If you’re engaged, there’s a good chance you are taking engagement photos before your wedding. While they are absolutely not mandatory, many soon-to-be-married couples use it as a way to freeze a moment in time, to have photos for their save-the-dates and celebrations, and to have a little “practice” in front of the camera before the big day.
CJ and I waited almost a year after getting engaged to take ours, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience. We had such a good time at this shoot, that we are going to do another one on the East Coast, too. I’m kind of a State Capitol nerd, so I’m also excited to have engagement pictures at both the California and Massachusetts capitals! 🙂
Anyway, enough about capitals! After seeing how beautiful my friend/photographer Christina’s wedding photos were, we were very interested in reaching out to Hailey about our engagement photos and lucky for us, she was available! Having gone through this experience coupled with my experience posing frequently for the blog, I’m sharing a few tips to help you get the best possible engagement photos.
Preparing for Engagement Photos
I am going to be completely honest. We really pushed it on time when it came to coordinating outfits for our engagement shoot. Meaning, we waited until the (busy) week before our shoot to figure out what we were going to wear! To make things even more complicated, we didn’t shop together! I’m so happy we know each other’s tastes so well because that could’ve gone a completely different way.
One thing was for sure: We wanted to wear two looks for our shoot, of them being more casual and the other one a little spruced up. Doing so in Sacramento summer heat was a challenge, but we did it without breaking a sweat. Literally. We changed in the back of our car.
I figured that with our experience coupled with our own debrief at home in preparation for our East Coast engagement shoot, I could share some tips when it comes to preparing for your engagement shoot! I believe these will help you achieve photos that you will treasure for years to come!
1. Pick your color palette
While CJ and I didn’t have our looks finalized for a while, we discussed the colors that we wanted to wear. Our base colors were navy, white, powder blue, and metallics. We both had luck with Banana Republic brand clothing (my dress was BR but I found it at Crossroads Trading Co.) and complemented each other so well.
We didn’t see each other’s outfits until we were putting them on. I loved CJ’s linen trousers with a white shirt. A crisp shirt on him is my favorite look for him to wear. I’ll never forget our first Valentine’s Day and he was wearing one that was perfectly pressed. Hey, I like what I like! 🙂 I’m not usually a pink lady, but this satin number made me feel ultra feminine.
2. Think about your location
For some people, it may not matter, but for us, it was very important to shoot at places that have meaning to us. We kicked off our shoot at Block Butcher Bar for a cocktail. A kick-off cocktail not only calmed our nerves, but it commemorated one of the most important days of our lives: the day we met. We had our first date on a chill Tuesday night, keeping warm by whiskey and belly laughs.
After our commemorative cocktails, we headed downtown.
We chose Capitol Park, the State Capitol, and the Tower Bridge because CJ lived a couple of blocks away when we first starting dating, and we would often go for walks around the Capitol in the evenings. To me, it’s iconic Sacramento and the perfect way to capture the city I love with the one I love.
What location is special to you?
3. Think about the time of day and how that will affect the mood of your photos.
As a lifestyle blogger, I feel like I may have had an advantage here. I shoot my blog photos in all different lighting, so I’m familiar with the different aesthetics I could have. Take some time to thumb through your favorite blogs and magazines if you need some help, but here are some things to consider when making your decision.
If you are going for a very vibrant and bold look, I’d say shoot at high noon. If you are looking for a moody feel, you may want to head to the coast, where it’s a bit overcast. For me, there’s no special time like the golden hour, that last hour before the sun sets. It is pure magic and adds a little golden glow to your images. We shot a little bit before it, but the diffused light added a really lovely element to our photos. You can also capture another magic hour at sunrise. I shot at sunrise for the first time when I was in Maui last Thanksgiving. Game changer!
4. Talk to your photographer about all of your “things”
Do you really hate when your arms are up? Is your left side your “best” side? We all have our things and I’m not here to judge, but I am here to encourage! Give all of that information to your photographer either in advance or at the onset of the shoot. He/she will then know what to watch out for when they are taking your picture. I am not a fan of the scars on my left wrist, so I asked Hailey to do her best to not capture poses where it was front and center.
5. Relax, and remember it’s about you and your fiancé.
In the world of Instagram perfection, I’m here to remind you that your engagement shoot is a special moment in time to capture the love you share with your better half. You should absolutely prepare, but worrying about every little detail will show in your photos, in your eyes, even when you’re smiling. Maybe you’re cool, calm, and collected with everything up until the shoot, and then the day arrives and it hits you. If you start to feel overwhelmed at the beginning or during the shoot, just remember to breathe. Listen to the rhythm of your heart and look into your partners’ eyes. Believe me, when I say, it will totally help. 🙂
All photos by Hailey Ayson
We had a fantastic shoot with her and would wholeheartedly recommend her for your special occasions!