Now that you have picked a date, a photographer and probably a venue as well, you can celebrate! Those are some of the toughest decisions in wedding planning and you can cross them off your list! Hooray!! Now on to the fun stuff.... like your engagement session! I include engagement sessions in The LLP Wedding Experience because I truly believe that they are a VITAL part of the entire process. During your engagement session, you’ll have the chance to get to know me, experience how I shoot and how I handle posing and lighting. This session will make a HUGE impact on how the wedding day flows. I’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you two interact, what your best poses are and how to photograph you in a genuine way. What I will learn about you during your engagement session is invaluable! You will feel like such a pro on your big day because of the great practice you had during your engagement session, and that’s how it should be!
Your engagement session can be scheduled anytime before your wedding day. I normally suggest booking it at least 3 months in advance to avoid stress. Because our weekends are filled with weddings, I shoot engagements on weekday evenings, normally from 5-7pm depending on the light and the time of the year. In the winter months, 3-5pm is a normal time frame for a shoot! As you start to plan for your engagement shoot, you will need to start brainstorming about location ideas. I LOVE it when couples pick a location that is special or sentimental to them in some way. If you can’t think of anywhere specific that you would like to shoot, I can help you decide on a location. As long as the light is great, I can make ANY location look awesome! I shoot at farms, campuses, downtown alleys and even laundry mats. I’m serious.. do not shy away from crazy ideas! The more creative, the better! Be sure to keep reading to find out more about outfit ideas and inspiration.
We’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more!
If you’re a bride who is a little anxious about how your groom will react to this whole “picture” thing, you’re not alone. We receive so many emails from brides who are worried their groom won’t be into it, and I have great news for you, you both are more photogenic than you think! We constantly surprise couples by discovering their hidden modelling skills, and the most common response from our LLP Grooms is, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought! It was fun”. Boom! Mission accomplished! When the groom says that taking pictures was FUN, we have done our job well! Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed, not forced or awkward. Your engagement session is supposed to be fun and relaxed, not forced or awkward.
As you prepare for your shoot, there are a few things that you can do to help your groom know what to expect. First of all, I highly recommend sitting down with your guy and showing him 2-3 of your favourite engagement sessions that I have photographed. Please spend some time together scrolling through a few blog posts; this will allow him to gauge his expectations. I also recommend that you qualify for plenty of time to get to your shoot! There is nothing worse than when a couple shows up late, and they have been arguing in the car! That is going to put your groom in a bad mood! Last but not least, remember to have patience with him and don’t assume that he’s not going to have a good time.
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few weeks before the wedding. We’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. We normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
Sessions typically last about an hour and a half to two hours and when when we can—we love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. We prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
We schedule sessions during what we believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While we shoot most of our engagement sessions between April and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most of our couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
snowfall, skates and cozy coats
If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. We recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running.
walks on the beach hand in hand
In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 8pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.
If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, we recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready.
We love when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture at the U of A, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, we’re also happy to make recommendations. From ski slopes to sunflower fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!
While we take most of our engagement sessions in the Edmonton area, we’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Drumheller to Banff and Jasper and internationally. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let us know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos outside of our normal area.
Our dogs are a huge part of our family, which is why we love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
We recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, we recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “colour-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. We recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accesorries! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
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Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
We love the way larger patterns photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colours tend to photograph better than bright colours - especially since bright colours could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
for the ladies
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Statement jewelry is a great way to add colour or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress!
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
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Engagement sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better for humidity and wind.
We think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos - and if you’re planning to do a hair & makeup trial anyways, the engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera.
for the ladies
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There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).
for the ladies
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You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen!
Layer with a blazer and a fun tie - you can even wear jeans with this look.
Bowties are always a good idea.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colours tend to photograph better than bright colours - especially since bright colours could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.
for the gents
what to do if it rains
It’s typical for us to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and we’ve found that the best way to make sure our couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
We’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let us know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
When we can, we always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session - so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
champagne is always a good idea
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, we recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met; however, a trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! We’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If we tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because we know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for.
Throughout your session, we’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. We want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
The the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!) so put on your best dress or suit!
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
In the week following your session, I will send a sneak peek of a few of my favourite photos from our time together. Within a few weeks from our session, you will receive an online gallery with all of your final, retouched, high-resolution images. You can share the link with your family and friends, post to social media and more! Your gallery comes with unlimited downloads for you and anyone you share the link with, as well as the option to purchase prints from my professional lab and have them shipped straight to your door.