The Complete Guide to Planning Your Engagement Photoshoot

September 8, 2022


If you’re newly engaged and ready to start planning your wedding, you might be wondering whether you should book an engagement photoshoot. For some couples, taking engagement photos is the first thing they plan; for others, it might happen months after the proposal. 

Although not mandatory, engagement photos are a fun way to kick off wedding planning and find your wedding photographer in the process. In this complete guide to planning your engagement photoshoot, we’re covering the reasons to have one, what to wear, when to take the photos and tips to include your pet. 

Reasons to plan an engagement photoshoot 

I love using the engagement session as a chance to get to know my couples, ease them into the photos and help them feel relaxed and connected during the shoot. If you’re unsure about booking an engagement photoshoot, here are the top four reasons they’re a great idea. 

Work with your photographer before the wedding 

One of my favourite reasons for engagement photoshoots is they give you the chance to work with your wedding photographer before the wedding. This time allows you to get to know each other, get comfortable with the photographer’s style and ask for guidance when you’re unsure about posing. When I get the chance to work with couples before their wedding, it really makes the wedding day photos feel more relaxed. 

Get comfortable in front of the camera 

For some, the idea of getting in front of the camera makes them feel nervous and uncomfortable. That’s why it helps to have a practice run before the big day. Not everyone feels natural posing in front of a photographer, especially when taking romantic or candid photos with your partner, which is why it can help to have time to get the jitters out before the wedding day. 

Have professional photos for your wedding website and save the dates 

Traditionally, engagement photos were used to help announce your engagement. However, now most couples can snap a few pics using their phone to share with family and friends. Instead, engagement photos are now popular for wedding websites and save the dates, especially if you don’t have professional photos of you and your significant other. 

No one is waiting for you to finish photos 

Unlike your wedding, when you take your engagement photos, you won’t have the pressure to get to your cocktail hour and mingle with your guests. Knowing that you have a couple of hours to settle into the photos and see what feels right will make you feel more relaxed and even more prepared for your portrait photos on the wedding day. 

What to wear for engagement photos 

I recommend choosing outfits for your engagement shoot that complement each other rather than match. For example, if one of you is wearing blue and pink pastel, the other can choose one of the colours for their outfit. It also helps to choose colour families such as neutrals. 

It’s common for couples to pick two outfits for the engagement shoot, including a formal and casual look. If there’s a look you prefer out of the two, save that one until the end when you’re more comfortable in front of the camera. 

When to take engagement photos 

There isn’t a specific time to take engagement photos. Couples might choose to book the session immediately following the proposal, and others will wait until they’ve picked their wedding photographer. I recommend booking your engagement photos around your desired look, such as outdoors by the beach or cozied up at home during the winter. 

No matter the time of year, I love working with the light to capture the best photos, so I schedule sessions during what I believe to be the best light of the day. For example, if you want to shoot at sunset, I recommend starting things no later than 1.5 hours before the sun sets. The first two hours of sunrise in the morning are also a beautiful time to take photos. 

Where to take engagement photos 

When choosing where to have engagement photoshoot, it helps to be familiar with the location. This spot could be a first-date location, your favourite cafe, your favourite park or your home. A sentimental spot can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. 

If you’re at a loss with where you want to take your engagement photos, you can also leave it up to your photographer to choose. I love when couples lean on me for inspiration, and I get to share some of my favourite spots across Melbourne that provide the perfect backdrop. 

Some of my favourite locations include: 

Depending on the location, we can add props like champagne or fun accessories like sunnies!

Should we include our pets in our engagement photos?

Your fur baby is a big part of your family, so it’s understandable to want to include them in these photos. I love when couples incorporate pets into their session, but it often means you need to choose a pet-friendly location. 

I recommend planning to have your pet with you during the first part of your session and then having a friend take them home. I don’t recommend having your pet in every shot, so it’s also nice to have someone there who can help between photos.

If you decide to bring along your fur baby, I recommend exercising them before the session and bringing their favourite toy or treats. It might also help to choose a location they are familiar with, so you can focus on the photos and they’re comfortable hanging around. 

Bonus: turn your engagement session into a date 

If you and your partner don’t get dressed up that often, then plan a date for after your engagement photos, such as dinner or brunch. The engagement photo shoot is a unique way to continue celebrating, so why not end the session with a date? 

Final Verdict 

Although engagement photo shoots aren’t mandatory, I think they are an excellent way for couples to get comfortable in front of the camera before the wedding and take professional photos that they can use for save-the-dates and wedding websites. 
If you and your partner are recently engaged (congrats!) and envision some engagement photos to kick off the wedding planning, let’s chat. I’d love to help bring your vision to life and help you both have fun in front of the camera before and during the big day.

xo, Sonya

I'm Sonya and I'm so happy you're here. This blog is a journal about real weddings, real couples, editorials and all about my travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

sonya Malthouse

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