Prepare for your session!
The biggest thing is that you want to make sure you pick outfits that you feel comfortable in. If you don't feel 100% comfortable, no matter what we do or what we try, you're going to look uncomfortable in the photos.
Think complimentary colors! Jewel + earth tones photograph the BEST! That's your burgundies, plums, olives, creams, greys & browns. Neons or super bright colors, like salmons & turquoise, are also some shades to avoid. Neons create color casts, which essentially makes your skin a different color in photographs.
Think simple, timeless clothing, and avoid big logos + branding. Lace always photographs gorgeous, and you can never go wrong with denim or a flowy dress to play with during your session!
Patterns & textures always help to add another layer to your photos! The main thing with patterns is you want to make sure whatever the pattern is, it isn't fighting with the rest of the outfits. Plaid is always a safe bet-- plaid flannels always photograph well and break up solids so nicely. Sweaters, jackets, cardigans-- all great as well to break up solids and to give a little bit more depth!
Hair & Makeup
While having professional hair & makeup isn't a necessity for engagement sessions, or portrait sessions, it can definitely help boost your self-esteem and make you feel photo-ready! Planning to have your hair & makeup trial for your wedding day look on the same day as your engagement session is sort of genius. You get to become familiar with your H&MU artist, you get to feel polished. PLUS, it also allows you to see how your wedding day look will photograph, and you can then make adjustments from there.
Your hair & makeup artist will know how long you should expect the trial to take, but I suggest aiming to have an hour cushion from the end of the trial to when you want to start heading out for your session, just to be on the safe side. It's not super common, but hair & makeup can run behind schedule for one reason or another. Having that time cushion can be a real stress reliever!
acitivites & Props!
Coming up with some different activities that you both enjoy can really help take your minds off the photographs, and allow you to authentically connect (like popping a bottle of champagne or bringing along an acoustic guitar). Whatever you decide, the most important part is to consider how realistic the props/activities are-- if thumbing through a record collection is not something you two find yourselves doing normally, doing it for the session isn't going to feel genuine.
I know wooden signs with the wedding date or cute little sayings are all the rage right now and Pinterest seems to be flooded with them, and sure that can be super adorable for your “Save the Dates”, but I like to push my couples to think beyond just the stationary. While there's always going to be trends that come and go, thinking about keeping the session as natural and authentic as possible is going to also make the photographs timeless!
Bringing kids or pets
Want to bring along your pup or maybe some kiddos so they can be in some frames? The answer is heck yes you can bring them! The biggest obstacle for bringing along a pet or small kiddos for a session is finding a person (be it a friend or family member) that can tag along as well and act as a babysitter for those times the puppy or child won't be in the frame.
When bringing along a pet, another thing to consider is any possible mobility limitations (for older animals) and any potential social restrictions (like if they aren't dog/people friendly, can't be off leash, etc). If your pet does have any limitations, but you guys can't imagine the portraits without them, just keep their needs in mind when picking out a location!
If your pup can't be off the leash, I highly recommend bringing along a more neutral colored leash & collar. I know a lot of people have fun pops of color when it comes to their doggo's accessories-- purples, blues, neons, etc--, but just like your own wardrobe, you don't want the first thing your eye to go to in the photograph is the hot pink collar!
Your “to go” bag!
You'll definitely want to bring a bag! Even if you don't anticipate bringing a lot of extra stuff, the bag is going to house your phone, keys & wallet during the session! Below are some items I suggest bringing along to the session, aside from your wardrobe changes & any potential props:
Tennis Shoes/comfortable shoes -- If you're planning on wearing heels or wedges/any footwear that could be problematic to walk/hike in, pack a pair of sneakers so that you can change between spots.
Lipstick + Makeup for touch ups -- There's usually a fair amount of kissing, nuzzling or even smiling during your session, so bringing along some makeup to touch up either your lips or foundation to keep you feeling polished and photo-ready is super useful!
Jackets -- Even if it's not a particularly chilly day, engagement sessions usually end right at dusk when the sun has hit the horizon. The majority of the time, there's usually a 10 minute walk back to the car and without the sun it can be a little brisk.