How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session

 
All photographs by Mariel Hannah

All photographs by Mariel Hannah

Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless

featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

More than once, a personal friend or family member will reach out to me for wedding style advice. Cottage Hill started as a wedding and lifestyle publication, and I spent a lot of time prior to self-publishing in the wedding industry.

What can be confusing for my non-industry friends, though, is they see a beautiful editorial with perfectly posed models and clothing, items only sourced and found by stylists where if purchased would costs exponentially more than they can afford. This is one of our reasons for no longer accepting styled shoots.

So while those editorials are beautiful and inspiring and art-filled, they don't always paint a full picture of how an everyday person could implement some of that art-filled inspiration into a real setting. 

Well, I hope to do just that for you today. Here are my top 5 tips for creating a romantic, yet authentic engagement session featuring a real engagement. See words from the bride at the bottom!

How to Create an Artful and Authentic Engagement Session

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

Choose Collaborating Artists Who are not only Talented but Eager to Create Something Authentic to You as a Couple

Of course, you want to choose a photographer whose work you admire, but you also want to interview them and ask good questions about how they like to use their art to tell the unique stories of each of their clients. You want to know, are they on board to guiding you towards creating something special and timeless?

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

Another collaborator to consider is a stylist—someone who can help you choose the details and set the tone that will most reflect the story you wish to tell. 

Think about these photos beyond sharing them on social media. Think about the longevity of these moments beyond a profile picture.

Imagine you're 80-years old, sitting down with your grandchildren showing them what Grandma and Grandpa were like when they were young and newly in love. Do you want to show them something themed and trendy? Or, do you want them to see something timeless, where your real personalities and love can shine through?

You want to work with collaborators—a photographer and maybe a stylist as well—who believe in this vision and are excited to tell your story.

Find a Location or Create an Environment that Means Something to You

Environment plays a huge role in your session. Think of your childhood home. What sort of feelings does the idea of that space evoke? What smells come to mind? Sounds? Pretty powerful that just thinking of it makes you fee a certain way, right?

The same thing applies to choosing your environment for your session. How do you want to feel as a couple? What sort of space will make you feel that way? Or is there a location that is meaningful to you?

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

Maybe the restaurant where you met stirs up that romantic excitement you want to share with your grandkids one day. Maybe there is a field you always pass on the way home, and with permission from the owner, running through it together reminds you of your relationship.

This is a great opportunity for your collaborators to help you as well, scout and search for a location that inspires you to feel the way you want to feel for these moments. 

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

Be Mindful of Your Clothing Choices

Dressing up for your session is completely fine, but do be mindful of your clothing options. For example, if you are going to be outdoors, be sure you feel free to move and walk or run in the outfit and shoes you pick.

Also, think of how the outfit makes sense in the scene. For example, Reagan and Maxwell wanted romance and drama, so she donned two gowns, but notice how they move. Her first dress is light and easy to lift around the beach, rocks and tall grass. Her second dress purposefully catches the wind found on the cliff—both creating a romantic and dramatic mood.

Heavy fabric would not work here. Ornate designs would not make sense in a natural, outdoor setting. Soft, lightweight fabrics with simple designs not only makes sense with the environment, but also gives them a timeless look. So while it's a beautiful setting, you're drawn in to them and not everything else.

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell
How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

Have a Clear Purpose or Direction for Your Moments

My husband and I love each other dearly, and we can be quite affectionate—when no one is around. In front of others, we are very shy about being affectionate; and, put a camera lens in front of us and we both freeze. 

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

The best photographers will guide you through your session with a purpose and clear direction that feels as natural as walking across a field. While you may have moments of pausing, you also want moments of movements.

Movement helps not only give you ease in front of the camera but helps draw out those authentic moments—real laughs, real looks, real action.

Movement also helps develop a story. Did you ever hear a great story about someone who did nothing and went nowhere? Probably not. Physical movement and moving to different locations, helps the entire session feel more natural both for you and for those enjoying the photographs later on.

Don't Forget the Most Important Part, Have Fun

Having your photograph taken is not something that happens every day, and being able to make it special with your loved one is even more special—so have fun with it!

I want to reiterate what I mentioned above, and that is, these moments are for you. Don't become consumed with how you will look on social media, or if your session will be as good as your friends' or what your aunt is going to say about it. This is your time, your marriage and your moments to look back on and treasure. 

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

How to Create a Romantic Engagement Session that feels Authentic and Timeless, featuring real Couple Reagan and Maxwell

From the Featured Bride

We chose the location of our engagement photos based on our love for green rolling mountains and the sounds and sights of the ocean. The simplicity and peaceful beauty of the cliff side depict what Maxwell and I want to for our future together. We wanted to bring our eagerness for peaceful and simple living and reflect that with the most serene colors of the world; the greens and browns of nature meet the blue of the sea.

Maxwell and I have dreams of traveling to different places. We love the idea of embracing all different cities, cultures, and beauty but the idea of being on a European countryside was so appealing to us amongst the chaos and busy everyday life. So we found that in Big Sur, California.

As we moved along the cliffside, more and more we began to realize that our six years together are only just a moment in comparison to the rest of our lives. We laughed with one another, were serious and dramatic at times.

After dating for six years, and being engaged for almost ten months now, we are so excited for our future together and are so grateful that we could experience such beauty together while our photographer captured every moment of it. 

Full Image Gallery

Full Story Credits: Photography by Mariel Hannah Gowns by Mary Rita