If you are reading this, it sounds like congratulations are in order! It is so exciting that you are engaged and it is one of the most special times you will ever have. There are lots of ways you can mark the occasion, if you decide that you want to, and you could perhaps have a party, an intimate meal with your favourite people, a trip away or you may want to plan an engagement shoot to capture this wonderful time (or you could do all of these!).
If planning an engagement shoot is what you decide to do, you could use the images in many ways - as an engagement announcement, to set the tone of your wedding, to simply capture a very special time, to add to your wedding invitations, etc. An engagement shoot is an investment and you want to make sure you get it just right, so here are some tips for planning an elegant and romantic engagement shoot to remember.
Tip no. 1: Decide how you want your shoot to look and feel
Even if you are planning a very relaxed and down to earth engagement shoot, it will still need planning. As I mentioned, having an engagement shoot is an investment, and you will treasure the captured images forever, so it’s important to sit down together and work out exactly what you both want from the shoot. Why are you doing it and how do you want to use the images? Always remembering these points and your love for one another will mean that you do not get carried away with the whole affair.
Have a think about any inspiration you may have behind how you want the images to look and feel. What do you want to portray from the photos and what is important to you both? Perhaps you simply want a very simple couple shoot or perhaps you want to employ a stylist and create a beautiful event telling a story. Either way, I suggest a brainstorming session to gather your thoughts and inspiration for planning an engagement shoot. And perhaps at this point also think of the style of photography that would like.
Tip no.2: Create a moodboard and set a tone
If you have read many of my previous blog posts, you will know by now that I love a moodboard! I believe them to be an essential part in any design planning. After you have sought inspiration and done some brainstorming, start pinning and then create a moodboard. If you are unsure how to do this, read my free guide here. It is full of useful information on how to seek inspiration, start the planning stage (is aimed at weddings, but can be utilised at planning an engagement shoot too) and how to create moodboards.
Always think about the look you are aiming for, the tone you are setting and how you will want your engagement shoot to feel. This should be portrayed within the moodboard. I like to be very consistent with the design of mine, using the same style of fine art photography and ensure the chosen colours are obvious. From this moodboard that I have designed, it is clear that we are aiming for a romantic and elegant engagement shoot, although very relaxed and inspired by nature with gentle shades of blue.
Tip no.3: Pick the right suppliers for what you are looking to portray
This is an important one for any event design and planning, as if you are set on a particular aesthetic, it really is important to pick the right suppliers that can achieve this look that you have your heart set on. For example, here we are looking to plan an engagement shoot that is super romantic, the tone will be relaxed elegance and we will be looking to portray a natural and gentle love story. The photography style will be fine art and some styled elements will be incorporated, although these will be soft and paired back.
In this instance I would choose a fine art photographer specialising in film, as shooting in film allows for the most intricate details to be shown, for the light to shine through and for portraits to be captured in pure beauty. I would also advise using a stylist who has experience in this kind of style. We can bring in recommended suppliers, advise on clothing and look and work with the photographer to creatively design the engagement shoot. Plus we will of course provide the props and the styled areas.
Tip no.4: Choose a venue or location that suits the style
When you are planning an engagement shoot, the venue will be the key to how the overall look will be portrayed. Choose a harsh, built up area in a City and you will of course achieve a completely different look to a relaxed picnic in the park. Speak to your photographer about venues and locations, they will be able to advise or offer some options. They may even have contacts, if it’s a venue that needs to be pre-booked. If you’re aiming for a public location, think about when it will be quiet enough with the right light.
To achieve a look similar to that in my designed moodboard, you will of course need to be outside. If you are reading this and based in the UK, it’s a little trickier than if you are, let’s say, based in California! There are a couple of options here, you can think of a plan B option, for worse case scenario. Or you can chat to your photographer about the outcome if it is awful weather. Some will be prepared to wait and see until nearer the booked date, and then potentially rearrange if needed.
Tip no.5: Communicate with you chosen wedding suppliers
By now you should know the photographer who you are using to capture your engagement shoot, and any other suppliers you have chosen, such as a stylist and/or florist. It may be that you can have a meeting with them, or at least have an in-depth phone call to get as much advice as possible, and talk all your plans through. Always remember that the suppliers you choose will be experts in their field, and so don’t be afraid to ask for their help and know exactly how you are going to get the most from your shoot. Hannah Duffy, renowned UK and destination fine art photographer has these words of advice for you:
“Communicate with your photographer. Your photographer should have lots of advice for you to ensure that you can get the most from your engagement photography session, so that you can be sure to create beautiful fine art imagery that is personal to you. Small things, such as the time of day that you schedule your session for, can really change the look and feel of the imagery, so they're important to consider. I would typically recommend to clients that their session takes place early in the morning or just before sunset when the light is beautiful, soft and romantic.”
Tip no.6: Choose your outfits and plan hair & makeup
You may want to be very casual on your planned engagement shoot, or you may want to wear a beautiful dress and a suit. Whatever you decide on the style of clothes, you will need to plan them thoughtfully if the look and overall aesthetic of the photos is key to you. Think about the colours of the clothes, both in terms of what works with the design and what works well in front of the camera. Speak to your photographer about this, and they can advise accordingly.
If you are working with a stylist, I advise to utilise their experience for this part. They can advise on what will work well with your planned design, some may even pick your outfits if that’s what you require. The stylist will also be able to advise you on what hair & makeup styles could work, or offer you recommendations as to hair & makeup artists. Of course, feel free to do your own hair & makeup or decide this part yourself. Don’t feel the pressure of someone else’s advice and ultimately you want to feel comfortable and yourself.
Tip no.7: Gather any props or flowers you need (or work with the stylist on this)
At this point, go back to your moodboard and your planning notes and and when you are near to the end of your planning stage, think about gathering any props or flowers that you require. Earlier on in the planning stage you may have decided you want to use a florist, and this is a great idea if you are wanting a bouquet and styled table. If you are using a stylist, they will be able to guide you with your florist decision and recommend suppliers, and they will also be able to take over that part if you so wish.
Depending on what kind of engagement shoot you are planning, I would advise to pick some simple props that help to tell the story and that depict your love for one another. Perhaps you have some love letters from when you met or some jewellery given to one another. If you are working with a stylist, they can bring styling boards, material and other props that they can use with your items to capture together perfectly. And if you are having a styled table, they will lovingly create this for you too.
Tip no. 8: Relax, enjoy and have the best engagement shoot
The day is here! You have spent months planning, moodboarding and finding the best suppliers. You have chosen your photographer, stylist, florist and makeup artist, plus your outfits, and the sun is shining. All that is now required is to enjoy it, relax and have the best time. Your photographer would have advised you on how to stay relaxed and you will have planned your shots. I advise to get lost in it, love it and make the most of being pampered and spoilt by a team of experts.
After having the best day shooting, why not plan a special dinner together - after all, you will be dressed in your best and feeling super in love after your romantic day. And then in a few weeks, you will have your beautiful images to use how you desire and to cherish forever. Print them out, share them, frame them, send them with your invitations, create a photo book - however you use them, I hope you love them and will always remember the lovely day you have had, which is the start of lots more lovely times.
Thank you so much for reading my tips on planning your engagement shoot, I hope you have found them helpful. If you have just got engaged, are you planning an engagement shoot? Have you thought about how you want it to look and feel? Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have on the styling here, or perhaps you may want to chat about me styling the shoot to give you the most beautifully romantic captured day. Either way drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.
Thanks for reading, Amy x