In September 2019, when I graduated from my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and moved back to my home city and into my girlfriend’s place, she proposed. I was completely shocked – not that we hadn’t talked about it before, but because I had compartmentalized my life so hard so I could focus on finishing school that I didn’t even start thinking about proposals yet! My fiancee is terrible at keeping secrets, so since she had been planning this for a year without me knowing, naturally everyone in our life knew. People expected a grand gesture (we went to Quebec for the hot air balloon festival I’ve had on my bucket list for a while for a graduation gift), but she actually had our friend decorate our basement apartment with tons of candles and pictures and a hand made lace tent with charcuterie and champagne! It was quiet and intimate just like I had always talked about!
And then, I’m not sure if anyone else has had this experience, but the minute I shared the news people were already asking about my wedding plans. Like when we were going to do photos, engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorettes… when did we want to get married and where, what was my dream dress. And I had none of these things planned, it was super overwhelming! I have never been a dream wedding or pinterest board wedding kind of girl so we were starting from square one.
Something that I know both Sydney and I love are photos. We have pictures of us all over our bedroom and jump at the opportunity of a photoshoot, so a wedding photographer was a non negotiable. We found one of my old university friends who is a wedding photographer (check Rachel out here) with a portfolio that matched our outdoor camp style wedding plans, and her package offered engagement photos as well. I originally hadn’t even thought of doing engagement photos because they are always so staged looking and I am SUPER awkward, but I trusted Rachel would make it comfortable and easy.
Based on my experience googling weddings and tips for brides, I’m sure there are 1000 blog posts that you can read about engagement photos; about what you should wear, where are the best places to take engagement photos, and how to choose a photographer. I’m sure every bridal blog has those 10 things you should know or 10 things you might regret posts that talk about things you NEED to have in your shoots. Reading the wedding day version of these posts stressed me out, and it didn’t take long for Sydney and I to realize they didn’t really fit with our energy. Lots of extra little things that were added in these blogs made the process of getting married and celebrating our love to formal and traditional for us. So I thought I would share my experience with engagement photos and what I recommend, if anyone out there feels the same way.
Think about what location represents you and your partner
To be honest, for photoshoot locations I think they’re like tattoos… they don’t NEED to have a meaning, but I think it’s easier to be natural in a setting that is comfortable for you. My fiancee and I are not the formal/fancy style of person – we like “dressing up” occassionally, but most of the time me wearing jeans is considered dressed up because I love being comfy, and when we go out for dinner (pre-COVID) it’s usually a pub or more chill atmosphere. We like nature, camping, and backyard hang outs – so for us it only made sense to encorporate the outdoors into our photoshoot and to have a more laid back indoor location. *** Our original photo idea was to be in a wooded area with lots of trees and plants, however the Canadian fall weather had other ideas. The amount of rain we had on each of the days we attempted to take photos – we rescheduled three times due to weather – would make it pretty miserable to shoot in the forest. It rained on photoshoot day too but just drizzles, and with the change of location, we were able to enjoy every moment even with the rain. Remember these are photos that should represent your LOVE so choose a place that brings you joy and nice memories when you look at the photos, not what other people make you think engagement photos should be.
Find a photographer whos style you vibe with
As I mentioned before, we chose our photographer because I knew her, but also because we had been scrolling through her instagram and saw the style of her photos and felt that we vibed well with that. I think it’s important, especially if you have something specific in mind you are hoping for, to find someone who connects with your vision so that everything is quite easy and natural. Rachel is very easy to talk to, very easy to share ideas with and basically enhanced all of our ideas into these gorgeous photos. Something I also loved about Rachel was her little tricks for some relaxed poses in her photos. She uses a lot of movement, cute cues and music to capture the natural love of her clients, and seeing her explain that in her instagram photos was a huge seller for me (fun fact – my head weirdly shakes when I am in a forced pose for too long, so anything involving movement or more natural energy is so much better to capture a photo of me).
Pick clothing for comfort !
This will obviously be different for everyone , but pick something you are comfortable in! Now listen, I’m not saying choose your comfy sweatpants (unless that’s your outfit of choice then rock it and send me those photos!), but whatever it is choose something that makes you feel confident. If that’s a ball gown or suit, wicked! If you aren’t a huge fan of fancy clothes, plan engagement photos around something that is more you! Jeans and a cute shirt, a comfy casual dress, jean jackets…. choose a location that matches with more casual attire and your photos will turn out very sweet and authentic.
I always feel so intimidated dressing up, not because I don’t like it, but because I feel that I don’t have the clothing or the style to know how to do it WELL. If I put on a gown, I need to learn how to do my hair well, and do my makeup and it’s fun, but doesn’t feel like me. It’s my favourite to get fancy for an event, but it felt over the top and inauthentic for a photoshoot about our love which is so casual and easy. So we grabbed our favourite clothing and got our photographer to choose her favourite outfits! We also did a cute “lifestyle” photoshoot for her portfolio; us doing the laundry, and they were lowkey some of our favourite photos!
Trust your photographer!
Above all, I think it’s important to find a photographer you can trust and TRUST THEM! We looked through tons of our photographer’s photos, on her website and her instagram account, and followed her instagram stories to see her style of photography. We knew that her pictures turned out gorgeous and she was able to make the most out of every setting especially since we started following her during COVID lockdowns! Her ability to capture LOVE in a photo was beautiful and so magical, so we knew we could trust her vision. She not only helped us move in the ways that would make beautiful photos, but we also gave her free reign for editing and she came through with giving us photos that we couldn’t wait to show our family and to keep with us forever!!
Find someone that you can feel safe and vulnerable with, that you can trust their process and their vision, and that can make engagement photos FUN!
I’m eager to hear other people’s experiences or see photos if you’re eager to chat or share!
Here are a couple of my favourite shots !! Also go check out her instagram here