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How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session

wedding planning

June 3, 2019


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Destination wedding photographer, world traveler, chocolate and wine lover. I’m the girl behind the lens that will capture and narrate the story of you and your wedding day so you may have your treasured memories for generations to come.

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Engagement Photo, Sunrise Engagement, Hawaii Engagement

You’re engaged, you picked a date and a venue. It’s time to think about scheduling your Engagement Session. An Engagement Session is a great way for us to get to know your photographer better and gain some experience in front of the camera because lets face it we all feel a little awkward in front of it. 

Remember, this should be FUN! This is a session is with no pressure like that you’ll feel on your wedding day. Trust me when I say your wedding day will flash before your eyes and you’ll wonder where the time went. My couples who have an engagement sessions will know what to expect and are PRO’s at posing and interacting on their big day.

Follow these tips and you’ll be well prepared for your engagement session and have an amazing experience!

After you’ve booked your photographer, I recommend having your session around 5-6 months before your wedding. This way you’ll have time to make the items you’ll need for your wedding such as “Save-the Date” cards (usually sent out 4 months before your wedding, longer if you’re having a destination wedding), Guest/Sign-in Books, Large Prints to showcase at the reception table, or I even had a couple use them to make their table number cards cards.

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Preparing for Your Engagement Session

1. Location and Time

Start by picking a Location that Speaks to You. Do you have a special place that you met, had a special date, at or where your proposal took place? Select a place where you enjoy spending time, that reflects your personalities. For instance, if you’re outdoorsy, consider your favorite hiking trail or a beach where you love spending time at. I recently had a couple take me to the groom’s favorite fishing spot and he totally lit up and relaxed.

The best time to head out is either very early in the morning (sunrise) or sunset. Usually 1.5 hours before sunset and 20 minutes before sunrise (meaning we’ll meet in the dark). The lighting is harsh in Hawaii and I love the glow-y light the early morning or late day offer. If you are going to a place such as the forrest or urban setting the timing can be a bit more flexible. Discuss with me on the best time and day for you.

Traveling to outside of Hawaii for your engagement session? Remember to coordinate places and times with me. I have photographed couples in Havana, Cuba, Paris and Provence, France and Orvieto and Florence, Italy and I can recommend to you locations and time of day.

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2. Outfits:

I love it when my couples show up dressed to impress and there is nothing as “too dressed up”. 

Bring at least two outfits, one dressier and one more casual. Sometimes something may not feel as comfortable as you thought it would and will want to change.

My best advice on this is try to coordinate looks instead of matching them (some of my couples will text me their outfits see make sure they’ll look good on camera). Accessorize with bold jewelry, scarves and shoes. 

** Pro Tip: This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pull out all the stops for your portraits. Don’t want to break your budget on an outfit? I love the idea of choosing a dream dress from Rent the Runway.

Aloha shirts: Most folks think Aloha Shirts should be worn since I am based in Hawaii but, IMHO, it’s a cliche, and it’s time to think differently here! If you want to, keep it monotoned and simple.

3. Hair, Makeup and Ring Cleaner:

I highly recommend getting your hair and makeup done professionally for your engagement session. For instance, my past brides have done this as their trial session with their artist so they can get a great idea of what they’ll look like in photos before the wedding day.

Get you ring cleaned or even bring a jewelry cleaning wipe as I’ll be taking some close-ups of your ring!

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4. Be on Time

This is really important. What most couples don’t realize is that natural light photographers are 100% dependent on the sun and if their couples show up late, they will lose that amount of time during their session due to the lack of light. Now I realize that things happen beyond out control like massive amounts of traffic (especially here in on Oahu). Check the traffic before you leave and do your best to be on time so we don’t lose any of that pretty light!

5. Have Fun! Trust Your Photographer

I know, I know…it’s easier said than done. You’re nervous and probably a little anxious too, and this is totally normal! 

Arrive a little early to ensure you have to breathe a little and chat with your photographer upon your arrival. Also, I’m a natural light photographer and I want to ensure that we have the best natural light for your session.

A good photographer knows how to guide you in and out of poses naturally; a really good photographer knows how to help you enjoy the process. Remember, this is a special time for you and your partner to be with each other in a beautiful place. Revel in the process and experience even make a date out of it!

I hope these tips were helpful! As with so many other things in life, a little bit of planning makes all the difference.

Read “8 Reasons Why to Hire a Professional Photographer”

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Jeannemarie is a destination wedding photographer based out of Honolulu, Hawaii who photographs adventurous couples around the globe.


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Well hello there and welcome. Starting out my career in NYC as a graphic designer and art director, which had taken me from ice cream and beer to the fashion world, working on some of the top brands. All of which taught me about composition and working under pressure. After a life changing trip, I decided it was time to explore the world and have an adventure. 
I tell you this as it helps me, help you capture your own story with care, creativity and emotion.

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