It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post for couples with wedding planning advice, so I thought I’d start with tips on how to slay your engagement session. I wrote an engagement session preparation blog post years ago and find myself disagreeing with a lot of my own advice… Consider this updated version to be the first chapter of the unconventional couple’s wedding planning guide.
The Unconventional Couple’s Wedding Planning Guide: How to Slay Your Engagement Session
Find the right photographer.
Finding the right photographer is super important if you want rad engagement photos. When hiring a photographer, the first thing you will probably notice is their photographic style. Are their images bright and airy? Dark and moody? Somewhere in the middle? Do they edit with warmer tones or cooler tones? Do they thrive in the city or in the mountains? Is their style of shooting more editorial and posed or more photojournalistic and candid? Talk with your partner and make sure your collective vision for your session aligns with the portfolio of the photographer you want to hire.
Equally as important as photographic style, you also want to hire a photographer whose personality you connect with. Do you want a photographer who is more quiet and reserved or more loud and expressive? Who are the people you find yourself most comfortable with? Being comfortable with your photographer is essential if you want to nail your engagement session.
Ignore everything you’ve read about when to book your session.
Wedding planning books will tell you to book your engagement session immediately after hiring your wedding photographer, or no later than 6 months before your wedding, or before you send out your save the dates. Forget all of that. Book your engagement session whenever works best for you.
It is not required that you use your engagement photos for your save the dates or wedding invitations. (Really, it’s not required that you send save the dates or tangible wedding invitations at all!) If you are totally summer people and you are having a summer wedding, it is entirely reasonable to have your engagement session a month before your wedding. Book your engagement session in the season that feels the most right to you and your partner and ignore advice from generic wedding planning calendars.
Choose a sentimental location over a pretty one.
You know that one spot that everyone has their engagement session? Don’t shoot there. Not only will you probably be competing for space with several other couples and their photographers, but choosing a location based entirely on looks and popularity is most likely means nothing to you and your relationship.
Where did you have your first date? Where did you get engaged? Is there somewhere you shared a particularly significant moment together? Choosing a sentimental location adds context to your images and tells a more authentic story about your relationship.
Do not create an engagement session Pinterest board.
Once you have found a photographer whose work you connect with, avoid the sensory overload that is looking for inspiration on Pinterest. Not only is this an excellent way to lose track of many hours of your life, but it also encourages you to lose sight of what is real to you and your relationship. Your session should reflect who you and your partner are and not be a composite of the 600 images you saved on Pinterest.
Say no to props. Except your dog.
The best way to guarantee that your engagement photos look like everyone else’s is to bring the same props everyone else is using. You know what ones I’m talking about… Chalkboard signs, Scrabble tiles, “I stole her heart…” “So I’m stealing his last name.”, “Mr. Right, Mrs. Always Right.” If you have sentimental items that are specific to your relationship or engagement, you can absolutely incorporate those, but avoid generic props. Bringing your dog to your session is always a good idea. Always.
Dress like yourself.
You have probably read a lot of similar suggestions when it comes to what to wear to your engagement session. Wear complimentary outfits and not matching, wear neutral colours, opt for solids over patterns, avoid graphics and logos, and don’t be afraid to accessorize. These are all solid suggestions and make for aesthetically pleasing imagery.
Ultimately, what’s more important than being aesthetically pleasing is being yourselves. If you are pattern people, embrace it! If you love the fact that you share the same wardrobe, your outfits may be more matching than complimentary. If you hate neutral colours, don’t wear them. Do not allow yourself to wear a costume for your engagement photos.
Do not stress about hiring a professional glam squad.
The same way you should prioritize dressing like yourself, you should also embrace looking like yourself.
Some photographers will encourage you to schedule a hair and make-up trial the same day as your engagement session. If you think you will feel your best in front of the camera with professional hair and make-up, this may be a good suggestion. That said, hair and make-up isn’t for everyone, so please do not feel pressured. The purpose of a photoshoot is to document who you are at a moment in time. The last thing you want is to look back on your images and feel like you don’t recognize yourself.
Make an evening (or day) of it.
Vibe plays a big role in how your images will turn out. When you book your session, plan to make an evening of it. Enjoy getting ready together, have dinner and/or drinks together to celebrate, leave lots of time to arrive on schedule, and dedicate the evening to your relationship.
Photographers cannot Photoshop emotion out of your photos. Arriving at your session late, feeling rushed to arrive straight from the office, or scheduling your session in the middle of a busy day will translate to stress on your faces. Making an evening of your session will help you temporarily turn off the outside world and be fully present with your partner.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Communication is essential in creating a positive engagement session experience. Do you have any sensitivities your photographer should be aware of? Do you have a favourite angle or prefer your hair from one side or the other? Are you not comfortable with being affectionate in public spaces? Tell your photographer! Setting boundaries at your session is 100% okay. When feel you better about your engagement session experience, you will also feel better about your photos.
Trust your photographer.
Your photographer might do some weird stuff during your session, things you may have never seen a photographer do before… They might ask you to stand somewhere you don’t expect, they might shoot through a tree or a bush (I lovingly refer to this one as “the creeper shot” with my couples), they might lay on the ground, they might hold random objects up close to their camera. Trust your photographer and trust the process. It may look really strange to you, but it, no doubt, looks super rad in the photos.
Did you like this post about how to slay your engagement session? Click here to see my recent engagement sessions!