Preparing for your engagement session can be overwhelming! To make sure that your experience is completely stress-free, we’ve put together a guide containing helpful information and recommendations. Below you’ll find outfit suggestions, hair and makeup tips, details about session locations and time frames, and more. Let’s dive in!
SECTION 1 | WHAT TO WEAR
Deciding what to wear is one of the most difficult parts of the engagement session planning process. We recommend narrowing down your selections by choosing one casual and one dressy outfit. Here’s why:
- Adding more than two outfits can be distracting, as each outfit change takes away from our shooting time. We like to keep our focus on posing you as a couple and finding the best lighting and locations possible.
- We believe in quality over quantity. From experience, focusing on putting together 1-2 solid outfits will give you better results than attempting to incorporate 3-4.
- Color and variation can easily be added through accessories rather than complete outfit changes. For ladies, think earrings, shoes, necklaces, and bracelets. For guys, think belts, watches, and shoes. Keep in mind that less is more.
If you’re unsure about what will look best on camera, you are always welcome to text or email us. You can also bring more than two outfits for us to review at the beginning of your shoot. We would be happy to provide feedback!
Dressy: For your dressy look, we recommend long flowing dresses that you can twirl around in. Dresses in solid neutral/muted tones or simple patterns that show texture and movement always photograph beautifully. Typically, heels are great. However, we recommend wearing lower heels or dressy flats if you and your fiancé are of a similar height. See examples below.
Casual: When putting together your casual outfit, think comfortable yet polished. Anything from jeans paired with a sweater and booties to a midi dress will work perfectly. See examples below.
Tailoring & Clothing Care: Some of our clients have shared that it’s difficult to find a flowy maxi that fits without looking frumpy—such a shame, as they photograph so well! To help with this, we recommend getting your engagement attire professionally tailored. Nordstrom Rack offers this service at an affordable rate. Before your portrait session, drop off your garments at the dry cleaners to have them steamed or pressed. To combat wrinkles, keep your outfits on hangers inside of a garment bag until it’s time to shoot.
1. If your engagement session is taking place during the fall or winter, bring a coat to wear between locations.
2. Bring a pair of flat, comfortable shoes so that you can walk between locations easily.
WHERE TO SHOP
These are some of our go-to stores for finding amazing engagement session looks. Not sure if or when you’ll ever wear your dressy engagement attire again? Luxury apparel rental services like Rent the Runway and The Black Tux make it easy to assemble a head-to-toe special occasion look that’s delivered right to your door.
SECTION 2 | BEAUTY & SELF-CARE
HAIR & MAKEUP
First things first: It’s important to get your hair and makeup done professionally. Your engagement session presents an excellent opportunity to schedule a trial run with the hair and makeup team you will use on your wedding day. If they happen to be unavailable, consider scheduling a makeup appointment at Sephora (or similar). Let your makeup artist know that you’re having your makeup done for a photoshoot—they will need to apply more product than usual for your look to show up on camera. Be sure to bring the lipstick you’re wearing with you in case touch-ups are needed during our shoot. Grooms, consider using concealer on any blemishes to avoid retouching fees.
SKIN & BODY
Don’t rely solely on your makeup—maintaining a good skincare routine leading up to your shoot is vital! Click here to learn more about creating the best skincare routine leading up to your engagement and wedding day. We also recommend getting your nails professionally done, as we will be taking close-up photos of your gorgeous ring. Reference photos of your outfits when selecting a polish to ensure that your nail color matches your attire. Grooms, it’s just as important for you to clean up your nails and make sure your hands are free of dirt on the day of the shoot. NO spray tans for either party, please. Spray tans tend to look more orange than bronze on camera. Trust us: a natural tan or your natural skin tone is much better!
Week-of Preparation Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure that you’re physically prepared for your shoot
- Drink lots of water to hydrate your skin
- Do some extra moisturizing
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice your posture throughout the week
- Practice your smile in front of the mirror
1. To get the most out of your session, it’s important that you both arrive feeling excited and confident. If one person isn’t excited, it will really come through in your photos. On that note…
2. Since you are all dressed up, we recommend setting up a date night after your shoot. It’s a fun way to celebrate and gives those who are less-than-enthusiastic about having their photo taken something to look forward to!
SECTION 3 | LOGISTICS
As we work with clients in many different destinations, please email us for a list of locations specific to your area. We generally like to stick to locations that provide a natural shooting environment, such as a local state park or other outdoor area. However, if you have a location with sentimental value in mind—the place he proposed, or a favorite local café or brunch spot—we can chat about including it in your shoot. To provide you with as much shooting time as possible, we recommend choosing no more than two portrait locations.
DAY & TIME
We generally begin shooting during the golden hour period that occurs two hours before sunset. Sunrise shoots are also available—however, please keep in mind that it can be more difficult to coordinate hair and makeup for a sunrise session. We have the greatest amount of availability for engagement sessions on weekdays as our weekends are typically spent shooting weddings. Sunday dates may be available, but can be reserved no more than one month in advance to allow for wedding bookings.
We’ll keep a close eye on the weather during the week leading up to your shoot. If the forecast shows rain or thunderstorms, we can discuss options for shooting earlier in the day or rescheduling your session.
Have additional questions? Please don’t hesitate to email us! We’re passionate about making sure your session is a success.