Prepping for your Engagement Session!
Updated: May 27
Engagement Photo Session Notes from Stephanie!
When should we take our engagement pictures?
When is really up to you - depending on how soon you need your engagement photos, and what you plan to do with them.
Do you need them right away to be part of a Save the Date or invitation? Or, is there no rush? Perhaps the two of you have a favorite season or time of year that you would prefer to have as a part of your photos. (Personally, I prefer summer and fall!)
Sessions are generally available on weekend/weeknight evenings
Sessions are ideal during the 'golden hour', or last couple hours before sunset (but we can do other times too if needed)
Sessions last around 30-45 minutes
Where do we take our engagement pictures?
You pick! I'm happy to shoot at a location of your choice within the tri-cities area. What's your style? I can offer suggestions if you aren't sure - whether you prefer a park, downtown, coffee shop, bar, country scene, or dirt road, let's choose a spot that reflects the two of YOU!
Local Location Ideas:
Cottonmill, Harmon, Yanney, UNK Campus - Kearney
Hall County Park, Stolley Park, Mormon Island - Grand Island
Lake Hastings, Hastings College Campus - Hastings
Downtown areas, alleys, brick streets, Coffee Shops, Bars, indoor spots:
The Chocolate Bar, J. Alfred Prufrocks, Prairie Pride, Kinkaider, alleyways - Grand Island
McCues, Kitts, Cunninghams Journal, MONA, Platte Valley Brewery, alleyways - Kearney
Reno, alleyways - Hastings
Dirt Roads, pastures, fields - we can find minimum maintenance roads or public pastures in the area; your family farm, field, or pasture is a great location as well
How soon can you have our pictures done?
I should have your photos ready for you within a few weeks!
What else should we think about?
Have a favorite activity or hobby? A favorite food that you love to share? Let's include it! Your props are absolutely welcome!
Pets are welcome - just give me a heads up!
Session start time is based on the sunset time and location(s), I'll provide that start time to you!
What should we wear?
Classic clothing that flatters you, that you are comfortable and confident in, and that represents YOU & your everyday or dressed up style
Short-sleeve, elbow sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, or full-sleeved shirts are most flattering
Jeans/pants comfortable enough to do a variety of poses; Skirts/Dresses that hit just above the knee or 3/4 down the calf
Accessories that add a little "flair" to your outfit - hats, sunglasses, bold jewelry, scarves, or great boots give some extra character!
Wear something YOU love...we want to capture who YOU are!
Avoid clothing with lots of different colors, distracting patterns, or potentially see-through clothing
Avoid overly tight clothing (if it shows undergarment lines or bulges), overly bulky clothing, or too-tight button-up shirts
Avoid clothing that accentuates a body part you don't like
A white dress or long flowy dress always looks great.
Neutral outfits look great for shoots in natural locations.
Your outfits don’t need to ‘match’, but they should ‘go together’ - in the same tonal ranges of color, level of dressiness, fabrics, and style.
Classic designs in solid colors or simple patterns and layers ALWAYS look good - as do textured fabrics like jeans/denims, jackets, corduroys, or cable knits
What you wear is ultimately up to you - these are not rules, just suggestions, to give you an idea of what works well and what doesn't!
Find some more GREAT tips for what to wear, HERE!
HOW TO CHOOSE WHAT TO WEAR FOR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS
#1 – CONSIDER THE LOCATION
Before you decide what to wear for engagement photos, give a little thought to the location. For example, is your photoshoot taking place in a downtown area, country scene, your favorite bar, in the mountains, in an exclusive hotel, or on the beach? The outfit(s) you choose should ultimately fit the location you choose for your photos.
#2 – WHAT’S YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT THEME?
An engagement photoshoot doesn’t always have a theme, but for those of you who would like to add a specific theme to your engagement shoot, make sure your outfits match. For example, if you’re going for a Western theme, then have your outfits reflect that!
#3 – BRING EXTRA OUTFITS
It’s easy to overthink and overcomplicate what to wear for engagement photos, but you also don’t want to feel self-conscious and nervous in front of the camera because you don’t feel great about your outfit choice. That’s why I always recommend bringing extra outfits to the shoot - such as a dressier option and a casual option.
#4 – DON’T FORGET THE ACCESSORIES
Some outfits look great without accessories, but some look absolutely AWESOME with that little extra something added in. Basically, accessories can also add a little fun and casual creativity to a shoot!
#5 – BRING IN SOME COLOR
Minimal tone and neutral color outfits look great on couples whose photoshoots take place in a natural location, but having a pop of color never hurts either. The color just has to make sense for the shoot.
#6 – CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST
I know it sounds simple, but the weather plays a BIG part in your decision about what to wear for engagement photos. For example, if there’s a heat wave, you won’t want to wear an outfit that shows off sweat patches. You will also not want to be caught out in any storms or snow blizzards either. This is why I always advise clients to consider the location and the expected weather conditions before selecting what to wear for engagement photos.
#7 – COMFORTABLE ENGAGEMENT OUTFITS WORK!
Another tip to help you figure out what to wear for engagement photos is this one: always choose comfort. Your engagement photos should reflect you as a couple. If that means hopping into a fun casual outfit, showing off your favorite denim, or another look, then just go with it! After all, when it comes to what to wear for engagement photos, it should always feel like it’s you and not someone else in those photos!
WHAT TO BE CAREFUL OF FOR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS
As an experienced engagement and wedding photographer, I’ve captured my fair share of engagement shoots and seen tons of incredible and gorgeous engagement outfits, so I definitely know and understand what works and what doesn’t.
#1 – SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH
I mentioned this a bit above, but I want to highlight it again here. Your outfit should reflect you. If it doesn’t, don’t wear it! And definitely don’t feel pressured by trends or other things like that. You do you. You’ll be happy you did later.
#2 – SOMETHING A LITTLE TOO RISQUÉ
Some themes can work really well for engagement shoots, especially if they’re fun and perfectly reflect your personality. For instance, a cowboy hat and boots can look awesome. But there are some themes that have the potential to ruin your images, especially if they’re a little bit adventurous or over the top. You will not want to overkill a particular theme with provocative or seductive outfits that transition the photo shoot from a gorgeous editorial-style engagement shoot into something less classy.
#3 – PATTERNS
When it comes to planning what to wear for your engagement shoot, you should steer clear of outfits with clashing or overbearing crazy patterns. You’ll also want to ensure that what you wear for engagement photos complements what your partner is wearing. Clashing patterns do not look good in images! In other words, if one person is wearing a pattern, that’s okay just so long as the other person isn’t wearing one.
#4 – AN OUTFIT THAT DOESN’T MATCH YOUR SKIN TONE
You might’ve already considered this, but there are definitely some outfit colors that will not work with your skin tone. No matter how well you do your makeup on the day, it will not help you look your best on camera with a clashing outfit. Grab a stylist friend if you’re not sure what to do!
#5 – SOMETHING YOU’LL NEVER WEAR AGAIN
It’s easy to go crazy and pick out a great outfit for your engagement shoot, but my advice is to find something you’d love to wear again even after your engagement session is over. Then you’ll really be getting your money’s worth!
What about makeup?
I strongly recommend that even if you do not usually wear makeup, please consider wearing at least a BB cream/powder to reduce shine and even out your skin tone; concealer to cover blemishes, eyeliner or mascara to pop your eyes, and just a touch of color or shine to your lips.
You’ll probably be doing some kissing, so bring your favorite lip stuff along!
If you normally wear makeup, enhancing your daily makeup routine is great - no need to overdo, but pop those eyes and lips in particular.
Please cover up any blemishes or markings that you do not want to appear in photos!
What if we have bad weather?
I’d prefer to reschedule if possible - rain, snow, wind, or excessive cold/heat can all affect the way you look in photos!
Call me the day of your session if you aren’t sure, we will come up with a plan that works for everyone!
Please note - If you choose to pursue your session in problematic weather against our advice, we will not be held responsible for the resulting photos. Re-shoots are at an additional cost.
How many outfits should we plan for?
1-2 outfits is ideal for the time allowed
Consider how you will change outfits if we are in public (if you are doing more than one outfit)
TIP! Leave wallets, keys, and phones out of pockets
TIP! Leave smart watches, scrunchies, rubber bracelets, and ponytail holders off wrists
Here's a great list of ideas from BRIDES.com!
1. Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Like You
If you're strictly a T-shirt and jeans kind of couple, now's not the time to pull out a beaded ball gown and tux. "The couple should feel comfortable in the outfits they choose," says Jessica D'Onofrio of Jessica D'Onofrio Photography in Los Angeles. "They should still look like themselves, but at their best. Wardrobe choices that are extremely outside their level of comfort will make them look and feel awkward in photos."
2. Complement Each Other, But Don't Match
Complementing your partner's look is one thing, but "matching outfits and patterned prints aren't ideal for portrait sessions," says Michelle Cross of Michelle Cross Photography in Oregon. "When deciding how you and your partner will dress, look for complementary colors and solid prints. Try to stay away from anything too busy, as it can be an unnecessary distraction in photos."
3. Choose Pastels, Cool Colors, and Neutral Tones
You'll want to avoid anything neon, lest you'll end up looking like a hot, blinking sign, warns Jillian Requeima of Jillian Tree Photography in Miami. "I also find orange is the least photogenic color, while red is the color your eye is drawn to immediately—and you don't necessarily want your shirt or skirt to be the focus of your photograph. You want your faces and the love between you to stand out."
Requeima suggests wearing pastels, cool hues, or neutrals, then adding a bright accent with your accessories.
4. Tie Everything Together With a Color Scheme
Once you have an idea of what colors you'll be wearing in your engagement shoot, consider how that color will translate throughout the entire album. You want to create synergy, rather than have the final result look like a jumbled collection of images. "For example, if you love light blue, you can wear this as a dress or a jumpsuit," says Kimmie Smith, a celebrity fashion stylist in New York City. Then have your partner incorporate the same hue in a later look during the shoot to tie everything together without being overly matchy-matchy.
5. Incorporate at Least One Accessory
Accessories, such as a stylish scarf or chunky necklace, can lend oomph to any engagement look. Plus, they're easy to slip on and off, which means you'll be able to style a variety of looks. "Adding in at least one accessory per outfit for the ladies, and wearing layers of clothing for the guys, are two things that photograph well because it adds more visual interest to their looks and, as a result, to the images," explains Kelsy McCartney of the McCartneys in Wisconsin.
6. Opt for Classic Rather Than Trendy Looks
You may love that black-and-white maxi dress now, but next year you may only be reminded of a referee when you see yourself in head-to-toe stripes. "I always recommend looks that will remain timeless, rather than outfits that could make your images feel dated a few years down the road," D'Onofrio says.
7. Stick With Two Outfits
Don't fall victim to treating your engagement session as a full-fledged fashion photo shoot. "You're going to have a million wedding photos where you're all dolled up and looking gorgeous," Cross says. "These are the pictures where you get to remember who you are at the end of the day when it's only the two of you. Two outfits are more than enough to reflect this in couples, and it ensures you won't spend your entire engagement session in a rush to change into the next set of clothes."
8. Garner Inspiration From Throwback Photos
Browse through old photos of you and your partner together, as well as individually. Now pick out the absolute best aspects of those pictures (perhaps, it's a pose you love or a gorgeous backdrop) and create a mood board on Pinterest to start planning the direction of your engagement shoot. "Seeing what makes sense and what you're into will help give you some guidance," Smith says.
9. Create Visual Interest With Unexpected Pairings
Smith loves incorporating attention-grabbing fabrics (think: lace, fur, leather, etc.) into a couple's engagement shoot outfits. "These elements add a ton of visual texture, which in turn brings more warmth to your images," Smith says. "Plus, they'll work well with whatever scenery you decide on."
10. Use a Rental Subscription
On a budget, but want to snag a designer wardrobe? We get it. These photos are meant to last the test of time, and your engagement is deemed special enough of an occasion to warrant the purchase of a gorgeous designer piece. If you're really just buying the piece for the photoshoot, however, you might consider renting from a site/subscription service like Rent the Runway or Le Tote. Both options make it easy (and more affordable) to access high-end looks that you may only wear once.
11. Think About the Season
Bikinis won't work for a winter engagement, and a cowl neck scarf doesn't work in the summer. Take advantage of the season you're in by styling a look that's in tune with the climate and location.
Winter and Fall
Don't be afraid to bundle up. Living in Maine, photographer Emily Delamater knows this firsthand. "My favorite tip is to wear fleece-lined tights under jeans or pants," she says. "Winter accessories can be really cute. Plus, it makes more sense visually to be dressed for winter if you're being photographed in the snow." Not in the Rockies or Adirondacks? Winter sessions downtown can be just as stunning.
Summer and Spring
Wondering what to wear for engagement shoots that take place during warmer seasons? Channel summertime vibes by going barefoot on the beach or sharing a cone on the pier in sandals and shorts. With flowers in bloom and love in the air, you can't go wrong with subtle floral prints and spring-approved pastel hues that speak to the season. Pair a maxi dress with a statement necklace or a sundress with a denim jacket for a sweet look.
More fun ideas: https://www.brides.com/gallery/engagement-photo-ideas-from-real-couples