How to Prepare for your Engagement Session


Congratulations on your engagement! The countdown to the altar is officially ON.

Why do a professional engagement session?

Engagement sessions are so valuable in preparing you for what to expect from your wedding photographer on the big day. Engagement sessions help you by:

  1. Getting comfortable and confident being in front of the camera
  2. Learning popular poses & prompts to make taking professional pictures feel more natural
  3. Meeting me in person so we already feel like besties on your wedding day!

You will be able to get a good idea at what you will look like in your wedding photos after seeing your engagement photos. This is especially helpful if you don’t take professional pictures often (which, let’s be real, if you’re not an ~influencer~ you probably don’t!).

Whether you plan to use your engagement photos for your wedding website, save-the-dates, in a guest book, their own album, or to fill the frames around your home, consider this one of the only other times in your life where you get extra special photos of just the two of you and your love.

My husband and I were lucky. We had a trip to Greece planned right after we got engaged. While packing I found a photographer whose work I loved named Vasilis Kouroupis and booked an engagement shoot in Santorini. It was a DREAM! Actually, the whole trip was and I wrote about it in my Honeymoon in Greece: 10 Day Itinerary Island Hopping the Greek Isles & Athens.

1. Pick the Location

When deciding on your engagement session location, consider the following:

  • What types of settings speak most to your personalities?
  • What colors are you most drawn to? (If filling your frames with these photos, what colors are prominent in your home decor?)
  • Where holds a special place in your relationship? (For example, your first date spot, annual vacation spot, place you met, alma mater)
  • How far are you willing to travel for your engagement session?
  • Do you plan on bringing any props or pets?
  • Are you OK paying a permit fee if your desired location requires it?

I’ve prepared a full list of engagement session locations in New Jersey. Some of my favorite locations include those by the beach – Bay Head and Manasquan for that classic beach feel, Asbury Park for a quirky fun vibe. I also LOVE the look of simple, clean architecture (Princeton, Merchant Exchange) and a beautiful blooming garden (Prospect Garden, Cross Estate Garden). It might help narrow it down if you first decide which of the following settings you like most:

  • By the Beach
  • Blooming Gardens
  • A Scenic Park
  • Elegant Architecture
  • Empty Fields
  • Your Home
  • A Cool City/Downtown

2. Plan Your Outfits

Plan to wear model two looks – a casual and a fancy. I usually start with the fancy.

KEEP THE SEASON IN MIND –  If we’ll be around fall foliage, neutrals and flannels will look great, whereas neons would not. If there’s snow on the ground, emerald and jewel tones contrast beautifully against the white ground.

COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER – You don’t want to come in the exact same color, but shades of the same color are a good idea. Similarly, match each other’s formality. If one is in an evening gown, the other shouldn’t be in a t-shirt and jeans. If one of you is in a pattern (for example, her in a floral printed dress, or him in a plaid shirt), the other should be in a solid color. Lay out your clothing ideas beforehand to see how they look together.

PULL OUT THE COLORS OF YOUR LOCATION – Blues, sandy tan, or seaglass green if at the beach. Bolder colors or whites if at the garden. Solid whites, tans, striped shirts for men, and flowy dresses for women will work well in the city. Lately I have been loving pops of color. If your background or location will work with it – and you yourself are a colorful couple – then rock it! It is fun and playful to bring in a pop of magenta, burnt orange, mustard, ruby red, or emerald.

When in doubt: neutrals and Earth tones always photograph well.

My style is bright, romantic and classic, with a film-inspired, editorial edit – so keep that in mind too when considering outfits.

For visual examples and my my Top 10 Tips, view my post, What to Wear to Your Engagement Session. Be sure to check out my Pinterest board for outfit ideas, too!

3. Schedule Hair, Make-up & Nails

A day or two before get yourself to the nail salon for a mani/pedi. Keep it simple and get something neutral – nude or baby pink. No designs – even if you’re a design girly, I highly recommend just a plain soft color for your engagement session. Maybe test out the color you’ll wear on your wedding day!

Getting professional hair and make-up done isn’t required, but an engagement shoot is a fun excuse to get glam! Reach out to me for vendor recommendations.

4. Pack a Bag with These Items

  • Your second outfit
  • Coat/sweater if chilly that evening
  • Water
  • Make-up for touch-ups
  • Flats or flip-flops for walking in between locations
  • Bottle of champagne or any other personal props you want to include
  • Dog treats if bringing the pup

Some props I have had couples bring: champagne bottle (I’ll bring the flutes!), beach cruisers, hats, custom-made signs, blankets, ring boxes, bouquet of flowers.

5. Bring on the Bow Wow

I am all for it if you want to bring your precious pooch to your engagement session. Dogs are part of the family – you can’t leave them out! The only requirement I ask with dogs is that when they’re not starring in the shots you have either a friend tag along to hold and watch them, or, you are comfortable putting them in your car (in a safe way of course) or tying them up next to us.

6. Book a post-session dinner reservation

You’re already all dressed up! Make your engagement session a special event (because it is!). Use this evening to have a fun date night out to celebrate checking off your e-shoot off your list!

Oh and later on when you get your photos back? For all my couples using to purchase stationery for save-the-dates and invitations, use my code PHOTOPROALEXALYNN for 20% off your order! Ya welcome 😉

Alexa’s Posing Tips:

Here’s a list of reminders you will hear me speak to throughout your engagement session and wedding day – practice makes perfect!

  • Push your shoulders and chin down. It’ll make you look more relaxed.
  • Don’t lock your knees or elbows.
  • Ladies, in standing poses facing your partner, slightly bend one of your knees. In standing poses facing the camera, cross your feet. It’ll make you appear slimmer and less stiff!
  • Gentlemen, when in doubt, put your hand that’s not doing anything in your pocket and if wearing a jacket, keep it buttoned.
  • Don’t try to pose. After reading all this, you probably think that’s counterintuitive advice, but don’t worry, I come prepared with prompts to help you ease into feeling natural! 🙂

View past Engagement Sessions to get inspired!


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