Planning Engagement Photos, A Guide

Planning engagement photos is a fun task in itself. Every single engagement session is wonderfully different from the last! For that reason I love to have a pre-shoot phone consultation as we are narrowing in on a photoshoot date to go over all the details below. You’re not alone in planning this photoshoot, so just ask for help from your photographer whenever you feel stuck. But to get the creative juices flowing, here are some ways to get starting with planning your engagement photos!

Step 1. Pick a Season

Couple walking through dogwoods in DC engagement photos © Bonnie Sen Photography

The best place to start planning your engagement photos is by narrowing down the season. Are you getting married in the spring? Then why not chose to do your engagement photos in the fall so you have a complimentary season to work with? Or perhaps you’re doing a summer wedding but you love to ski, then pick winter and keep an eye out for a lovely snowy day. Start with the season and that will certainly narrow down your options for dates and locations.

Cherry blossom season in DC is always a fun and popular time for photos, but beware of the crowds! Most photographers know of some good secret spots or pro tips to help get those amazing photos without crowds in the background. Trust them.

Pick a Season for Your Wedding Photos - Fall and Summer Portraits © Bonnie Sen Photography

Step 2. Pick a location

Going hand in hand with the season decision is the location choice. The best locations highlight the time of year you’ve chosen. Many locations are great year round, but beware of the locations that look dead and dry if you’ve mixed the wrong season with the wrong location. For example, winter in Colorado is lovely among evergreen trees and a snowy but sunny day. However, if the trees are not evergreen and the snow is wet and slushy then you’ve got a recipe for less than ideal photos. Spring is always a tricky time to plan since you’re holding out for those delicate early spring blossoms, but if you start too early then the rest of the foliage can look sad even if the blossoms look great.

Outdoor and Nature Couple Portraits © Bonnie Sen Photography

Step 3. Dress for the location

We are always going for cohesiveness! Every photoshoot is just that, a photoshoot! Lean into the setting and accentuate it. If it’s spring then maybe a soft pastel dress for the ladies and khaki pants for the men. If it’s fall then break out the sweaters, scarfs and (faux) furs. Winter boots, summer swimsuits, autumn plaid and anything else you can think of.

Another important step is the dress according the exact location – for example if we are starting at a cafe with some drinks and walking around downtown go for a little white cocktail dress paired with a classic navy suit or coordinating but not matching suits or business casual outfits for two grooms. Then for the park change into a long flowy dress with colors that will match the season we are in or something like complimentary plaid and chambray shirts if dresses are not your speed.

How to Pick Outfits for Your Engagement Photos - Formal and Casual Engagement Photo Outfits © Bonnie Sen Photography

Step 4. Plan hair & makeup according to outfits

When you have the wardrobe nailed down then finish the look with professional hair and makeup. Trust me, the best wedding stylists will make you look natural without gobs of makeup. The added polish will give you confidence in front of the camera and will make your features stand out in the photos.

And grooms don’t think you are off the hook! Schedule a hair cut a few days in advance and consider a professional shave to ensure you are looking sharp.

Step 5. Add props or pets!

Planning to bring your pet along to your engagement photos? It’s ALWAYS encouraged! Just double check that the locations allows pets and make sure you have a friend who can come along and help manage your furry friend so that they don’t add a hint of stress. Treats are always handy, and don’t forget to replace their everyday collar and leash combination with a spiffy one, preferably made of natural material like rope or leather so that it blends into the environment.

Planning Colorado Engagement Photos © Bonnie Sen Photography

Want to go even further with props? Try to incorporate your favorite hobbies or activities like camping, snowshoeing, hiking, etc. Some of these activities definitely photograph better than others, so let’s chat through the specifics.

Step 6. Start with a drink

Definitely my favorite engagement photos planning tip! Leave enough time so you’re not rushing to the shoot and if we are starting downtown pick your favorite outdoor cafe for a drink to loosen the nerves. A slightly drunk couple is a happy couple.

Same Sex Couple Engagement Photos Colorado © Bonnie Sen Photography

Step 7. After the shoot, enjoy a date night!

You did it! Now you’re all dressed up, go back to that original bar or restaurant and have yourself a fun and fancy date night. Never waste a good outfit and some hair and makeup.

Planning New York City Destination Engagement Photos © Bonnie Sen Photography
A classic NYC engagement session at Bethesda Terrace at sunrise