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How to prepare for your engagement session

What should I wear?  How should I do my hair/makeup? How long will it be and where? What should I do to prepare?  These are typical questions that I get when I schedule my brides for an engagement session, so I thought I’d write this blog to help them and also anyone that searches for help.

The main thing is that this should be FUN!!!  This is a chance to photograph you two at this time of your love story, before you get married.  There is no pressure on this shoot.  I will get beautiful images, you simply need to be yourself, in love with each other and that’s it!

Since the wedding day can be a bit stressful with a time crunch, this session, we get to take our time and get to know each other prior to the wedding.  You’ll simply have fun with your best friend and the person you will be marrying and I will capture those images.  It will also let you know what the expect on your wedding day, so you’ll both be comfortable during the portrait time.  The couples that I photograph in an engagement session tend to be  professionals at posing on their wedding day and it shows with great images!

Engagement at mount Madonna 1234Now in order to prepare for your engagement session, here are some tips:

Location:  First, you’ll want to figure out where you will you take your photographs?  You’ll want to choose a location that is either special to you two (where you had your first date, where you love to go with each other) or a location similar to your wedding.

Second, you’ll want to figure out when you want to take your photographs.  A couple things to think about is what is your theme or wedding season and do you want images in that same theme/wedding season or do you want something totally different?  Are you using these images for save-the-dates? If so, you want to make sure to schedule the images in plenty of time to take the photographs, process them, order the save-the-dates, get them delivered, address them and mail them out.

Most photographers, like myself schedule engagement sessions during week nights because we are photographing weddings on the weekends, so you may need to take some time off work.  Because I depend on nature, we’ll start the session about 2 hours before sunset.

Outfits : Most couples have two outfits, one casual and one that is dressier. You do want to coordinate your colors but not be matchy-matchy.  Colors that flatter your skin tone is always best.  You’ll know what those colors are as you’ll often receive compliments whenever you wear that color.  You want clothing that is new or nearly new and not worn so the colors are brighter.   Pare each outfit with jewelry, scarves or shoes that coordinate.   The best thing to choose is an outfit that you FEEL beautiful in and look your best.  If you are purchasing an outfit for this session, make sure to look at it from all angles or bring a best friend with you to see how you look from the side or behind.  I’m always happy to view a photograph of the outfits and provide feedback.

engagement shoot at Panther Beach in Santa Cruz 5 by Jen Vazquez Photography

Help your Fiance’: This is the part that all of you brides need to pay attention to! You know your groom better than anyone else and so only you can help prepare him for this shoot. Most fiance’s are not interested in taking photos much less public displays of affection.  I will be asking you two to be lovey dovey, hold hands, kiss, nuzzle in your neck, and look down-nose to nose for images.  It’s best to prepare him for this type of photography.  It can help to show him engagement photographs that I’ve shot so he’s prepared.  Let him know that I photograph quickly, so it won’t be hours and hours of agony for him – only about an hour or so.

Be on Time: This is really important. What most couples don’t realize is that natural light photographers are 100% dependent on the sun.  If couples show up late, they will lose that amount of time during their session due to the lack of light.  Accidents and things out of our control can happen, so plan on being 30 minutes early.  This way, if you end up being late – you’ll be on time.

Gilroy Mt. Madonna Engagement by Jen Vazquez Photography in Mt. Madonna with Tiana and Jake-645

Hair and Makeup : Some brides opt to have their makeup trial done right before their engagement session, so that they can see what their makeup will look like in pictures before the wedding day! I highly recommend this!  If you want to do your own makeup, make sure you apply your eye makeup and lipstick a little heavier than normal for your pictures so it shows up in the image.  I also recommend using eyelashes – they pop your eyes on film.

With hair, now is not the time for a new haircut.  You don’t want to take a chance of hating your hair and having images forever with that hairstyle. You can try your wedding hairstyle trial prior to the session if you want.  It’s great to bring hair clips or ties for a different style with the second outfit.  But that’s entirely up to you.

Here is a helpful blog with more info for hair/makeup/skin..

Nails and Ring:   It’s always nice to have a manicure done prior to your session.  I’ll be taking a lot of “ring shots” and your nails will also be featured.  If you don’t get manicures, have clean nails freshly filed and clean cuticles and consider clear polish to hair a shine.  You can see a lot of videos on youtube to help you with this.

Last but not least, because of the  “ring shots”, make sure that you have your ring professional cleaned or use a ring cleaner at home so it sparkles!

newly engaged giveaway by Jen Vazquez Photography 260

Pets and Props:  I love to make engagements sessions very personal to you, so if you have any props that are special to you or that you’ll use at the wedding, feel free to bring them.  

I love when couples bring their pets.  If you do, please bring a pet wrangler.  This is someone that will watch your pet while we photograph without them.  They can also help to get your pet’s attention while photographing and generally help you with holding your stuff and helping with your pet.

Save the DateRelax and Enjoy : Your photographer won’t expect you to be a pro.  I’ll be talking you through the whole thing so you don’t have to feel awkward. Couples are what I photograph day in and day out. It takes a bit of time to warm up, but you’ll be laughing and having fun in no time.  So relax and don’t be nervous as you’re going to be great at this! Trust your photographer, allow them to be creative and you’ll have beautiful images from the session!

I hope that you enjoyed these tips and that they help you prepare.  I’m always available to help with any questions!!