First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Being engaged is just the most fun, sweet, and exciting time ever. And I am SO PUMPED that you will have the privilege of having this sweet time documented.
For most people, a photoshoot can be very intimidating. Unless you’re a professional model, most of us are not used to getting behind a camera! But don’t worry, as long as you have an awesome photographer (which I’m sure you do), they will walk you through everything each step of the way and it will feel like you’re just having a fun and playful night with your fiance, there just happens to be a camera there snapping photos of it.
But I do I always get lots of questions when it comes to couples and engagement sessions, so I figured I would offer up my best preparation tips and advice for those who might have their sessions approaching!
THE BIG QUESTION…WHAT THE HECK DO I WEAR?
If you are comfortable in a long dress or skirt, it is one of my favorite outfits to photograph! They are super flattering and add lots of dimension and movement to the photos– especially outside in the breeze! They always look good on camera and I don’t think you’ll regret it.
As for coordinating with your partner, I always tell my couples to focus on colors that work well together without matching completely! Having too much of the same color doesn’t photograph very well. Aim for neutrals and subtle prints! If the bride will be in a bright colorful dress, I am all for it! In that case, maybe the groom should wear jeans and a grey shirt or something more neutral to balance it out.
You’ll both want to be as comfortable as possible and to feel like yourselves–that will come through in the images! Don’t feel like you have to wear something that isn’t “you” just for the sake of pictures. You can totally rock jeans and a cute top if that’s more your jam!
If your photographer allows for outfit changes (I offer 2-3 outfits for my couples), I suggest bringing one “dressier” option and one more casual option. Example: for brides– a long, flowy dress and leggings + a sweater, for grooms– khakis or jeans, a button-down, + a nice tee.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
For spring/summer: I’d recommend bringing a small towel or something to blot the sweat because you’ll likely do some moving around during your session. And if it’s really hot, it’s inevitable that you will sweat! I would also consider bringing a couple of extra shirt options (especially for the groom) and makeup for touch-ups in case you sweat through anything. It’s never a bad idea to have bug spray handy either!
For fall/winter: These sessions tend to be a little more manageable since the weather might be milder. In some cases, the biggest challenge is simply keeping warm! Dress accordingly and pack a coat you can throw on during transitions. Make sure you’re as comfortable as possible…if you’re cold and shivering that will generally appear stiff in photos!
WHICH LOCATION SHOULD WE CHOOSE?
While I certainly have my favorite places to shoot, I allow my couples the opportunity to choose their session location! Most photographers will, but it’s important to know whether or not you will need to pay extra for any travel if you plan to go out of the area. The ideal shooting location is outdoors for natural lighting, it can have a clean background away from cars and busyness, and maybe it even holds significance for you and your future spouse! For example, my fiancé proposed to me at the south end of Wrightsville Beach, so that is where we chose to do out engagement photos! However, there’s also nothing wrong with choosing a location simply because it would be EPIC and beautiful.
The lighting is BEST when the sun is at a lower point. So this would mean just after sunrise, or 2 hours before sunset. So, that is the timeframe most photographers will aim for. Keep that in mind when making plans for any travel and/or hair and makeup appointments.
MY WILMINGTON AREA FAVORITES:
1. Fort Fisher
2. Wrightsville Beach South End
3. Greenfield Lake Park
4. Downtown Wilmington
MY RALEIGH AREA FAVORITES:
1. Joyner Park, Wake Forest
2. Dorothea Dix Park
3. Pullen Park
4. Historic Oak View Park
SOME FINAL TIPS + TRICKS
- Consider booking your wedding photographer before you pay a la carte for an engagement session! Many photographers like myself offer engagement sessions complimentary within their wedding packages. So it could potentially save you some big money if you book everything together!
- If you can, do your engagement session with the photographer who will be shooting your wedding. In my opinion, this is a game-changer for the overall wedding experience! It will give you the chance to work with her or him beforehand so that you can get to know each other, and he or she will be able to best serve you on your wedding day by already knowing how you two interact as a couple. Plus, you will have experience with how your photographer works, so it will make portraits flow on your wedding day effortlessly and it’s one less thing to be nervous about!
- Make a date night out of it! Your engagement is a really special time. But it can also be stressful among all the planning and boy, does it go by fast! So, soak it all in and make a big deal out of your engagement session day. Treat yourselves to dinner and drinks before (if that’s your thing, it may also help loosen ya up a little bit before shooting, hehe) or a coffee date before or after. You totally won’t regret making the whole thing a true experience! You might even have your photographer join you beforehand to ease the nerves and get to know each other before whipping out the camera right away!
- Treat yourself! If you’re anything like me and love any excuse to get pampered, then your engagement session can be exactly that! Why not schedule a manicure, blowout, and/or professional makeup?! These photos are something you will treasure forever, so it’s totally justifiable to go big for them. Also, the more confident you are feeling, the more genuine the photos will come out! This is totally not to say you won’t look AMAZING if you do these things on your own either, but it’s just a fun idea to add to the overall experience.
- Clean your bling! Your photographer night plan to take some close-up shots that show off your new ring! It’s also nice to make sure it will sparkle its way through the entirety of the session, close-ul or not! Many jewelry stores will offer free cleanings if the ring was purchased there, or you could keep it simple and clean it at home with a kit. I recommend Dazzle Drops,” because it has worked wonders on my ring!
My engagement session night was one of my FAVORITE memories out of our entire wedding planning experience. My biggest advice that I will leave you with is not to stress too much about it, but don’t brush it off as just another thing you have to check off the list either. Enjoy it for exactly what it is– a chance to celebrate your ENGAGEMENT because it only lasts so long, and just enjoy getting lost in each other as you soak in the fact that you’re getting freaking MARRIED! It will be the best time, especially with that in mind. 🙂