5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Engagement Photos

Most wedding packages these day include an engagement session to get comfortable with being in front of the camera. Our photographer, Samantha of  Samantha Jay Photo, was highly recommended to us - she is AMAZING. One of the most important things is to feel comfortable and relaxed with your photographer!


This past October, S and I had our long-awaited engagement session with the talented Samantha Jay! I am telling you, I had been looking forward to this since the SECOND we got engaged. The photography aspect is one of the most thrilling parts of all things weddings, to me, so I knew my engagement session would be well-planned and highly anticipated. But after doing it, there are so many things I wish I would have known. Things to pay more attention to, less attention to...things that simply don't even cross your mind until your first picture gets snapped. Here's what I found that I would say to someone that needs advice on how to plan their engagement session: 

1. Gather inspiration, but don't get hung up on comparison. My instagram flooooods my feed with the most stunning and original engagement/wedding content from talented photographers and wedding-related accounts. The inspiration is so enchanting, it's impossible not to get swept up in it. So, when it came my turn to plan my engagement shoot, the first thing I thought about was pictures I liked. I perused pinterest, along with many of my other social media accounts, and began bookmarking what "looks" I liked. I quickly became overwhelmed with pressure to have a "perfect" shoot. Because I had been committing myself to this instagram standard, I stressed about every little detail. After it was all over, I realized that it was wasted stress. Your engagement session should be true to you both - not an attempt to do something novel or original. I'm reminded of that quote...comparison is the thief of joy. So true!

2. When choosing a location, stay true to your story. Our engagement story was very simple, true to us, and had some location significance. We got engaged at Barnegat Light, NJ, a few miles away from the exact spot where we first said "I Love You" all those years before! Of course, it was meaningful and romantic! So when it came time to pick a location for our shoot, I thought of our ties to the LBI area and decided that we could do something really fun and different. We originally had grand plans to do our photos done aboard a classic 39' sailboat, during a romantic evening cruise with champagne. But it didn't work out due to weather - and I was kind of glad, because it would have been very expensive. And when it comes down to it all, S and I never sailed a day in our lives (at least, together anyway!). So it was fine to forgo the opulence for something simpler and more true to us.

3. Your photos do not need to have a certain seasonal "look."  Our beachy engagement photos don't exactly match our our venue, a rustic country barn and stone house. But why should they? I have always dreamed of photos like these, and with the talent of our photographer, I am SO glad we took the plunge and decided to have our pictures emit something more authentic. For example, we incorporated pops of color in blankets, rosè champagne, and our seashell bottles (personal mementos I had crafted for us when we first started dating almost 9 years ago). I feel like they are a lot more unique and original than most engagement photos! And when we get married in our natural, countryside wedding, we will have different pictures that don't look too similar or predictable.

4. It isn't all glamour. There are some funny things like this that I didn't realize. For instance, I didn't even think that I would have to change outfits in the car.  Be prepared to go with the flow! Also, pack an engagement bag. I planned what I would need by making an old fashioned list, but I definitely needed to take time and think about what I wanted to be included in the photos. Champagne, glasses, blankets, etc. were all things I thought about packing, and I was glad I did! After planning with our photographer, we decided on a few outfit changes and we needed to plan ahead to make sure a) we had outfits that flattered us and coordinated one another, and of course b) we had a place to change! I also packed some makeup, like lipstick and a hairbrush, for touch ups.

5. Come as you are. Okay, this is an opinion - but I really learned that natural is better. Dark eye makeup, false lashes, elegant hair styles are great - but it isn't me. Not yet, at least...I will save the makeup for the wedding! Even then, I think going heavy on the makeup can add more stress (i.e. is my lipstick okay? Is my eyeliner smudged?). Now, I am going to sound like a hypocrite, because I had my makeup done for my engagement shoot. I wish 100000% I didn't do it - I didn't look like myself at all. I went home and washed it off. The makeup artist did a beautiful job, but it wasn't me, and it certainly didn't fit us or the mood of our pictures. Au naturale is best (but a little mascara doesn't hurt). 

6. Give yourself time to loosen up: You can go all out with your engagement session, but the most important thing is that you feel natural in front of the camera. Loosen up, and give yourself five minutes to get in the groove of being in front of the camera. S and I loved that the beach we shot at was empty (love the beach during the local summer!).  

Expect a post with more engagement pics soon! Check out Samantha Jay's amazing work and her blog post on our seaside engagement session :)