choosing the perfect time, location,
outfit & more!




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 our photos 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 weddings 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!). 

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!



The Guys

I get it. Having your picture taken for an hour 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.


Is there a "good" time to take photos?

Engagement sessions can take place anywhere from immediately following a proposal to just a few weeks 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 summery greenery, or based on schedules. 

Sessions typically last around an hour when when we can—I love to shoot either early morning just after sunrise or in the evening. I prefer to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky to avoid harsh shadows and bright sun patches on a sunny day. If it’s cloudy, we might want to start a little earlier than planned as it will get darker sooner than normal!

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 we’ve finished shooting and if your session takes place in the morning, the sun gets more harsh as it rises. 


Typically 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. 



I love 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 in a place with classic architecture in downtown area, 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. From luscious gardens to lavender fields to apple picking and college campuses, the options for engagement session locations are endless!  


An old vintage barn or farmyard


Gravel road

A field or prairie with long grass


Palisades State Park (Garretson SD)

Stone State Park (Sioux City, IA)

Blue Mounds State Park (Luverne, MN)

Pine Hollow Hideaway (Sioux Falls, SD)

Newton Hills State Park (Canton, SD)

Downtown city parking ramps


First date location

Where he proposed

College campus

Your favorite hobby/activity to do together


MODERN / minimal

Coffee shop

240 Studios (Sioux Falls, SD)

Whitespace Studio (Sioux Falls, SD)

City downtown (Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Orange City)

Parking ramps (Sioux Falls or Sioux City)

Neutral colored buildings

GREENERY & blooms

Puddle Jumper Trail (Orange City, IA)

Adams Nature Preserve (Sioux City, IA)

Outdoor Campus (Sioux Falls, SD)

Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum (Sioux Falls, SD)

Vineyard or orchard

Most locations listed under “Photos with a View” also have a lot of greenery and blooms.

the above locations are all beautiful but I also love exploring meaningful locations with my couples! Engagement sessions further than 100 miles roundtrip are charged at $.56/mile roundtrip. Client is also responsible for paying any entrance / parking fees associated with the location they choose.


I love when couples choose to incorporate pets into their session. Keep in mind that bringing a pet along often means that we’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. 



When picking outfits I recommend keeping in mind the word “complement” rather than “match.” And I love light, pastel, and earthly tones! If you struggle with picking out colors that look good together, you can never go wrong with blacks, whites, and greys.

Generally couples pick two or three 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. 


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 engagement session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain.  Typically, if it’s raining I make the call to reschedule the shoot because I don’t want to risk my gear getting wet. However, if it’s windy or cold but no precipitation, I leave it up to client if they feel comfortable shooting in the weather conditions or if they’d rather reschedule.

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 gentle dishwashing soap for 20 to 30 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.


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, a trying to fly a kite together when it’s not a part of your relationship may come off as contrived.



"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! 

Date Night

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t get this dressed up all that often. Which 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!

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When to Expect Your Images

I know you’ll be so excited to see your photos! And I’ll do my best to edit them in a timely manner, but I believe in quality over quantity. During busy season (May-November), turnaround is typically around 4 weeks. In the offseason I usually get them back to you in more like 2 weeks. I do offer rush editing if you need your gallery back sooner than the current turnaround time, too – just ask!


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