may also want to bring a pair of tennis shoes to wear between locations and/ or to hike in.
I love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin.
for the ladies
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Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs!
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress!
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
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Engagement sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better for humidity and wind.
I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos - and if you’re planning to do a hair & makeup trial anyways, the engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera!
for the ladies
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There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).
for the ladies
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You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen!
Layer with a blazer and a fun tie - you can even wear jeans with this look.
Bowties are always a good idea as well!
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.
for the gents
what to do if it rains
It’s typical for us to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and I’ve found that the best way to make sure my couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
I'll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I'll typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session - so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
champagne is always a good idea
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Think grabbing coffee at a coffee shop you frequent, grabbing ice cream, or even doing a fun activity! Let me know if you have any ideas you would like to incorporate!
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
After your session I will be busy processing your gorgeous images. You can expect to receive your engagement session gallery between 2 and 3 weeks after your session.
I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email me at:
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