1. Things you need to know about your engagement session
THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS ONE OF OUR favorite parts of our time together because it gives you both a chance to be in front of our cameras before you get married, which is going to make your wedding day experience feel so smooth, seamless and comfortable. Not only that, but we get to create something so special together. You’re going to be married for over fifty years, but you only get to be engaged for this short period of time. We’re so excited to capture the only time in your life when you get to be each other’s fiances. We created this guide for you, and packed it with all our best secrets for getting the best out of your engagement experience, so let’s dive right in!
2. Choosing the Date and Time
WE’RE NATURAL LIGHT SPECIALISTS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT NATURAL light, from the sun and its reflections, creates photographs that feel fresh, timeless and true to you as a couple. We begin all engagement sessions two hours before the scheduled sunset during “the golden hour,” when the light is the dreamiest. Use a sunset calculator online to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session. Then, just subtract two hours to figure out your start time. Remember, the sun sets much earlier during the colder months of the year and much later during the warmer months, so make sure to factor that in when choosing your engagement session date, especially if you’re taking time off work or have evening plans afterward.
To get the most out of your session, please plan a buffer when getting ready so you can arrive a few minutes early. We’re only able to shoot when natural light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down. If you’re wearing two outfits, save your favorite one for the second half, and if you’re wearing only one, arrive in that.
3. Selecting the right location
THE LOCATION OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS UP TO YOU! The first thing to decide is what you’d like to feature in your session. Like you see throughout this guide, many of our couples want to showcase the natural beauty of Greenville to give their out-of-town guests a fun preview of what to expect when they travel to the south. There are also other great options around the state, and we’re always up for exploring a new spot together.
THIS IS THE TIME TO THINK outside the box! We encourage you to brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don’t. For example, maybe you, or someone in your personal or professional network, can secure permission to a location that would otherwise be off-limits, like a beautiful private estate, country club or resort. Maybe it’s a family ranch, upscale hotel or even an airplane hangar. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and checking around. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with. Plus, if something seems out of reach, just remember: you never know until you ask! Our couples have secured permission to some pretty amazing places in the past. If you get stuck or need inspiration, check out the engagement section of our website and keep browsing through this guide. We have some great go-to locations around town that we can always hit, too. Just let us know which session you love, and if you’d like to feature Greenville or not, and we will go from there!
4. Styling Tips for Her
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT rocking a sequined gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your engagement session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to add a new permanent piece to your collection, a lot of our brides love Rent the Runway for their engagement photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Other brides just love having a great excuse to bring a new permanent piece (or two!) into their closet!
LONG, FLOWY DRESSES AND SKIRTS LOOK AMAZING ON CAMERA BECAUSE they bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the mountains, forest, plains or beach. Cute, shorter-length dresses photograph beautifully as well. Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many dresses and not very many pantsuits! We recommend avoiding pants and shorts for your session, and saying yes to a dress or two!
5. Fashion Tips for Him
AS LONG AS HE’S GOT THAT SUIT & TIE! FROM JAMES BOND TO DON DRAPER, MEN look most striking in a well-tailored suit. If he doesn’t have one, now’s the perfect time to invest in something he’ll wear for the rest of his life! The best part? It’s a lot less expensive than you might think! While custom suits can cost thousands of dollars, some of the most well-known brands have off-the-rack suits in their stores for a fraction of the price. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye.
MANY OF OUR GROOMS LOVE TO MIX A SUIT COAT, BLAZER or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and can be more fun than wearing two full suits in a row. We’re big fans of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
NEXT TIME YOU WALK BY a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the male mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust us when we say that it’s worth an hour or two of discomfort for photos that will last you both a lifetime. Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
6. Flattering Your Features
IN OUR EXPERIENCE, EVERY WOMAN, REGARDLESS OF HER shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
THREE-QUARTER LENGTH SLEEVES create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so we recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
HEELS ELONGATE WOMEN’S LEGS making them look fabulous. Closed-toes heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
7. The Details
LONG PANTS AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES ARE THE MOST SOPHISTICATED and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on the face you fell in love with. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too. Suit pants, dress pants or colored pants work best, especially when paired with closed-toe shoes. Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look, whether he’s wearing a full suit or a blazer and colored pants.
TIES, BOWTIES, POCKET SQUARES, COLORED SOCKS, BELTS, TIE CLIPS, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any suit. If you bring two suits to the session, you can start with a traditional necktie and belt, then switch to suspenders and a bow tie for your second look. If two suits are too stressful, no problem! One look will do the trick! You can still mix and match accessories to complement both of her dresses without doing a full change during the session. So, either way, you win.
ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT SEEM counter-intuitive, we recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
We hope you’ve found these steps helpful! Regardless what photographer you choose, every couple deserves amazing engagement photos. It’s such a special time for a couple, as the anticipation of their wedding continues to build.
If you would like to download our full Engagement Session Styling Guide, Click Here
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