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Seven Tips for a Stress-free Engagement Portrait Session

Seven Tips for a Stress-free Engagement Portrait Session

Guest Blog Post and Photos by Stacy Smith Evans

You want it all – a dreamy backdrop that will make your bridesmaids swoon, a killer photo for your save-the-dates, and a gallery that captures the excitement you and your fiancé feel right here right now. But where do you start planning with an order as tall as the Eiffel Tower? Here are my seven tips to a stress-free engagement portrait session and getting photos you’ll love!

  1. Suggest a Location!

I love when couples suggest a location for their engagement portrait session that’s special to them and that reflects their wedded style. It can be your favorite park to visit on weekends, the place where you got engaged, or an exciting new adventure for all of us. If you love-love-love a location or idea, chances are you’ll feel comfortable there and excited about your session.

If a couple doesn’t have a specific location in mind, I try to get a sense of what type of environment they enjoy – my outdoorsy couples don’t mind stomping through tall grass while others may prefer a manicured garden or waterfront. And if you have an idea but think it’s too far to travel or a little unconventional, don’t hesitate to ask! Most photographers love exploring new spots and collaborating on fresh ideas! I’ve hiked to mountain overlooks, watched the sun come up in Harper’s Ferry (twice), and explored lighthouses and mills all at the suggestion of my couples.

  1. Break in those Stilettos!

I tell my couples to choose one dressy and one casual outfit for their engagement portrait session, and to be sure to style and try on their complete outfit ahead of time. If a zipper is broken or a shirt is a little too snug, better to catch it during your trial run.

Comfort is key when it comes to your wedding wardrobe! I often have my couples running through fields and throwing their arms around each other so you definitely want room to move! Also consider your chosen location: if your session is on a farm or cobblestone street, opt for wedges or a sturdy heel over the stilettos and be sure to break them in if they’re new! Lastly, don’t forget to experiment with items like statement necklaces and scarves to add pops of color and your personal style to your engagement portrait session. When in doubt, email your photographer! I love helping couples narrow down their outfit and accessory selections.

  1. Go pro for hair and makeup!

I haven’t figured out a nice way to say this to my couples, but the sun doesn’t wait on anyone including you! Engagement portrait sessions are often scheduled around sunrise or sunset so it’s important to be punctual. Now what does hair and makeup have to do with the sun?! I guarantee the number one reason most couples are running late involves a flat iron or smoky eye! That’s pretty much why my husband is usually waiting on me! Consider outsourcing those curls and lashes to a professional who knows how long it takes to get the look and will send you off into the sunset — on time!

  1. Save those dates!

Save the dates are generally sent six to eight months before your wedding day and sometimes earlier if you’re planning a destination wedding or inviting a lot of out of town guests. To avoid stressful, last-minute orders, schedule your engagement portrait session at least one month before the date you want to mail them. Once your photographer edits your photos, you’ll need additional time to select and order your design, and to stamp and address envelopes. Factor in more time if you’re having the envelopes hand-addressed!

  1. Bring your Pup!

There’s a reason dogs are the number one therapy animal – they calm us down and lift us up! Pups always liven up engagement portrait sessions with their adorable faces and I just love capturing how my couples interact with their furbabies. Add a Frenchie to the mix and couples start speaking in baby voices and giving in to slobbery doggy kisses! I ask my couples to let me know in advance if they’re bringing Fido so I can make sure dogs are allowed at the location and also bring my husband to assist. He’s a dog handling pro. 😉

  1. Relax and Trust in Your Photographer!

Easier said than done, eh?! Last year a bride-to-be confessed she was nervous about her engagement portrait session! I was baffled at first because engagement portrait sessions are super-fun for me, but women tend to worry about the hair, the outfit, the fiancé enduring two, photo-crazed women for a full hour! I see her point! I too was a little nervous last year when my husband and I did our five-year anniversary portraits, but after I turned off my internal, Type A button I relaxed and trusted in our photographer! We always have a few tricks up our sleeve to get you to loosen up and we know how to get the perfect combination of classic and lifestyle images without the help of Pinterest. We want your engagement session to be fun and stress-free, so just forget we’re there and we’ll do the rest!

  1. Ask away!

From planning the location to selecting your accessories, when in doubt ask your photographer! We’re front and center at a lot of weddings and usually the vendor you spend the most time with on your wedding day, so use this time to ask us anything! Engagement portrait sessions are a great way to get to know your photographer and for us to get to know you so open up, ask, and share!

Stacy is a lifestyle portrait and wedding photographer based in Northern Virginia. She loves capturing authentic moments for her couples, often in nature and with vibrant colors. View more of Stacy’s work at and follow her on Instagram @stacysmithevansphotography and @stacysmithevans.

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