The Engagement Session Guide: Everything You Need to Know

A man hugs his arms around his fiance from behind. He gently kisses her shoulder as she looks off into the distance during their golden hour engagement session.

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Couples, Engagement Session Tips, Featured

I love engagement sessions! It’s so much fun, and it gives us a chance to hang out and get to know each other a little better. I want you to enjoy our time together. 

If you haven’t thought about doing an engagement session, you can read a post I wrote about why it really is a great idea to document this time in your life.

Every couple is different and has their own quirks that make them who they are. When I photograph an engagement session, I am documenting the little moments and the connections between two people. I create a safe space for you to show your true selves. Your smiles will be real, the laughter will be contagious, and your body language and facial expressions will be genuine. You’ll feel comfortable, look fantastic, and we’ll have a blast during our time together. 

a couple holds hands during their golden hour engagement session

Scheduling Your Engagement Session

When you’re ready to schedule your engagement session, just send me an email! Sessions are scheduled on weekday evenings, Monday through Thursday. My schedule does book up several weeks in advance, especially in the spring and fall, so just keep that in mind! 

I generally schedule outdoor sessions in the evening (aka, “Golden Hour”), or in the early morning. If we are shooting indoors or in my studio, we have a bit more flexibility as far as time of day for shooting. 

For an in-home lifestyle engagement session, then I like to shoot whenever your house gets the best light in the rooms we’ll be using. If this is something you decide to do, we’ll talk through the whole process and I’ll help figure out when the light looks the best for photos!

For lifestyle engagement sessions in my studio, we have a pretty wide range of when we can schedule those (depending on the time of year, of course!). The light in my studio is bright and even all day long, so pretty much as long as it’s daylight, we can shoot in my studio!

Choosing a Location for Your Photos

Select an environment for your engagement session that fits you and reflects who you are. It’s not so much about the location as much as how you fit in it.

Feel free to choose an activity you enjoy doing rather than a random park. If you both love bowling, then let’s bowl! If you love boating, let’s go out on the water!

Don’t choose a location just because that’s what others did. Choose a place with special meaning to the two of you, or some place that you love. I don’t want you to feel meh about the location of your photos. I want you to smile when you look around.

You’ll want to consider the weather, temperature, and environment. Outdoors on the hottest (or coldest) day of the year means you’ll likely both be miserable. 

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!

Maybe it’s the brewery you went to on your first date, or your favorite date night activity. It could be an area of the city that you just love. Or maybe it’s an in-home lifestyle engagement session where you make dinner together, have a cocktail or a mocktail, and hang out with your pets! 

Or maybe you’re adventurers who are having a traditional wedding instead of a magical destination elopement, so you opt for an adventure engagement session instead! (Bonus: if you select a location where I will already be traveling to, then you won’t have any travel fees!) 

A man hugs his arms around his fiance from behind. He gently kisses her shoulder as she looks off into the distance during their golden hour engagement session.

What to Wear for Engagement Photos

Dress like yourself!

I want you to be comfortable, confident, and feel fantastic. If you’re not sure what to wear, or you are finding yourself stressing about it, consider using an online styling service to polish your photo session outfits like Stitch Fix, Dia & Co, or Rent the Runway. You can also pretend it’s the 90s and hit the mall. There are still tons of boutique stores with very helpful salespeople who will put together an outfit for you. 

The biggest mistake couples make when choosing outfits for engagement photos is not selecting an outfit that fits properly!

Whatever you wear, make sure it fits well, and that you’re not constantly adjusting anything. You should be able to move around freely without needing to readjust anything. Remember: you won’t be standing still during your engagement photos. You’ll be moving around and interacting with each other. Pants should be the correct length. Shoes should be comfortable. Your bra cups and bra straps should not show. If an outfit only looks good when you’re standing perfectly still in one position, it’s not the right one. You gotta be able to move in it. 

Oh, and for the love of everything, if you hate your arms, don’t wear something sleeveless. I don’t know why I have to say this, but I do. (Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your arms. That’s Diet Culture talking. Your body is fucking magnificent and powerful and beautiful exactly as it is. You can read more about Diet Culture HERE, HERE, and HERE.) But I do understand we’re all in different places on our body acceptance journeys. So if there are any parts of your body that you are super self-conscious of, then don’t wear anything that highlights that body part (if that’s not part of your healing journey).

Make a Day of it!

Spend some time together before your engagement session. If you can, take the day off, or at least take a few hours together before your photo shoot so you aren’t stressed and rushing. Grab a fancy cocktail or an appetizer somewhere cool before the shoot (but don’t get drunk!) or have a late lunch at your favorite spot. The more time you spend together before your engagement session, the easier it will be to get into the swing of things and focus on each other during your session.

Leave the Extra Stuff at Home

Carrying bags makes spontaneous shooting much more difficult. We will shoot a lot as we walk and talk, so minimalism is the way to go. Please make sure you don’t have a ton of stuff in your pockets, like a keyring with a million keys, and your phones. Keep hair ties off your wrists. In fact, take the hair ties off your wrists BEFORE you leave the house so it doesn’t leave a mark. 

a couple hold hands and stand nose to nose during their engagement session

What to Expect During Your Engagement Session

The first 10-15 minutes is always the most awkward. It just is. You’re not professional models. You’re just everyday people. Who are being photographed. That’s super nerve-wracking. I’m a photographer and I freak the F out when I’m in front of the camera, so I most definitely know how you feel. And I do everything I can to make you not feel like that. 

If I’m really quiet, it’s because I love what’s happening.

I love what the two of you are doing, so just keep on doing it! I’m there, but I’m not. This time isn’t about me. It’s about spending time with the one you love. I’m just documenting it. If you feel like you need more direction during your engagement session, just let me know! 

Forget the photoshoot part. 

You’re not there for me, I’m there for you. Don’t worry about doing things right or wrong. You’re not there to be models; you’re there to be you! You don’t have to perform for me. I accept you for who you are. 

Don’t hold back. 

The truest emotion lies in the outtakes and the in-between. (This is why I’m constantly shooting!) If you want to laugh or be silly, then go for it. Don’t hold back on anything. You have to let go and fully enjoy yourselves. I know it’s a matter of trust, and that’s why I try my hardest to create safe spaces for you to feel comfortable enough to relax and enjoy the process.

Embrace the spontaneous. 

Embrace the wind messing up your hair, your clothes getting dirty, and all of the other imperfect, spontaneous things. If you’re stressing about those things, it will show in your photos. If you’re constantly trying to fix your hair, it’s going to ruin your engagement photos. Just let go. It will be magical, I promise. 

Most importantly: have fun! 

Don’t take yourselves too seriously! You must come into your engagement session with the intention of having fun. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy thing. If you arrive a nervous wreck, thinking that your photos will all be rubbish and you’ll look awful, you’ve just dragged yourself down with bad vibes. You never even gave your own self a chance to have fun. 

a couple walks towards the camera, smiling at each other during their golden hour engagement session. The woman is saying something to the man.

After Your Engagement Session

My turnaround time for gallery delivery for engagement sessions is 2-3 weeks. 

Your engagement photos are delivered via digital download in an online gallery. I will email you the link as soon as your gallery is ready. 

When you log into your gallery, you’ll be able to download your images to your computer, or to a cloud-based storage (Google Drive or Dropbox). I 10000% recommend backing up to cloud-based storage. Computer hard drives fail. Laptops get stolen. 

Your engagement photos are not meant to live on a hard drive, whether physical or in a cloud. At some point, you will want to print some of your photos. Your gallery is connected to a professional lab, which makes it incredibly simple to make a few 4×6 prints of your favorite images. 

You can even make a little layflat book (with extra white space for guests to write in) right in your gallery that you can use for a guestbook. (Which, in my opinion, is awesome. Leave a few fine point sharpies out, and let your guests leave you little messages and notes. Definitely something you’ll love to look through later on. 

If you’d like more helpful blog posts, check these out!

Wedding Planning:

3 Great Sparkler Exit Alternatives For Your Wedding Day

14 of the Best Wedding Day Timeline Planning Tips

Romantic Golden Hour Downtown Wedding Photos

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