The Complete Guide to Engagement Photos — All Your Questions Answered Here!

August 10, 2021

If you’re anything like me, you hear the word *photos* and instantly clam up. Y’all, there’s a reason you see so little of my face around here….I am a straight cheese when that camera comes out! But with photography being such a core piece of the wedding planning process, we want to make sure you are best prepared when your photographer says “Smile!”

So today, we’re sitting down with our friend Kymmy at Kymberly Janelle Photography to give us the low-down on engagement photos. So Kymmy, tell us all the things! What they are, what they’re for, and how can our couples make them uniquely ‘theirs’?

What’s the Point of Engagement Photos?

This is the chance for the two of you to celebrate that ring! Your engagement photo session is a low-stress, fun way to practice those wedding day poses and loosen up in front of the camera. You’ll even get to bond with your photographer in the process which will make your wedding day that much smoother! Now that you have spent time together, know each other better, and can be comfortable together, you’ll be less nervous showing up on wedding day-of as strangers.

Your engagement photo images can be used everywhere! Think Save the Dates, wedding websites, invitations, Mom’s gallery wall, and social media feeds. BTW – If you’re utilizing your photos for Save the Dates, we typically recommend you schedule that session as soon as you’ve chosen your photographer. Save the Dates typically mail out 8-12 months before your wedding day, so getting your engagement session in beforehand is ideal.

We highly recommend getting engagement pictures with your wedding photographer! They are just another set of memories to last a lifetime, and we love seeing your smiling faces all over our instagram feeds.

Wedding Planner’s Pro Tip: Looking for the perfect Save the Date for your engagement photos? Check out our friends at Basic Invite and Minted! We snagged some special offers, just for you lovelies!

How Should I Prepare for Engagement Photos?

  • Choose clothing that you love! It translates through your body language if you aren’t crazy about your outfit. I suggest choosing one casual outfit (think a date out together!) and one that is slightly more dressy. Don’t forget to chat with your photographer about how much time is included in your engagement photo session and how many outfits to bring. I typically recommend to plan for (2) outfits per hour
  • Schedule your hair and makeup trial for the same day as your engagement photos! Camera ready makeup is different than everyday makeup, so this is a great opportunity to test-run your wedding day look. Don’t forget to get those nails done, too! Your ring hand just may be a focus of these photos 😉
  • Share images you love (or don’t love) with your photographer to guide them through what you’d like to see from your engagement photo session
  • Share locations that are near and dear to the both of you. Was the proposal at Loose Park? What a perfect spot to revisit for engagement photos! First date was at Tom’s Town? Yup, another perfect spot to capture your love story! Don’t forget to mention any hard no locations to your photographer. All of these details will help craft the perfect experience for your session  
  • Make a whole day of it! Following your engagement photo session, why not head for dinner and drinks downtown. Not quite ready to turn in yet? Catch a live music performance, or pop on in to a favorite downtown stay for the evening. Bonus! The next morning you’ll be conveniently located to some of the best brunch and mimosa spots around!

What Should I Wear for an Engagement Photo Shoot?

This can depend on where your engagement photos are scheduled!

  • For Cityscape Backdrops: Go bold with your colors! (But stay away from neons.) How about that little red dress hanging out in your closet, or that gorgeous yellow maxi? Downtown photo sessions are the perfect spot to show them off! Kansas City backdrops offer So. Much. Flexibility. You can wear anything from ripped jeans with a band tee and converse, to a stunning velvet maxi dress.  
  • For Outdoor Backdrops: Whites, khakis, blues, and burgandys will help your images pop against that green in the background. Keep away from the color green or else you’ll straight blend in to the scenery!

Wedding Planner Pro Tip: Check out Whatever Is Lovely on Like to Know It for engagement photo outfit ideas!

Where Should I Go for Engagement Photos?

My number one tip with locations is to trust your engagement photographer. Share with them your style and vision, and they’ll find the perfect location– oftentimes a unique location you’ve never even heard of! Part of a photographer’s job is finding locations with the perfect light for the time of day you are shooting. Some great locations we love:

  • Outdoor Park Vibe: Loose Park, Shawnee Mission Park, and the Nelson Atkins
  • City Vibe: Liberty Memorial, Crossroads, and Power & Light. (Some of my favorite locations downtown include the rooftops on parking garages. It’s such a fun way to get down in the middle of Kansas City!) 
  • Unique Location: Think spots like a greenhouse, coffee shop, bar, library, zoo, art gallery, or even a hotel lobby
  • In Home Location: A cozy Air BNB with great natural light, or even your own home!

Wedding Planner’s Pro Tip! We love the Air BNB This Slow Space. Just look how perfect it was for our lovely’s Ali + Tyler’s in-home session with Deana Coufal Photography

Each location photographs better at certain times of the day, so let your photographer know which background type you prefer and let them suggest the start time. The best times to shoot are early morning, and 1-2 hours before sunset for that gorgeous golden hour light.

Take note— There are several locations around the city that require permits and/or a shooting fee ranging from $25/hr-$150/hr. Some permits are required 30 days in advance (like the amazing Burr Oaks.) Double check that your engagement photographer has obtained the necessary permits before your engagement photos.

Wedding Planner’s Pro Tip! There are locations in the Kansas City area that do not allow photography. Please respect the rules and don’t ask your photographer to shoot there.

Make It Uniquely You!

These engagement photos are a reflection of you and your love story. So why not make sure they reflect the both of you?! A few questions you could ask to get the creative juices flowing are:

  • What places do the two of you love frequent? Your favorite coffee shop? BarK where y’all go every weekend with the pup? Or maybe the restaurant where you had your first date? There are no limits here! 
  • Do you have a pet? Your fur babies are so fun to incorporate into your engagement photos! Bringing your pet? Count us in! 🙋🏻‍♀️
  • Is Netflix and chill more your vibe? How about an in home session! Highlight the two of you at home, cuddling on the couch or cooking dinner together. Maybe you just bought your first house together, and it has an incredible rooftop view of downtown? Let’s grab photos in this celebration of your life journey in a place that you two are the most comfortable.
  • How about some elements of fun?! Think team jerseys, unique signs, balloons, champagne, confetti, etc! Thank goodness for Pinterest and the overflowing amount of ideas they have. We have a whole board dedicated to engagement photos, so make sure to check there for more ideas!

But I’m So Awkward in Photos!

Okay, but same. I am the queen of awkward poses and cheesy smiles, so I feel you! One of the best parts in having a pro wedding photographer taking your engagement photos is that they are well equipped to capture the natural you, even when it feels awkward. Your photographer’s number one goal is for your personality and love to be the focal point of each capture.

Wedding Planner’s Pro Tip! Our goal is to help demystify engagement photos. Our thought is, the more knowledge you have about the process, the more confident you’ll feel when that camera pops out! To help loosen couples up during their engagement photo session, your photographer will give encouragement to take photos in a place that’s comfortable and meaningful to you. They’ll also use tricks to make y’all laugh like, “Whisper your favorite food in her ear”, “flirt with each other”, and silly things like that!

Poses your photographer may use:

  • The Drunk Walk: This is one of my go-to poses! Every couple ends up laughing like crazy over this one. I’ll have y’all snuggle up close– having babe put their arm around your shoulder while you hold hands and snuggle their waist. I then say to “walk towards me like they are drunk pushing the other person over.” The end results are adorable!
  • Cuddle up: Need I say more?! It’s the easiest pose and the one that comes the most natural
  • Hold hands and walk towards the photographer: Easy peasy! Hold hands with the ring hand on your fiance’s arm (showing off that bling bling) and walk towards me. Go back and forth between looking at me and then looking at each other. 
  • RUNNNN: Yep! I literally have y’all hold hands and run. Anything that evokes real laughter, I am HERE FOR IT 👏🏼

About the Expert – Kymberly Janelle Photography

Eleven years ago I picked up a camera and knew that I knew that I’d be a photographer. June of this year it will officially be ten years and oh my goodness do I feel so incredibly blessed to be doing what I LOVE. I half jokingly refer to myself as my brides third wheel hype woman during the process of photographing them. I will be that person cheering you on that helllloooooo you’re getting married and also that you look real dang good while doing it. 

My greatest joy and honor in life is raising my almost 5 year old son as a single mama. We love traveling so you will find us back in my home state of Washington every couple months photographing, and off in the colorado mountains as often as we can. I have an unhealthy obsession with coffee that I am slowly working on (by working on, I mean encouraging of course!)

Here is my biggest tip for you all – At the end of the day this is about the love the two of you share. Bring that love and have fun. Forget about trying to look like anyone else, dressing like anyone else. The story the two of you have is perfectly, uniquely you. Bring that! Trust your photographer to do their job and you do yours. Love that person in front of you real good.

Find out more about Kymmy!


Instagram: @kymberlyjanellephoto

Facebook: @kymberlyjanellephoto


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