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We are Matthew and Brittany! A husband and wife photography team based in Knoxville, Tennessee! We love photographing weddings, educating other creatives, and eating Chick-fil-A!

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February 3, 2019

5 Things Every Bride Needs to Know about their Engagement Session

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Yay! The time has finally come! You’re engaged to the person of your dreams and now you’re starting to plan everything out for your big day! You’re planning things like the date, the photographer, the flowers, the ceremony site, the reception site, colors, food, guests, honeymoon locations…the list goes on.

One of the first things many people do after selecting a date for your wedding day is to choose their photographer! In our last blog post, we shared with you some tips for choosing the best wedding photographer for you! You can check that out here if you haven’t read it yet!

OK, so we’re searching for our photographer…what’s next?

Once you have your photographer chosen, usually one of the first things that you schedule with them is your engagement session! This is such an important session because it allows both you and your fiance to spend some more time with your photographer before your big day. You get to be one on one with them and learn more about how they photograph. The engagement session allows you to get comfortable with your photographer so that on your wedding day, you are just going with the flow of the day and can be yourselves in front of the camera! With that being said, we have a list of five things that we think EVERY bride should know about planning their engagement session.

Engaged Couple in Knoxville TN

One: Picking a Date and Time for your engagement session

Once you have booked and secured your photographer…your next order of business is to book your engagement session! When picking a date and time, a lot of this is going to depend on your photographer’s availability. We recommend not waiting too long to schedule your engagement session…no more than 2-3 months really.

Why?

Well, this allows you time to be able to have your engagement photos taken and make sure that you love them. Now, don’t get us wrong here…you’ve probably already done a TON of research and checked out their work and know you like their work. However, just in case something were to happen and something goes wrong, by scheduling your session within 2-3 months of booking gives you plenty of time to change photographers IF it was needed!

When it comes to the time of day, this is greatly going to depend on your photographer and their style and when they like to shoot. For us, we are natural light photographers so we like to shoot when the light is the softest and gives our couples that soft, glowy, and timeless look to their pictures. We use the app Magic Hour to help us plan the best time for our sessions. This app allows you to be able to see when the sun is setting and see how the sun is going to be at each hour of the day. What we do is use Magic Hour to determine when sunset is and then we back up 2 hours from that for our start time!

Couple walking down a trail in Knoxville

Two: Deciding on Your Engagement Session Location

The location of your engagement session is generally left up to you! Your photographer may have some special, favorite spots they love to shoot that they can give you. This is where you get to think about a place that you all want to document this time of your life. It could be somewhere that is special to you all…maybe a park where you always go, a favorite spot in the mountains, or maybe you have access to places that others wouldn’t necessarily have. Maybe you can take pictures at a football stadium, a country club, or a beautiful piece of real estate that someone in your family owns. The sky’s the limit.

Now, keep in mind. If your photographer isn’t local to you or your engagement session location requires more extensive travel, you may have to pay travel fees for your photographer. This will ultimately be determined by the photographer and you as you all decide which is the best location for your engagement session.

Knoxville, TN engaged couple kisses on forehead

Three: Deciding the Style for your engagement Session

What to wear? What not to wear? That is the question. And it’s a good one too! You want your engagement photos to be something special, but something that still represents who you are deep down inside too. We usually recommend two outfits…a formal outfit and then a more informal/fun outfit.

So what is formal you ask? Well that can really be whatever you determine it to be. It might be that you go out and buy that brand new dress you’ve had your eyes on for the last 3 months because it’s AMAZING and your man comes dressed to the nines in a full suit. Or maybe you want to wear a long, flowy dress or skirt and dress it up with some beautiful accent jewelry and some rockin’ heels. For your man, dress khakis, a dress shirt and a nice sports coat can go a long way in sprucing things up! These are your images…and a once in a lifetime event! You’re going to be spending the rest of your life together as a married couple…you’re only engaged for a short amount of time. So go crazy!

When it comes to dressing for a more informal or fun look, this is a little bit closer to what you would wear on an everyday basis..but taken up a couple notches. Because if you’re anything like me (Brittany here), my everyday usually consists of leggings and a long shirt! You don’t want THAT in your engagement photos. Many of our couples wear things like jeans and a flowy top or a sundress and then the men wear things like jeans or khakis with a button down shirt or nice golf polo.

Romantic photo of engaged couple touching heads

We always recommend wearing COMPLEMENTARY colors, not matching ones. You want to compliment each other. Go with neutral and softer tones, and staying away from bright colors as your base color will help keep the focus on the love between you all…and not that bright pink dress you’re wearing. Each of you should have a different, yet complementary base color for your outfit, but you can have pieces of the outfit that will match. For example, you’re wearing a light gray flowy skirt with a white top, with pastel pink accent jewelry and nude colored shoes. Your man could wear dark wash pants with a white dress shirt (you could even throw a navy or a dark gray sport coat on to change it up), and brown dress shoes.

TIP: For girls, make sure to bring some shoes you can walk in if you’re wearing heels or wedges that might make walking around difficult. For guys, we recommend staying away from shorts and flip flops. It just looks a little too casual and we have found that it just doesn’t photograph as well as pants with close-toed shoes!

For the girls, you may decide that you want to have your hair and makeup professionally done for your engagement session. It is going to depend on the bride if this is something they want to have done. It can definitely be a stress saver because it takes all of the stress on making your hair and makeup look perfect for your engagement session off of you. This is totally optional but it is definitely something to consider. No matter what you decide, we just want you to be you! Plus, this might be the perfect time to find a makeup artist and hair stylist you love that you can also use for your wedding!

Joyful engaged couple at Knoxville Rock Quarry

Four: During Your Engagment Session

Woohoo! The time for your engagement session is finally here! Just a few things we want to have you keep in mind for the best experience at your engagement session possible! First things first, arrive on time. We tell our couples to arrive about 5-10 minutes early. This allows you to not feel rushed as you meet your photographer. It also gives you some time to chit chat with your photographer without taking time away from the session, and most importantly the light!

Something else to keep in mind too. Your photographer is there to serve you and help make these pictures and your experience the best it possibly can be. This requires some work on both ends we believe. For us, we spend the first 20 minutes of our sessions educating our couples on how we shoot, why we’re shooting at this specific time, and what we look for when we’re choosing a spot at the location. We will go through our foundational poses that we base everything off of to help our couples feel really comfortable in front of the camera. We find this really just helps the couples feel at ease and helps them on their wedding day too because we will use the same language and many of these same foundational poses as starting points throughout the day.

Never be afraid to ask your photographer questions. Most of us are happy to explain why we are doing something and educate you about our passion. If you have something specific in mind that you want photographed, talk with your photographer at the beginning of the session (or even beforehand) so they can make sure to incorporate it in the session. Keeping an open and honest dialogue between your photographer and yourselves will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

Engaged photo sitting on rocks and holding hands

Five: After your engagement session 

Once you’ve finished your session, your photographer will more than likely go over what to expect from here. We let our couples know when a sneak peek might be available for them to see some of the gorgeous images they just had taken. We also let them know when the full gallery will be available for them and how to access it.

Before we leave, we always let our couples know what to expect once they have received their pictures and what the next steps are up until the day of the wedding! We tell our couples that we will be sending a questionnaire to help us plan their wedding day photography timeline. This questionnaire gives us any other details that we need to know to make sure we don’t miss a single thing on their wedding day. It’s from this questionnaire that we will build our proposed timeline to make sure that your pictures are everything you’ve dreamed of and something you will cherish forever.

engagement ring photo in Knoxville TN

Finally, and this is our favorite part since you both are already all dressed up and looking nice…you should take the night and go out to dinner. (Chick-Fil-A anyone?) Celebrate being engaged as much as you can. Like we mentioned before, you’re only engaged for a short amount of time. It’s a fun time too. Go out to your favorite restaurant, get dessert, go to a movie or walk around a park…do something to spend some more time with each other and enjoy every single second of it.

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