When we wanted to learn how to prepare for your engagement session, we asked our trusted photographers to share some of their tips and insights.
We asked about everything from why a couple should have an engagement photo session, to where, the best time of day to take photos, what kind of outfits to wear, and what to do with the photos when done! Here’s what we learned.
Bumby from Bumby Photography
We love engagement sessions because this allows you to get more familiar with us as your photographers. This allows you time for “photo rehearsal” before the big day. You get to capture some amazing images, get all fancied up, and take some amazing photos, AND HAVE SOME FUN!!!!
The timing for an engagement shoot is important if you are doing it for save the dates, then I recommend nine to ten months or at least one month before you plan to send them out. Also, I recommend early spring, fall, or winter. Summer sessions are fun but very sticky here in Florida! 🙂
One of the ways we encourage couples to prepare for their engagement session is to recommend two outfits. One a little more relaxed and casual, to show who you are as a couple. If you plan to include pets this would be the outfit to use. But make sure you bring a pet sitter to take the babies away. For a second outfit, something a little more dolled-up, night out on the town look or you can go formal at sunset!
Having a photo shoot at the venue really depends on the venue. We usually do not recommend having your session at the same location you get married at. You will get fabulous photos there on the wedding day, so try something fun like an in-home session to start and someplace beautiful close by for sunset, beach sessions are gorgeous, or open fields at sunset. However, if your venue is HUGE and we can do one area for engagement and another on the wedding day we are all for it!!
The best time for photos is an hour and a half before sunset.
Some of the best engagement photos we love are candid laughing photos, cuddling photos and we always have to get that nice traditional photo for your mantel.
Ideas for using the engagement photos are for the Engagement Announcement, Wedding Announcement, engagement guest book, and photos around the reception of you two.
Here’s a tip I recommend for couples and suggest not skipping this option. If you are not local and cannot make it back to where you are getting married before the wedding, I still recommend getting them local. Engagement photos are great to have and share with your family for many years to come.
Chris Gillyard from Chris Gillyard Photography
Getting engagement photos is a great way for me to meet the couple prior to their wedding day outside of a phone call or zoom call. We get to know each other while chatting about their big day!
When to have the engagement photoshoot can vary from couple to couple as some want an engagement session to announce on social media or use in a Save the Date, while others want it as a print to incorporate into their wedding day.
Different outfits for the engagement photoshoot can also vary from couple to couple depending on their vision. I may recommend outfit changes depending on that couple if their engagement session incorporates more than one site or location.
I ask my couples if there are any special locations they might want to incorporate into their photoshoot, such as where the proposal took place, a special birthday celebration, or maybe just a local spot that is their favorite. Plus I can always provide suggestions if they cannot decide.
There’s no end to where the photos can be used…. from an Engagement Party/Announcement, Save the Date, Wedding Invitations, or a Wedding Website Cover Image.
A fun tip I would share with couples, don’t be afraid to incorporate your pets into your session. We love it when our couples include their dogs. It’s fun and we get some candid images!
Nicole Saunderson of Dreamscape Photography + Video
One of the ways we share with our couples on how to prepare for your engagement session is to book with the same photographer shooting your wedding. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your photographer(s) before your wedding, to get to know each other a bit better during the session, which will really help come wedding day! We also will give tips and tricks for great photos so they will be a pro on the big day. All this, while getting some pretty amazing photos too! We often have couples use these photos for their wedding save the dates, websites, invitations, etc.
The timing of the session is important. It’s great to have this session done a little bit before they are planning on sending out the save the dates or setting up a wedding website. This gives the couple the opportunity to use the photos as much as they want before the wedding day.
We always think having one or two changes of clothes to have different looks totally depends on the couple and what is important to them. Some find it fun to have a casual look as well as a more formal look, and others just prefer one or the other. We always suggest wearing outfits that you feel good in because the confidence will shine through during the session.
Central Florida has so many great photoshoot locations! Literally limitless – state parks, downtown areas, beautiful gardens, theme parks, beaches, etc. We gather information about what the couple is envisioning for their session and provide suggestions based on that. Also, something fun to consider is a “non-traditional” spot like a favorite brewery, coffee shop, or at a place that they love to go to. Having an engagement session done at their venue is a 100% personal choice. It gives you an idea to see the amazing spots that their venue has to offer and tie into wedding day photos. That being said, it also will be in the same location as wedding day photos, so it is something to keep in mind. We love both options!
We typically recommend taking photos just before sunset! The lighting is GORGEOUS and gives you plenty of time during the day to get ready! Just after sunrise is also a good time, however, it can be hard to manage with getting ready and traveling to your session location before the sun rises.
We love a great mix of engagement poses, between candid poses that we guide our couples to achieve and the posed stunner shots! A great one is what we call the “butt lift.” Another favorite of ours would be walking photos! They can be so much fun 🙂
Couples will use the photos for their Save the Dates, a Wedding Website, decor at the engagement party or showers, and at the wedding, etc.
The biggest tip I would give is to highly recommend having an engagement photoshoot! Time goes by fast, so capture this special time in your lives! Plus it gives you a chance to get a little prepared for your wedding day photos 🙂
Jason Martin of Martin Media Productions
An engagement photo shoot is a great way to get comfortable with your photographer/videographer. It helps to learn about each other and prepare for the main event. Plus you end up with beautiful images or videos that show your love leading up to your wedding day.
A couple should have their engagement photoshoot ASAP. The wedding boom is real, and the best way to prepare is to be ahead of the timeline of events. I’ve done shoots as early as the same day as the actual engagement.
I love offering videography shoots, so in this case, we are telling a story so one outfit works best. For photography, multiple outfits create a more unique gallery.
Locations for photoshoots are very personal. I love nature shoots, state parks, around Disney resorts, or just general Florida landscapes. I would say stay away from your actual venue, save that for your wedding day.
The best time to take photos is right before sunset, aka ‘the golden hour’. It avoids the heat of the Florida sun and produces beautiful backdrops. I love anything that shows motion, it allows me to shoot video and photo equally.
Social media is growing at a rapid pace… still images and videos can be used for everything these days from save the dates to bridal shower invites. Save a little money in the paper aspect of a wedding and go digital.
A tip I would share is to definitely consider video, it’s such a great option. Photos are wonderful and capture the moment but video captures the emotions and relationships in action too.
Nadine Nasby of Nadine Nasby Photography
For starters, one of the reasons couples should have an engagement photo session is they will have photos for their Save the Date and/or wedding website. It’s also a great way to get to know a photographer’s style if they haven’t hired one yet for their wedding.
As soon as they can, they should schedule their engagement photo session after their engagement or about six months before the wedding at the latest.
I advise my couples to have one casual look, maybe with jeans, and then a super dressy going out on the town kind of look.
I am not a fan of shooting engagement sessions at the wedding venue because all of their pictures will usually have the same backgrounds. I ask my couples where they had their first date or if there is a particular part of town that’s special to them. Otherwise, Mead Botanical Gardens, Baldwin Park, Downtown Orlando are great spots.
The best time of day for taking photos is in the late afternoon or early morning when the light is softer.
As an editorial wedding photographer, my favorite shots aren’t necessarily posed. I love to get real interactions and more shots of couples walking or dancing.
Images are used for everything from Save the dates, a mini-album, and on a couples wedding website.
One great tip I’ll share is don’t get your hair cut right before your session. Schedule that about a week or two weeks before. Also, make sure you try out new shoes or any new clothing to make sure they make you feel comfortable sitting and walking.
Edmund Rhodes of Rhodes Studios Photography and Video
One of the best reasons for a couple to have an engagement photoshoot is it will definitely help them get acclimated to having a photoshoot if they’ve never been in one. It’ll also be a great idea to get familiar with the photographer before the wedding. Similar to a rehearsal for the day of.
Couples should plan on having this shoot usually within eight months before their wedding if possible so they have the flexibility to use the photos for any type of invitations etc.
I definitely recommend at least two wardrobe changes. This allows for there to be a variety within the photography and it also will inspire different comfort levels with any couple.
Locations are very suggestive. I always recommend based upon the couple’s personalities as well as what they like and don’t like. Asking a few questions with your couple on whether they want hardscapes, nature-driven, water, beach, etc. will help you guide them into some options that may work best for them. Ultimately let them decide after you give them a few choices.
The best time to shoot a photoshoot in my opinion is the last couple of hours before the end of the day. Lighting is much kinder and here in Florida it also allows for there to be a cooler element. So pretty much I use the two hours before sunset rule
Of course, candid and fun photos are my favorite. These are the ones where they’re laughing very hard or just doing crazy things with each other. They forgot the camera was there and got carried away with each other.
Photos can be used as a way to celebrate your engagement. I’ve had couples use them as table number ideas. Also using it as a welcome congratulations album and couples and write in it leaving well wishes to the couple.
Having a weather awareness with flexibility would be to reschedule. Also don’t overdo the thinking process when it comes to what to wear between both couples. Represent your personality and don’t wear something that wouldn’t be generally what you would wear. Keep it fun and confide your feelings on how you are with having your photos taken with your photographer. Just have fun with it and pretend you’re not even going into a photoshoot!
Steven Miller of Steven Miller Photography
An engagement session is an AMAZING opportunity to meet and get to know their actual wedding day photographer before the big day. They are going to have so much to worry about anyway on the big day, family, timeline, making sure not to forget anything, etc. The photographer is there to help, not add to the existing anxiety, so engagement sessions are a great way to make sure they picked the right person, and build a meaningful friendship that will come in handy at their wedding!
In terms of lighting, we always recommend either early morning or late afternoon for the best sunlight that’s not directly overhead and unflattering. Just make sure not to flirt too close to sunset unless you are absolutely sure that there are no clouds in the forecast that evening!
Jenn Laiacona of Laiacona Photography & Design
This is the most exciting time in a couple’s life…why not capture and remember it by having an engagement shoot? Engagement shoots also give the couple great visual graphics for Save the Dates, social media announcements, wedding websites, and day-of decor!
Plan your Engagement session as soon as you get engaged! You are on top of the world and that glow is perfect for pictures! Plus, there’s a big to-do list prior to the big day and you’ve got to fit it all in!
Multiple looks are great for variation! Most importantly, wear outfits that make you feel confident & comfortable. Opt for outfits that allow you the freedom to move and sit without constriction, worry, or wrinkles. Hair and makeup is a great way to boost confidence.
We always find locations that are meaningful to our couples. It could be where they got engaged or a special spot the couple shares. Engagement sessions at the wedding venue are great as long as there are a variety of portrait locations in order to avoid repeat shots on the wedding day.
Sunrise and sunset are our favorite hours for natural lighting! Pro Tip: Consider Daylight Savings when scheduling your session.
Stephanie Caldwell of Caldwell Photographic Studio
There are two things that happen when you have an engagement session with your wedding photographer. First, you have amazing photos to use on save the date, social media, wedding website, and or your invitations. Second, it gives you time to get comfortable with your wedding day photographer. They will be the person and the face you see throughout your wedding day.
Depending on how you plan to use your photos, you should plan to take them up to five or six months prior to your wedding day.
For outfits, I would say to choose solid colors and colors that compliment each other. You should also wear an outfit you feel good and confident in. You can change your attire during your session however some locations you choose may not have a place to change. So wearing an undershirt is a good idea.
How to prepare for your engagement session can depend on your venue and whether or not they will allow it. Check with your venue to make sure. Other locations depend on your vision for your photos. There are numerous amazing locations around the area. Your photographer should have plenty of suggestions.
The best time to shoot is early in the morning or late in the afternoon depending on the time of year.
The best photos are of a couple laughing and walking hand in hand, those always tend to be some of my favorites.
Photos are used for everything from Save The Dates, invitations, wedding favors, or large prints for the wedding reception.
My pro tip would be to trust in your photographer they will know the best lighting and posing for you. Above all have fun!!
Daniella Koontz of Koontz Photography
Even if you’ve already sent out save the dates, or have enough photos on your wedding website having an engagement session with your wedding photographer is a great way to make sure your personalities really mesh well, because your photographer is going to be in your personal space most of the day. This is also a great way to get a little more comfortable with posing in front of a camera. By doing an engagement session you will learn some of your photographer’s “normal” prompts, and maybe even some fun facts to remember about posing on your wedding day. It’s all about getting comfortable and having fun! So many people feel awkward in front of a camera, they feel weird showing PDA in front of others, or they worry about not knowing what to do with their hands. An engagement session gives you and your partner a chance to get used to engaging each other in front of the camera. Anything to help speed up portraits on your wedding day, because you won’t have a lot of time for portraits, and because you’ve already “practiced” you will be more focused on having fun with your partner instead of worrying about posing.
If you want your photos for a save the date, wedding website, or guest book – you’ll want to do these at least one month before you need to order the cards. If this falls in the summer months, I highly suggest booking even earlier to catch cooler weather so that you aren’t sweating and miserable in your photos. But, even if you’ve “missed” the cut-off for save the dates, or don’t care about updating your wedding website – any time before the wedding is fine. The experience is worth your time, even if you don’t “need” the photos.
Wear clothes that fit nicely, that you can move around in. Choose solids and simple patterns as well as textures and layers. You can bring in jewelry, belts, accessories, etc that bring that pop of color into your photo. The fun thing about layers is that you can take things off or add things and create completely different looks without having to change your clothes. If you want to bring different outfits, go ahead! Just keep in mind the time it takes to change, and some places don’t have an area to change in. If you keep your photographer past the time they’ve scheduled for you, there may be extra charges, and you may lose precious sunlight.
Is there somewhere special that you’d like to incorporate into your session? Possibly a favorite park, a historic downtown street, the beach? Anything can be beautiful from a city street to a garden. Don’t forget that props, pets, and vehicles can add some spice. Shooting at your wedding venue really depends on the venue and how much space there is outside. Talk this over with your photographer and get their opinion for sure. Also, don’t forget you might have to pay extra for an open-air permit if you want to take photos in places like Winter Park. It is a $25 fee, and your photographer needs to request that date at least 30 days in advance.
The best time to take photos is an hour or two before sunset. Make sure to find out before your session if the location will still be open. Are there any events going on that might invite crowds?
My favorite poses are the same ones that I like to do on the wedding day, but on the engagement session, I have more chances of getting photos of them sitting down. Most brides don’t want to get their wedding dress dirty.
Save the dates, wedding invitation, wedding website, a custom guest book for people to sign on the wedding day, bridal shower prints to hang up or frame, canvas prints to use as decoration at the wedding are all ways couples can use their engagement photos.
My Pro Tip: For the love of your photographer, please try to schedule your engagement session on a weekday so that your photographer can have their weekend open for weddings.
Hopefully, this has helped you learn a few things about how to prepare for your engagement session! For more information on the Wedding Venue Maps trusted photographers, click here.
Bumby Photography 💚 @bumbyphotography
Chris Gillyard Photography 💚 @chrisgillyardphoto
Dreamscape Photography + Video 💚 @dreamscapephotographyllc
Martin Media Production 💚 @martinmediaproduction
Rhodes Studios Photography and Video 💚 @rhodesstudios
Steven Miller Photography 💚 @stevenmillerpix
Laiacona Photography & Design 💚 @laiaconaweddings
Caldwell Photographic Studio 💚 @caldwellphotographicstudio
Koontz Photography 💚 @koontzphotography
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