ASHLYN VICTORIA PHOTOGRAPHY

PLANNING YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION

choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & more!

welcome

A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE

I’m so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken - and I do this for a living!

I'm a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on wedding days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time. 

Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is signficant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, we’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding. 

There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since we get asked the same things over and over again, we thought it would be the most beneficial if we put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know. 

We’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas and more! 

- Ashlyn

A NOTE TO

the guys

I get it. Having your picture taken for an hour might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.

TIME & LIGHT

is there a "good" time to take photos?

Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, fall colors for example, or based on schedules. 

Sessions typically last about an hour and when we can—I love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.

I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day - which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises. 

seasons

A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING EACH SEASON: 

While I shoot most of my engagement sessions between April and late November, sessions can take place all year. Most of my couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot. 

fall

COLORFUL LEAVES, BIG SCARVES, AND SNUGGLING CLOSE

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year in the Rockies and because of the perfect weather, my schedule typically books up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book! Just like spring, sunset times change dramatically in the fall. Plan on 4-5pm until daylight savings time ends.

INCLEMENT WEATHER

what to do if it rains

It’s typical for us to schedule two engagement session dates. A primary date and a rain date. Having two dates helps me make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner. Coordinating schedules can be tough and we’ve found that the best way to make sure my couples get the look they have in mind for their photos is to schedule two dates at the same time. 

We’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for an engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you - but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance. 

save-the-dates

SOME QUICK NOTES

If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding. 

If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates, and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready. 

locations

GORGEOUS COLORADO ENGAGEMENT LOCATIONS

I love it when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in Denver while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, I’m also happy to make recommendations. From ski slopes or grassy fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless! 

URBAN

16th Street Mall

RiNo Arts District

Denver Art Museum

MOUNTAINOUS

Guanella Pass

Mt. Falcon

Lookout Mountain

CLASSIC

Union Station

Capitol Building

Brown Palace Hotel

CU Boulder Campus

Cheesman Park

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Commons Park

Washington Park

City Park

Civic Center Park

Denver Botanic Gardens

FUNKY

East Colfax Avenue

Downtown Alleyways

Classic Car

ADVENTUROUS

Cooking Class

Picnic

Breweries

the above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring

meaningful locations with my couples!

furry friends

A GUIDE TO BRINGING YOUR BEST COMPANION WITH YOU

My dog is huge part of my family, which is why I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’ll need to choose a pet friendly location. 

I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. We won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots. 

If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pet's favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot. 

outfits

TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST

When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones. 

Generally couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. I recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session, when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accessories! Statement necklaces, cute shoes and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits.

SHOES

Heels lengthen legs, but if your heels aren't comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.

for the ladies

SUIT AND TIE

You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsman!

for the gents

hair, makeup, and nails

1.

Try to wear a bit more makeup than your everyday routine or it won't show up in photos. Bright and bold lipsticks are super fun for these sessions! 

2.

I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos and it's the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! The engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera. 

3.

There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).

A NOTE ABOUT

the ring

When I can, I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session - so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.

POSING

"what do I do with my hands?"

When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny (ex: sniff her cheek, whisper something in her ear in your sexiest voice) it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh - and that’s the photo I’m actually looking for. 

Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together! 

thank you!

I'M SO EXCITED TO WORK TOGETHER!

I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something I missed, or you need advice on locations, outfits, or anything else feel free to email me at info@ashlynvictoriaphoto.com

ASHLYN VICTORIA PHOTOGRAPHY