A note about this guide
I am SO excited to be working with you, and absolutely cannot wait for our time together at your engagement session! It's completely normal to be a little nervous about what to expect, which is why I made this guide - to hopefully answer all of your questions that you might have!
I am a HUGE fan of engagement sessions, they are such a great time for us to get to know each other better, for you to get comfortable in front of the camera, practice poses we'll do on your wedding day, and get some beautiful shots that you will cherish forever!
Engagement Sessions are such a fun way for you and your fiancé to showcase your personalities in a fun and personalized way in either a spot that is meaningful to you, or one that you want to visit for the first time together! You can even include your favorite furry friends too!
There is a lot to think about when planning your perfect engagement session like location, what to wear, what to bring, and more, so let's dive right into all of the fun details!
A note to
I totally get it gents, getting your photos taken may not be nearly as fun as kicking back and watching sports, but I promise to make it not only painless, but maybe even a little more fun that you expect to have! It's totally normal to feel a little awkward in the beginning, but I will help to make it easier than you think, and it will be a great way for us to get to know each other a little better! Not only that, but your engagement session is a great time for you to be able to practice a lot of the poses that you will do on your wedding day, so that come your big day, you will feel super comfortable and confident going into the photos! I am looking forward to getting to know you better!
When should you get your Engagement Photos done? What season, what time, and where?
Well, if you are anything like I was when I got engaged, I wanted to get my engagement photos done as soon as possible after I booked my photographer because I was so excited, and wanted to share the photos with everyone, change allll my profile photos, and start creating my Save-The-Dates! I also wanted photos on hand for creating my wedding website, and just to look at and swoon over for longer! Some couples choose to pick a date closer to a year before their wedding date for a similar season, others want to pick an entirely different season so they have pictures in two different seasons. The answer to when you should get your photos done is honestly... whenever you want to! There are lots of factors to consider like the ones just mentioned, as well as more below. So it's always best to have a chat with your significant other, and establish what is important to you both on when you get your engagement photos done!
As far as location goes, this is such a fun part of the process! You can pick a place that is super special to you, like where you got engaged, went on your first date, first said you love eachother, etc. Or, you can pick a place that is new to you both that you have always wanted to go to and make it a new adventure. I am more than happy to make recommendations on the places that I think are beautiful for the season that you choose! We are so lucky to be in the area we are in, as there are so many amazing options around us like the following to name just a few:
Pittsburgh Area: North Shore, Point State Park & The Point, Cathedral of Learning, Phipps Conservatory & Panther Hollow Overpass, Convention Center & City Side River Walk,
Mt. Washington, The National Aviary/Lake Elizabeth, Washington’s Landing Marina, and any of the multiple amazing parks around like Frick Park, North Park. or Mellon Park! I could go on and on!
Ohio Area: Cleveland Cultural Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Art, Gervasi, McKinley Monument, Vineyards at Pine Lakes and more!
Another thing to consider when thinking about when to plan your engagement photos, is how the seasons can change the mood of your session, as well as the lighting and time we will go out. Different seasons give different moods, and the sun rises and sets at different times. When shooting in the morning, it's important to go early so that the sun doesn't get too high, in the evening, it's best to start about two hours before the sun sets, so we get that beautiful golden hour glow, and still have time before we entirely lose light.
Below are are the different feels that different seasons can give us. If one of the sample images below really makes you swoon, then let's start thinking about planning your session in that season!
time. light. location
fresh flowers blooming &
a sunny & bright feeling
wild flowers & incredibly beautiful sunsets
leaves and colors all around & a cozy vibe
magical winter wonderland & cuddling together
save the dates
The last note about timing your engagement sessions, is to make sure that you schedule your session with enough time to send your save-the-dates if you are doing them, and if you want to use one of the images from the engagement session in them. Save-the-dates typically go out 6-8 months before your wedding date, or 8-10 if you are having a destination wedding. So make sure there's plenty of time to order!
what to wear
I recommend that each person brings two outfits, one more casual, and one more dressy for our shoot. It's a good choice to start in the more casual outfit as we are warming up, and save the fancier outfits for when we are really on a roll! It's also super fun to capture an epic formal photo as the sun is setting.
When thinking about planning your outfits, it's definitely better to think compliment, rather than match. If the bride wants to wear a pastel flowy dress, a pastel blue shirt could look great on the groom. Think along the lines of color families when coordinating.
Color Tips: While larger patterns (like sprawled out floral patterns) can look pretty, I recommend staying away from super busy patterns, as they can be really distracting, and take away from the two of you! Also, pastels and more neutral tones tend to photograph better and create some beautiful and dreamy photos, while bolder colors can reflect off of your skin and create less than desired unintentional hues.
Jewelry Tips: Accessorizing with some pretty statement pieces can be a great way of creating character, patterns and color without taking away from the photos like a bold dress would.
Ring Tip: Your ring will definitely be in a lot of our photos at your engagement session, and when I can, I always try to get a solo shot of it as well, so make sure that you get it professionally cleaned beforehand so that it sparkles and shines! If you don't have time to get it professionally cleaned. soak it for at least a half an hour in warm water and dish soap, and then gently brush it with a soft toothbrush, then rinse and repeat as needed!
Shoe Tips: High heels give amazing shape to legs, but if you get uncomfortable quickly in them, I always recommend bringing another more comfortable pair just in case. We don't want any grimaces in those pretty engagement photos!
Hair & Makeup Tips: If you are great at doing your own hair and make-up, then go for it! But if not, you might want to consider getting your hair and make-up professionally done. This could be a great time to do a trial for your wedding, and professional make-up tends to hold up better than regular too!
Manicure Tips: You don't have to have the fanciest acrylic french manicure for our session, but there will definitely be pictures of your hands, so make sure to have fresh polish on that isn't chipped.
For the Guys: A suit is always a good idea, but if that just does not fit your personality, than a button down, or nice sweater can do the trick as well! Try to steer clear from small patterns, as it can accidentally create busyness in the photos. Opting for pastel and neutral colors over bold colors tends to look better, and won't reflect back on your skin like a bold color would!
Unless you hired me for a destination engagement session, then we are probably meeting for our shoot somewhere in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or West Virginia, and let's be honest - it's rainy here! So, when booking your engagement session, I usually recommend that we also save a second date as well in case it rains on your first day. I'll start checking in about a week before our shoot, and if it looks to be a super rainy day, we'll make the decision about 12-24 hours in advance to move to the second date. I know a lot goes into planning an engagement session, so we'll make sure there's enough time for your to make changes if we need to cancel.
That all being said, if it does wind up raining on your day - I promise that there are plenty of ways to still make it super magical and fun!
If you follow me on social media, or have already had a chance to get to know me, then you know that to me, Champagne is always a good idea! But when it comes to props, if you are planning on incorporating them into your engagement shoot, make sure that it is something that is meaningful to you, and your relationship, so that the photos will be organic and special to you both, without feeling contrived. I usually tell my couples that if a prop does not just pop into your head when thinking about your shoot, then you are probably better off without one, but if you do think of something, then to let me know so I can plan a fun way to incorporate them!
I absolutely love when my clients want to incorporate their pets into their engagement sessions, but it does take a little extra planning!
I always recommend bringing a handler (pet sitter, friend, or family member) that can assist with your cutest companion as they will not be in every shot that we do. I also usually suggest that we do the photos in your more casual outfit with your pet, and then when you change, have your helper take them home, or on a walk at that point.
It's also important to exercise them beforehand so they are not too high energy at our session. And when incorporating a furry friend, you might need to be more selective of what clothes you wear, and definitely bring a lint roller! Also, if you have a particularly furry friend, you may want to get them groomed a day or two beforehand. Especially because it will help them look nice and dapper for their photos!
The last note about bringing your very best pal, is that we will have to pick a location that is pet friendly so if your heart is set on a location that is not, we'll either have to pick a new spot, or plan for travelling between two spots once the handler takes your pet away.
When it comes to posing, you don't have to worry about a thing! I am there to take your through organically flowing poses that are true to who you are as a couple. We will chat beforehand about what you are comfortable with, and what you are not. Some couples are incredibly affectionate and enjoy lots of romantic, dramatic posing complete with plenty of kissing poses, other couples, prefer to show their love in a more understated way - both are perfectly normal and natural! I will make sure to highlight how you express your love that is true to who you are as a couple. And don't worry guys - the questions I get from you all the most is, "what do I do with my hands?" and I promise, I will tell you what to do!
I will always get a sneak peek of your photos to you within a week, and deliver your gallery withing 4 weeks so you can start sharing and posting all of the beautiful photos that we captured together!
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide, I hope that it helped, and got you excited for this part of your wedding planning journey! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I can't wait to capture these special moments for you!
The most important thing to remember about your engagement sessions - is to have fun! This is part of your wedding planning process, and it should be one of the more fun parts, so I always suggest that my couples make a date out of it! If you choose a morning session, why not head off to a brunch together afterwards? Or if it's at night, how about head off to dinner and pop a bottle of bubbly to celebrate checking something off of your list, (and hopefully gush about how much fun you had!)