Wedding Planning 101: Dos and Don’ts of Your Engagement Shoot

Engagement pictures

Yes! I personally believe everyone should take engagement pictures, and I personally believe they should be taken, at the most, 2 months after the proposal OR during an opposite season from your wedding (to have more picture options, of course!). Why so soon? This is the fun part! The giddiness that resulted from the proposal hasn’t worn off yet, and your pictures are going to reflect those feelings and emotions. Engagement shoots are also the best way to get to know your photographer, and vice versa, before the wedding. Not to mention, you’re going to want a professional picture with your new show-stopping sparkler for your send-the-dates, am I right?

*Pro tip: when choosing your photographer, make sure you find someone you can completely be yourself around. The more comfortable you are around your photographer, the more relaxed you’ll be. The more relaxed you are, the better you look on camera! Corey can be shy and hates having his picture taken, but of course I wanted the dreamy engagement pictures every girl longs for – where the fiancé is grinning from ear-to-ear and just looks “soOoOo in love” – so I definitely felt the pressure of choosing a photographer who could break him out of his shell. I chose someone with a similar personality so that Corey wouldn’t be too overwhelmed, and after our engagement shoot (a.k.a. an entire day of having his picture taken – nothing Corey hates more), all he could talk about was how much he loved our photographer. So ladies, find someone who your man will love too! This is another secret to better, “Pinterest worthy” pictures.


Summer engagement picture in a boat


1. Do your homework! Knowing your photographer’s previous work is an absolute must so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised when the pictures come back. Check out their website portfolio and Instagram. Each photographer has their own style, so it’s important to find a style that matches yours.




2. Create a meaningful backdrop. When picking your location, incorporate a place that is significant to both of you. You want your photos to reflect your personalities and represent you as a couple. Corey and I both enjoy traveling, so our photographer came up with the creative idea of doing a road trip engagement shoot. We drove all around Athens, Tennessee, making various stops and taking pictures. Corey is a big hiker and basically lives in the mountains on the weekends, so we ended the day on the top of a mountain for sunset pictures. We also asked our photographer to snap a few shots of us in the third grade classroom where we met. Those ended up being my favorites because of the memories associated with the setting!




3. Complement, don’t coordinate. Once you’ve chosen the location of the shoot, it’s time to ask what to wear. You aren’t your significant other’s twin, so don’t dress like it. However, you don’t want to completely clash, so if he’s dead-set on wearing a bright yellow striped shirt, you probably don’t want to wear neon purple polka dots. Try sticking with neutral colors and simple patterns. Avoid super trendy outfits. The last thing you want is to look back 5 years later and say, “What was I thinking?!” about your tie-dye popcorn shirt. Find an outfit you’re confident in, even if that means hopping on over to the mall and splurging on a new dress.




4. Avoid the clutter. Props are adorable but can also be distracting. Don’t drown yourself in paper photo booth props, picnic props, and picture frames. Keep it simple, and keep most of the props at home. You want to be the focus, not your things.




5. Act natural. Don’t overdo it, wondering if you look awkward or forcing your fiancé to kiss you a certain way. Fake laughing can be cute sometimes, but if the perfect laughing pictures you see on Pinterest are all you dream of, choose a photographer who is light-hearted and can make you genuinely laugh – even if you are a bit uncomfortable! Hug, kiss, flirt, and smile – you’re getting married after all!!! It’s okay to love on each other. The more relaxed you are and the more you interact with each other, the better your pictures are going to turn out.




6. Quality, not quantity. Pinterest has created monsters out of us women. When I was planning, I ended each day by searching Pinterest, re-pinning and saving images for my vendors. Of course I had a board for engagement pictures and expected every picture to turn out exactly like the ones I re-pinned. A photographer described this pressure as being “in a race to give [couples] 40,50,100 engagement photos all with different ideas and concepts at a million locations with 3 or 4 outfits.” Sounds AWESOME…if that was realistic. You do not need 200 flawless images. I promise there are not enough walls in your house to hang every single one of those (in addition to your wedding photos), and none of your Facebook friends are going to sift through that entire album. It’s okay to think you look silly in a few of the pictures you get back! Laugh about it and be happy with the beautiful images you DID get!

Most of all, enjoy it. How often is someone going to take (professional) pictures to show you how adorable and in love you are?!

| all photos by Ben Finch |

Check out my previous posts from the Wedding Planning 101 series:

Bridesmaids Proposals

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Saying Yes to the Dress

Ways to Cut Wedding Costs

Choosing Your Date

How He Asks: All About the Proposal

An Introduction


2 responses to “Wedding Planning 101: Dos and Don’ts of Your Engagement Shoot”

  1. Laurie says:

    My husband and I found it helpful to have the same photographer for both our engagement and wedding photos – we were so much more relaxed on our wedding day. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  2. April Cook says:

    I really like your tip to avoid the clutter so that you can be the focus of the photo. I think it is also important to keep this in mind when picking a backdrop. If there is too much going on then you will get lost in the mix! Thanks for these great tips.

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