How to Make Your Engagement Photo Session Personal

Engagement Photos in the Desert
photo by Kielle Laren Photography

It’s 2024 so we have to ask: are you really engaged if it isn’t Instagram-official?! Now that you’ve got a ring on it, it’s time to book those engagement photo sessions, people! But before you do, there are a few things to know if you want a truly personalized experience and not a cookie-cutter one.

We’ve got a little guide and some helpful resources (and major photo inspo!) below to help you totally nail those engagement photos, one magical shot at a time.

How to Know Your Photo Style

downtown LA engagement photo session
photo: Meg Amorette Photography

First, it’s super helpful to find your style…but how? Turn to the old Internets! Save photos you like in an Instagram collection and/or create a Pinterest board. Look for the similarities in all the images to try and pinpoint your own personal hallmarks. Keep in mind that this may direct you in even more ways than just photography style. Maybe you have lots of beach images or flowy, red dresses keep making an appearance. File that information away!

Find the Right Photographer

photo: Colagrossi & Co

One of THE most important pieces of the puzzle is finding the right photographer. If you have a vision for moody + romantic but your photographer skews more bright + light, you may not match up.

A simple way to find your photographer is to find out who’s behind the lens of your favorite images! We don’t know a photog who doesn’t love to travel, so it’s worth reaching out even if they aren’t local. Though, this is probably a better option if you’re thinking of booking them for the wedding, as well. An engagement session can easily wrap in an hour, but it’s always worth asking!

Engagement Photo Tips
photo: Wild Whim Design + Photography

If you do have a local photographer you’d like to work with, give them an idea of your vision (if you have one) before you book to see if they’re on board.

Once you’ve booked your person, think of the engagement session as a date or a “try-out” between you and the photographer. You’ll find out if you get along and if you like their photo style which is super important for the main event.

And if you’re worried about the cost, most photographers either include or discount the engagement session if you book them for the wedding. If not, look for photographers who offer short mini sessions and get to snappin’!

Pin Down the Basics

Engagement Photos on the Brooklyn Bridge with Tips
photo: Jordan Voth

Before you go any further, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and your partner to decide what you’ll use the photos for. Will you print them on save-the-dates? Use them for your wedding website? Frame a few for you + family? And/or totally blast Instagram with photos of how good looking you are?

If you’re planning to create a wedding website with your engagement photos, here’s a helpful article:
10 Essential Shots to Get During Your Engagement Session

What to Wear for Your Engagement Photos

Engagement Photos Red Dress Outdoors
photo: Jordan Voth

Ah, the big question. What will you wear while you are forever immortalized at this moment?! The answer is simple and complex: dress like you. If the flowy, red dress captures your attention, go there! (A pop of color really does make a huge impact if that’s your thing!) If strappy heels or a crisp button-down aren’t your M.O. in the real world, don’t force what isn’t there.

Venice California Canals Engagement
photo: Mary Costa Photography

When it comes to dressing with your partner, opt for coordinating, not matching. Location may inform your outfits, as well, so consider the tones of your surroundings.

Here’s a great resource if you’re looking for a deep dive into what to wear:
What to Wear for Your Engagement Photos

Where to go for the Engagement Session

photo: Nikk Nguyen Photo | location: Hombres Burgers

And speaking of location—how do you decide? We suggest thinking about who you are as a couple and going from there. Are you the adventurous sort? Homebodies? Foodies?

Make a list of your memorable locations like first date, first place you said, “I love you,” etc. If you’re totally lost, have a chat with your photographer who might have some under-the-radar gems.

photo: Mary Costa Photography | venue: Quail Ranch

Another idea? Take your engagement photos at your wedding location, like these two! They decided to use the opportunity to explore the extensive property before their wedding day. Such a fun way to scope out locations and super romantic…imagining the big day to come as you walk the grounds!

When to Book the Shoot

photo: Katie Pritchard

If you’re looking at the timeline leading up to the wedding, the earlier the better. It depends on how you plan on using the photos, but if you’ll need them for anything other than an Instagram blast, you’ll want to have your photos back ASAP.

And if you’re talking time of day, is there anything better than golden hour?! You’ll definitely want to avoid harsh mid-day light. Early morning is a good idea if you’re location tends to get crowded as the day goes. This one is best discussed with your photographer who will have all the professional intel.

How to Make it Magical

photo: Briana Mary | design: Wild Heart Events

When it comes down to it, engagement photos are a special way to document this HUGE moment—so it all comes down to you and your partner. The more “you” you two can be, the better. Don’t worry so much about poses. Rather, think more about what makes you comfortable. Are you affectionate? Comfortable with PDA? Definitely not comfortable with PDA?

Don’t worry about capturing a specific shot if it doesn’t feel genuine to you. Practice inviting the camera into catch a glimpse of your moments together…and then forgetting its there! Engagement photos can really serve you well in preparing for the wedding day. Relax, have fun, and the magic will be there.

Speaking of magic…get inspired:
These are the Most Magical Engagement Photos on the Internet!