Top Engagement Photo tips for brides-to-be

You’ve been thinking about your engagement shoot for SO long. But how exactly do you prepare for it?

“What should I wear?”
“How should I do my hair and makeup?”
“What locations should we choose?”

I’ll have all those questions answered for you that you’re worrying about! Being the type of person that needs to plan everything, I HAD to plan for our engagement shoot, from clothes to makeup to my tan (yes, seriously). These are the pictures that you’ll probably be using for your save the dates and possibly your wedding invitation. You definitely want plan ahead to make the most out of the hour or two you have with your photographer.

Luckily, our photographer was amazing, and we went a littttttle over our session time of an hour and a half. I think ours lasted like.. three hours. BUT, guys, it was downtown Chicago! We had to take Ubers to get to different locations, and there were some shots I HAD to have, so, we did it!

Alright, so let’s get down to it! The top engagement shoot tips for brides:

1. Dress for the type of pictures you want to take

Every engagement session isn’t the same. Some girls want rustic, farm-type pictures, and some girls want a city feel! Either is great– Just dress accordingly. You don’t want to look out of place for your own pictures. Jacob and I went the downtown route. I wore a short white dress with nude heels and he wore a suit and tie. We already had the whole “feel” for our wedding down… elegant. That was the theme for our entire wedding, so I wanted our pictures to match it, along with everything else.

** I got my dress from a private boutique, but you can get my heels from Nordstrom. Right now, they’re 50% off!! Click the picture to get them!

Imagine Vince Camuto 'Olivier' Pointy Toe Pump

2. Either get your makeup done professionally or do your research before the day of the session

I didn’t get my makeup done for our engagement shoot, although I wish I did. For you Chicago girls, Julia Simone did my makeup for my bridal shower and wedding and she was AH-MAZING. Seriously, she’s a miracle worker. She’s also a super friendly and bubbly girl, which is always a good thing! I wish I found her for my engagement shoot.

Since I didn’t get my makeup done, I did some hardcore research and trial-and-error. I looked up popular foundations, bronzers, and primers, and basically tried them all. I didn’t buy them all, but at Nordstrom, they’re great with matching you to the right foundation. I was happy with every choice I made. Here are the products I used:

Primer: HourGlass Mineral Veil Primer

This is the only primer that makes my face look flawless without making it oily! It’s definitely worth the price!

Foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear

This foundation has five star reviews on EVERY website!

Mascara: CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara

This mascara is super cheap! I’ve been using it for years, and I can’t stray away from it!

Mascara Primer: Lancome Booster XL Vitamin- Infused Mascara Primer

This primer is like magic! My eyelashes get so long, but still stay natural-looking!

Bronzer: Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder

Once again, this bronzer has five star ratings on every website!!

Eyeshadow: Urban Decay “Naked” Palette

I will always argue that this is the BEST Naked palette out there! It has every color for a natural-looking smokey eye that you could possibly want!

The next tip might be the most important one there is!

3. Plan out your spots beforehand

I think every photographer has a time limit for an engagement session. This means it’s important to know what pictures you need to get and where that location is. This is more difficult in cities. We had a plan of where we were going first, next, and last. Your photographer is a really good resource for this, too. There’s a good chance that he/she has shot there before, or at least knows of some good locations! There was one picture I NEEDED to get (The one below), so we decided to do that last when the sun was setting. Your photographer will have a good idea for lighting, too, so you can ask for their opinion of which location should go first!

My photographer had me create a Pinterest board of ideas for engagement pictures (and we also did this for the wedding) so she knew what I wanted and what had in mind. It might be easiest, too, if you had an itinerary to make sure you’re on track with time. So for us, we first started at North Avenue Beach, then the Chicago Riverwalk, then by the Chicago Theatre, and finally on LaSalle street where we took the picture above with the Chicago Stock Exchange building in the background! So plan ahead for Uber rides and walking distances, too! I failed in that sense for sure.

4. Bring a small bag

This also is something I failed at, but looking back, I’m glad I can share all of these with you girls because this is a must!

Bring a small purse with you to store a small mirror, touch up makeup, a teasing comb, hairspray, blotting sheets (you know, the ones we ALL USED in high school) and lastly, FLATS . Ohhhh my gosh my feet were killing me by the end of the session. The second it was over, I got out of those bad boys and walked around downtown Chicago BAREFOOT. Yeah, gross, but I couldn’t walk one more foot in them. So please, bring this small bag along — you’ll thank me later.

5. Plan your poses

Okay, this may sound super lame, but seriously, you should. Look up engagement/wedding pictures on Pinterest and get some ideas! Smiling pictures throughout the whole session is pretty boring, you’ll definitely want to switch it up to get some variety in your pictures in order to get the best pictures possible!

6. Plan to get your hair cut 1 week prior to your session

Nobody wants grown out roots that ruin their pictures. And part two to this one, don’t do anything different from what you have. Now isn’t a good time to change to a different color or cut. If you’re thinking you want to change your hair, do it a few months before your session, so it’ll have time to grow out or change the color.

7. Pamper yourself (And your ring)!

You’ll definitely want to get a manicure the day or two before your session. There will be LOTS of ring pictures, so make sure your hands and nails are photo-ready! I recommend a French manicure or a soft pink color! Also, doing a mask the night before the session will ensure your face is glowing the next day! Make sure you use the mask before this, though, so you don’t have to worry about a reaction or break out! This is my favorite mask that I’ve tried

‘Pore Refining Solutions’ Charcoal Mask

Have you ever had a spray tan before? This can either be hit or miss. I never recommend one of those standing machine spray tans from the salon, but an airbrush tan is definitely a good option! You don’t want to try something you’ve never done before, like I’ve said, but you also don’t want to be pasty white for your pictures. Luckily, I went to LA to visit a college friend the week before the session, so I was pretty tan for my session. I don’t go tanning anymore, but I did go once before the session just to make sure my tan lines were even.

Have you ever tried self-tanner? I’m super into self-tanning, especially in the winter. I use Fake Bake Flawless Darker. You can find it HERE on Amazon, but Ulta also has it! I use the mitt that comes with the kit to apply it. It looks natural, which differs from other self-tanners! I always get compliments when I use it.

As for your ring, make sure you get it squeaky clean for the session! You can do this yourself or go into your jeweler to have them clean it. Since I’m a clean freak when it comes to my ring, my jeweler suggested using dawn dish soap to clean it! I actually do this after every shift at the hospital because of all the hand washing and hand sanitizer I use. All you need to do is put dawn dish soap on an ultra soft bristled toothbrush, brush for a few minutes, and then rinse it off! If you don’t clean it often, you will notice a HUGE difference.

If you want it even shinier:
1. Clean your ring off with warm water, dish soap and brush it with the toothbrush.
2. Rinse.
3. Clean again (don’t rinse), and then put the ring in a small bowl filled with a mixture of hot water and dish soap.
4. Let soak for an hour or two and rinse off!

And BAM! It’ll look brand new

8. During your shoot, KEEP MOVING!!!!!!!!

This is KEY for getting good pictures! As the photographer is snapping away, switch up your facial expression, your hand placement, etc. And make sure your fiancé is in the loop with this, too. You may feel awkward at first, but you’re taking pictures with the love of your life — just have fun! You don’t want 20 pictures of you two in the same position with the same facial expression; you have more of a chance to get the perfect picture when you continue to move. But don’t go too fast!

Trust me, it’s not difficult, and you’ll be happy if you continuously move instead of being stuck in one pose. Chances are, you’ll get a super cute picture of you two just having fun with it instead of “posing” and being stiff! Your photographer will give you guidance, too. She/he will make you two as comfortable as possible if you’re not used to being in front of a camera!

9. Don’t go overboard with the jewelry

For any up close pictures, you either want your face to be the center of attention or the ring to be the center of attention. This means a simple necklace and bracelet/watch will look great! As for your earrings, these can be a little showier. Dangly earrings turn out really well in pictures, so this might be a good choice! I bought my jewelry from Forever 21– their jewelry is cheap, too!

10. Just. Have. Fun.

Seriously, girls, it’ll be a blast! Take advantage of every picture you have! You won’t even be able to wait for a sneak peak from your photographer. Laugh and joke around with your fiancé throughout the day to keep things upbeat.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a super sentimental person. As I was taking out my hair extensions in the car with Jacob on the way back to my parents’ house, I was legitimately sad that our session was over! I know, so lame. But seriously, it was one more thing that we crossed off on the wedding to-do list! If you guys have any questions/ comments, don’t be afraid to comment!!

What was the best thing about your engagement session?! I’d love to hear all about it!


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