Engagement photos have become a staple part of the wedding planning process. I offer a complimentary engagement session to my wedding clients, and there are so many reasons it is beneficial. It is another way to bond with your photographer and get to know their style. Consider it a practice run for your big day. You will likely have a shorter amount of time to work on your event date, so this can help prepare you for what to expect.

There are many reasons why engagement sessions are wonderful. The list could go on and on, but I think I’ll save that for another blog post. Today I want to talk more about planning for an engagement session. If you have one coming up, this post is for you! Remember, the following is all based on an ideal scenario that may or may not fit every planning situation. There is no wrong way to plan your dream wedding! These are just a few questions and answers relevant to the engagement session, based off of the AKP client experience.


1. How far in advance should the engagement session be booked?

If you’re planning on sending out a save-the-date, it is recommended to do so around the six to eight month mark. Many couples choose to highlight their engagement photos. Ensuring your session falls before this, considering edit turnaround, will be crucial to having access to your images. My clients will typically book me a year or more in advance and I like to set up engagements soon after.

2. What’s the best time of day for a session?

I highly suggest “golden hour.” This is the time of day when the light meets the horizon and provides a gorgeous glow. My preference with clients is to set up a session at sunrise or sunset. The two hours after the sun comes up or is about to go down are my favorites. Plan around the ideal lighting for the ideal photos!

3. Where should the session take place?

Most photographers will have a list of suggestions if you aren’t sure about location. It’s important to think about who you are as a couple, your style, and even the types of things you do together. I like to treat the engagement session like a date night. I’ve done anything from drinks outside of a pub to mudding in ATV’s in the middle of no where. The more personality you can invoke into your session, the more potential your images have.

4. How should one dress for this type of session?

Couples should dress to their own preference, but I always recommend to elevate it a bit. On camera, more is often less. Thinking about outfits that compliment one another, even down to the shoes, can ensure better photos. If you feel confident in something-it will read on camera! Accessorize, play with patterns, and always pack an extra outfit. I advise my couples to plan for two. This often gives the opportunity to play in something formal and finish in something casual, but leaves the focus for time spent on making beautiful imagery.

5. Should I hire a hair and make-up artist?

Yes! Most brides are already on the hunt for an HMUA for wedding day. Many beauty artists offer a trial, and your engagement session is the perfect time to give your look a practice run. Schedule everything in advance so you can coordinate the dates! This will allow you to not only play with your event look, but see how it photographs.

6. Are we allowed to bring our pets?

ALWAYS. I absolutely adore when couples include their furry friends. My professional tip here is to ask a friend or family member to come along and help with your pets. This ensures that once we capture your family’s newest photo, there is someone responsible for taking the little ones home. We want to spend the most time focused on your connection. A helping hand will keep the three of us free from “chasing tail.” :)

7. Can we bring props?

I think certain items can be a great addition to a shoot. When it comes to props, I recommend going with things that feel organic to the session you’ve planned. If you are at the park and you want to bring a picnic basket with cheeses and wine, I think that’s a great idea! Custom mugs at a coffee shop? I adore the personalization. Think about little details that compliment the atmosphere, but pack light.


8. What if we are awkward in front of the camera?

There are two types of people: people who are photogenic and people who think they aren’t, but actually are. I firmly believe that with a little time and cooperation, everyone can rock it in front of the camera. I realize that it can take some longer than others, but this is (AGAIN) why the engagement session is such a great way to loosen up. I use communication and a posing process I call “coaching” to connect with my clients and provoke natural reactions. My engagement session is an experience like that, leaving us with lots of inside jokes to use on wedding day… making AKP clients awkward-proof.

9. How long does it take to receive our photos?

AKP clients get a sneak peek within 24-48 hours of their session. I love to provide a little instant gratification as I know how exciting the wait can be. While this tides them over, I go to work to ensure that they have an entire gallery within two to three weeks. This is all delivered online, at their fingertips, through Pixieset. They receive a stylish gallery, high resolution images, and it’s easy peasy to download and start sharing. While this differs from photographer to photographer, this is always something you want to consider when making plans for your session and for what/when you might need the images.

10. What does one do with engagement photos?

As previously mentioned, a lot of couples use engagement photos to design save-the-date notifications for guests. While it makes for a stellar new profile photo on social media, I also recommend printing up an album. Having a coffee table book of your images is a nice way to celebrate. You could also consider printing a large canvas to have signed at your wedding, frame a few for the bridal festivities, and/or update that wedding website.


As a little thank you to my wedding clients, I always offer a complimentary engagement session. I love spending this time together, and I love that I can offer them this free add-on. Still looking for a wedding photography experience? Let’s book today what you are planning for tomorrow! I’d love to be part of it. :)




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  1. Raina

    May 14th, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    This is such excellent advice!! I definitely plan to pass this info on! What a great blog post!!

  2. Lynne Wagner

    May 14th, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    What a great compilation of questions for those newly engaged! Wedding planning can be so complex and stressful, but you managed to knock out 10 questions in one fell swoop.

  3. Audrey

    May 14th, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I love this list… I may share with clients at some point ;)

  4. Tasha

    May 14th, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Great tips Ashton! These are definitely helpful to someone getting married!
    #lessstress #blessed

  5. Shannon White

    May 14th, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Awesome and fabulous advice!!! I especially love how people pick a location based on who they are.

  6. Shawndelle

    May 14th, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    This is great information.


    May 14th, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    These tips are incredible… so much so that I wish I wrote this! LOL

  8. Amber

    May 14th, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Great advice for clients thinking about engagement Photography!

  9. Fran Jorgensen

    May 14th, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Maryland is the perfect location for a wedding or an engagement photography session, and spring is the perfect time of the year! I love the story and I wish this couple all the best!

  10. Kathy

    May 14th, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    THese are all great! I need to learn that skill of reducing the awkward

  11. Lindsay

    May 14th, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    This is amazing advise, totally sharing on my business page for my clients!