Engagement Shoot Tips for Couples by Susan Hennessey Photography

Engagement Shoot Tips for Couples

Your wedding day is one of the most important and exciting days of your life. Not only does it mark the beginning of your marriage, it’s also the biggest and most complicated party you’ll ever throw. This requires a very long to-do list, and while some of the items are fun (cake tasting, anyone?) others can be a bit more stressful (two words: seating charts).

Now that you have chosen me as your wedding photographer, the next step is to schedule something even better than cake tasting – your engagement shoot! As a wedding photographer, I’ve answered a million questions about how these shoots work, why they’re important, and how to make the most of them. To help my current and future clients, I’ve put together these engagement shoot tips for couples. I hope they help you relax, have fun, and take some amazing photos!

Why do we need an engagement session?

The engagement session is the perfect way for you and me to get to know each other before the big day. It gives us a chance to talk, practice those perfect smiles, and maybe even vent a little – I got married in 2016, and I know how good it feels to unload some of that stress! The best part about an engagement session is that it helps you feel comfortable in front of a camera. Most people aren’t used to a photographer following them around for a full day, capturing their every move. We’re normal people, not supermodels (even though you’ll look like one on your wedding day) and acting naturally in front of a camera isn’t easy! Thanks to the engagement session, we’ll figure out which poses come naturally and how to best capture your unique personalities. Think of it as the dress rehearsal, except at the end you get beautiful photos you’ll treasure forever.

When should we schedule our engagement shoot?

If you want to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, you’ll need to plan accordingly.  For most weddings, mailing out save the dates six to eight months in advance is fine. If, on the other hand, you’re planning a destination wedding, eight to ten months before the big day is a better bet. The sooner we schedule a date, the more options you’ll have.

When can we expect our images from the engagement session?

My turn-around time for engagement sessions is three to four weeks. This gives me time to sort through and edit the photos, so you receive only the best images.

Where should we do the shoot?

My favorite engagement sessions take place at a location that’s special to you. This is a great way to add personality and meaning to your shoot. If you don’t have a special place or if it’s too hard to get to, any picturesque area will work. My clients have taken me to beaches, big cities, beautiful parks, stunning waterfalls, rustic barns, universities – you name it, I’ve photographed there!

Are there any additional fees we should be prepared for?

If your desired location requires an entrance fee, a permit fee, or a parking fee, it is your responsibility to reimburse me or pay that fee. Additionally, if your location is more than 100 miles round trip from zip code 08057, there will also be a $75 travel fee to cover gas and tolls.

What should we wear?

I’m no fashionista, but I know what looks good on camera. My recommendation? Wear something that captures you and your relationship, just a little more polished. Remember, these are the photos that represent the next chapter of your life as well as the announcement of your upcoming marriage!

As a general rule, keep in mind the background when selecting your colors. I would suggest avoiding sky blue if you’re planning to pose in front of fall foliage. If, on the other hand, you want to stand in front of blooming cherry blossoms, blue is perfect! Also, I suggest no graphics or words on the clothing and only one person should wear a pattern at a time. Finally, I recommend each of my couples bring two outfits to the engagement session. A little costume change is a great way to switch up the shoot!

For the ladies: I love the look of a pretty dress and heels, and highly recommend renting an outfit from Rent the Runway. We usually do a bit of walking at the engagement session, so bring a pair of flats you can slip on and off.

For the gents: A button-up shirt or a sweater over a button-up shirt is timeless, but don’t be afraid to rock a suit jacket or blazer! For an extra polished look, slip on a pair of wingtip shoes.

Should I get my hair and makeup done? How about a manicure?

Absolutely! You’re not required to get your hair and makeup done, but most people feel a bit more confidence when they’re all dolled up. I’ve even had brides schedule their hair and makeup trials around the engagement session, which is a great idea! Definitely get a manicure, or at least come with nails that aren’t chipped. Your ring is a focal point to the shoot so please come with clean or freshly painted nails!

Can we bring props to the shoot?

Feel free! I love when my couples bring props to the session, but you’re not required to. It helps if the props you choose are meaningful to your relationship, so wine or beer glasses, baseballs, basketballs and bikes are all great examples of props! I’ve even had a couple bring a rowboat to the shoot before! One of my all time favorite props is a simple blanket or picnic scene. I also love banners and things with your wedding date written on it – those are perfect for save the dates!

Can we bring our pet to the shoot?

Yes! I love when my couples bring their furry friends to the shoot, but please coordinate this with a friend or family member. I prefer to photograph the two of you with your pet at either the beginning or end of the shoot. This ensures we have enough time to concentrate on the two of you without any distractions from family members or pets.

How long is the engagement shoot?

Engagement sessions last anywhere from 60 – 90 minutes.

When are you available for engagement sessions?

I photograph engagement shoots all year, but only on weekdays. I also like to begin two hours prior to sunset (check the sunset times here). This means that in the summer, I’ll start my shoots anywhere from 6-6:30 PM, but in the winter, especially after the clocks are changed in November, we’ll need to begin the shoot between 2:30-3:00 PM.

Is there a time of year you prefer?

I find beauty during every time of the year, but I do find that if you’re too hot or too cold it shows in your face and body language. I also find that a lot of my clients like fall engagement shoots. If you’d like to book your session in the fall, schedule your session as soon as you can – my calendar fills up fast!

How far in advance should we book our engagement shoot?

The sooner, the better! Many couples book me months in advance, which is ideal. This ensures you have plenty of time to plan and prepare for the shoot, and that you get a date that works with your schedule.

I hope you liked these engagement shoot tips! If you have any additional questions or want to schedule your engagement shoot, feel free to reach out! And if you want to see more engagement photos to help you plan your session, check out my portfolio. Happy wedding planning!

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