Uniquely You: Planning a Personalized Engagement Session

Learn how to make your engagement photo shoot unique to you as a couple.

Written by: Cara Nava

Carasco Photography tango engagement shoot session
When you are engaged, it is the time to celebrate and formally announce the occasion to friends and family. Beautifully styled, timeless photos will be heirlooms for you and your spouse-to-be. Engagement photos can be used in number of ways from save-the-date cards to guest books.  There are a number of things to consider from style, location, to aesthetics.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a personalized engagement photo session:

Be Inspired and Be Yourself
Living in the digital age of wedding planning, there is no lack of inspiration at your fingertips. From gowns to flowers, it is easy to get swept away by the latest trend. Your engagement session should reflect your individual personality. We recommend being inspired by what is trending if and only if it appeals to your personal style. Don’t be afraid of being daring or bold. And by all means, don’t be afraid of being yourself.

Communicate Your Vision and Ideas
Share your ideas with your photographer and tap their brain for location ideas and what might bring your vision to life. You could incorporate a shared hobby or your engagement story like where or how you met. Or maybe you both really love Central Park in the fall or Paris in the spring. You don’t necessarily have to have props, a theme, or travel to a destination (unless you really want to), but a shared style or aesthetic gives your photographer a direction on what appeals to you both.

One of our couples shares a love for dance. They wanted to incorporate the bride’s Persian and Argentinian heritage into their engagement photos (below). All we needed to hear were the words “unique” and “tango inspired” and our minds began to whirl. We scouted out an elaborate Mediterranean venue with beautiful mosaics, chandeliers, a large dance floor, and ornate furniture as their “backdrop.” The couple hired a professional hairstylist and makeup artist to style them both before each look. It was a magical shoot.

Styling
Let’s face it. We all look our best when we are both comfortable and have great makeup and hairstyling. It’s always a good idea to book a professional makeup artist and hair stylist for photo sessions. You will feel confident and beautiful. Ladies could do a makeup trial the same day and guys could schedule a fresh haircut before the session. 

• Get a manicure. You’ll more than likely want to show off your bling in photos, so get a nice neutral manicure before the session!
• Consider switching up your looks. One casual look and one formal look will offer you more photo options for guest books or other non-wedding images of the two of you. Or if you love to dress up, you could do two different formal looks. Maybe the bride-to-be has her hair down for the first look and pulls it back or up for the second look. 
• Make sure that your looks are complementary. You do not have to match perfectly. However, it is best that your outfits do not clash. For example, if the bride is wearing a striped dress, her beau would avoid a checkered shirt. Maybe the groom-to-be wears a solid color that matches the color palette of the bride’s dress. And if a bride-to-be is wearing a sleek black dress and Manolos, her beau may consider a jacket and dress shirt for a more formal look rather than a polo shirt and jeans.
• Keep your accessories together. Place them in a cosmetic bag or ziplock for your outfits in order to switch out easily between looks.

Lighting
The golden hour is your photographer’s friend. The light is much softer and flattering toward the end of the day. You won’t have to worry about shadows under the eyes or squinting. An extended photo session will allow for beautifully lit photos during the day and another look in the evening. Make sure that your photographer is comfortable photographing in both lighting scenarios. If your photographer offers a lighting assistant during the shoot, that is a bonus!

Be Comfortable 
If you plan to wear high heels during the shoot, bring some flats that you can switch in and out of between locations, especially if you will be outdoors. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to capture you in the moment. Pack light if you are taking the clothing for your second look with you on an outdoor engagement shoot. Leave larger bags at home or in the car. Talk with your photographer about possible locations in between where you can change clothes.

Practice Makes Perfect
It’s a good idea to look at yourself in the mirror prior to the shoot and practice poses. Consider the placement of your hands and feet. Do your hands naturally daggle? Do you fidget or slouch? Be cognizant of these little nuances so that your poses appear natural and unforced. Try on the clothing that you plan to wear for the engagement session. Make sure that you are comfortable sitting in your outfits and that the fabric doesn’t buckle drastically.  Let’s say a dress is a little short to sit in but you really love it, you might consider wearing it as second or more formal look. Talk through your looks with your photographer and forward “selfies” in advance if you are uncertain.

Get Some Rest and Have Fun
In conclusion, the engagement session is a memorable way to celebrate your engagement and give your photographer a chance to learn your angles for the wedding day. Get a good amount of rest prior to the shoot and don’t forget to make it fun. Plan a little date night after the shoot! With a little preparation and thorough communication with your photographer, you’ll ensure that you get your must-have photos and that they reflect your personalities and the love you have for one another.

See photos from the tango-inspired engagement shoot below:
Carasco Photography close up couple shot engagement photo shoot
Carasco Photography tango theme styled engagement shoot photo session
Carasco Photography styled engagement shoot photo session tango red dress
Photos by Carasco Photography

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