Maximizing Your Engagement Photo Shoot

An engagement photo shoot is an incredible opportunity to capture you & your fiancé in your happiest moments.  And of course, you’ll want to share your beautiful engagement photos everywhere possible between now and your wedding day!

The catch?  Choosing the perfect outfits, getting hair & make up just right so that you look incredible but still natural, and posing effortlessly – is actually much harder than it looks.  

Deciding what you’re going to wear and struggling through a last minute hair and makeup session an hour before you meet your photographer is not a great idea, to say the least.  

Neither is waiting until you show up to find out that your fiancé has the worst stage fright, and looks like Chandler from Friends (season 7, episode 5, The One with The Engagement Picture) because they suddenly can’t smile.  

Today on the WPP I have a handful of tricks and tips to make sure your engagement photo shoot is smooth, seamless, and yields those perfect shots that you’ve been dreaming of sharing with all of your friends & family!

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Engagement Photo Shoot OVERVIEW:

A great starting point?  Ask your photographer what you can expect:

  • How long will you meet? 
  • Do they have suggested poses, or are they relying on you to guide the process? 
  • Will there be opportunity for any outfit changes?
  • Do they have any location recommendations?

Having this information ahead of time is an invaluable way to get yourselves prepared for exactly what to expect.  

Engagement Photo Shoot LOCATION

What potential backdrops will offer beautiful opportunities for great shots?  Major bonus points if you can choose a place that also reflects a meaningful aspect of your relationship.

My husband John & I lived on the beach in Mission Beach / San Diego when we got engaged.  We worked in photos of us on the beach & boardwalk right outside our apartment:

boardwalk engagement photo shoot

beach engagement photo shoot

Think of some offbeat locations in your area, and be sure to reach out to your photographer to run it by them for lighting and ideal time of day.  


And once you have the perfect engagement photos, it’s time to show them off!

Here’s a quick list of my favorite ways to incorporate your engagement photos into the coming months:

  • Save the Date announcements – some beautiful designs are available right here.
  • Your wedding website
  • Enlarge as canvas prints and hang in your home
  • Christmas gifts for your parents
  • Use on your holiday cards this coming year
  • Print large poster sizes for welcome signs to your wedding welcome party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, and any other events you’ll be hosting,
  • Use 5×7 framed copies as the background for table numbers,
  • And of course – plaster them all over Instagram or anywhere else you hang out on social for all of your family & friends to enjoy & share in your happiness!

Engagement Photo Shoot OUTFITS

If you can do an outfit change or two during your session, use that opportunity to expand the color palette and overall look of your collection of photos.

If you have a color palette in mind for your overall wedding look, use those colors throughout your clothes and accessories for a cohesive look across your Save The Date’s, wedding website, and signage.

As for specifics of what to wear – be you, be comfortable, and whatever makes you feel confident! 

This could be jeans and t-shirts, or fancy clothes.  If you feel uncomfortable in what you’re wearing, your photos will likely reflect that.  The lens will pick up confidence in your smiles and your eyes, so be authentically YOU when it comes to clothes.  

Same goes for props like hats, scarves, sunglasses, statement jewelry – there are no rules, as long as you feel comfortable in it.  Don’t try on a hat 12 times, and decide 12 times that you don’t like the way it looks, but then wear it anyway b/c you saw a great pic on Pinterest with the same hat.  Trust me, it won’t result in natural-looking photos!

Engagement Photo Shoot HAIR AND MAKEUP

We all have varying levels of comfort with hair & makeup.  If you’re a pro at doing your own, awesome.  If you’re not, here’s a great tip:

For makeup, I love DIY tutorials on YouTube.  Find a friend or family member to help if you’re totally lost. 

I don’t personally invest a ton of money in makeup products, I think anything you find at Target will be just fine.  Try colors & products ahead of time so that you can make adjustments if necessary.  

If you plan on doing professional makeup for your wedding day, this would be a great opportunity to do a trial.  You may not necessarily want as thick of an application for your engagement shoot, so explain that when you set the appointment, but it’s still a great way to work with an artist and get to know them, and make sure your styles are compatible.  

For your hair, same idea as with makeup – although you may not want the same hairstyle for your wedding day that you’re going for in engagement photos.  A hair trial is still a good way to get to know a hair stylist if you’ve never worked together in the past. 

My hair guy does my cut, color, style, and he also does bridal hair – so for example, I could schedule a cut and color to line up with engagement photos, and use that opportunity to get a professional wash, blow out, and style in conjunction with looking awesome for photos!  Win, win.  


There are lots of scenarios where a professional photo shoot doesn’t work out due to travel, budget, or availability in your area.

If you don’t have the opportunity to do an engagement shoot with your wedding photographer, I have great news – setting up a “do it yourself” mini photoshoot is totally doable!

All you’ll need is a good quality camera – chances are you have one right now that you’re listening to this show on – and a trusted friend or family member to take the pictures.  That’s it!  

Follow all the guidelines we reviewed here for outfits, location, hair, and makeup.  

Look up “engagement photo shoot poses” on Pinterest, or browse Instagram for inspiration of poses that you like.  

Be mindful of your lighting – the “golden hour” at sunset offers beautiful lighting, and so does soft shade, or naturally lit outdoor hallways.  Avoid dark shade and direct sun.  

And one last tip for your “DIY” photo shoot – talk with the person taking your photos for a relaxed and natural look.  Tell jokes with your fiancé as you’re posed to capture genuine smiles and laughs. 

I was inspired to add on this do it yourself guide by my sister Kate – despite having a very generous wedding budget, their location, photographer availability, and travel schedules was not lining up with a professional photo shoot.  Instead, they had a close friend take the photos for them, and they turned out just beautiful.  

Thanks so much for being here, and we’ll chat again next week – same time, same place!