How to Prepare for Your Engagement Shoot
So, you’re engaged – first of all, congratulations! You’ve received either a “yes!” or a ring, and now you want to commemorate this moment in your lives. Engagements are a unique time of life, and deserve to be remembered. Engagement photo shoots can be used for save-the-dates or even on wedding invitations. You can hang them in your home or share them on social media to treasure forever. That said, engagement shoots are important, because they document an important time in your life. But there’s no need to worry! J & J Studios has compiled some tips on how to prepare for your engagement shoot!
Use Mood Boards
First things first – you need to know what to expect when it comes to your engagement shoot. Using a search engine or site like Pinterest and searching “engagement photos” or “engagement shoot” can bring you a plethora of ideas. These can include ideas for engagement shoot themes, outfits, hairstyles, makeup, locations, and more. You can even search our blog for ideas – this link leads to an engagement shoot at our favorite location, the Philadelphia Navy Yard! This over 1200-acre redevelopment of a former military facility allows couples a multitude of options when it comes to engagement shoot themes and locations.
Pinterest is a great tool for creating mood boards. You could also make a collage using physical cutouts, or an online collage using digital photos. We’d recommend using some kind of mood board, whether physical or digital, to figure out your vision for your engagement photo shoot. A mood board is a perfect way to visualize how what you want will look as a cohesive whole.
For example, you could have a very romantic and formal engagement shoot, like this one. Note how the couple dressed to the nines and used the Philadelphia skyline at night for a sophisticated theme.
They also included an element of romance with fabrics like lace and satin, fur, and colors like red, seen in their attire. These photos were taken at the intersection of the Schuylkill Expressway and the South Street Bridge.
Another reason to use a moodboard is to gather ideas of poses you’d like to do during your engagement shoot. You could even practice them with your fiance! Practicing poses could make you more comfortable when doing similar ones during your engagement shoot. You could choose to practice a lovely pose like the dip, which this couple pulled off admirably in Longwood Gardens. Practicing and perfecting poses could lead to a few laughs, too!
Pick a Theme
Some couples simply dress nicely for an engagement photo shoot, while others choose a theme for it. Some lovely themes for an engagement shoot include a favorite movie you and your fiance love, or a favorite book or TV show. You could make a theme around a location, like where you met, where you got engaged, or where you live. You could even use a theme based around something you both enjoy. This could be an activity, like a professional or college sport, or a physical object or objects, like animals, the circus, or a musical instrument or instruments. This couple chose to include their dog at their Hunting Hill Mansion engagement shoot. The photo results were adorable!
This couple took advantage of a bright and appropriate sign during their Boathouse Row engagement session.
These lovebirds frequent Cira Green, so they chose to have some of their photos taken there. We think they turned out stunning!
Whatever you two love – whether it’s a location, an object, or an activity – it could be a great basis for an engagement shoot theme.
Plan Your Outfit
What you wear for your engagement shoot is incredibly important. We would recommend clothes that fit you perfectly and flatter your body. You could even ask your fiance or another loved one to take pictures of you in a particular outfit you’re considering at multiple angles, so you have an idea how that outfit translates on camera.
Your clothes should also be physically comfortable to wear for an extended amount of time. This is a necessity, because when you’re comfortable, you’ll be less self-conscious and much happier than if you’re constantly tugging on a hem or adjusting buttons. Your comfort, confidence, and happiness will make for the best engagement photos possible.
Another thing that’s important to consider when it comes to your wardrobe is coordination. Coordinating or even matching your outfit to your partner’s is a wonderful way to signify your bond and complementarity. Ideally, you wouldn’t completely clash with your fiance. This doesn’t just mean matching or coordinating colors. This couple chose to coordinate the groom-to-be’s tie and pocket square with the bride-to-be’s dress. Coordination also includes the fabrics and formality of both your outfits. It may not create the best effect if one of you is wearing shorts, flip flops, and a tank top, while the other wears a blazer and nice shoes.
Lastly, you’ll want to coordinate the formality of your outfit to the formality or informality of the location of your engagement shoot. This engagement shoot took place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is a beautiful and somewhat formal-looking building. You’ll notice how wonderful the couple looks – like works of art themselves!
Or, you could go the more casual route this couple took. Their engagement shoot took place in Rittenhouse Square Park, and while they both look wonderful, their outfits are more suited to the informal atmosphere of an outdoor area like a park.
What’s most important to remember is that you should feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. You and your fiance should coordinate or match in the colors you’re wearing. This should also be true in the fabrics and formality of your clothing, and with the location you’ve chosen.
Decide on Your Beauty Look
If you’re someone who wears makeup, your engagement shoot is a great time to break out those brushes! However, we would recommend using your makeup to enhance your natural features, rather than transform you into someone else. When you or anyone else looks at these photos, they want to see the best version of you – which means looking like yourself. Also, if you have a signature beauty look, like amazingly blended eyeshadow or a neon pink lip, be open to including that in the makeup look you wear for your engagement shoot!
That being said, similarly to testing out your outfit, test out your beauty look. Do your makeup the way you believe you’d like it to look the day of your engagement shoot and have someone take pictures of you in different lights. Then you can see what, if anything, needs to improve, and you’ll be happier with your photos!
If you’re not someone who wears makeup, there are other ways to look your best. Make sure to drink lots of water and to keep the skin on your face, hands, and lips clean and moisturized. Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and style your hair however you’d like, and you’ll have every reason to feel confident in how you look!
What to Bring
Engagement shoots are romantic. They’re a celebration of the love you share, the love that has led you to the beginning of a new life together. That means there will probably be expressions of affection, like kisses. So, we’d recommend bringing a lip balm to your engagement shoot. If you’re a person who wears makeup, we’d recommend bringing a lip color product as well to touch up in between shots. We’d recommend bringing tissues, as well. Tissues are incredibly versatile – they can be used to blot lipstick, wipe tears, or anything else.
Depending on the theme you’ve chosen for your shoot, you may want to bring a few props, as well. If it’s spring and it’s supposed to be a rainy day, consider bringing a cute umbrella. This couple used a clear umbrella in the snow to let in the Addison Street lights!
Face powder is another excellent item to bring to an engagement shoot, especially if it’s warm or hot that day. Powder helps control the oil on your face that comes from sweating.
A water bottle is an excellent thing to bring to an engagement shoot, especially if it’s taking place outside. You’d be surprised how much walking happens during an engagement shoot, and how much effort it can take to hold a pose for a while. An example of this can be found in these pictures of a future groom holding his fiance in historic Elfreth’s Alley.
It takes effort to lift a grown adult, let alone to hold the pose. So, you should bring a water bottle for any possible exertion. You’ll thank us!
Comfortable shoes are essential for an engagement shoot. Many times people wear beautiful shoes for an engagement shoot, but these can be incredibly uncomfortable. After the shoot, you might want to take them off and throw them in a river! Bringing comfortable shoes, even if you leave them in the car or a bag, is an excellent way to give your feet a reprieve after a few hours in uncomfortable shoes. This couple each wore gorgeous shoes. Still, make sure to notice how the bride-to-be changed from her high heeled sandals into more comfortable mules with low, chunky wedge heels later in the shoot. The groom-to-be swapped his dress shoes for similar sneakers, too!
The day is here! You’ve followed all of our tips. You’ve made a moodboard (or two or three) and chosen a theme for your upcoming photoshoot. Your outfit is amazing, your makeup flawless, and you feel prepared for your engagement shoot. Now, all you need to do is relax, have fun, and listen to your photographer!
All of that is definitely easier said than done. People can tell you to “act naturally” all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that for the vast majority of the population, it’s not natural for a camera to be recording your every move. There are a few things you need to remember before and during your engagement shoot.
First, your photographer wants these pictures – and you! – to look their best, just like you do. Second, your photographer has done this before. That means that no matter what you think you look like, or if you’re worried you act strangely, or if you say something awkward, your photographer has heard and seen worse before. Third, no one notices the little things we do and criticize ourselves about the same way we do. And, if someone does happen to notice you and your fiance being photographed, they’ll probably think something nice!
Fourth, and most importantly, just focus on your fiance. Make jokes. Look into their eyes. Give them a hug or a kiss. The best photos are usually candids. So, focus on having a good time with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, and your pictures will turn out beautifully.
We hope these tips were helpful. Hopefully now your mind is a bit more at ease about your upcoming engagement shoot. Contact J & J Studios today – we’d love to capture your engagement!