choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & more!
to THE MAIN WEBSITE
Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is signficant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I've taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a month before the wedding.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked many of the same questions over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
We’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas, and more!
I'm so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session, but I promise it's not as scary as you think and the main goal is to have fun and capture images that feel authentic to you as a couple.
I'm a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why we’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.
I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera.
But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.
A NOTE TO
Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I've found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules.
When possible, I prefer to shoot 2 hours before sunset - also known as golden hour. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.
I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises.
While I shoot most engagement sessions between April and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind during each season:
If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running.
chilly weather, hot cocoa, and cozy coats
As you may know, Spring in Charleston is absolutely stunning. Typically flowers begin blooming in early march and bloom through April. When scheduling spring dates, it's great to also schedule a backup rain date as as the there tends to be many showers in the Spring.
fresh flowers and sunny days
In spite of the heat, we’re big fans of summer sessions! Because of the later sunset, sessions sometimes begin as late as 6pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, we recommend bringing extra makeup, a portable fan, and a few towels to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.
walks on the beach hand in hand
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year of the year and also one of the most popular due to the cooler weather and my schedule usually fills up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book!
colorful leaves and snuggling close
If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding.
If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, we recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready.
montage palmetto bluff
Kinder Farm Park
Quiet Waters Park
Patapsaco Valley State Park
other lowcountry locations
The above locations are all beautiful but i also love exploring meaningful locations with my couples! if you're Interested in a session outside of charleston, i'd love to help dream something up!
Isle of Palms
Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park
Daniel Island Waterfront Park
White Point Gardens
We love when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown DC, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair.
The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, we’re also happy to make recommendations. From ski slopes to lavender fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!
Charleston engagement locations
While we take most of our engagement sessions in the Maryland area, we’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Richmond to New York City to Austin, Texas. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let us know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos outside of our normal area.
Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability.
We love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location.
We recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots.
If you’re going to bring a pet, we recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot.
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. We recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accesorries! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
on to the next
When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones.
A good rule of thumb: pick 3 or so colors and spread them throughout your attire. Don't be afraid to mix a few subtle patterns or textures (such as linen).
And always keep the location in mind. If we're shooting in a green field, light green dresses might blend in too much with the surroundings.
on to the next
Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking or we'll be in grass, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
We love the way larger patterns and textures (like linen) photograph - just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
for the ladies
on to the next
Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress.
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
shop my PRIME favorites
on to the next
Hill House Home
Rylee & Cru
Clad & Cloth
Rent the Runway
Petal & Pup
Virginia Dare Dress Co.
Baltic Born Clothing
Kate + Grace Boutique
for the ladies
We think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your photos. Investing in professional hair and makeup can go a long way towards creating photos you love for years.
Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better in humidity and wind.
If you go this route, we recommend staying a bit “classic”. Now probably isn’t the best time to try out that new contouring technique you saw on TikTok.
If you’re planning to do any spray tans or waxing, schedule those for a few days before the session to give your skin time to recover.
for the ladies
on to the next
You can’t go wrong with crisp button up. Or consider layering a blazer or sweater with jeans with this look.
Bowties are always a good idea.
Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small - it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months.
for the gents
on to the next
When we can, we always try to take a photo of your rings while you're getting ready. If possible, try to have your engagement ring cleaned or clean it yourself.
To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
It’s typical for us to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and we’ve found that the best way to make sure our couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time.
We’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let us know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, we typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
what to do if it rains
If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, we recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you.
Shots drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met or coffee shops play a significant role in your relationship; however, trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.
should we bring
When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! We’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If we tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because we know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo we’re actually looking for.
Throughout your session, we’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. We want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together!
A note on
If you’re anything like us, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. Which means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!)
The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!
As soon as possible after your session is complete, we’ll ship your film off to our lab in Utah. It normally takes them about 10 business days to send the digital files back to us - and then it takes us about a week to edit your images. Unless we have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your engagement photos between 3 and 4 weeks after your session.
We know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something we missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email