..it can be hard to know where to start. It seems like there's a bombardment of information on the internet showing you what to wear, where to go, how quickly you should take them after getting engaged... it's a lot! You might want Save The Dates, or wall art, or a killer social media announcement. Or maybe you just want to bond with your photographer.
Whatever your desires, I'm here with five tips for maximizing your engagement session experience!
What are you hoping to use your session for- or, are you just doing one because you read that you should? It’s blunt, but it’s an important first decision. These are the top uses couples love engagement sessions for, and each one is unique and valid! But, answering this question is the first step in planning your perfect engagement session.
-Are you primarily looking for save-the-dates or a stunning social media announcement?
-Do you want to have stunning wall art to display around your home?
-Or, are you looking to bond with your photographer, learn your best angles, and feel more comfortable in front of the camera on your wedding day?
If you’re someone looking for a big social media announcement, you may love doing something less-traditional- like an engagement session at the coffee shop where you first met. You may not want it hanging at 30x40” on your wall, but you’d love for it to be part of how you tell your story online to guests who haven’t met you yet. Likewise, if you want to use your session for your save-the-dates and wedding website, SHARE your design with us! I’ll help choose locations that will pair perfectly with your site, and photograph you with the layout in mind.
If you want to have wall art, you want every detail to be perfect, which leads me to tip #2…
And what better way to do so than to indulge in a new outfit? But here’s the secret- it’s not about the clothes! Wearing fresh, new pieces for your session will mean that you won’t be thinking about if your dress still fits perfectly, if there’s dog hair on that sweater, or if there’s maybe even a little hole or stain hiding somewhere- you’ll KNOW it’s perfect, and go into your session with that confidence.
For an extra special touch, you can work with your wedding planner or a stylist to coordinate your outfit with your wedding design. Having a fall wedding with jewel tones? Try a deep emerald velvet number to add texture and a hint of what’s to come!
I always suggest bringing two outfits for your session- one more formal look (because who doesn’t love dressing up?) and one more-casual look that nails your daily style. Choose things that make you feel like the best version of yourself- and of course, I’m here to help you choose styles that will make photographic magic, like flowing dresses that will catch the wind, or statement pieces to make a basic outfit pop!
If you don’t want to commit to a new look, I love sites like Rent the Runway and Nuuly that allow you to rent styles that you’ll be less likely to wear in the future. Most allow you to rent several styles and sizes, so you can plan your rentals around times where you have more events- say an engagement session AND your engagement party.
Don’t let your trials go to waste on a Tuesday night in, and don’t even think about skipping your trials all together! Line your hair and makeup trials and your engagement session up. Not only will you get to feel that same confidence as you will with a new outfit, but you can also see how the look wears and how your skin reacts with products- no surprise allergies on the wedding day, please.
any ring adjustments is also a great idea ahead of your engagement sessions. Most jewelers will clean your ring at the same time, so it’ll have the perfect sparkle. Don’t forget to add a bit of extra time, in case the resize takes a little extra time. This will also help your ring stay on straight, versus turning under and hiding.
Most engagement sessions run between forty-five minutes and two hours, meaning, if you want multiple locations you should plan them carefully. My advice is not to do more than two looks, and to try to keep it to two locations- otherwise we’ll be spending more time transitioning and changing that we will be taking pictures! I always recommend spaces like the Melon Walled Garden and Phipps Conservatory because they have both nature and architectural details. Trust me- a park will often look very similar to another park. Ask yourself if you’re really looking for South Park, or if you’re looking for an open space with greenery and trees.
If you got engaged in January, you’ll likely be tempted to rush into a late winter/early spring session. It’s okay to take time to breathe and just enjoy the most out of your engagement. Waiting gives you control of season, time, and more locations. I’m partial to mid-spring and late summer here in Pittsburgh, because it’s when the light tends to be the most beautiful and soft (and yes, it’s so worth planning around the light!). Don’t get pressured into feeling that you have to use images for the save-the-dates or that you HAVE to have your engagement session in the same season as the wedding- make the choice based on what you love, and on how you want to remember this time of your life!
If you’re a sneaky surpriser, you can have an experience built for when you arrive! I’m partial to surprise picnics, music, or charcuterie- but you could do anything! There are amazing Pittsburgh companies built to create just this. It’s a great way to give a surprise to your fiance if they were the person to propose- they’ll never see it coming.
If you’re not so good at keeping secrets, schedule a date night somewhere special, a homemade picnic with flowers and wine (I can help!), or even a night-in making a special meal together.
If you want to include your furry friends in your session, don't let yourself get stressed out in the logistics. Have a designated time and area to have a family member or friend bring them. No one wants to be worried about their pup staying hydrated, cleaning up after them, or them getting too overwhelmed during the session! Having a designated caregiver will let you enjoy every moment without a hint of worry for your sweet pet. No matter if you start or end with them, you can be worry free about their care.