Engagement Session Guide


Booking your Engagement Session


Alright guys.  Do you need some guidance when it comes to your engagement session?  Here it is and then some.

When to Book: 


Every one of our Wedding Collections comes with an engagement session which can take place any time before your wedding.  We always suggest sooner rather than later so you have more time to enjoy and share your photos and celebrate the short time you will be fiancés.  As a general rule, we suggest booking your engagement session six to nine months ahead of your wedding date.  This is especially true, and could be even earlier, if you have lots of loved ones travelling for your wedding or are using the portraits for more than the walls of your home.  Getting those “save the dates” in the mail will let your guests make travel arrangements before airlines and hotels start booking up.  An earlier engagement session lets you use those images for save the dates, wedding websites, guest signing books and other wedding day décor.

If you are having a longer engagement and have booked your Wedding Collection, this gives you a lot of options for your engagement session.  With more time you can choose the season for your engagement session!  If you are having a winter wedding, you could match the look of the wedding with a winter engagement session a year in advance.  Of if you are in love with the spring flowers, but are getting married in the summer, you can get those spring florals in your engagement session and still have time to send save the dates and have a kick-butt wedding website!

Because we have a heavy wedding photography season with destination events and family sessions to boot, we highly suggest getting your engagement session date locked down as soon as possible!  This is especially true of fall engagement sessions; because who doesn’t love the cooler weather and colorful foliage.



Picking a Location and Time: 


Time: Engagement sessions usually last 1.5 hours and are likely to be on a weekday and ideally in the evening. The best light is two hours before sunset. However, I’m always up for shooting any time of day. Even shooting at night can be really incredible and unique.

While it’s not always possible to schedule on a weekday evening, the sidewalks are less busy, parks are usually emptier, and we can schedule further in advance if you’re willing to plan for a weekday.


Location: Let’s start by asking a few questions to get your creative juices flowing.

First, are there any spots that are special to your relationship? Going somewhere familiar that is filled with some warm feelings and happy vibes adds another layer to your photos. We've had couples go back to first dates or the place they met. We've even traveled to locations that hold some kind of significance to either individual, whether it's relationship-based or just somewhere they truly love and holds a special place in their heart.

Second, would you like something a little different from your wedding portraits or are you looking for cohesion? Cincinnati and the surrounding area is full of diverse locales; you might consider taking advantage of something vastly different than your wedding. If you're having a country club wedding, you might want to have portraits in the rolling hills of Kentucky or maybe go a bit more urban and head downtown.

Finally, do you want to hit up multiple locations? Since engagement sessions are about one and a half hours in length, couples sometime decide to split the session between two locations. When picking multiple locations, it's vital to consider the distance between each and how much time we'd spend traveling and setting up between spots. As the general rule of thumb, if we're in the car for longer than fifteen minutes between locations, it's too far. Because engagement sessions are primarily scheduled within the last two hours of sunlight when the light is soft and glowy (yep, we made that up), we don't want to be wasting the best light of the day driving thirty minutes.

If you're having a hard time picking a location, send us an email!  We have a whole list of location ideas and would love to talk to you about them and what they have to offer. We also love shooting in new locations too, so don't hesitate to suggest a place!


Before your Engagement Session


You’ve set your engagement date and location.  Now it’s time to plan the details!

Selecting Wardrobe and Cleaning the Ring:


As far as wardrobe for the photographs, the biggest thing is that you want to make sure you pick outfits that you both feel comfortable in!!!  If you don't feel totally comfortable, no matter what we do or what we try, you're going to look uncomfortable in the photos.  It's all about flattering your features and making sure you feel beautiful (or handsome, ;-).  Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features and each other is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. We are all self-conscious about something, so think ahead.  A three-quarter length sleeve creates an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve length like a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan if your self-conscious of your arms. 

Color; think complementary. Whatever color you choose, try to have your fiancé coordinate without matching exactly.  It's nice to have some separation of color between the two of you so you’re not just a giant solid blob of color.  If you choose a bolder color, think more neutral for your fiancé. We've found that jewel and earth tones photograph amazingly all of the time! That means burgundies, plums, olives, navies, creams, grays, and browns. 


Engagement Session Pallet.jpg


Neon?… No! When hit with light, Neon reflects weird colors which can makes your skin tone look odd.

Also think about your location. If we are in a park in the middle of summer with lots of green, a green dress will make you blend into the background. We want dynamic images where you, the subjects, stand out with colors that create a contrast between you and the background. .Again, picking jewel and earth tones achieves this without fighting your skin tone.  




Patterns and textures always help to add another layer to your photos. Sweaters, jackets, and cardigans are all great ways to break up solids and give your photos a bit more depth! 

Last but not least, we will be taking a ring shot! So if your diamond could use a little cleaning, make an appointment to really make it shine!


Remember, if you love it.  Wear it!



Aligning Hair and Makeup Trials:


While having professional hair and makeup isn't necessary for engagement sessions, or portrait sessions in general, it can definitely help boost your self-confidence and make you feel photo-ready. Planning to have your hair and makeup trial for your wedding day look on the same day as your engagement session is sort of genius. You get to become familiar with your hair and makeup artist, you get to feel polished, and it also allows you to see how your wedding day look will photograph. 

Your artist will know how long you should expect the trial to take, but we suggest aiming to have an hour cushion from the end of the trial to when you want to start heading out for the engagement session just to be on the safe side. It's not super common for a trial, but hair & makeup can run behind schedule for one reason or another.  Really, if you're going to have it take longer than expected, you want that to be on your trial day and not the wedding, right?





Brainstorming Activities and Props:


Coming up with some different activities that you both enjoy can really help take your minds off the photographs and allows you to authentically connect (like popping a bottle of champagne or bringing along an acoustic guitar). Whatever you decide, the most important part is to consider how realistic the props/activities are.  If making your own pasta is not something you two find yourselves doing normally, doing it for the session isn't going to feel genuine. 






Bringing Pets or Kids:


We know pets and kids may be an important part of your relationship and you’d like to bring them with you.  We say yes, bring them along.  The biggest obstacle for bringing along a pet or small child for the engagement session is finding a person (friend or family member) that can tag along and act as a babysitter for those times the puppy or child won't be in the frame so you’re not distracted. This person is the lynch pin for a session running smoothly when there's more than just the two of you.

When bringing along a pet, another thing to consider is any possible mobility and potential social or venue restrictions. If your pet has any limitations but you can't imagine the portraits without them, just keep their needs in mind when picking out a location.

Keep your pet's wardrobe in mind too. We recommend bringing along a more neutral colored leash and collar if you have it. We know a lot of people love fun colors when it comes to their pet's accessories, but you don't want the first thing you see in your photographs to be that hot pink collar.



The Essentials :


You'll definitely want to bring a bag! We recommend this Even if you don't anticipate bringing a lot of extra stuff with you for the engagement session. The bag is going to hold your phones, keys, and wallet during the session! (Yes Ladies, this is a reason to try out your new monogram.)


Here are some things we suggest bringing along on the session:

  • Tennis Shoes: If you're planning on wearing heels or wedges, pack a pair of sneakers so that you can change between spots.

  • Make Up: There's usually a fair amount of kissing and snuggling, so bring along any touch up makeup you may need to keep you feeling polished and photo ready! E.g. lip stain or foundation.

  • Water: Cincinnati can get hot and no-one wants to kiss a parched mouth. Make sure you take a sip of water along the way!

  • Flask: Yep, we said it. Though this isn't really essential, sometimes you just need a little liquid courage! It's kind of amazing what a difference a quick swig of alcohol before an engagement session can do for the nerves!

The Session

Your engagement session is about celebrating your love and life together, but also it's a chance to unlearn how you've previously taken photos up until now. We want to capture moments that tell your story, embrace who you are, and illustrate the love you share.

Aside from having photos of the two of you this session is when we really get to know each other. You, us, and the camera. You’ll quickly get a feel for how we use gentle guidance to capture you naturally.  It’s the perfect way for us to learn a lot about each other’s personalities. It’s amazing how much we learn about how couples interact just by hanging out and taking photos.

After the session we are always open to any feedback you may have iIn case we need to change anything for the wedding day portraits. Some couples may prefer fewer kissing photos while others want more direct portraits. Whatever the case may be, it’s great practice for the wedding. The wedding day photography goes so much quicker and smoother if we’re all comfortable and if we know what to expect.

Last Thoughts:

You’re ready! Don't sweat the small stuff and be ready for a fun time with your fiancé. If you're still feeling a little nervous that is completely understandable and normal. Did we mention a flask (seriously though, we’re not alcoholics)?  Generally, couples have never had an engagement session before, so it's okay to still feel a little overwhelmed and anxious going into it. Luckily, you're working with professionals!


One thing we ask of all our couples is to trust the process. We've photographed many weddings, which means we've photographed a lot of engagements. Sure, some of our suggestions may seem kind of silly, but it's really the reactions that we’re looking for! The more we move around and talk, the more engaged and focused on each other you are.  All this means more natural photographs that showcase your love!


Make it a Date:


To keep things low pressure, think of your engagement session as just one part of a fun date night! Heck, why not roll with that idea and make plans to follow the session with a yummy meal at your favorite restaurant or cocktails at that new hotspot? 




We can’t wait to see you and take some gorgeous photos!