How to Prepare for an Engagement Session : A Complete Guide

You just booked your engagement session with your photographer. This is the first time you have had any sort of professional photo session like this and the whole thought of it is making you a little nervous and intimidated. You’re starting to feel the “session scaries” and it's making you wonder- do I really need an engagement session?

The answer is YES.

It’s normal to feel nervous or awkward before an engagement shoot because, really, who has done this before!? Well, your photographer has. Lots of times. Your photographer will make you feel comfortable, will coach you through your session and relieve all the awkward-ness that you feel to create some amazing images for you.

3 Reasons Why You Need an Engagement Session

An engagement session is a very important part of your wedding photography journey and below are 3 reasons why you should not skip a professional engagement session.

  1. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and so is being engaged. It’s a special time of its own that deserves to be documented. An engagement session will provide timeless memories of how you felt during this special celebration time in your lives.

  2. An engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get to know your photographer more deeply. It is the first time you will see him/her behind the camera and feel out the way he/she works. You will have an opportunity to laugh, crack jokes and your photographer will have a better opportunity to get to know you both as a couple. You will be that much more comfortable with each other when he/she shows up on your wedding day having already hung out with your new friend.

  3. An engagement session is the first on- camera interaction that you will have with your photographer and it is great “practice” for your wedding day photos. You will have your photographers' full attention for the next 2 hours and during this time your he/she can help you work out all the awkward body positions and facial expressions. An engagement session provides you the opportunity to work through any on camera nerves before the wedding photos come around.

Where do we go for an engagement session?

An engagement session doesn’t always have to be standing in a park, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. Let’s brainstorm something unique and do something fun! Think of places that mean something to both of you! What are you into as a couple? Ice fishing? Hunting? Climbing? Are you up for an adventure? We can hike to the base of a waterfall or romp through a mountain meadow and make photos along the way. You could even have a winter wonderland engagement session with falling snow. We can meet at your favorite brewery or the coffee shop where you met. By making an activity out of it, your engagement session will be more natural, candid, fun and memorable!

State parks are always great places to start when looking for great engagement session locations. There's easy parking, they're well maintained, and most likely super beautiful. Your photographer should send you a list of best engagement session locations to help you pick the perfect spot.

Real winter engagement session by the river.

What to Wear for Your Engagement Session

One of the most important aspects of your engagement session is feeling like the best version of yourself for your photos. You will be more confident with your partner and in front of the camera if you take some time to choose outfits that you feel great in!

Use this as an opportunity to treat yourself! Go on that shopping spree! Buy that boho top Free People or Anthro dress you have been eyeing!

Pinterest is a great resource for outfit planning as well as Harper’s Bazaar for specific clothing trends.

You want to give yourself enough time to allow for planning outfits. The more time you give yourself to prep, the more time you will have to switch out pieces and perfect your look.

You are welcome to create a couple different looks for your session. Bring all of your outfit picks on hangers, neatly organized so your photographer can easily look through what they have to work with on your shoot.

A Few Things To Remember When Picking Out Pieces for You and Your Guy

  • Comfort is KEY. Don’t wear dresses where the straps will be falling down the entire time or articles of clothing that you will have to be adjusting. If you don’t feel comfortable in tight fitting clothes or platform heels don’t wear them! Wear something comfortable that makes you feel pretty.

  • Keep it timeless- Avoid busy patterns with bright colors or a lot of contrast and avoid clothing with logos or emblems.

  • Make sure your clothes fit. This is especially important for the guys. Baggy shorts or pants or will end up looking messy on film.

  • Coordinate, don’t match. Your outfits should complement each other but you don’t want to dress like the Olsen twins 😉 Coordinate colors but don’t wear matching ones.

  • Dress simple but accessorize. Don’t go over the top with it, but a beautiful pair of earrings or necklace made by a local jewelry designer could be an amazing statement piece for your session


  • Keep in mind that photographers love pretty flowy summer dresses and barefoot brides to be!

  • The key is – don’t overthink it! If all else fails, just dress like you do when you clean up to go on a date with your boo!

Hair, Makeup and Nails

Girls- Again, you want to feel like the best version of yourself on this day! There will be multiple ring photos as well as close up of you holding hands so you want your nails to look their best! Take your ring and get it cleaned the day before your shoot. Most jewelers will do this for free!

This a special occasion so take the time and treat yourself to the max! You may want to consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done this day. You can kill 2 birds with one stone and book your wedding hair trial session in alignment with the day of your engagement shoot. Having your hair, makeup and nails professionally done will help give your photos that clean and buttoned look.

Guys- A dude needs to feel dapper too! Schedule a haircut for your man the morning of the shoot so he can also walk in looking and feeling like the best version of himself! Have a little fun with it and get ready independent of each other the morning of the shoot.

How To Not Be Awkward In Your Engagement Photos

Ok, so shoot day is here, you look great and feel great in your outfits that you picked and planned ahead of time. You got your hair and nails done and are feelin’ yourself. But now you are starting to get really nervous…..

Just remember, you only have to stay present with your partner. All you have to do is love on him/her. That’s it. Don’t think about anything else. Your photographer will guide you through poses and will direct you. Focus on being present in the moment, being together and being in love. All you have to do is be the madly in love couple that you are. When is the last time you dotted on each other for 2 hours straight?

The number one thing you should do though is, clear your day or night! This day is going to be exciting! Get ready together, have a glass of wine or beer (it will also help with the nerves ;), have a great time at your session, and then treat yourselves to your favorite dinner spot! Make it fun and make it a date!

After Your Engagement Session - Now What?

The day that your digital photo gallery is delivered is an exciting day! Grab a bottle of champagne, pop that bubbly and grab your partner so you can laugh together about all the ones where you are staring, somber faced.

But there’s a whole lotta good ones in there!

Talk to your photographer about the potential of making a wedding day guest book. It’s a great tangible item that can hold all of your favorite shots and you can have your guests write their little messages for you on your wedding day. You can also use the images for your wedding website or Save The Dates.

Aside from making these fun little keepsakes, as you sift through the photos you can discuss with your photographer what you do and don’t like to achieve the best possible images on your wedding day!

Everyone is going to rock it!

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