Southern Wedding Photographer’s  guide to the perfect engagement session

with your wedding photographer.


One of my biggest goals as a wedding photographer is to improve the overall experience of my couples.  That is why I automatically include engagement sessions with all of my credit base wedding packages.  2015-09-24_0026

There are several reasons why some couples choose not to do engagement sessions with their wedding photographer.

  • My friend is new to photography and has offered to do them for free.
  • It’s just not in our budget
  • We really just don’t see the need

The reasons can seem logically but let me help you see the light and why these reasons could be a bad idea.  Engagement sessions are a trial run for wedding photographers too.  If you choose not to have them done, you are making the decision to be in front of my camera for the first time on one of your most important days.  I need to know how you interact naturally with each other and it gives me an opportunity to make you feel more comfortable with me as your wedding photographer.



This is a question I hear often and it is a hard question to answer.  The most important advice that I can give, dress like the best version of your everyday self.  I think one of the most common mistakes couples make is trying to dress how they think they should dress.   Some common things to avoid

  • matchy matchy outfits
  • stiff uncomfortable clothes.
  • shirts with graphics
  • busy patterns

There are a few outfit options that do look better for pictures than others.

  • Flowy.  I think when a bride-to-be wheres something with movement, it can create the romantic feel that engagement pictures should portray.  A flowy dress or maxi skirt blowing in a warm breeze is perfect for this feel.
  • solid colors.  I think having a simple color scheme with solid colors can make your pictures timeless.  Try not to pick dated clothing and remember to keep it classy!  When clothes are not so over powering, the attention of the photographs stay where it should, on the couple.
  • Inspiration can be found on my Pinterest board, Pop Sugar,  Martha Stewart, & Wedding Chicks.





The most important thing in deciding on a location, it needs to reflect you as a couple.  If you are a couple that loves the outdoors, you don’t want to do your session in the city or vice versa.  When shooting an engagement session, I want my couples to consider a location that means something to them.  A special place like where you had your first date or the place where the “YES” took place will always trump just a pretty location.  When my couples look back on these photographs years from now, I want them to see a photograph that means something and not simply a pretty picture.

If you can’t think of a location that really speaks to you as a couple, I can come up with a few dozen locations for you to pick from.  I just want to make sure that you are comfortable.  If you like show a little PDA, then a public location is not the location for you.  Being comfortable is the key to capturing those images in front of the camera.


Other things to keep in mind

  • HAIR AND MAKEUP  engagement sessions are the perfect time to give your makeup artist and hair stylist a trial run before your wedding day.  It also doesn’t hurt to have another day to feel pampered!
  • TIMING OF THE SESSION  I can’t stress this enough!  One thing to consider is the season.  Summer can be one of the hardest times to schedule these!  Redness and perspiration can be some of your worst enemies when the heat is on!  And lets discuss wind.  While I am a huge fan of movement and in the moment scenes, I know that wind can play a big factor in how you feel!  No one wants to be constantly having to push their hair out of their face or having to make sure that flowy dress stays in place.  A little is great but hurricane force winds can put a damper on the mood.  And of course the lighting of the day helps to capture that perfect romantic feel that you desire.  For natural light photographers like myself, I typically like to shoot at the “golden hour” (around an hour to two hours before sunset).  This light is nice, low, warm, and golden light that can be incredibly flattering to any skin tone.  Since I started shooting film, this has allowed me to bump up that time by a couple of hours so I am able to be a little more flexible.
  • HOW LONG BEFORE THE WEDDING SHOULD WE SHOOT  This can be completely up to you.  Just keep in mind what you want to use this photographs for.  Some couples like to send out save the dates (typically 6-8 months prior to wedding) so these should be scheduled as soon as you are engaged to ensure the images are back in time to do so.  If you aren’t sending those out, I suggest trying to schedule your engagement session and your bridals all in one day so that you can take full use of your hair and makeup trial run.  That way if you are wanting to use your engagement photos for decorations at your reception and a bridal portrait for display at the reception (yes this is a Southern bride thing), then you can order them all at once.  Typically I suggest the bridals be done around 1 month before the wedding.
  • SO WE NEED TO BRING ANYTHING TO THE SHOOT Personally I like simple sessions but if you want to put effort into making your session unique, that is never a bad idea.  Maybe something that you can’t incorporate into your wedding day.  For example, Hunter loves to fish but there wasn’t a place for fishing gear at the wedding.  So Taylor brought me to the place that was special to them.
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What every couple should know about engagement sessions

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