Not only do engagement pics make a sweet memento and a personal addition to a multitude of big-day details, the photo shoot itself is a great way to test-drive your photographer. Remember, this person will be with you and documenting almost every second of a rather monumental moment in your life—use the practice run to get comfy with each other as well as starring for the camera. Sound good? Now make the most of your premarital mug shots with these five tips:

Tim Sheils and Elizabeth Corr (a lead coordinator with Bridal Bliss) at Coopers Hall (above) and on the Eastbank Esplanade (featured image) in December 2015. Photograph by Jessica Hill Photography.

1. Timing is everything. If you plan to use your photos for the save-the-dates, custom postage stamps, website, or formal-invite envelope liner, schedule your engagement session for at least six to nine months before the wedding. ( Save-the-dates should go out 4–6 months prior, or 6–8 months for a destination event.) Otherwise, pick a date for your session that works best for your schedule and stress levels and allows enough time to get any pics you’d like for the program, guest book, table numbers, gifts, or, perhaps, a giant wall collage behind the head table.

2. Location, location, location. The best ones are meaningful to you. We’re talking everything from your home to your neighborhood coffee shop, the site of your first date, a place you love to hike, and so on. Your photographer will also have a list of locales with stellar backdrops, be it rustic, luxe, or graffitied industrial chic.

3. Dress for success. The general wisdom is to limit your accessories and stick with clothing in muted solid hues. But our advice is to wear whatever feels like you—if you’re a hot pink and polka-dots person, that pearl gray sweater will seem really out of place. We love hats, ties, plaid, stripes, floral prints, and killer shoes. Either way, bring at least two different looks, one a little fancier and one more casual—yup, jeans and favorite tees are great.

4. Prop it up. Umbrellas, bikes, beers, blankets, balloons, your beloved Weimaraner ... feel free to play around with props as long as they feel natural, not forced. Note: Rain can make for fabulous and distinctly Portland pics.

5. Stand (or walk, dance, eat) and deliver. While you’ll definitely want to grab a few posed portraits, the framers often come from everyday interactions, like laughing over tacos or strolling hand in hand. And of course, use your photo shoot as an excuse to smooch—frequently. Just think of it as date night (or day) at its very best.

Image: Gem Set Love


Not yet betrothed? We love the one-of-a-kind bling at Nob Hill’s Gem Set Love (formerly Gilt), like this Art Deco–era 18K white gold and triple-diamond filigree beauty. $1,295;