Engagement Pictures | For Brides Mini Series | Common Questions & Helpful Tips

Horray to 2016! With the new year comes a new mini series just for brides! In this four-part series, I will provide tips and advice on how to get the most out of your wedding pictures and enhance your wedding photography experience! In this first post, I will talk about one of my FAVORITE things - engagement pictures! Hands down, I get the most questions about engagement pictures...why do them, what to wear, where to do them, and so on. So I thought I would address the most common questions I get from couples...are you ready for this?!

Willow & Stone Photography | Fine Art Wedding & Engagement Photography | Madison, Wisconsin

Do we really need to do engagement pictures? 

I believe that an engagement session is such a special and important time for couples to get comfortable not only in front of the camera, but also with me as your photographer. Most couples have never been photographed professionally so an engagement session offers the perfect opportunity for you to practice being in front of the camera before the big day arrives. It also allows me to tune into how you are as a couple - your individual personalities, your interactions with each other, your little quirks. Engagement pictures are also great to use for your Save the Dates, as well as wedding decor. Because I love engagement sessions so much and really believe in their importance, I offer a complimentary engagement session with every wedding collection!

What should we wear for our engagement pictures?

Ohhhh, this is the question I probably get the most, and I completely understand why! My best advice is this: be yourself. Okay, I lied...I have more advice than that! But honestly, that's what it's all about - being yourself and being comfortable in front of the camera. If you're not comfortable in front of the camera, it will definitely show in pictures. 

The key to nailing your outfits is to coordinate, not match. Try to coordinate your outfits so that you are wearing similar accent colors or colors in the same palette, but do not match your outfits. I beg of you. For all that is good and holy, DO NOT MATCH YOUR OUTFITS (hehe)! Another tip is don't be afraid of bold colors! Bright, bold colors like red, cobalt, emerald, fuchsia, and yellow photograph really well and look great in pictures. However, try to stick to just one or two bold colors...too much color can be overwhelming. Patterns (i.e. plaid, polka dots, flowers, etc.) can be great as well, but try to stick with bigger patterns. Smaller patterns tend to get lost and don't really read well in pictures. Another important tip I tell couples is to accessorize! And I'm not just talking about jewelry, ladies! You can accessorize with so many things - ties, jackets, shoes, scarves, belts, watches, even your nails! The options are endless on this one, and it's such a great way to show off your style and personality! 

Couples are always asking me if they can have more than one outfit for their engagement pictures, and I highly encourage this! Another photographer put it best when she told me, "One outfit should be the everyday you, and the other outfit should be you all dressed up!" Two different outfits allow you to have one more casual, relaxed outfit that reflects your everyday style, while the other more dressy outfit reflects your sophisticated side. I'm not saying that you should show up in a tuxedo and ball gown, but a fitted dress shirt or blazer for the guy and a blouse with a high-waisted skirt or a cute summer dress for the girl is perfect! 

Some girls will have their practice run for hair and makeup for the engagement shoot. This helps them feel a little more "done-up" for the shoot and boosts their confidence. I’m not saying that this is completely necessary! However, what I can say is that in my experience, girls want to feel pretty and confident...and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready achieves just that. If you want to do your own makeup, try wearing more than normal so that it will show up well in pictures. And remember, a little lipstick or color on your lips goes a LONG way! Another tip that I recommend is getting your ring cleaned. I will be taking lots of pictures of your ring, and you want that beauty looking its best! Going along with that, I also recommend getting a manicure or having your nails painted. Like I said, I will be shooting your ring and your hands a lot, and you may want them to look nice. Again, these tips are not by any means necessary...they just help to complete your look for your engagement pictures!

Check out some of these examples of what to wear below:

Where should we do our engagement pictures?

We are so lucky to have so many amazing locations that are ideal for photo sessions right here in Madison! From rural and nature scenes to urban and city backdrops, the possibilities are truly endless here. I always encourage couples to really think about their styles and personalities when deciding on a location. Just like the outfits, you want the location of your pictures to reflect you as a couple. For example, if you two spend your long summer nights soaking up the sounds on the terrace of the Memorial Union, then that might be a great option for you. Or if you two love hiking and the great outdoors, then a conservancy or park will best reflect your style. Or if you two met and started your relationship at a summer camp, then that might be the perfect fit for you!

Not quite sure where to set the scene for your engagement session? Here's a list of some amazing locations and true Madison landmarks that are perfect for getting your smile on:

Wisconsin State Capitol
Memorial Union
UW Arboretum
Allen Centennial Gardens
Picnic Point
Govenor Nelson State Park
Willy Street Neighborhood
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Tenney Park
Pope Farm Conservancy
Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy
Indian Lake County Park

Remember, this is just a handful of amazing locations here in Madison, and this list is not meant to be exhaustive. If you have a cool idea or want to try something new and creative, let me know. I encourage couples to think outside the box and to find a spot that really reflects your love and a place you’ll both feel comfortable. And please note that there is no such thing as an "ugly" location. There is beauty everywhere...we just have to find it! 

My last piece of advice is to HAVE FUN! Remember there is no pressure, no time constraints, just time for you two to hang out and connect as a couple. My goal is to make your engagement session as light and fun (yes, FUN!) as possible and to make you feel comfortable along the way because to me, it's all about creating a positive experience for you! For my next "For Brides" blog post, we'll be talking all about bridal details and getting ready on your wedding, a time that is often overlooked when planning your wedding day timeline. Stay tuned lovelies!