Your Engagement Session Guide
The engagement session is one of my favorite parts of our time together because it gives you both a chance to be in front of my cameras before you get married, which is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth, seamless and comfortable. Not only that, but we get to create something so special together. You’re going to be married for over fifty years, but you only get to be engaged for this short period of time. I’m so excited to capture the only time in your life when you get to be each other’s fiances. I created this guide for you and packed it with all my best secrets for getting the best out of your engagement experience. My goal is to create images that are natural, candid, fun, and represent you as a couple.
Choosing Time & Date
I LOVE natural light because I feel that natural light from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and true to you as a couple. I begin all engagement sessions 90 minutes before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract 90 minutes to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking time off work or have evening plans afterward.
To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing only one, arrive in that.
Quick Tip: My weekends fill up first and far in advance. You can get a Fast Pass to the front of the line by scheduling mid-week.
Selecting the right location
THE LOCATION OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS UP TO YOU! If you have a specific location in mind already, let me know. If not, I can always suggest a location. I am constantly scouting and searching for new locations to use. The location of your session should be some reflection of you. If you don’t like the beach, then we obviously won’t go there. If you never go downtown, then we’ll avoid that. This all comes back to us getting to know each other more so we can settle on a location that fits you as a couple.
Few things to consider
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: I encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. The sky is literally the limit!
NATURE: If we’ve settled on a location out in nature (i.e. woods, river, beach, etc.), be sure to come prepared for that specific location. If we’re heading out in the woods, be sure to bring bug spray and even shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
DESTINATION ENGAGEMENT: I love to travel and I am on the road quite a bit. Destination engagement sessions are unique and fun! If you want to shoot somewhere that isn’t local on the Gold Coast, just let me know and we can discuss travel info. Keep in mind that travel fees will apply.
I get a lot of questions from my couples about what they should wear on their wedding day. I’ll do my best to answer all of those questions and more here.
Style tips for Her
because you’ve been waiting your whole life for this
Have you thought about rocking a sequined gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of my brides love Rent the Runway for their engagement photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Other brides just love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet! I recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress or two!
Most of my Brides who choose two outfits will bring one “wow” dress, and then another shorter sundress or cocktail dress for a more casual “us on a date” feel. Remember, though, you don’t have to bring two looks if it’s too stressful or you’d rather just stick to one fabulous look. Just one outfit that you love will be so much better than one outfit you love paired with another you’re not very excited about. So, one or two? It’s really up to you!
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images. Big statement necklaces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate ones are not as noticeable on camera. Belts, bracelets, and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention. Fresh florals in a crown or bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well.
Coordinating the looks
AS YOU’RE COORDINATING your outfit with your fiance’s, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palettes coordinate, but don’t necessarily “match.” You should each aim to wear a different dominant color, but stay within a similar color palette family. So if you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then he could wear a navy coat with gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square. Now he has his own dominant color (navy) while still incorporating a few touches of your color palette. Most of my brides choose their dress first and then put together their fiance’s outfit based on that. That’s why I have a section for each of you.
Flattering your features
IN MY EXPERIENCE, EVERY WOMAN, REGARDLESS OF HER shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if you’re self-conscious about your arms.
Heels elongate women’s legs making them look fabulous. Closed- toes heels, in particular, look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Quick Tip: Bring a pair of flats to wear when moving from place to place. Your feet will thank you later!
Professional hair & makeup is on the top of most of my brides’ checklists because it looks amazing and removes the stress of getting ready on your own. From lash extensions to blown-out hair, professional hair and makeup will give you an extra boost of confidence in front of the camera, and it always photographs like a dream. You could even schedule your wedding trial the day of your session so you can get a practice run with them for the wedding day, plus you will be able to see what it looks like on camera!
If you need a recommendation for hair and makeup, I work with the best in the business! Just check my Vendor, Recommendation Page. I know they’ll take good care of you!
CONFIDENCE. It’s always the best accessory.
A few more tips..
- Don’t forget, your ring will be center stage, so give yourself permission to get it cleaned and your nails done, too!
- Skip the spray tan
ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT SEEM counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
- Avoid clothes with a logo or branding
Style tips for Him
From James Bond to Don Draper, men look most striking in a well-tailored suit. The best part? If you don’t own one, there are now amazing rentals companies where you can afford rent a dapper look. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye.
If you feel like a suit doesn’t suit you, pun intended 🙂 Aim for long pants and a nice button-down. Long pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face, you fell in love with. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts and sandals at home.
Think details! Ties, bowties, cool socks, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests, and watches are sharp compliments to any outfit. You can still mix and match accessories to compliment both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, you win.
Things to Avoid:
- Logo or Branded Clothes
- Baggy Clothes
- White Socks
Quick Tip: Be sure to eat before your session. Beyond that, consider grabbing a drink beforehand. A beer or your favorite cocktail might be exactly what you need to calm any nerves.
How to prep your Man!
Most men aren’t overly excited to take photos for 60-90 minutes, because they don’t have an expectation of what’s to come and why it’s so important to you. Take fifteen minutes to educate and empower your guy. Tell him why you chose me and my style of photography. Show him a favorite session that I’ve done, explain why you love them and express to him how much it means to you. Trust me, once he knows it’s important, he’ll light up the camera for you! The most common thing I hear from guys before engagement sessions is this: because of a bad experience in the past, they don’t like taking photos or don’t think they’ll be good at it. By the time we’re done, though, they can’t believe how fast it went and just how much fun they had!
What to expect during the session…
Remember what my goal is here: to create natural, fun images that represent you as a couple. We will take some time, in the beginning, to walk and chat so we can get to know each other a bit more. Once we start shooting, it will take a bit for you to start to feel comfortable in front of the camera and by the end, you’ll be professional models! (Kidding, of course, but I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself!)
Throughout the session, we may take a few minutes to pause, drink some water, relax and chat. We are not going to just shoot constantly for 60-90 minutes straight. I want to get to know you and I want you to get to know me. I want to know what makes you laugh, what you like to do for fun and what you love about each other. Feel free to ask me questions too. The more comfortable we are with each other, the better your pictures will be and, most importantly, we won’t be strangers showing up with cameras on your wedding day.
Some things to consider…
TURN AROUND TIME: The turn around time for us to deliver your engagement session is 2-3 weeks.
SAVE THE DATES: These should usually be sent out around 8-9 months prior to your wedding.
GUEST BOOKS: If you aren’t planning on using your engagement session images for your Save The Date or Invitation, but would like to use them at your wedding (for example, as a guest book), add at least 6 weeks from delivery to be able to design, revise and order your book.
WEATHER: Sessions are generally rescheduled if there is a 50% or more chance of rain on the day of the session. Living on the Gold Coast, I know that rain can come and go in minutes. I’ll stay in touch leading up to your session and make this decision together the day leading up to and sometimes the day of.
After your session…
Don’t forget to plan a dinner date! You’re already going to be all dressed up! Why not take advantage of it? I know the wedding planning process can feel all-consuming, so take some time after the session just for the two of you to relax and have some fun together. You deserve it!
I KNOW I JUST GAVE YOU A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. I created this guide to help make your engagement session experience something you’ll look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make together. Your future marriage is the most important thing to me, and I want your engagement session to be a time for you to just be yourselves and enjoy it. Have fun together. Laugh a lot. And I’ll take care of the rest!
I can’t wait to SEE YOU SOON