How to Plan Your Perfect Engagement Shoot

Last month Adam and I had our engagement shoot with Lauren Louise Photography. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post all about How to Select Your Perfect Engagement Photographer detailing how to research what you like, the photographers that are out there, and how to eventually settle on the right photographer for you. Today, I’m focusing on what comes next – planning your engagement shoot!

An engagement shoot isn’t just something you can wing and hope it turns out right. You’re probably spending a pretty penny here, so you want to make sure you get out of the shoot exactly what you’ve been envisioning. Finding the right photographer is, of course, half the battle, but the second part is up to you. You need to do the research (utilize all the articles on WeddingWire!) and work to figure out the look you want, the right location, and the right outfits.


First off, think about the vibe you’re looking for. This relates back to picking the right photographer for the look you want, because certainly the look I discussed in my previous post comes into play here. Your photographer’s portfolio should reflect what you want your photos to look like aesthetically – bright and airy, moody, artsy, over saturated, and so on. 

However, this goes a step further into the personality that you want to show through in your shoot. Are you looking for something romantic full of lovestruck glances? Would you prefer a fun and playful engagement session? Is a formal portrait more your style? Maybe you want an engagement session that reads like a high fashion editorial. Or maybe you’re more in the market for totally candid snapshots.

Look through any engagement shoot you can get your hands on and figure out the vibe you want to come through in your photos. We wanted ours to feel urban, a bit candid, and like our photographer was just following us around the city for the day.


Once you’ve decided on the vibe you’re going for, a location should present itself pretty naturally. If you’re looking for formal portraits and are in the DC area, then the monuments are a great choice. More romantic pictures might call for a more pastoral setting or, of course, a cherry blossom backdrop. A fun, playful session is perfect for exploring your city’s street art. Maybe there’s a location that is special for the two of you like a school you both attended, the restaurant where you had your first date, or a park where you take your nightly walks.

We compromised with location for our engagement shoot. I wanted to focus on our neighborhood – H Street, while Adam, being into politics, wanted to somehow incorporate some classic DC landmarks. I felt strongly against doing photos at the monuments, so instead we did photos in our neighborhood, but with the Capitol in the background. We were able to split our shoot into the more casual shots on H Street, and then slightly more dressed up photos back in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.



Timing can mean two things here – time of year and time of day. I definitely did my research here and referred to WeddingWire’s trove of articles on wedding photography. You can find all sorts of information about engagement shoots – two of my favorites are this one and this one

Most photographers will recommend you shoot either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. That’s when you’ll catch the best light and, if the weather is clear, a gorgeous sunset. “Golden hour” as they call it. If you’re picking a particularly busy location, you may also want to consider timing in terms of rush hour. If you are doing a landmark location, then the morning will probably be less crowded and make for easier shots and less waiting around for people to move. We did a late afternoon shoot, but maybe due to gross weather all that day, we lucked out and didn’t deal with too much traffic on the roads or too many people on the sidewalks. 

I knew that I wanted to do a cooler weather engagement shoot, but obviously I also didn’t want to freeze. The beginning of March worked perfectly – we had weather that was definitely cool, but we weren’t shivering through our pictures. Spring and fall are the best times to do pictures. You don’t want to be freezing, but you definitely don’t want to be sweating either. Dead set on a summer session? The early morning shoot will be your best friend.


This is a big one that I probably didn’t put enough thought into. There are so many articles on WeddingWire about how to pick your outfit for your engagement shoot, and if we were to take photos again, I’d definitely prepare a bit more ahead of time. My photographer also had her own resources on what to wear for an engagement shoot – she said many of her clients even opt for Rent the Runway!

I went in with a vague idea of what I thought I might wear, but I hadn’t tried anything on as of that day, and I had NO idea what Adam was wearing and how it might work together. This is NOT what I would recommend! It worked out for us, though, because we followed a few of the general rules I’d come across in my scanning of articles. Don’t wear anything too bold, go for complementing, but not matching, colors, work in subtle pattern, and wear what you know looks good on you and what feels most like you.

So, I may not have tried on the outfits ahead of time exactly, but I knew I was wearing all pieces that were flattering and wouldn’t look too crazy on camera. I wear that slinky cotton black dress, those gold Mallory Shelter earrings, and my black leather jacket ALL the time. You’ll find me in faux fur all winter long and my leopard print addiction is serious. Everything I wore is classically me. Adam definitely wanted to wear a suit in the pictures, so that’s when I brought in the dressier outfit.

Your photographer can also help guide you on what will look best on camera. Lauren asked Adam to change for the casual outfit because the navy sweater he had originally picked would have clashed with my black outfit!


Remember, your photographer does this for a living so they will know how to get the best shots, but don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re looking for! If there’s a certain pose in a certain spot that you absolutely want captured on film, let them know. The only way to get the pictures you want is to let the photographer know what your vision is, but be open to their input. It may feel awkward when the photographer is posing you, but they know what will actually come across as natural on camera, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment.


The best thing about an engagement shoot? Learning a few things that you can remember for the next time you and your fiancé will be taking pictures – the wedding! There are definitely a few poses that I noticed I do again and again that come across awkward. You would think from all my blogging photos that I would have learned a thing or two, but posing with another person is a new challenge. See what worked and what didn’t, talk to your photographer if there’s anything you want to adjust for the wedding pictures, and remember this is the best trial run you’ll have ahead of your big day!



Thank you to WeddingWire for sponsoring this post! I love bringing wedding related content to you all and am so grateful to WeddingWire for make that possible!



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