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How to Plan Your Engagement Session

CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE ENGAGED! IN THE WISE WORDS OF (PROBABLY) EVERy MARRIED COUPLE EVER, ENJOY THIS TIME because it’ll go by quickly!

What better way to document this time in your life than by having a little photoshoot to celebrate? If you’re on the fence about whether or not you want to shoot take a quick read here then after we’ve convinced you that it’s the best and most fun thing to do, come back and then we can get to it!

Planning an engagement session can be overwhelming and bring up 101 questions you don’t really need to be thinking about on top of everything else going on in your life right now- we feel that- so we’ve made this little guide to help you get the ball rolling! Full disclosure: We can’t plan your engagement session for you. Ultimately what you want to do and where you want to go will be your decision! We want these photos to reflect your relationship together and who knows you better than you! Use this post as a guide to planning your session and something to get you inspired to shoot!

Let’s get started…

 
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(Above: Rachel & Chris were visiting Toronto from the UK and wanted to go somewhere that had a good view of the city but was still quiet enough for us to hang out. We took a ferry ride out to Hanlan’s Point and hung out at and around the beach for a bit)

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY… LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

The first thing you’ll have to do, which will also be the hardest part of planning your session, will be selecting your location!

Our sessions are 2 hours long which gives us enough time to leisurely walk around, shoot a bit, catch up and overall get to know each other as we go! We don’t want you to feel rushed or pressured as we shoot so we like to section off a big chunk of time for us to be together. Having this much time also means that we can go to multiple locations so that you can get a variety of photos which is why we recommend finding a location that has a handful of little spots that we can work with!

The first thing that we like to suggest when trying to find your location is to think about the following:

  • Think of somewhere sentimental and meaningful to you both, this can be: where you first met, your first or favourite date spot, your favourite bar/restaurant you like to go to, somewhere you like to go to on your days off like a park, a hiking trail or a farmers market!

  • Consider the weather- winter isn’t the easiest season to shoot but we’re not opposed to doing it! Shooting in fresh show or during a snowfall can be quite beautiful and we can split our shoot time into half inside and half outside. Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you stand outside for 2hrs in winter to shoot ;)

  • Speaking of shooting inside, consider an at home session! Is there anywhere more familiar, meaningful, and intimate than your own home? You can snuggle up on your couch, make a coffee (or a drink!) together, you can even cook your favourite meal, listen to some music, and get cozy in bed if you want!

  • If you want to do an at home session but don’t particularly feel like your home specifically would be the best place, we can rent a studio space to shoot instead! There are plenty of studios that are cozy and look like actual furnished apartments that we can rent for a couple of hours!

  • Last thing: Think about your budget and make sure you’re considering any extra fees that may come up.

    • For us, our engagement sessions are included in our package at no extra cost, however we do have a travel fee for any locations farther than 40km from Toronto. This could be an extra $20 to go from Toronto to Hamilton, or an additional $100 to get to cottage country.

    • Some locations in Toronto require permits that are enforced (The Distillery District, Brickworks, Allan Gardens, etc.) and these are on average about $300-$350+HST.

    • Studio locations, like we mentioned above, can vary in pricing there are some that are $50/hr+HST and others that are $100/hr+HST.

If you still can’t bring any locations to mind we do have a small list of our tried and true spots that we love to shoot at

  • High Park- we can talk a lengthy stroll around the park, stop into a café for a coffee, even go out onto Lakeshore and get close to the water!

  • Trinity Bellwoods- like High Park, we can walk around the park for a bit and then make our out onto Queen St. or Dundas West and go into some shops, cafés or restaurants.

  • Scarborough Bluffs- there’s the classic shoreline that we can go to + the park we can walk around at!

  • Along Lakeshore (Humber Bay, Port Credit, Oakville)

  • Toronto Islands- a cute ferry ride, parks, water, and the beautiful city skyline!

  • Family property like a farm or a cottage!

 
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(Above: Maria + Matt wanted to shoot somewhere that was close to the water but somewhere that also had some greenery, so we decided on Port Credit in Mississauga! We walked up and down along the lakeshore and even stopped at the lighthouse before we wrapped up!)

WHAT TO WEAR, WHAT TO WEAR?

After selecting your location this is probably the second hardest part of planning you shoot! We have a couple of key tips for selecting your outfits:

  • Try and compliment each other rather than match; you don’t need to be super co-ordinated or matchy-matchy (unless you want to that is!) Try choosing a colour palette or theme that you both can follow like jeans + tee, date night outfits, etc.

  • Have options! We have plenty of time to do an outfit change while we’re shooting so make sure you bring a change of clothes. You can have a formal and casual option, a change of shoes, or a different shirt or jacket that you can switch things up with!

  • Be. Comfortable. This is really important! If you’re uncomfortable you’ll feel self conscious or be constantly adjusting yourself and it’ll come through in your photos and we don’t want that! If there’s a pair of heels that you really want to wear but you haven’t broken in yet, please bring an extra pair of shoes that you can use to walk around and then when we get to wherever we’re going you can just pop on your heels for photos.

  • There are a couple of things that we are firm on and it’s this: please don’t wear any crazy patterns, clothing with big logos, or anything bright like highlighter. All of these things are distracting, difficult to remove/adjust in post, and can take away from you being the centre of focus. Neutral colours/tones are the key to success!


WHEN TO SHOOT

This will probably be the easiest thing to figure out! If it’s possible to shoot on a weekday we are all for it, but if shooting on the weekend is our only option that’s ok too! For us Sundays are preferable as we generally shoot on Saturday but let us know a few weeks in advance so we can keep our schedule clear for you!

We like to shoot 1 hour before and 1 hour after sunset so we can get that beautiful, soft, golden light that makes you look like literal angels! Of course this depends on the time of year- in the summer this is generally 5-7PM.

If you’re interested in shooting somewhere busy (for example with the cherry blossom at High Park or at a park or beach on a long weekend) then we’d recommend shooting a sunrise session. It’s not the most fun time of the day but we promise we’ll bring coffee and it’ll be worth it! Shooting at sunrise allows us to get that same golden light with more privacy and no one to disrupt the background of your photos + you then have a whole entire day ahead of you when we’re done!

 
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(Above: We shot Jenessa & Les’ engagement session at Trinity Bellwoods. They started with some formal wear (and a little blanket to create more of a fall vibe) then they changed into matching casual outfits as we walked around Queen West)

how “glam” should we get?

We’ve been getting this question a lot lately and I think we finally figured out how to (ambiguously haha) answer it: There’s no minimum amount of glam (make up, hair spray, gel, how trim your facial hair should be, etc.) that you need to have for photos and to be honest we would never tell you to do more because it’s not enough or to be less because it’s too much!

If you don’t generally wear make up (on a day to day basis or for special occasions) then you decided to wear make up for your engagement photos, it might feel weird. If you put false eyelashes on for the first time for your shoot, you’ll definitely feel weird. If you still have your play off beard but you don’t ever really have a beard any other time of the year, that might be weird.

With that said though, some people like to use their engagement session as an excuse to be a little fancier and a little more dressed up and that’s 100% ok too! Some women like to get their bridal make up trial done in the morning, sometimes we shoot the ‘dressier’ look towards the end of the shoot so that you can look all fancy for your dinner reservations later ;) and yes, some people like to go out after their shoot because why not!?

We don’t have a clear yes or no answer to this question because ultimately it’s up to you. We want you to be comfortable so do whatever you’re familiar and happy with! If putting makeup on and getting a fresh haircut makes you feel confident then do it! If putting on your favourite pair of jeans and making sure you have nothing in between your teeth is your go to feel good move, then we’re all for that too. You. Do. You. in whatever respect that is, we’ll be here for it no matter what you do!

 
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and that’s it

Hopefully after reading through this, it feels like planning your engagement session is a touch easier than you first thought. This time is yours to celebrate so hopefully we could help you plan out a session that best reflects your relationship!

If there’s anything you’re curious about or have any specific questions about shooting and planning an engagement session, leave them for us down below friends!