Fall has finally come! A time where pumpkin spiced coffee, apple picking, and cozy sweaters become a typical New York, #basic staple for most. September, October, and November are also known as popular months for engagement photos, no matter when the question was initially popped.
Why is that? Well, in places with similar weather patterns as New York, the weather is fantastic for hair, makeup, and a variety of outfit opportunities in Autumn. The colors of leaves changing also create an absolutely gorgeous backdrop for any photographer to use.
Overall, no matter when you decide to take your engagement photos, every bride wants to feel relaxed and beautiful. The simple—yet massively important—key to feeling this way?… preparation.
Bobby and I took our engagement photos two years ago at a nearby park during sunset. My mother-in-law was an absolute gem and tagged along so we could have Benny, our dog, in some of our shots towards the end. Looking back, taking the time to plan out every last detail of our engagement photos made the experience—and our photos—much more than we could have ever imagined.
Were you recently engaged?
Well, if so, don’t “wing it” when it comes to your engagement photos. To prepare, read through my detailed list and description of every step I took to ensure that our engagement photos were ones that we would cherish for years to come.
CHOOSE ITEMS YOU WOULD NORMALLY WEAR
When it comes to picking the clothes you and your partner will wear for your engagement photos, choose clothes that authentically reflect each of your styles. Ok, maybe skip the gym clothes and Sunday morning wear. But, think about choosing outfits you actually would wear while going to a nice Saturday night dinner—classy, yet comfortable to be in for a few hours. If you normally don’t wear dresses and heels, it is OK to skip the unwritten, stereotypical engagement shoot clothing code.
It is important to be a bit laid back during all parts of planning a wedding. But, don’t be foolish and tell your partner, “wear whatever you want, honey!” No, you don’t have to be too matchy-matchy for your engagement photos, but your colors should definitely compliment each other’s in some way. For example, I chose dark jeans—my favorite—and a pink dressy top. So, Bobby chose white and black shirts with dark jeans. Pink, white, and gold were my wedding colors, so our outfit colors also coordinated with that (a little over-the-top, but I loved that we kept a similar theme!).
BRING A VARIETY OF OUTFIT OPTIONS
I definitely recommend bringing at least 2-3 outfit choices to the shoot for both you and your partner. Your photographer will most likely have a much better eye for pairing your clothing, so give them some options to work with. To make it easy to change in public, we only brought a variety of shirts to make it easy to change in public (we were at a park). When we arrived, I laid out all of our shirts in our trunk and allowed our photographer to make the choices. She loved that we gave her options and, I must say, I was pleased with the choices she made after we saw our engagement photos!
LAYER LAYER LAYER
The lovely part about taking photos in temperatures between 55-75 degrees is that you have a variety of options when it comes to layering your outfits. So, take full advantage of that! I brought a few fall vests and a gorgeous Burberry-patterned poncho. My photographer had me wear the ponchos for the second half of our shots and she snapped such fun shots of me spinning around as the sun set behind me. These are still some of my favorite photos! You might want to bring jackets, light throw blankets, and scarves that go with your color scheme.
Definitely don’t skimp on accessories for your engagement photos. Again, don’t choose pieces that you wouldn’t normally wear at least once a month. You don’t want to take photos and think, “Wait… why did I choose to wear that [fill in the blank] for these shots?” I recommend choosing 3-6 accessories that are in your normal accessory rotation. Some items you might want to consider: statement necklaces, watches, and rings (obviously don’t forget your engagement ring!).
BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES
Ok, I know people say “beauty is pain,” but… come on, there are steps you can take to keep your feet comfortable for parts of the engagement shoot process. No matter where you are taking engagement photos, there is bound to be parts where you will have to walk a good deal. You know, to change location and get a slightly different scenery. So, bring a pair of sneakers, flip-flops, or flats to keep your toes happy. No groom or photographer wants to deal with a cranky, annoyed bride. So, do everyone a favor and save the heels for the shots!
HAIR, SKIN, NAILS, & MAKEUP
GET YOUR HAIR CUT & COLORED 2 WEEKS+ PRIOR
Book an appointment with your hair stylist to get your hair colored/highlighted and cut two or more weeks prior to your engagement photos. Why not closer? It isn’t worth the risk. Even if you have been getting your hair done at the same place for ten years, don’t take a chance. Two weeks gives you just enough time—hopefully—for mistakes to be patched up. Hair is a major part of your shot! So, take this piece of advice seriously.
SCEDULE A BLOWOUT/UPDO
I wanted my hair to be flat ironed and pulled back with two bobby pins—my signature look—for our engagement photos. So, I opted to style my hair on my own the day of our engagement shoot. But, if your hair is unruly most days, if you want an updo, or you LOVE the way your hair is blown out after a haircut, spend the $25 and go to your hair stylist! I would recommend scheduling your appointment to be 2-3 hours before your photos so there isn’t much room for your hair to fall flat or get frizzy. I wouldn’t recommend using a hair trail for this shot, unless you are going for the same hairstyle on your wedding. Usually, brides opt for a more laid-back, natural hairstyle for their engagement shots as opposed to the wedding.
MAKE SURE YOUR SKIN IS PRIME!
No matter how you want your skin to look for your engagement photos, make sure you map out your routine for the entire week before your photos or taken. For me? I wanted to have sun-kissed skin. Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know tanning is not the best choice, but I went twice during the week of my shoot—careful to NOT go the day of. I also made sure I exfoliated before I went tanning each time. In addition, I used two face-masks that week so my skin glowed and to prevent acne (thankfully, my skin cooperated this day and I had hardly any blemishes!!). Don’t forget to remind your man to shave and to use lotion! They don’t get the beauty of using makeup, so their skin needs some love, too!
GET YOUR NAILS DONE THE DAY BEFORE
The little details matter for your engagement photos. Nails are going to be a tiny detail for about 90% of your shots. But, for about 5-10% of them, they will be front and center for your ring shots! So, make sure they are looking fabulous the day of your shoot. I recommend getting them done either the morning of or the day before. Again, make sure they go with your outfits and color theme that you are planning to execute. Also, think about your footwear. Wearing sandals, open-toes shoes, or if you’re going for the barefoot-beach look, be sure to get your toes done, too (maybe, even bribe your man to get a mani-pedi cleanup, too!—mine would not haha).
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A MAKEUP TRAIL!
Unless you plan on doing your own makeup for your wedding—and I highly recommend you DO NOT do that, even if you are a makeup stylist yourself—take advantage of your makeup trail for your engagement photos! Thought you’d be choosing your makeup artists a few months down the line? Big mistake. No matter what, you should get a trail to make sure your wedding makeup is exactly what you’ve dreamed of. So, you might as well pay the discounted price for this special occasion! Plus, wedding makeup artists understand what colors and amounts of makeup work best for engagement photos. So, leave it to the pros and don’t try to save a pretty penny in this department.
BRING TOUCH UP MAKEUP & HAIRSPRAY
No matter where you are getting your engagement photos taken, you will have deal with the elements. Whether you need to deal with humidity, wind, a strong sun, or a bit of rain, you will need to touch up your hair and makeup. It isn’t a bad idea to pack a hand mirror, a bag of touch-up makeup, a hair brush/comb, and a can of your favorite hairspray. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer often to check your hair and makeup—part of their job is making you look good!
CHOOSE POSES THAT REFLECT YOUR PERSONALITIES
A huge mistake many future brides make is that they allow their photographer to take all of the responsibility when it comes to poses for their engagement photos. If I look at my own pictures, some of the poses my photographer had us try were definitely not our personalities and we giggle when we look back at them. About 80% of our poses were chosen by me weeks before just through a few hours of research online. Definitely don’t leave this to last minute and carve out some time to decide what type of story you want to tell.
GATHER INSPIRATION ON PINTEREST & SHARE IT
Strategically, I spent a good two hours on Pinterest weeks before our engagement photos. I chose poses that I knew reflected our relationship—some serious and romantic, but many more that were silly and laid-back. Since I wanted to have Benny, our dog, in a few of our shots, I made sure to find some dog-related inspiration, as well. I made a board on Pinterest, titled it “MOORHEAD ENGAGEMENT SHOOT,” and dumped about 30-40 of my favorite inspirational photos to set the theme of our shoot. I e-mailed the link over to our photographer and she had it pulled up throughout our engagement shoot for inspiration.
BE OPEN, BUT HAVE A VOICE!
No one likes a bridezilla. That includes on the day of your engagement photos. Yes, it is you and your partner’s day, you are most likely spending money, and things should fall into place the way you want them to. But… unless you’ve done multiple engagement photos before (no judgement over here), you probably don’t have the same insight as your photographer. Try to be open to their directions and suggestions once in a while. But, at the same time, don’t be afraid to say “NO” if they’re making you feel uncomfortable or if they’re straying too far away from your vision.
CHOOSE A PLACE THAT REPRESENTS YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Choosing an engagement shoot location can be a bit tricky if you are not focusing on your relationship. Why is that? There are SO many options. You can do something near water, in the woods, in your town, at an amusement park, a city, etc. The choices are endless. So, take time and pick a location that is special to both of you in some way. Also, some photographers might be OK with multiple locations—obviously within reason.
BE PREPARED FOR THE WEATHER
Like many things in life, have a plan B and C…just in case. The biggest surprise the day of an outdoor photoshoot is the weather that will arrive. Unless your photographer has a flexible schedule—many don’t—you need to have options for a little rain, snow, or wind. Its just like your wedding day. You don’t know what will happen the day of your engagement photos! So, be sure to think about beautiful umbrellas for your shots or even an indoor, alternate location.
WORKOUT THE DAY OF YOUR SHOOT
Ok… maybe you are not one to work out every day. But, I highly recommend you workout the week of your engagement photos—especially, the day of! Why is that? Well, when you workout for a few days in a row you feel good. Not only with your body, but you have more energy and will most likely radiate some positivity since you’ll be so darn proud of yourself for pushing yourself! Also, working out the day of—especially if it is high intensity—will help give yourself a natural, beautiful glow throughout your skin!
SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP
Let’s be real. On the days that we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we feel like absolute crud. Not only that, you usually wear your lack of sleep on your face. So, unless you want some cute pillow bags underneath your eyes the day of your engagement photos—or to wear globs of under eye makeup—do yourself a favor and hit the sack early. It might also help to put on a fresh pillow case the night before so you have less of a chance of waking up with some less-than-ideal acne in the am.
HYDRATE & REMEMBER TO EAT
I definitely recommend laying off the booze for at least 48 hours before your engagement photos. Alcohol dehydrates the body and, in turn, has an effect on your skin. So, instead, lay off all sugary drinks and focus on guzzling as much H2O as your can! Also, although I am sure you want to look trim the day of your shoot, please remember to nourish yourself in some way. Not only will it give you great amounts of energy, but it will curb you from being negative or grouchy during your shoot. Do all the things you can to make this a happy, memorable experience for the both of you!
CLEAN YOUR RING RIGHT BEFORE
Besides you and your partner, your ring is the next most important member of your engagement photos! So, make sure that you spend some extra time cleaning your ring right before your shoot. Don’t put in on until you’re done with all of your makeup, hair, and definitely wait until you’re done using any type of lotion. These products will slightly dull the look of your ring and you definitely want it to sparkle and shine bright!
Haven’t cleaned it by yourself before? This is my go-to solution to clean my ring:
- Baking soda
- Dawn dish detergent
- Hot water from the faucet
You don’t need a ton of solution. Think of how small your ring is. Mix it all around in a small bowl and let your ring sit in it for 10 or more minutes. I’ve left mine in overnight!
Our engagement photos were all taken by North Island Photography, located on Long Island, NY.
Do you have any concerns for your upcoming engagement photos?
Leave a comment below!