Your engagement photoshoot is one of the first major milestones after saying yes to the ring. It’s a great way to get used to being in front of the camera and a low-stress time to bond with your photographer before your wedding day. You can even use your engagement photos for your save-the-dates and wedding website to kick-start planning.
It’s also the perfect excuse to goof around with your partner in creative poses, stare at your gorgeous ring, and celebrate this exciting next phase of your relationship. You probably have questions like what to wear, where to have the session, and what to bring with you the day of? Read on, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know so you can perfectly prep for your engagement photoshoot.
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How to Book Your Photo Session
Your first instinct might be to start looking for a photographer who specializes in engagement shoots and hire them for the day. Because most wedding photographers include your engagement shoot as part of their package, we’d recommend scoping out vendors who you would like to photograph your wedding. Keep your search close to your wedding venue or expect to pay travel fees.
Consider your engagement photo session a trial run for the big day where you will get to see your photographer work. They’ll learn more about you and your love story, and you can build a relationship before they cover your wedding day. This way, you’ll already know their style and be comfortable working together.
If you aren’t ready to book your wedding photographer just yet and rather schedule this separately, expect to pay about $400 to $600 for a 1.5-hour engagement photoshoot. Although pricing can vary based on where you are located and how experienced the photographer is.
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Select The Photographer That’s Right for You
Your photographer is one of the most important vendors for your Big Day. Years from now, you’ll probably forget what you ate at your reception but will forever look back at your wedding photos to remember your special day.
So, where do you find good photographers? Ask friends who were satisfied with their wedding photographers for recommendations. Scroll Instagram and see who took the bridal photos you are drawn to. You can also check your venue’s preferred vendor list or read bridal editorials for ideas.
Some photographers love moody, dark contrast photos, while others prefer a bright, airy editing style. Think about the images that appeal most to you and what style you’d like to see in an album or hanging up on your walls. You’ll also want to consider their specialty. Most wedding and engagement photographers mix formal poses with candids. Depending on what they’ve studied and their aesthetic, a photographer might focus on one composition over the other.
Once you’ve figured out the photography style you like best, you can narrow down photographers by checking out their portfolios. Then aim to meet in person or set up a video chat to get to know them. If the conversation is strained, move on. This should be someone you wouldn’t mind having around for several hours, possibly on one of the most important days of your life.
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When & Where to Schedule Your Engagement Photoshoot
If you plan to use your engagement photos for your save-the-dates, we suggest booking your shoot about ten months ahead of your wedding. This will leave enough time to get the edited images back so you’ll be able to mail them out around the 6-month mark. For destination weddings, we recommend leaving even more lead time.
You’ll also want to think about the seasons and avoid heavy rains or high humidity and heat. Spring and Fall are milder and the most popular times to book. While this isn’t a must, you might want your engagement photos to match your wedding season. If you have less than a year to book in the same season, fake it by getting creative. For example, you could have your engagement shoot at a ski lodge for a winter wedding or at an enclosed botanical garden for a spring or summer wedding.
In terms of the time of day, your photographer will usually make a recommendation based on your area. Generally, early evening or early morning works best, so you get all that natural light from sunset and sunrise. A quick online search will give you the approximate sun times for any date and location you pick so you can plan ahead. Skip the afternoon when the sun is directly above; this harsh lighting isn’t ideal for photos.
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Find the Perfect Location
Think about the vibe you want for your engagement photoshoot when picking your location. It can be a meaningful spot like where you had your first date or someplace new you’ve discovered together, like a nostalgic ice cream parlor or a local park. You can even snuggle up or cook a meal together at home for your engagement shoot.
Another idea is to highlight an activity you regularly do together. Love carnivals or amusement parks? Head there for your photoshoot. Enjoy being outdoors or working out? Get your sweat on while your photographer trails behind. Or, simply look for a site with a breathtaking view like a waterfall, mountains, beach, or skyscrapers.
If you are booking with a separate engagement photographer, you can even opt for an adventure shoot and have them take photos at your favorite vacation destination. Check out sites like Shoot My Travel for an affordable option. Your photographer might also have some location ideas if you have trouble deciding. Wherever you go, relax and enjoy the moment because your happiness and love will shine through no matter where you are.
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Plan Your Engagement Shoot Outfits
When it comes to preparing for your engagement photo session, nothing is more stressful than deciding what to wear. Planning your outfits well in advance will make your shoot go a lot smoother. Talk to your photographer first and see if there is time for an outfit change or if you’ll remain in one look throughout the entire photoshoot.
Start by looking in your closet at some of your favorite outfits before you rush to buy something new. Consider the location you’ve selected for your session, and pick something versatile and comfortable enough to walk around in. Skip anything that easily wrinkles like linen or requires too many adjustments, like loose straps or a skirt that rides up.
When you feel good, you often look confident, so use that as a guide for what to wear. Your clothes should be an expression of yourself; don’t feel pressured to wear a ballgown if that isn’t your style. Here are some photographer-recommended do’s and don’ts to help you pick your outfits.
What to Wear:
- Aim for solid colors in cool, neutral, or pastel palettes or smaller prints that won’t take away from your facial expressions. If your wedding color scheme is set, you might want to tie into that.
- Add a pop of bold color with one special piece like a hat, belt, scarf, jacket, necklace, or earrings.
- Avoid what is trendy and stick to a more timeless look that you won’t feel embarrassed by years from now.
- Coordinate outfits with your partner but don’t be overly matchy, or it could look more like an awkward sibling photo.
- If you’re going for a glamorous shoot and wearing high heels, slip some foot pads into them and bring a pair of sneakers to walk around in when off-camera.
- If you bought a new outfit, make sure it fits—the more tailored, the better.
- Dress for the season with cozy sweaters in the winter snow or a kaftan on the beach during the summer.
- If doing a second outfit, aim for a different feel than the first. Think formal then casual, or go for something personal like your favorite team’s jersey.
What Not to Wear:
- Skip large patterns and logos that detract from your face.
- Avoid neons, bright reds, or oranges. They reflect the light and won’t have a flattering effect.
- Don’t wear wrinkled or ill-fitting clothing. Those imperfections will only be highlighted in the photos, which nobody wants.
- Steer clear of solid bright whites. They draw in the light and steal the spotlight. You should be the focal point, not your clothes.
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Get Your Glam Session on Beforehand
Your engagement photoshoot is the perfect time to test-run wedding makeup and hairstyles. If you already booked your beauty team for the Big Day, consider scheduling your trials before your engagement session to make the most of it.
If opting for a spray tan or any mild facial treatments, book them a week to 5 days beforehand. If you need a haircut or color, schedule it for about two weeks before your photo session. Men can get haircuts a few days before. Beards should be trimmed or shaved depending on whether they like a clean-shaven look.
You’re sure to show off that sparkler during your engagement photos, so you’ll definitely want to get a manicure. You can coordinate your polish to your outfit or go bold with a bright color or design that complements your look.
Makeup for photography is heavier than what most women wear daily. This is so you won’t look washed out on camera. Typically, a brighter lip and blush reflect well in photos. Let your makeup artist know you have an engagement photoshoot later that day, and see what they recommend.
For hair, you don’t need to get too elaborate of a style; usually, a simple blowout does the trick.
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Prep for the Night Before
Getting in front of the camera can be nerve-racking when it’s something you are not used to. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can keep those butterflies at bay. Here are some tips to help you prep the night before your engagement photoshoot:
1. Clean Your Engagement Ring
The only thing that will get as much attention as you and your partner on your engagement shoot is your ring. Make sure it is sized properly in advance and give it a nice clean the night before. Follow your jeweler’s cleaning instructions; use dish soap and hot water or an easy ring cleaning tool like Bling Brush.
2. Steam & Lay Out Your Outfits
No one looks good in wrinkled clothing. Be sure to get out the steamer or iron the night before and give all your outfits the special treatment. This will save time and money by avoiding complicated retouching later trying to edit out wrinkles. After steaming, lay everything out, including undergarments, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.
3. Pack a Bag to Take with You
Staying comfortable and relaxed is the key to great engagement photos. To make sure you don’t forget anything you need that day, here’s a list of what to pack the night before your shoot:
- An additional outfit in a garment bag, plus any accessories, jewelry, and shoes
- Comfortable shoes for walking between takes
- Makeup touch-up kit
- Hair ties, a brush, bobby pins, and any hair styling products you need for touch-ups
- Water bottles and healthy snack bars
- Cash for parking
- Mints or mouthwash
- A handkerchief or small towel
- One meaningful prop like a floral crown, a bottle of champagne, an oversized balloon, or something that will make your photo session more fun
4. Get Extra ZZZs
Avoid dark circles under your eyes and treat yourself to some extra sleep. Being well-rested will keep your energy high and make the shoot more enjoyable.
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Tips for The Day of Your Photoshoot
Your engagement photoshoot will probably go by a lot quicker than you realize. Make the most of the time with your photographer by considering these points ahead of time:
1. Eat Before You Head Out
Don’t go to a photo session on an empty stomach. Being “hangry” is never a good look to capture on camera. Give yourself a boost of energy by having a light meal before leaving for your shoot.
2. Follow Your Photographer’s Lead
Most photographers say the best way to act in front of the camera is as if it isn’t there at all. This keeps your movements natural and not stiff. While we are all for keeping the focus on your partner and enjoying your surroundings, this doesn’t mean you should ignore your photographer.
Follow their instructions on where to place your hand or how to tilt your head. The trick is to listen but keep your gaze on your soon-to-be-spouse (unless, of course, they’re asking you to look right at the camera). Don’t worry about posing; your photographer doesn’t expect you to be an experienced model and will likely give you plenty of direction.
If they aren’t as vocal with their directions, you can’t go wrong by relaxing your limbs and moving naturally. Have fun kissing, holding onto your partner’s arm, smiling, or dancing together. Oh, and definitely show off that ring!
3. Plan a Date for That Night
You’ve gotten glam, and both look amazing. Why end the day after your engagement photo session?! Instead, make a dinner reservation or plan a special date night after your shoot. It’s the perfect time to take a wedding planning break and celebrate all of the fantastic photos you’ll soon be able to share.