eNGAGED ?! heck yes!

You found your photographer (YAY!) and you're working on planning engagement photos at a scenic outdoor location. You are pumped to get your photos done so you can send out save-the-dates and wedding invitations (& working on hyping your fiancé up to the whole photo idea) but unsure on how to start actually preparing for them. Over the years I've learned some tips and tricks to prepare my couples to get the most out of their energy, time, and money. This guide is to help you prepare you for the months, weeks, and days leading up to the session so you can be as S T R E S S F R E E as possible when you are taking your photos!

Couple kissing while standing on rocks in front of rocks and a snowy mountain
Boy in white spinning girl in blue around in the snow in front of mountain scene at sunset


It sounds like a nightmare to be scrambling for outfits the night before a photoshoot. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more confident and comfortable you will be during the shoot. If you're relaxed and have everything in order, there's a good chance your fiancé will feel the ease of the situation and be much less tense during your photos! Pre-session stress can show up in your final photos, so here are some things you should consider leading up to your session:

  • Plan your outfit ahead of time. Pick something comfortable that fits you well. If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, it'll show in the final photos.

  • Get your engagement ring cleaned the day or two before your shoot! The ring will be photographed, so make it S H I N E.

  • Make your nails pretty - TREAT YOURSELF! This goes hand-&-hand (get it?) with your shiny ring! Your hands will be photographed, so why not make them look their best too? Neutral colors are best, I'd stay away from bright/neon/bold colors so your ring can be the center point and not your nails!

  • If you are getting your hair cut/colored, make sure to to it at least 1 week before your photoshoot. It always takes a little bit for the new look to settle in and for you to get comfortable wearing/styling it.

  • If you have a hair/makeup trial - this is a good time to schedule it! Might as well take advantage of the opportunity and get it professionally done if that's already in the cards! Make sure you give yourself a 1-2 hour buffer to get to your photoshoot if your trial takes longer than expected!

  • Make sure you eat (even if it's something small) before your shoot! Nobody wants to get hangry while you're trying to smile and have a good time taking photos! I include a lot of movement in my sessions, so you'll need the energy!

  • This one is 100% your choice, but it never hurts to have a refreshing beverage before the shoot. Take a shot, drink a beer - whatever it takes to loosen you (& your fiancé) up just a tad is never a bad thing for a photoshoot! If you're not into that- that's fine too!

  • Clear your schedule post photo-shoot! You two will already be dressed up and ready to go - so why not plan for a date night after photos are complete? Plan to go to your favorite restaurant, or pick a new one to enjoy together to round out the day!
Girl in teal smiling at bou while he picks her up and spins her on the beach in front of large rock in the ocean

2. Pick a location that's right for you & add props!

The location of your photos isn't going to completely make or break your session. Ultimately the photos are about the two of YOU and your love for each other, not the background. With that being said, a pretty landscape never hurts! If you are into exploring and being outside in a pretty place, find a spot that makes your jaw drop. If you are more introverted and don't go out much, a quiet local park with some trails intertwined might be more than perfect for you. If you have a personal connection to the location, you'll feel comfortable and confident since there is meaning behind why you selected your photo spot! Ask your photographer for ideas if you need help, and try to schedule the session around either sunrise or sunset for the softest light! Lighting is everything.

Location Ideas:

  • A local park by your home that you walk your dog at every night
  • Walking trails in the hills where you got engaged
  • A local coffee shop where you and your fiancé 'work' once a week
  • Downtown with the hustle and bustle
  • The beach with a cozy campfire and pizza party
  • The mountains with your favorite peak in the background
  • By the river where you've always wanted to have a picnic

There are many more options, but this is the list that excites me the most! If you're hoping to do photos in a public space like a coffee shop or ice cream parlor, call ahead to make sure the owners are okay with it! The vibe of your session doesn't have to be the same as everybody else's that you see online - do whatever it takes to make it YOURS. Remember that you can always add props like pizza or coffee or champagne to your photos to make them more fun! Ask your photographer what ideas he/she has for this!

3. Decide What to wear for your photoshoot?

You've picked your photographer, locked down a location, and now you get to decide what you want to wear! The goal is to match the energy/mood of the chosen location while also being comfortable in your choice! This likely isn't the time to try out a new 'look' or go way out of the box to what your style typically is. (This is true for your fiancé too, don't expect them to be excited about a new outfit he's never seen before!)

If you can't decide on the best outfit combinations, ask your photographer for their input to help ease the nerves! My biggest tip is always - coordinate, don't match. You aren't stuck in the 90s wearing Levi's and a white shirt like the other 7 people in your family while being staged on stools in JCPenney! Liven it up a bit, and find outfits that complement each other well. Layers are always a good choice!

For the colors & patterns: Pick something that stands out in the landscape around you. You don't want to blend in, but you also don't want to stand out like a sore thumb! It's usually best to choose neutral colors. Stay away from bright or neon colors - especially red or green- and try to combine textures more than patterns! Flowy dresses (not ones that wrinkle easily!), blazers, non-patterned sweaters, leather, and textures are all great options! Add in small splashes of color, but remember the focus is on your faces, not on your outfits - don't make it too distracting! Make sure the two of you have the same vibe. Having one of you in dress clothes and the other in a beanie and sweats isn't a good vibe if ya know what I mean?!

Also - always throw in an extra pair of shoes if you're location could be muddy or yucky! It never hurts to have a back up plan! This goes for outfits, too!

Girl in pink jacket picking boy in black sweater up while running in front of mountains with snow

4. Be overly prepared!

You don't need be bring a suitcase full of backups, but bring some key things that might help make the session just a tad bit more enjoyable. Here are some things that you can bring in your bag to your engagement shoot:

  • Chapstick! Nobody likes kissing with cracked/dry lips!
  • Water - I use a lot of movement in sessions with couples, so you might get thirsty and need a swig!
  • Breath mints! This is better than gum because they dissolve and wont shop up in the photos!
  • Hair kit - brush, hair ties, bobby pins, hairspray
  • Extra shoes (like mentioned above)
  • Snacks! Depending on the length of the session, you might need a pick-me-up. If you're going on a hike or anything semi strenuous, this is extremely important!
  • Throw in a sweat towel if your (or your fiancé's) forehead glistens after activity!
Boy in plaid and girl in orange looking at each other on the sand at the beach
Girl and boy in white popping a bottle of champagne on a dock in front of downtown Portland

5. Hire a professional photographer

If you want the best photos, go with somebody who does it for a living! Avoid a bad experience and the 'cheapest you can find' by doing some front end research to find somebody you connect with. It's best if you do engagement photos with your wedding photographer so that you will be comfortable in front of that person/camera on your wedding day! No need to add extra stress of meeting your photographer for the first time at your wedding! Make it easier on yourself!

Find a photographer who will help bring our your genuine emotion and personality! Your photographer should encourage you to be yourselves and love on each other the best way you know how by guiding you with prompts and instruction! Not every photographer is made for every couple - so search until you find the right fit! If you're still on the hunt for your photographer --> I'd love to chat!

If you enjoyed reading this post on how to cut costs for your wedding, feel free to check some of my other posts and follow along on instagram!

Closeup of girl and boy touching noses while wind is blowing girls hair