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  • Danielle Adams

Planning Your Engagement Shoot

No matter the occasion, it's important to plan ahead for a photo shoot. These are photos that will be framed in your household and shown to your family + children for years to come.

If you know me, you know I love to document life. I've been like that since High School and I for sure inherited this trait from my mother. She's known for taking photos at every life happening, followed by saying, "That's a framer!" When it came time to start planning out our engagement shoot, I was more than ready for the opportunity to get dressed up with my man. From outfits to personal details, there are several things to consider when planning for a shoot.

First things first, make sure you take into consideration your wedding date and how many months in advance you will need to send out save-the-dates. Allow yourself enough time to receive your photos from your photographer.

What to Wear

Engagement shoots should be fun, not stressful. The closer you wait to decide on outfits and the overall vibe you're looking for, the more stress you'll put on yourself. I planned a few months out the look I was going for, which made it easier to decide on outfits for the both of us.

Speaking of, it's not a terrible idea to help your man decide what he's going to wear. This way your outfits will coordinate and give a nice, overall look. For example, I wore a blush beaded Adrianna Papell gown (linking a similar one here) that I found on sale at Nordstrom. I had Aris wear a dark grey suit with a tie that complimented the look. Guys are typically nervous about photo shoots, so the more you help them, the better they'll feel.

When talking about our engagement photos, we knew we wanted to take the opportunity to get all dolled up & dressed up. We're normally sporting sweatpants, so it should be documented when we're not, ya know?

Tip: Shoot your favorite look/outfit first because you're fresh and will likely have more photos in the first outfit rather than the last.

When you're considering what to wear, be mindful of those "troubled areas" that you're not so fond of. You want to feel confident and beautiful during your shoot and covering those stubborn spots will ensure that you're happy with the way the photos turn out.

Typically, most couples choose to have two outfit changes, which is more than enough. I happened to do three because I was indecisive (what's new?), but I would typically go with two. After the dressier outfit, we changed into something more comfortable. Not our usual sweatpants kind of comfortable, but a soft summer dress, paired with heels, and Aris in jeans and a polo. Jeans and an off-the-shoulder sweater are a fun and flirty option for a colder weather shoot as well.

Our final wardrobe change was for a more romantic, whimsical look. Maxi dresses are my go-to for a shoot. I found this white maxi dress a while ago and couldn't wait for it to make its debut. They move so well in photos and creates a clean, sleek look. By the end of your shoot, you and your man will be wiped and ready to destroy a pizza (or maybe that's just us), but the end of our shoot was one of the sweetest moments. Our photographer, Adelyn Boling, asked us to tell each other what we're looking forward to the most on our wedding day, followed by dancing in a field to our first dance song. I could dream about that moment for life.

Lastly, the details. Can't forget the details! I save this for last for a reason. Jewelry, shoes, etc. are an easy last-minute addition. The main elements to focus on are the time, location, and outfits that you will both wear. When you get closer to the shoot, you can decide what accessories will look best. Your engagement ring will be getting a lot of attention, so be sure to clean it closer to the shoot. A lot of jewelry stores offer this service for free if you bought your ring there, or you can find some affordable options on Amazon.

Honey, don't be like the rest of them.

Think about what is special or meaningful to both of you as a couple. If there's something fun you like to do together, or a major part of your lives, see if there's a way to tie that into your shoot to make it uniquely yours. Since Aris is a firefighter and happens to own his own antique firetruck (normal things), we lucked out.

If you can't think of anything special to incorporate into your shoot, noodle on unique shoot locations. I stumbled upon the Glass Box in downtown Raleigh, which is typically used for weddings, showers, etc. and had never seen anyone do an engagement photo shoot there before. Do your research to find fun locations that fit both of your styles! It may take some digging, but it's well worth it. And don't forget, your photographer is a great resource to help you brainstorm locations.

Treat Yo Self

If you can budget for it, this is the time to pamper yourself & get your nails and/or hair/makeup done. Your nails will be front and center so make sure those babies are looking good! I decided to use Perfections by Patricia for my hair + makeup and loved how natural it turned out. I wouldn't normally get a spray tan before a shoot because it looks splotchy, especially on your hands, but I found Tansformations on Wedding Wire (fun fact: she works with Patricia) & it looked SO natural and never looked splotchy. Ever. I'm still dumbfounded by the way it turned out and can't say enough good things.

Have Fun!

Ok. So that was a lot. And I could probably go on forever. But the season of engagement is short in the grand scheme of life, so make it fun! Don't take yourself too seriously and let loose a little bit. If your photographer doesn't already, ask to play a little music to make everyone feel comfortable. Wear something you feel good in and that will reflect in your photos. When it's all said and done, go out to eat together or choose a fun date night of your liking. You're all dressed up, so you might as well milk it as long as you can.