This is such an exciting time for you! One of the first things on the “to-do” list after getting engaged is planning your engagement session! My biggest tip to you would be to have your actual wedding photographer document your engagement session. Not only is it a great practice run for you and your fiance in front of the camera before the big day, but it will also let your photographer know how y’all interact with each other and what poses y’all pull off flawlessly. This session will make a HUGE impact on how the wedding day flows, so make sure whoever is photographing your wedding is the one to photograph this fun time in your lives, as well. What your wedding photographer will learn about the two of you during this session is invaluable!
After you’ve hired your wedding photographer, you’ll need to pick a date for your session. Most wedding photographers are booked with weddings on the weekends, as most weddings happen then. Knowing that, you’ll want to be prepared to schedule on a weekday, Monday-Thursday. If you’re using these images for save-the-dates, you’ll want to schedule as soon as possible, as the whole point behind save-the-dates is to give loved ones as much advanced notice as possible! The best time for lighting portraits is about 1.5 hours before sunset. This means for summer engagements, you’ll likely start around 7PM. For winter engagements, you may start as early as 4PM. Some couples like to schedule their engagement session in the same season as the wedding, so when they display the engagement images at the wedding, the look is cohesive. Others opt to go completely opposite and do a Spring engagement with a Fall wedding, so their portraits have extra variety. Chat about this with your fiance and do whatever y’all think is best. There is no right or wrong season! Just remember that Summers here in Texas are HOT. Shooting outdoors when the weather is nice is probably the best option. Since this is the most popular time for photos, schedule well in advance with your wedding photographer to get your preferred date.
My favorite thing is when couples pick a location that is unique and special to them in some way. This ensures that their engagement photos will have a more sentimental tie in 50 years than just “I found that place on some list.” Choosing your engagement session location is an opportunity to think creatively! I would encourage you and your fiance to brainstorm different options that are special to you both. You’ll find some sweet stories explaining why some of my couples picked the location they did here as you click through this list. Hopefully, that will get your creativity flowing and help you think outside of the box!
Katie and John worked at the same park in high school. He was a lifeguard and she was a camp counselor. This same
park was where they recognized each other as something more in college. They spent the afternoon of the day they got engaged at this park. Of course, we had to take their engagement photos here.
Where you met
Logan proposed to Emily at this very spot at McKinney Falls State Park! What better location for your engagement photos than the spot you agreed to marry each other!
Where you got Engaged
One place that you’ll need no warm-up time to be comfortable in is your own home. Mariah and Ryan live on a farm with chickens, donkeys, and cows. For their session, they just stepped off their front porch and we got to work! It perfectly reflects this season of engagement for them, too, as they spend every day here.
Garrett proposed to Katie at the family ranch. It was the perfect place to pop the question and the perfect backdrop for their engagement photos!
Where you got engaged
Tana met Arick for their first date at a coffee shop. Even though it was his birthday, he showed up with a gift for her! He knew she loved pickles, so he gifted her a jar of pickles on their very first date. They still love to go to coffee shops for date night, so that's where we went for their engagement session!
Your favorite date night location
Kristen and Shane were neighbors growing up. Every Summer, their families went to the lake together. One year, just before the annual family trip, Shane texted Kristen to find out who she liked. Her answer was Shane – she liked Shane and wasn’t afraid to admit it to him. The two started dating that day. We went to the same lake for their engagement photos.
Where your friendship changed
When it came time to pick an engagement session location, Victoria & Eli picked their family ranch. It had the Texas Hill Country views and vibes they love AND it's where they would later host their wedding reception.
your wedding venue
Abbi and Justin have just finished building their first home together. They stepped right out into their own backyard for their engagement session and it was the perfect location for them!
Where you're building your first home
Kensley and Caleb spent their first date at the lake. The lake has always been a special location to both of them. Of course, we had to include the lake in their engagement photos.
First Date Spot
Nick and Laura love all things Austin, Texas and have a special place in their hearts for The University of Texas. We went back to their Alma Matter for their engagement photos.
University of Texas
Scott and Christine knew that their relationship was going to be forever during a weekend staycation at Horseshoe Bay Resort. We went back there for a fun afternoon of photos.
Horseshoe Bay Resort
Ben and Mallorie met while both working at an ice cream shop. It's where their friendship grew and they started dating. For their engagement photos, they wanted to showcase where it all started, the ice cream shop.
Showcase where you met
Mariah and B share a love of coffee. One of their favorite places to go is El Monumento in Georgetown. The restaurant serves its coffee in a french press with simple syrup and whipped cream. When it came time to pick a location for their Georgetown Texas engagement photos, they picked their favorite coffee spot, El Monumento.
Your favorite date night location
Something else to think about is where y’all might be granted special access to that others may not. Does your family have a membership to a resort that would make a beautiful background? Do y’all know anyone that owns a historical estate or mansion or castle that would let you shoot there? Is your best friend the manager at an upscale hotel and could give you private access to a rooftop terrace?
If you’re not tied to a certain location with sentimental reasons, we can try to shoot at a location that reminds y’all of this time together.
What do y’all like to do for fun?
Where do y’all go when you both have a day off together?
Brooke and Price love to travel. They got engaged while on a trip to Utah. They'll also be getting married with the lake as their background. They combined their love of the lake with their love for travel and decided to take their engagement photos on a sailboat!
Showcase your joint interests
Aubrey and Maxwell got married at Wish Well House. They loved the venue enough to host their wedding ceremony there, so why not take their engagement photos there, too!
Your wedding venue
Sarah and David have always love Mattie's! It's even where they hosted their rehearsal dinner the night before their wedding. When rain threatened their engagement session, they didn't worry because Mattie's has a covered patio!
favorite restaurant or rehearsal dinner spot
Amy and Wes wanted their engagement photos, taken in August, to compliment the colors and tones of their winter wedding. They reached out to Woodbine Mansion so we could photograph inside with the blue and white backgrounds they were hoping for!
Berry and Nick wanted to showcase the Texas Hill Country for their wedding guests. They're hosting a destination wedding weekend in Fredericksburg so we headed to their wedding venue, The Lodge at Country Inn Cottages in Fredericksburg, for their engagement photos.
Your wedding venue
Cayla and David both worked at The Carnival the very first Summer they started dating each other. We headed to that same Carnival to capture this fun session!
Lauren's first love and baby is her horse. She couldn't imagine having photos taken without him, so we headed to the pasture Apache lives for Lauren and Ben's engagement photos.
The pasture where your horse lives
Tori and Eli love the Texas Hill Country. For their engagement photos, we headed to the family ranch in Llano, Texas. We had the entire ranch, with river views, to ourselves!
The family ranch
Danielle's family has been members of the Austin Yacht Club for as long as she can remember. She and Luis wanted a Summer engagement session and decided that the lake was the perfect spot! We hopped on their sailboat for their session for those Summer time vibes!
Austin Yacht Club
Kaitlyn and Brian got engaged after buying a house in Boerne, TX. They wanted to share their new hometown with their friends and family, so that is the same city they hosted their wedding celebration. Why not take their engagement photos in the same town that they'll start their married life together?
Courtney and Brian were married at The Addison Grove in Dripping Springs. They wanted to keep that Texas Hill Country Feel for their engagement session and their wedding venue opened up to them for the afternoon!
Your wedding venue
Aubrey and Maxwell love the city that they live in. Barrels and Amps is one of their favorite hangout spots in Georgetown, Texas. It's where we went to start their engagement session and where they hosted their wedding after party.
Your favorite hang out spot
Jordan and Brenton said "we do" on the family ranch and that's the same ranch we headed to for their engagement photos! Of course, it was the perfect spot to include their fur-baby, too!
The family ranch
The goal is to coordinate outfits, not try to match. Blush and Navy is such a pretty combination.
Show personality with accessories like fun heels and statement earrings.
Pick outfits you're comfortable & confident in from all angles. You don't want to have to worry about & constantly adjust part of an outfit you're not fond of.
Choose flattering, timeless silhouettes and colors that compliment your natural features. This is the best way to ensure you'll like the way you look in your photos.
Since most couples don't have their photos taken professionally regularly, here are some helpful pointers.
Graphics and neon colors are not favorable for portraits. Avoid these.
Skip tiny prints and patterns. They photograph as waves on camera and leave weird lines. This is especially true for guys' shirts and jackets that look solid color at a distance but is actually a tiny stipe.
Don't keep cell phones or wallets in your pockets. They leave weird shapes in pockets. Instead, leave them in the car or in a bag you set down nearby.
Skip the spray tan. Even when done professionally, spay tans often leave streaks or unnaturally pale areas on your skin. They also photograph orange, making you look like an Oompa Loompa or your partner almost ghostly.
There are some things to avoid when planning outfits for your engagement session. Here are some of the most common no-nos.
Remember: there's no such thing as "too dressed up" and this is a special season in your life that deserves a dress up moment!
Longer sleeves have an awesome slimming effect on arms and heels make legs look longer and leaner.
Arrive EARLY! Sessions can't be extended if you're late because the light (sun) will be gone. The later you arrive, the less time there is to shoot which means less pictures for you (and nobody wants that)!
Have the engagement ring cleaned so it's clear of any dirt or build-up that may be visible and splurge for a manicure so we can show off that bling!
Schedule your hair and make-up trial with your wedding day beauty team. It's reduces the stress of doing it yourself and adds a confidence boost and photographs like a dream!
Here are some bonus tips for making the most out of your engagement photo session!
When in doubt, opt to wear something more classic in style. There is a reason wrap dresses and A-line dresses are considered the most universally flattering on all body-types. Long, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera and bring extra movement to your photos. Floor length dresses and skirts have the best "twirl factor" and add more romance to walking images.
01 - The Silhouette
You’ll want to emphasize your feminine shape, not hide it. There are a few things that make us ladies look different than men, so emphasize those! V-necks are great options! You can also add a long necklace to create that V of the hourglass figure. Also, don’t hide your waistline and opt for cinched waist clothing.
02 - Feminine Shape
Others tend to give compliments on things that are remarkable. Choose to add one remarkable detail to your outfit. Be it super fun heels, a bold red lipstick, or a pair of earrings that dazzle, add something fun and unique to your outfit. This will also boost your confidence level!
03 - statement pieces
If you love the look of "bright and airy" photos, you'll want to wear colors that fall into that category. Those tones are generally neutrals. For example, opt for sage instead of green, sky blue instead of royal blue, blush instead of pink, tan instead of brown, and, of course, white.
04 - Color Choice
Lipstick is classic and feminine! It also adds color, contrast, and dimension to your face, which helps you to not look “washed out” or flat in photos. Without lipstick, your face will likely all be the same tonal range, making your face (maybe the most important part of the image) look flat in a one dimensional image. Your lipstick color is going to add the pop, contrast, definition, and visual interest into your photos.
05 - Wear stay-all-day Lipstick
Check out my tested kiss proof lipsticks by clicking here.
Long pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look, whether you’re wearing a full suit, or a blazer and colored pants. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, belts, tie clips, suspenders, vests, and watches are sharp complements to any suit. A lot of my grooms wear one suit and just change their dress shirt and tie. Other guys wear one pair of pants and change their jacket. You can still mix and match accessories to complement your fiance’s outfits without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, you win!
The next time you walk by a store like J. Crew or Banana Republic, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding extra layers will bring additional dimension and visual interest to your photos.
For colors, I recommend neutrals and soft, warm tones that complement your fiance’s look. When selecting a suit for photos, the most important part is the fit. You want a suit jacket that fits snugly (but not too tight), and pants that are the correct length and don’t have too many breaks. Just like high heels make women look taller than they are, bunched up fabric stacked on top of a man’s shoes makes him look physically shorter than he really is. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most other colors (read: whatever your fiance is wearing), whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye, so stay away from too strong of prints, and opt for solids instead.
A blazer, sport coat, or suit jacket is the most flattering look for men.
Plan a date night after your session! You'll both be dressed up, so why not make it a date?
Check the weather for your session date 24-48 hours before so you can make a rain plan if needed.
Dress for the season that your photos are taken. You don't want to wear a sweater in the Texas Summer.
Opt for a wear all day lipstick that won't kiss off. You can find my tested favorites on the blog here.
Wear the correct undergarments that don't show lines and don't constantly fall off your shoulder.
Most of my couples ask if they can include their sweet fur-babies at their engagement session! The answer for me is absolutely! I would LOVE to meet your four-legged baby, as I have a Harlequin Great Dane myself! There are some suggestions that I want to share with you before you bring them to your session.
First, know that your pet won’t be in all your portraits. Knowing this, you’ll need a safe place for them to go when we shoot without them. The number one thing I’ve seen is bringing a trusted friend with you to your session that will either puppy-sit for you or that can take the pet home when their portrait time is over. This friend (mom, maid of honor, roommate) should be self-entertaining and not want to “watch” us take your engagement photos. It will be awkward to have spectators, so they will need to be free to walk your dog on their own or take them home. Some couples even start/end their session near their home, so they can quickly pick up or drop off their fur-baby back to it’s safe place (home). I don’t want to see your beloved pet left in a car or tied to a tree. That’s not fair to your pet and is not safe.
Secondly, it would help me to get their attention if I have a treat for them or a special toy. Make sure you bring a toy for them or a treat they can have. Feel free to bring pretty collars, bow ties, or floral leashes for your fur-baby and let them have a dress up day, too! They can also be used as part of y’all’s save-the-date announcement by holding a sign with your wedding date. Of course, make sure you bring water for your furry friend, as well!
Plan to leave 15-30 minutes earlier than you originally planned just in case you hit traffic. It's difficult to get into a flirtatious mood with your partner at your session if y'all just had a fight in the car because you ran into an unexpected construction detour. Most sessions are timed just before sunset. Because we are using natural light, we cannot extend your session if it starts late because we cannot shoot after the sun has set as we'll be out of daylight. Less shoot time means less photos delivered and no body wants that!
my best piece of advice is to make sure you give yourself plenty of Cushion time to start your session on time
Seattle, New York City, and Belize are a few of the places I've photographed clients in the last decade of being a Texas wedding photographer. If you're looking for a photographer for your wedding, I do travel! I hope you found this guide useful! Be sure to check out the blog for my most recent engagement sessions.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and got lots of great ideas and information from it! Plan and prepare, but always remember that the main goal of your engagement session should be to have FUN and enjoy an afternoon with your fiance!
If both of those things happen, you're going to love your engagement photos!