Couple during their engagement session at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL.
A detailed photograph of an engagement ring on a bouquet of roses.

You've booked your engagement photographer - now what? A lot of times, my clients will come to me and ask what they need to do in order to plan for a successful engagement session. You can get lost in the internet trying to find a list of what you should (or shouldn't do) for your engagement session. After photographing engagements for four years, I've compiled a list of things to help plan your engagement session, helping you and your partner feel better about going into your session!

During your engagement session, you'll get to know who I am, how I'll interact with you both, and what my shooting style is (I swear I'm super easy to get along with!). On the flip side, I'll get to see how the two of you interact, what makes you laugh, and what poses seem to be your favorite! What I will learn about the two of you from your engagement session I classify as so dang valuable - by the time we're done, you'll feel like a professional in front of the camera and you'll realize how much fun it can be! When I arrive on your wedding day to start taking photos of you and your tribe getting ready and other miscellaneous parts of the day, you'll feel like a friend is there, and not just another vendor. In this post, I'll share my checklist to help you prepare for the best session you'll ever have!


Your engagement session can be scheduled anytime leading up to your wedding day. I usually will suggest booking it at least 3-6 months to avoid feeling stressed. If you're planning on using your engagement session photos for save the dates or for your invitations, I strongly recommend that you schedule your engagement session sooner rather than later - That way you'll have enough time to allow for me to edit your photos and deliver them to you, and for you to have your save the dates and/or wedding invitations designed and ordered. I personally love when my couples select a location that is special to them! If you can't think of somewhere specific you'd like to go for your session, I can help you decide on somewhere! As long as the lighting is great, I can make any location look AMAZING! I always shoot engagement sessions around sunrise or sunset to ensure we get the best lighting - you know, that glowy warm light that you see all over social media! It really is the best, and makes your session that much more romantic! Engagement sessions typically start between 5-7pm depending on the light and the time of year. During the cold winter months, you can expect your engagement session to be around 3-5pm.


When you book your engagement session (or your wedding - which includes a complimentary engagement session!) with me, you'll receive a style guide that will give you a lot of useful information about planning your engagement session (and your wedding). I strongly recommend flipping through this guide before you plan your outfit(s) for the session, as the guide will give you tips on what to choose that will be flattering on camera. Most of my couples love this guide, and find these tips incredibly helpful!


Your engagement session is the perfect excuse to get your hair and makeup done! If you're hiring someone to do you hair and makeup for the wedding, this is also a great time to have your trial. You'll more than likely need to schedule a trial with your HAMU team regardless, so why not check multiple things off of your checklist at once?! (Engagement session, check. Make up trial, check. Hair trial, CHECK!). This will also help you see what your hair and makeup will look like on camera before the big day!


Trust me when I say - You don't want to have a spray tan done before your engagement session. I would even recommend not having it done a few days before - just to be safe! Spray tans tend to photograph super orange even if it's applied subtly by a professional. That orange tone will be picked up by the camera, and you'll also run the risk of exposing your tan lines. Your actual skin tone will photograph so beautiful - I promise!


Having a fresh mani-pedi for your session is kind of like the icing on the cake. You've got your hair and makeup trial scheduled, so why not get your nails taken care of too? You deserve a FULL pamper session. It will help you to feel more put together and confident, and will complement your ring so beautifully when I take close up photos of it! This is also another great opportunity to figure out what color and style you want on your nails prior to the wedding day.


Make sure you get your rock cleaned professionally so it's nice and sparkly for its close-up! This is something that usually gets missed before the engagement session, but it really does make a difference in your photos. If you don't have time to get it professionally cleaned, you can give it a quick scrub at home (soak it in some hot water mixed with Dawn dish soap!) in order to get that sparkle!


You wouldn't think you'd need a bag for a short hour session, but I've had multiple brides come back to me saying they wished they would have had a bag packed with essentials. Here are some things to consider packing in your bag for your session:

  • Additional outfits (if you're wearing more than one for your session)
  • Flats or sandals for walking in between photo locations
  • Makeup for touching up
  • A bottle of water (to stay hydrated during the warmer sessions)
  • A Coat or coverup (for the colder sessions)
  • Cash/Money for parking fees (if applicable)
  • Something personal: Whether it's flowers, a bottle of bubbly, a blanket, or even incorporating just one extra item that is special to the two of you, it could be a fun way to make your session feel more unique and personal!


You're already dressed up - and after having a successful engagement session, that's all the reason you need to celebrate! Make a reservation at your favorite date night spot, or try somewhere new in the town your session is in!