If you're just starting out on your wedding planning adventure, investing in gorgeous engagement photos is probably at the top of your to-do list. You want to capture this exciting moment in your love story, and rightfully so! But with that excitement, may come many questions: How do you choose the right photographer? What should you wear? When and where should you take the photos?
Essentially, you're wondering how you can feel confident you'll get the quality, memorable engagement photos that you're dreaming of.
To help shed some light on the subject, I've reached out to three amazing wedding photographers to share their tips and best practices so you can make the absolute most out of your engagement session.
Hanne is a wedding and newborn photographer based in Belgium. Her style is warm, romantic and deeply connected to nature.
Rebecca and Dale are a husband & wife team based in Southwest Virginia. Their style is light, elegant and timeless.
Laura is a destination wedding photographer based in Brussels. Her style is light and airy with an affinity for soft pastels.
Each photographer is an artist, bringing their own unique vision and aesthetic to every project. When choosing a wedding photographer, it's important to consider your preferences as a couple as well as the style of your event. Are you looking for light and airy, dark and moody or perhaps adventurous?
Laura Gelfged recommends exploring a photographer's portfolio first to determine if they will be a good fit for your event. Browse their website and look through their previous work. Does their style reflect the look and emotion you're hoping to capture for your own wedding and engagement photos? Be honest with yourself and don't be afraid to follow your intuition.
Hanne Kelchtermans takes it a step further and suggests choosing a photographer with whom you also have a good connection. Posing in front of the camera is already uncomfortable for most, let alone in front of a complete stranger. No one wants to end up with awkward, cheesy pictures. When possible, meet your photographer in person and make sure the chemistry is right. Get to know each other. This will give you and your fiancé an extra level of comfort.
The setting you choose for your engagement session will have a strong impact on the resulting photos. While indoor locations can be quaint and intimate, outdoor settings are a favorite among couples and photographers alike, and with good reason. A simple walk in nature will give you endless backdrops for a wide range of photos in gorgeous natural light.
Rebecca Edwards, based in Southwest Virginia, shares her insights:
"There is nothing like a grand mountain setting with a view that goes for miles or the simple uniqueness of a beach session. The color of the water, the sand and a gorgeous sky working together in harmony can really elevate your photos."
The love of breath-taking views holds true in Europe as well. Hanne Kelchtermans, located in Belgium, remarks, "My favorite engagement sessions are those set in the mountains, like the Alps in France or the Dolomites in northeastern Italy."
When selecting your location, keep in mind that natural settings will change with the seasons. A lush garden won't be in bloom in the winter for example. The changing of the seasons will affect the lighting as well. Particularly important for outdoor photoshoots, your session should be scheduled when the quality of light is at its best.
Laura Gelfged prefers the golden hour of early evening, stating: "The golden hour is the hour right before sunset, when the soft rays of the sun create a light, ethereal effect around the couple."
Photo Credit: Hanne Kelchtermans
Obviously, you want your photographer to be amazing and the setting of your photoshoot to be stunning. But your engagement photos are ultimately meant to be lasting memories, glimpses into this special season of life that you'll look back on fondly in the years to come. So consider how you can incorporate meaningful details that share your unique love story.
Perhaps you can wear a piece of jewelry from your grandmother, take pictures where you had your first date, or highlight an activity you enjoy doing together. Tying in those simple, intimate details will help foster a more authentic emotional connection that will translate on camera.
Hanne puts it well when she says "The purpose is to capture you being you."
Photo Credit: Laura Gelfged
For a wider range of photos, consider bringing a few accessories that match your setting, such as a hat, scarf, or umbrella. Bonus points if these add a sentimental touch. And don't forget a bottle of champagne to celebrate with a toast!
For shoots at multiple locations, consider bringing a change of clothes, a dressy and a casual outfit for example. Comfortable shoes are a must, especially for longer, more adventurous walks. You can always pull out the pumps once you get to the top of that mountain vista.
Avoid distracting patterns or overly-bright colors unless that is an important aspect of your cultural background or preferred aesthetic. On the flip side, you don't want to blend in too much either. Try to complement your location and your partner's attire.
In the days before your engagement session, consider getting your nails done, your ring cleaned and doing a practice run-through of hair and make-up. Try on your outfit(s) and don't forget to get your beauty sleep!
Many couples wonder what to wear and bring with them on the day of their engagement session. First and foremost, ask your photographer! They will likely have plenty of good advice based on their experience, your specific location, and the season.
Below are a few general tips from our amazing guest photographers:
As you're planning for your engagement shoot, think about how your photos will translate to your wedding announcement. A beautiful engagement photo will make your save the date infinitely more personal and memorable. As a stationer, one of my favorite save the date layouts is one impressive photo that covers the entire card with a gorgeous script font overlay. Below are a few of my diy save the date templates (just click on an image to see more details).
But even if you aren't planning to send a physical card, your photos can add a special touch to other aspects of the planning process. Use them in an electronic announcement, in social media posts, on your wedding website, or print and display them at your rehearsal dinner or reception.
Photo Credit: Edwards Photography
Of course you are! With over 10 years of wedding industry experience under my belt, I've seen trends come and go. But thankfully, the desire to celebrate our love with our friends and family doesn't go out of style. Let's translate your vision into elegant stationery that will delight your guests and be a lasting keepsake for years to come.