Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Thinking about engagement photos

You all know I'm getting married next year, so I was hoping to get your thoughts about engagement photos!  I'm a little overwhelmed by the whole idea, but I know I want to do them.
I've sort of picked up the idea that engagement shoots are a relatively new thing, and my mom thinks they're sort of frivolous.  But, they're fun, and I want to do one!  I would love if you would all share your opinions of engagement photos... good? Bad?  Seems to me that, if nothing else, they're a good way to ensure that you have a good photo of you and your betrothed, since sometimes that's hard to get with snapshots.  And, they make great photos to send along with the save-the-date.  But they can be good or bad, I'm sure... as creative people, what do you look for in an engagement shoot?  What things do you think make them look classy, funky, cool, interesting, or...?
I have a photographer friend who has generously volunteered to take our engagement photos, so now I am thinking all over the place about what type of pics I want, and where, and with what attitude, and, most importantly, what should I wear?  ;)
Here are some photos I've found online that are just gorgeous, and different than your basic guy-and-girl-in-love-in-jeans-in-a-park photos (which are fine, I like those too, but I wanted more variety to look over).  I Googled "Portland engagement shoots" or something similar to get ideas for some great places in Portland to take engagement photos--and, boy, do I have a list going now!  We'll have to narrow it down, but I have a lot of ideas!  Anyway, here are some gorgeous photos from Portland- and Seattle-area photographers.
Photos courtesy of Lauren Brooks Photography
Photos courtesy of Mastin Studio
Photos courtesy of Steep Street Photography
Some beautiful images, huh?  I am still overwhelmed by the tons of options for settings and backgrounds, but I have realized I tend to like the outdoor ones best (most of them are outdoors), and I like the ones with vintage-ey inspired clothes ;)!  Not sure how Jason will feel about sporting a newsboy cap, but he is usually a good sport about weird clothes I get for him.  But what should I wear?!?
If any of you have seen great engagement shoots around the blogosphere, leave me a link to visit!  Or please, let me know your advice for getting great couples photos and what things to aim for.
This whole wedding planning thing is fun and exciting but very overwhelming!  We've still got almost a year till the wedding, but I want to do the engagement photos a good length of time before to get it out of the way, have the pics for our wedding info and send-outs, and take them in summer, my fave season here in beautiful Oregon!
So, what's your advice?


  1. For me, if engagement photos were going to cost a lot of money, I probably wouldn't bother. But luckily, I have a number of photographer friends, so that should help. Sounds like you're the same!

    I LOVE the underwater shot because it's so different from anything else I've seen. It seems to me that the most successful engagement photos look like a photographer happened to capture the couple's (or just the bride-to-be's!) dream date. And I agree--outside photos are the way to go. Nothing beats natural lighting.

    Congratulations and I'm excited to see yours once you get them taken!

  2. I LOVE these! I'm really picky on photos now since my engagement and wedding pictures turned out like crap! I mean seriously, it was a gorgeous wedding and the pics are garbage. My friends got better ones.

    I say go for it cause it's the only chance you have. Don't be like me and look back wishing you had done something different.

  3. To me engagement photos are a good way to get to know the photographer that you're going to use for your wedding. A way to test their work before your big day!

  4. I agree with Sarah. Engagement photos are a great way to get to know (or choose) your photographer for your wedding. One of my friends getting married in November had two engagement sessions and ended up going with the second photographer for her wedding photos. Everything I've heard from relatives and online says that your photographer is the *one* part of the wedding you should really splurge on...so why not make sure your photographer can really capture who you are as a couple?

    GreenWeddingShoes.com is my favorite wedding-planning blog to follow, and there are engagement photos posted almost every week (with links to the photographers websites). It's a great, organized way to see a bunch of options without having to search around for image sources, and the DIY ideas are really helpful too. I love the outdoorsy photos with vintage filters, but then I've seen some neat storybook inspired ones too (one Alice in Wonderland-inspired shoot had the bride-to-be in a vintage blue frilly gown and they took pictures in the woods with tons of antique teacups and cute little decorated cookies!)

    Good luck!

  5. you are a doll, and WHATEVER you decided to do is going to rock. :)

  6. we had our engagement photos about 6 months before our wedding so we had plenty of photos to use for the wedding. where i live (in the mid-west) most photographers offer free engagement sessions when you book them for your wedding, so that's something you could look into!

    engagement sessions are a great way to get to know your photographer and be more comfortable in front of the camera with them, and i think a lot of photographers would agree that being comfortable with your shooters and crew is going to show in your photos. i could tell even just from our engagement shoot as my finance got more comfortable, the shots from later in the shoot are way better than the first few! i'm getting married in a month and can't wait to see how the wedding photos turn out!

  7. Engagements photos are awesome and so fun. It's worth it to have them for putting up at your wedding or to decorate your house with. These shots are all great but it's important to have at least one good picture with clear views of both your face and your fiance's. People receiving your save-the-dates want to see what your face looks like and how happy your guys are together. The other fun shots are for decorating and such. That's great that a friend will do them for you because photography is so expensive. I love the idea of vintage though. It's totally you!

  8. We did outdoor engagement photos, but we also had some fun studio shots. I wore a dress from my grandma's trousseau (!) and he wore a vintage jacket and tie with a pipe. Very June and Ward Cleaver. (Luckily a close friend is a professional photographer!)

    Also, make sure you get at least a few "boring" pictures with you and your fiance looking at the camera; otherwise elderly relatives will complain that they can't see your beautiful faces.

  9. love the ones in the bookstore. I think I would choose a photographer where the couples look like they are enjoying themselves- the humor just elevates the pictures to a whole other plane.

    and congratulations!

  10. Anonymous8/21/2010

    Good idea. Wear something classic that you won't look back on in 25 years and go "what was I thinking?" Go somewhere that means something to you...or at least the IDEA of the place means something to you. These are photos that you'll be able to look back on to help remind you about when you first fell in love!

  11. Maybe it's a Southern thing...no one I know down here would get married without engagement pics. That's the pic that runs in your hometown paper announcing upcoming nuptuals!

    My hubby & I went to the same college (but didn't know one another when we were there) so we had our photo session on campus.

    This is one of my favorites, it's where he proposed to me. http://i273.photobucket.com/albums/jj216/tara_burkholder/Engagement%20Photos/scannedcopy9.jpg

  12. I think engagement pictures are a great way to show you and your fiance's personality and relationship. Plus, I felt like I had more time to try different shots and locations during the engagement photo session, than pictures on the wedding day when everyone is waiting on you. We actually ended up using some of our engagement pics for our wedding invitations.

  13. I don't really like kissing engagement shots - meaningful looking into the eyes shots just look better to me. Love the idea of engagement shots - need my man to propose first though!!

  14. Anonymous8/21/2010

    Hi there! As a semi-professional photographer (I primarily shoot portraiture) I will add my two cents from the few weddings I have been so fortunate to photograph.

    From reading your blog the last couple of months I think that an engagement session, geared towards documenting your loving relationship and showing off your vibrant personality are key. What the heck does that mean? It means, choosing vintagey clothing, incorporating humor into some of the images, choosing an outdoors location that has some significance to you and your future partner in crime...choosing a location with architectural interest will add to your photos as well. Lately, with my own clients, we've been playing around with signs and such...each holding a sign that says "Thank" "You", "Save the" "DATE!" and the like. I agree with Amy about the kissing engagement photos--though they are always apart of my client sessions, I beg my clients to use images that convey a strong emotion(loving gazes, laughter) and that include both of your beautiful faces for any "Save the Date" or announcements.

    On a more personal/professional note--engagement sessions are "mandatory" for my clients. I do NOT require any purchases to be made but it's absolutely essential for us to get to know each other. I want to be sure to capture all that is radiant and amazing about my clients relationships and I want my brides and grooms to feel comfortable with me. After the session, I evaluate if I think I am a good fit for the couple and sincerely ask my clients to do the same thing.

    I hope this helps and I am CERTAIN your photos will be amaze-balls.

    Check out a friend's blog for some really inspiring stuff.


    Please note, this is NOT MY SITE but belongs to another amazing photographer.

  15. I did engagement photos and LOVED them. They are totally worth it. I think the photo shoot should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom. We had a photo shoot all over town, from my undergraduate institution to the square downtown, to a random alley (which incidentally produced my favorite picture). I totally get a budget; my very creative maid of honor did my shoot. Totally worth it.

  16. I would say do them! Besides our wedding, it's the only time we have good, fun pictures of the 2 of us taken. And you don't want to overwhelm your house with wedding pics. They're beautiful, but you know. After you get married and have kids, etc. it seems kinda silly to go take pics of just the 2 of you. I'd say do it!

  17. Of course you should have photos taken. Everything that salutes your love should be done. It would be a contast to your formal wedding photos.

    Ps. Love your blogg!

  18. Thank you so much, everyone, you guys ROCK! It is so great to hear your thoughts about this, and to see some photos of you or other inspirations.
    I totally agree about the kissing photos--and really, I included so many of those coincidentally, since I was mostly just showing the setting and, in some cases, wardrobes I liked. Also, I really think engagement photos look best as a group, so it's probably okay to do kissing pics if you mix them in with other scenes from the same place.
    I really appreciate the photographers' points of view, too, and I love hearing more ideas of what to do with the great engagement photos I will hopefully get! Thanks so much and keep the advice comin'!

  19. I would definately do them! I like the row boat, walking on the fence, framed in flowers and chalk on the ground photos. You're right, those are definately different than the typical shots. As far as what to wear, I would do something special, but still a little casual, and something with lots of color to make it pop. Good luck!

  20. I think they're fun! My sister is a fabulous professional photographer who comes to Portland a lot: http://redcouchphoto.com and http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=13368885&id=231171440643#!/photos.php?id=231171440643

  21. Here's a photographer that I love:
    She's so fun and did great photos for me. She's in Eastern Washington, but you may get some ideas for shots and outfits. She mostly does engagement and wedding photos

  22. I love engagement photo shoots only when they are creative and not the typical photos. oncewed.com is a great wedding blog with beautiful, and creative diy weddings. They also have many posts for engagement photo shoots. greenweddingshoes.com is also another great one.

  23. I love the photo of the bride walking on the fence and the groom holding her hand. The best one, in my opinion. Good luck!

  24. These are gorgeous photos... so many great ones to choose from! I agree with others who have said to go with a photographer whose photo subjects look really happy. The photographer can suggest great locations for you so you don't have to choose, but looking happy makes for the very best photos, and the ones you'll be most happy to look at many years down the road. Good luck choosing!


  25. Anonymous8/23/2010

    Engagement photos aren't something that I haven't seen before, but the ones that you posted are amazing. I agree with a lot of the statements above. Go for it! If you really want them you are only going to look back at this years from now and wish you did.
    Good luck.

  26. I think engagement pictures are fun and such a cherished memory!! I am so happy that we got them done. They are something great to be able to share with people! We also had things done with them at the wedding like we made a photo guest book for people to sign and used a ton of our engagement pictures for that..and we sent a wallet size of our favorite engagement picture along with the wedding invites.
    Get them done and share with us!! ;)

  27. Anonymous8/23/2010

    My sis in law is an Atlanta photog... this my fav of her shoots...


  28. Engagement shoots are the best! It really gives you good practice for your wedding day in being comfortable in front of the camera. We made ours extra special by recreating a photo of my grandparents around the time of their wedding. And a great photographer makes a huge difference!

  29. We decided to make photography a priority in our wedding budget because we knew that years later, the photos would be the main thing that we'd always have. We paid a good-sized chunk of our budget for our engagement & wedding photos and have never regretted it! Those photos are such a treasure and also really great to use as displays at your reception, on save-the-dates, etc.

    I've noticed in looking at many engagement pictures that the best outfits seem to be the ones that best reflect your style and personality. It's great to look at the photos and feel that they capture you and your fiance exactly as you are. :)

  30. I'm getting married next year too (in Disney World!), and have yet to decide if I want to do engagement photos. Apparently, if you do, people like to look at them in a gallery on your wedding website. I think the idea of doing a shoot with your wedding photog is a good one, but we haven't chosen a wedding photog yet. We're sooo behind on things. We're getting married in May and even though we got engaged in April, somehow I still don't have my act together.

  31. Ahh! I love the whole photography part of weddings!

    My husband and I got married in January and I had a bad feeling about the pictures. It was cold and wet outside and we didn't want to see each other til after the wedding so all pictures would be after dark. But we had a wonderful photographer. (Who just happens to be in Portland!) Our pictures are really fun and not the standard old standards.


    The main thing is--enjoy and get ready for the wild ride of marriage! :)

  32. Anonymous8/25/2010

    love all of your fun creations.
    if you need some inspiration for poses/locations, check out ruffledblog.com-i think you would like it's vintage-y vibe and d.i.y. ideas for unique and creative weddings.



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