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choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & More!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I'm so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken - and I do this for a living!
I'm a big fans of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all I have for portraits - which is why I've found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is signficant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I've taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
I’ll cover what to wear, location ideas and more!
- Lisa marie wright
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
A NOTE TO
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I 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 and when when I can—I love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. I 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.
I schedule sessions during what I 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, I could run out of light before I’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While I shoot most of my engagement sessions between late may and early December, sessions can take place all year. Most of my couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
snowfall, hot cocoa 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, I could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I 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 by the river hand in hand
Even though we have a summer monsoon season, I'm still a big fan of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, I 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, I 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.
While I take most of my engagement sessions in the Telluride area,
I've photographed sessions all over! If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let me know because if our schedules align, I might be able to take your engagement photos outside of my normal area.
Travel fees may apply depending on the location and my availability.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
When picking outfits I 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 “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. I 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 & look amazing, but if they aren’t comfortable, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into!
I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos.
When choosing colors, I recommend selecting lighter, neutral tones and more muted shades. Bright, bold or neon colors can tend to be distracting. You can never go wrong with colors like cream, taupe, camel or light gray. The camera loves shades of soft pinks and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light- colored neutrals. That softer, more pastel-leaning color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
for the ladies
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Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images.
Whether it’s a necklace, belt, bracelet, earrings, hat, or scarf, bringing an accessory or two can bring great visual interest to your photos, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention when paired together.
For example, if you go with bolder earnings, you might want to choose a more humble necklace, or maybe even no necklace at all. Fresh florals in a bouquet can be a really romantic touch as well!
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 humitiy and wind.
I 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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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 colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors 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 me to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain/snow date. Having two dates helps me make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and I’ve found that the best way to make sure my couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
I’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for your engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
When I can, I 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 want your engagement session images to look and feel a little more editorial, I recommend bringing a few small, simple props with you, like fresh flowers to hold or a blanket to sit on. If you want to set up a picnic or incorporate another special element into your session, just let me know!
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to look great on camera & make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
As soon as possible after your session is complete, I’ll start working on editing your session. Unless I have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your engagement photos between 7 and 10 days after your session.