It’s been a couple of years since we first published this guide with tips to help couples prepare for their engagement session and we’ve had a lot of great feedback from brides and grooms who have found our advice to be helpful. As we begin to see signs of Spring here in Burlington, Vermont and gear up for our next season which is right around the corner we thought it would be the perfect time to freshen up our guide.
1. T I M I N G
– We typically book engagement sessions up to two months in advance and our availability becomes limited to weekdays during the months of June through September. If you’re traveling to Vermont for your session and are hoping for nice weather and beautiful foliage it’s best to wait until Mid-May when we finally begin to see blossoms and leaves. If we’re traveling to Southern New England or further, we may be able to schedule a bit sooner.
– It takes us about 2 – 3 weeks to have your photos back to you so keep this in mind if you hope to use your photos for “Save The Dates” or to frame a few to display at your wedding or rehearsal dinner.
– A note about winter sessions: Few things are more romantic than a couples’ session in the snowy forests of Vermont. The peaceful silence that surrounds you when a fresh dumping of snow has fallen is one of the reasons I fell in love with this place and it can be the perfect environment for a sweet couples’ session. However, there are a few things to take into consideration if you hope to have your session in the winter.
– Be prepared to be very flexible. A bit of the wondrous wintry snow magic fades away very quickly when facing the dangers of slick roads. If there’s an impending snow storm on the day of your session, we’ll most likely have to reschedule. Additionally, winters around here have been a bit erratic and unpredictable in the past few years. Sometimes we get snow cover, sometimes it melts away quickly, and much of the time the landscape looks brown or feels bitterly cold so it may take us a few tries to nail the timing.
– Ask yourself: Do you enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors in the winter? Most of the session will require little active movement so if you get cold easily, consider waiting until it’s a bit warmer outside. When our bodies are cold, we become stiff and it’s harder to focus on cues or romance and this can have a negative impact on the overall outcome of your photos. If you’re up for dressing for the weather in your favorite comfy winter jackets to go for a short hike to a pretty, snowy spot in the area, we’re happy to help you plan. We’ll bring a thermos full of hot cocoa and mugs, too to warm up and to add a nice lifestyle element to the shoot.
– This probably goes without saying but make sure you arrive on time (maybe even a little bit early) and include a time buffer. Ideally, we’ll plan your shoot around the best light of day and this light only lasts for about 1 hour . We want to make sure we take advantage of every second of that beautiful golden light. If you happen to arrive too early, then head on over to a local brewery, wine bar or coffee shop and have a drink to help you relax and get excited for your session.
2. L O C A T I O N
We all have places that we hold dear to our hearts. Some of us crave open water; some of us love big cities and historic architecture; and some of us feel at home in the forest. If we’re traveling to you you may already have a few places in mind that are special to you as a couple. If you’re traveling to us, we’ll send you examples of some of our favorite locations in the area and work together to help you find one that speaks to the two of you.
One tip I always share with couples is: everyone looks the most relaxed and natural when you’re they’re doing something, not just posing. We’ll give you plenty of cues and direction to help you along but don’t be afraid to incorporate elements that will help us tell a more complete story about you two. If you spend your summers by the lake, let’s fine a canoe or a boat, pack a wide-brim hat and let’s head for open water.
3. D E T A I L S
A fresh shave, haircut, beard trim and professional hair and make-up can help some couples feel confident during their session. If your wedding make-up and hair professional is local to the area where your session will take place it can be a good idea to schedule your trial on the same day. Whether you wear make-up or have your hair professionally styled is entirely up to you and how you wish to see yourself reflected in your photographs. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve found that a quick brow trim and fill as well as a little lip and cheek color helps to highlight my favorite features and makes me feel more confident during special occasions.
4. A T T I R E
This is the most challenging area for me to give advice about. Style is so personal and it can be quite an emotional process to choose outfits that we feel are an expression of who we are while at the same time helping us feel our very best. While it’s never our intention to suppress your personal style and hope that your engagement photos are a true reflection of you, we do believe it’s worthwhile to consider certain elements of your outfit carefully to ensure that nothing you wear re-directs attention away from the two of you and your interactions with one another.
Below are just a few suggestions that will hopefully inspire and help you along as you plan your engagement session outfits:
– Dress to impress! Engagement sessions are a very valid reason to shop for that fun skirt, shirt or hat you’ve been eye-ing.
– Choose colors that are complementary to each other’s attire, as opposed to colors that match.
– Be mindful of the shooting location and choose your outfit accordingly. If your session will take place in the woods, consider bringing a pair of stylish lace-up boots and choosing earth-toned colors for the rest of your outfits. If we’re shooting by the water, a flow-y dress with bare feet and or a neutral-colored dress shirt with jeans or khakis would complement the location well.
– As a general guideline try to stay away from small, repetitive patterns and bright, bold colors. In my years of experience, I’ve noticed that very bright colors can cause strange shifts and reflections in camera that are difficult to correct. If you’re ever in doubt about color co-ordination, know that neutral, earthy and light colors usually photograph best. I, personally love grays and soft browns and gravitate towards those when shopping for myself! And if you’re ever unsure about a color or pattern and would like our advice, don’t hesitate to send us photos of outfits you’re considering. We’re happy to be of guidance.
– Most couples pack a couple of extra outfits and layers to mix and match. If you’re unsure about what to wear, don’t feel like you have to make final decisions before you arrive at your session. We can have a look at what you’ve brought and offer some suggestions or reassurance.
Always remember: I trust your taste and personal style. My hope is to encourage couples to wear clothing that they love and, more importantly, feel absolutely confident in. Take these suggestions as mere guidelines and have fun with your outfit selection!
Below you’ll find a collection of helpful palettes for reference when you begin planning for your session. Save the images to your phone or download the full set as a PDF. If you need even more style ideas I’ve curated a Pinterest Style Inspiration gallery here.