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PLANNING YOUR

Engagement
Session

choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & more!

  • to the MAIN WEBSITE

PLANNING YOUR

ENGAGEMENT SESSION

choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & more!

Welcome

A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE

I’m so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your engagement session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photo taken – and I do this for a living!

I’m a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how I pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on wedding days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits – which is why I’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time. 

Second, you can showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is significant to the two of you (and even include pets!). While they’re great for save-the-dates, I’ve taken engagement photos anywhere from 18 months in advance to a few days before the wedding. 

There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know. 

I’ll cover what to wear, whether to bring pets & how to manage them, location ideas, and more!

– Mariko

A NOTE TO

The Hesitant

I get it. Having your picture taken for 1-2 hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do during your downtime. And at first, you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for us all to hang out a bit before the wedding day.

TIME & LIGHT

Is there a “good” time to take photos?

Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few days before the wedding. I’ve found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a couple has in mind, spring flowers for example, or based on schedules. 

Sessions typically last about an hour to an hour and a half and when I can—I love to begin sessions about two hours before sunset. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches. The first two hours after sunrise is also an ideal time to shoot.

I schedule sessions during what I believe will be the best light of the day – which means that it’s super important to be on time. If you’re late to an evening session, we could run out of light before I’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets harsher as it rises. 

woman holsing man at Rosedown Plantation

Seasons

While I shoot most of my engagement sessions in spring and fall, sessions can take place all year. Most of my couples choose a season based on the location where they want to shoot. 

A few things to keep in mind during each season: 

Winter

hot cocoa and cozy sweaters

If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running.

Fall

perfect weather and snuggling close

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year in Louisiana and because of the perfect weather, my schedules typically book up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book!

Summer

walks in the sun hand in hand

Summer in Louisiana is HOT! During summer the sun sets later so sessions sometimes begin as late as 6 pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, I recommend bringing extra makeup, a few towels, and lots of water to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.

Spring

fresh flowers and sunny days

Spring is prime time for sessions in Louisiana. The weather is perfect and spring typically has fewer rainy days than some of the other seasons. Be sure to schedule your spring session early because these are prime dates for engagement sessions.

Winter

hot cocoa and cozy sweaters

If you’re planning to take your engagement photos during the winter, keep in mind that if your session takes place in the evening, we could begin shooting as early as 2:30pm to catch the sunset. I recommend dressing in layers so that in between photos you can warm up. Make sure you bring a little extra makeup and tissues in case your nose begins running.

Fall

perfect weather and snuggling close

Fall is one of the prettiest times of the year in Louisiana and because of the perfect weather, my schedules typically book up quickly! If you have your heart set on a fall engagement session, I recommend scheduling it as soon as you book!

Summer

walks in the sun hand in hand

Summer in Louisiana is HOT! During summer the sun sets later so sessions sometimes begin as late as 6 pm. If you’re taking your engagement photos during the summer, I recommend bringing extra makeup, a few towels, and lots of water to make sure you stay fresh throughout your session.

Spring

fresh flowers and sunny days

Spring is prime time for sessions in Louisiana. The weather is perfect and spring typically has fewer rainy days than some of the other seasons. Be sure to schedule your spring session early because these are prime dates for engagement sessions.

Save-the-dates

If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding. 

If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates, and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready. 

couple touching foreheads at Rosedown Plantation

Save-the-dates

If your wedding is local, save the dates should be sent between 6 and 8 months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, you’ll want to send them out 8 to 10 months before the wedding. 

If you’re hoping to use your engagement photos for your save the dates, I recommend scheduling your session at least two months before you plan to send out your save-the-dates. Between inclement weather, editing, designing your save-the-dates, and printing, two months is generally a safe amount of time to make sure your images and cards are ready. 

couple touching foreheads at Rosedown Plantation

Locations

LOUISIANA ENGAGEMENT LOCATIONS

I love it when couples choose a location for their session that complements their wedding. For example, if you’re planning a chic, elegant wedding, it may be fitting to take your engagement portraits among the classic architecture in downtown New Orleans or Baton Rouge, while a local park or flower-filled fields may be more fitting for a couple planning a more rustic affair. The best session locations are often meaningful places to the couple; however, I’m also happy to make recommendations. 

Baton Rouge/Denham Springs/North Shore Area

Nottoway Plantation in White Castle – $400 for Bridals
Downtown Baton Rouge – Covington, Denham Springs – FREE
Abita Springs Brewery – tour fees
Fountainebleau State Park in Mandeville – $3 per person in the vehicle
LSU Ag Center Botanic gardens – $75
Windrush Gardens – $70
Rural Life Museum – $70
Windrush & Rural Life – $140
Shaw Arts Center (outside) – FREE
Old Governors Mansion – $200
Old State Capitol – contact (225)342-0500 for fees
Sidney Hutchison Park – Walker – FREE

New Orleans

Audobon Park – FREE
City Park – $50 permit fee
Audobon Zoo – $14.95 admission fee PER PERSON
Aquarium of the Americas – $100-$125 fee
Longview House – $160 for 2 hours
Race and Religious – $200 first hours, $100 each additional hour
French Quarter – Surcharge will apply for day and night sessions to cover parking fees

Lafayette/New Iberia

Avery Island (Jungle Gardens) – $50
Rip Van Winkle Gardens -Bridal photos are $100.00 per hour.
All other photos are $50.00 per hour
Lake Martin – FREE

Thibodaux – $50 Travel Fee

Laurel Valley – FREE
Downtown Thibodaux- FREE
Dansereau House – $150 for 2 hours
Oak Alley in Vacherie – $125 for Engagements, $400 for Bridals

Houma – $50 travel fee

Adyronne Plantation – $100 hour
Downtown Houma – FREE
Twelve Oaks Plantation Bed and Breakfast – $50 grounds only/ $100 inside AND grounds, OR $25 grounds only/$50 inside and grounds allowing Twelves Oaks rights to your photos for advertising

Mississippi – $100 Travel Fee

Winsor Ruins – FREE

*FEES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE

It is the couple’s responsibility to contact locations and private residences for sessions, It is also the couple’s responsibility to obtain any permits that are required by certain locations.

the above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my couples!

Destination Engagement Sessions

While we take most of our engagement sessions in the Maryland area, 
we’ve photographed sessions everywhere from Richmond to New York City to Austin, Texas. If you have a location in mind that is significant to the two of you, let us know because if our schedules align, we might be able to take your engagement photos outside of our normal area. 

Travel fees may apply depending on the location and our availability. 

Used for Mobile – Dont delete

Pets

Our dogs are a huge part of our family, which is why I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that you’ll need to choose a pet friendly location. 

I recommend planning for your pet to be at the first part of your session and then either dropping them off or having a friend take them home. I won’t use the pet in every single photo so it’s also nice to have a friend available to hold him or her in between shots. 

If you’re going to bring a pet, I recommend exercising your pet before the session and bringing your pets favorite toy or treats! Depending on your pet’s fur type, it might also be a good idea to groom them before the shoot. 

Outfits

TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST

When picking outfits we recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” For example, if the groom-to-be is wearing a blue and pink pastel plaid shirt, the bride-to-be may want to choose a long, soft blue dress. It can also be a great idea to choose “color-families,” such as pastels or jewel tones. 

 Generally, couples pick two outfits for an engagement session: a more formal outfit and a casual outfit. I recommend saving your favorite outfit for later in the session when couples usually feel more comfortable in front of the camera. And don’t forget to bring a few accessories! Statement necklaces, cute shoes, and classic watches are great ways to add detail to outfits. 


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the ladies

Wardrobe Tips

Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots. 

I love the way larger patterns photograph – just be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small – it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. 

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors – especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. I love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion. 


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OUTFITS


ACCESSORIES


WHERE TO SHOP


HAIR & MAKEUP


MANICURE


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the ladies

Accessories

Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress. Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs. 

And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress! 

They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!


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OUTFITS


ACCESSORIES


WHERE TO SHOP


HAIR & MAKEUP


MANICURE


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the ladies

Favorite Shops

Rent the Runway
ASOS
Morning Lavender
J. Crew
Anthropologie
Free People
Francesca’s
Jessakae
ModCloth
Shop Ruche
Hazel & Olive
Lulu’s
H&M
Shabby Apple
Vici Dolls
Nordstrom
One Loved Babe
Arden
Filly Flair


on to the next

find it fast


OUTFITS


ACCESSORIES


WHERE TO SHOP


HAIR & MAKEUP


MANICURE


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the ladies

Hair & Makeup

Engagement sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup trial! Professionally done hair & makeup last longer than typical hair & makeup. They also tend to hold up better for humidity and wind. 

I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your engagement photos – and if you’re planning to do a hair & makeup trial anyway, the engagement session is a great time to test how your hair & makeup look on camera. 


on to the next

find it fast


OUTFITS


ACCESSORIES


WHERE TO SHOP


HAIR & MAKEUP


MANICURE


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the ladies

Manicure

There will probably be times during your session when I’m shooting your hands holding or the engagement ring on your hand – which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!).


on to the next

find it fast


OUTFITS


ACCESSORIES


WHERE TO SHOP


HAIR & MAKEUP


MANICURE


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the gents

Wardrobe

You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Consider pulling out that suit you had to wear last time you were a groomsmen! Layer with a blazer and a fun tie – you can even wear jeans with this look. Bowties are always a good idea. 

 

Be careful not to choose a pattern that is too small – it may accidentally make your photo look a little too busy. Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors – especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. Cozy sweaters layered over button ups are a great way to stay warm and stylish during the cooler months. 


on to the next

find it fast


OUTFITS


WHERE TO SHOP


FOR THE LADIES


FOR THE GENTS

for the gents

Favorite Shops

Rent the Runway
ASOS
Suit Supply
J. Crew
Zara
Leather & Cotton

Jack Threads
Frank & Oak
Nordstrom
H&M
Urban Outfitters


on to the next

find it fast


OUTFITS


WHERE TO SHOP

man kissing woman's forehead under unbrellas

Inclement Weather

what to do if it rains

I’ll check in the week of your engagement session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. I know it takes a lot of time to get ready for an engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. Let me know what works best for the two of you – but if the weather looks like it won’t be great, I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance. 

Ring Cleaning

When I can, I always try to take a photo of your ring during your engagement session – so it’s a good idea to have it cleaned or clean it yourself before your shoot! To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.

Props

champagne is always a good idea

If you’re planning to bring props to your engagement session, I recommend including them only if they’re meaningful to you. Shots of drinking coffee at a local coffee shop would be cute if that’s where you met; however, trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.

POSING

“What do I do with
my hands”?

When it comes to posing for your engagement session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I’ll guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the two of you laugh – and that’s the photo I’m actually looking for. 

Throughout your session, I’ll keep an eye on your hair, makeup, and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your time together! 

couple twirling at LSU Botanic Gardens
couple playing on rope swing at LSU Botanic Gardens
couple holding hands and walking at LSU Botanic Gardens

Date Night

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get dressed up all that often. This means that the day of your engagement session is the perfect occasion for a date night (or brunch if your session is in the morning!) 

The engagement session is another part of celebrating your love and heading off to dinner is a great way to end the session!

Used for Mobile – Dont delete

couple twirling at LSU Botanic Gardens
couple playing on rope swing at LSU Botanic Gardens
couple holding hands and walking at LSU Botanic Gardens

When to Expect Your Images

Unless I have a holiday closure, you can expect to receive your engagement photos between 2 and 3 weeks after your session. 

woman looking at man at Windrush Gardens

THANK YOU!

I know that this guide is long and hopefully it covers everything you need to know to prep for your engagement session! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email
[email protected]