As we head into engagement season (yes, it’s a thing – this Vogue article
made me laugh!), I wanted to share my top 5 reasons why engagement sessions are so valuable… since after being in this industry for awhile, I’ve answered all of the questions below and you might be wondering the same thing!
- “Do we really need an engagement session? We already have our save the dates designed so we don’t need them for that.”
- “We were going to have Uncle John/my best friend/my brother take them because they can’t wait to try out the new camera they just got and have taken a few photos of us before…”
- “We have a really tight budget. Can we eliminate them from our wedding package to save money?”
- “My fiance really isn’t going to be into it…”
- “I’d rather have my teeth cleaned than stand and pose in front of the camera with a stranger.”
Hold on, I NEED TO STOP THIS LIST RIGHT THERE and say this:
I can promise you by the end of our session I’ll have you laughing, snuggling up and holding hands more naturally than you ever thought possible. Strangers will be smiling at you (if we’re in a more public place) and I will be cheering you on as you feel silly and laugh yet look like you belong on the cover of the magazine that would exist if GQ and Vogue merged into one fancypants stylish publication for BOTH of you.
I love engagement sessions with my couples!! I think they are so valuable to our entire experience together that they are complimentary in all of Urban Row Photography’s wedding packages. My goal is to always give you the most enjoyable experience and professional coverage for your wedding day and I don’t want to give you anything less than my best!
- Our time together during an engagement session functions like a rehearsal for your wedding portraits!
That’s right… the rehearsal for your wedding day *photos* happens months in advance of the actual rehearsal dinner fun. 😉 The connection we make helps me learn the quirks and unique gestures that you and your fiance have together; it helps both of you become comfortable around me and in front of the camera. This helps me capture you both in the most natural, flattering and authentic poses at both the session as well as your big day!
Helpful hint: if you really want it to feel like a true dry run, try coordinating your session with your hair and makeup trials; it will allow you the chance to see how they show up in photos and BONUS… you’ll feel extra glamorous and confident! 🙂
- The timing for an engagement session is generally early on in the process when stress levels are low and excitement is high. (#whycanteverydaybelikethat?)
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the wedding day details, planning, guest count decisions, etc, that another reason I enjoy engagement sessions is that it’s time for you and your love to be in the moment with each other with no additional stress of the next planning deadline to occur or finding time to make sure you are in touch with Aunt Martha from California. It’s just you two in a place that’s full of meaning to you!
Helpful hint: the location of your session is next in importance to taking engagement photos in the first place!! This is where the fun begins! Are you envisioning an urban look to your photos? Maybe downtown along the waterfront?
What about exploring a historic cobblestoned street?
Or a more natural garden aesthetic?
Maybe a local flower farm?
golden, glowing love on a farm
Or a cozy, woodland look?
rainy days can be just as gorgeous!
Or a timeless and classic historic mansion?
a timeless and classic engagement at Hampton Mansion
- This moment in time is unlike one that will ever happen again. It’s the beginning of your family’s love story.
Think about it; your life’s path has now been forever altered in the best way possible. You deserve to to have gorgeous, timeless photos to share and show to your loved ones years from now. Sharing how you both looked, felt and even what you wore when you officially began your journey together is so important. It’s not a phase or a season you’ll ever get back and I’m pretty sure your kids will love looking through your engagement photos while hearing you tell your version of the proposal story. Heck, I’ve heard my parents story 17 times but I’ve yet to see a photo from that period in their lives… and I so wish I could!
- Bringing your pet to the wedding may not be feasible. So furry friends are welcome at your engagement shoot and actually… ENCOURAGED!
Your little fur-baby plays such a large part in your life and they are generally absent on your big day for logistical reasons (although I’d LOVE it if they were there! Who is planning to have their pet included in their wedding day and/or ceremony!? Let’s TALK!!). So, I love when my couples include some time during their engagement photos to involve their pets. Let’s be honest, when was the last time all 3 of you got behind the camera together? Those first ‘family’ photos become just as important a keepsake as your wedding ones!
pups always steal the show!
Helpful hint: feel free to bring Max with you but since dogs aren’t able to understand all the benefits of a 60-90 minute engagement shoot, plan to have a family member or friend available to hand them off to once we’ve taken some key shots. 😉
- My FAVORITE compliments following engagement sessions are from the grooms telling me how they weren’t expecting to have so much fun during the shoot!
I sometimes receive comments from my brides that the groom-to-be is a little bashful or uncomfortable in front of the camera. Well, this is obviously a GREAT reason to have the session. Practice makes perfect, right? It’s a wonderful test run in front of the camera looking into each others eyes and forgetting about everything else. My job is to make this easy for you and capture those easily forgotten candid glances, the nose wrinkles when he makes you laugh and then cracks up himself…
a Univ. of Maryland College Park engagement
- Focused time with your bling. Since your fiancé spent a ton of time (and $$$) on it!
Everyone asks to see the ring once you’re engaged and I love taking a few moments to showcase your new sparkly bits! New, antique, unique, I love seeing them all and learning more about your proposal story and why that specific ring was chosen by your fiancé.
These are just a few reasons why I not only enjoy capturing your love during the time you’re an engaged couple, but also why I feel it is so, so important. Just like our first meeting, the engagement session is a powerful way for our relationship to grow as we gear up for your wedding. We spend so much time together on your wedding day, it’s almost fitting that we have a fun photo ‘date’ before the big day!
a Federal Hill park engagement
I’ve been waiting (not very patiently I might add) to share this dream come true of a styled shoot with you and I’m so excited to finally show off the incredibly creative team that came together at the Accelerator Space! Ever since I stepped foot inside, I knew it would be an amazing space to capture – I couldn’t be more excited for all of the newly engaged couples that will find themselves getting married here!
Here’s a quick sneak peek for now… all of the details will be coming soon in future posts, with featured vendor spotlights so you can learn more about what makes these fabulous professionals so passionate about the work they do. Speaking of passionate entrepreneurs, if you like delicious food, don’t miss out on the goodness that is found just beneath the Accelerator Space: B-More Kitchen. Baltimore’s food incubator is just as inspiring! See more from my time with the chefs, here and here.
If the suspense is killing you, you might want to check out our ‘wild + free’ feature up on Baltimore Bride! 😉
The inspiration for this shoot came from the idea of contrasting the history and character of the previous life of the Accelerator Space as a car dealership/warehouse (mixed metals, glass, bold, clean lines) with a variety of lush, geometric greenery to balance the mixed metal elements and celebrate a late springtime love. Because if there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s a combination of texture, greenery and soft romantic details!!
fun fact: Anthony is my better half in many ways, but especially when it comes to styling details, tablescapes and hand modeling!! I’m not even joking one bit.
Cheers to celebrating together in a space full of history, character, and loads of light… just like the story of the two of you.
When getting back from a European vacation involves a behind-the-scenes shoot at Fox 45 Baltimore with Jill Andrews, it’s one of those pinch yourself moments!
Jill is an incredibly talented, passionate and creative custom wedding dress designer based in Baltimore (and located in the most inspiring historic “castles” in Baltimore, but that’s a story for another day!). Many months ago, we bonded over our Long Island upbringing and love/hate relationship of the accent. Since then I’ve discovered Jill’s love of all things vintage (you need to see her chandelier collection!) and we both share an appreciation for brides and weddings that dare to do things differently… 🙂
Her pieces are all handmade using fabrics, elements and inspiration from all over the world. One of my favorite aspects of her work is the depth she works into her designs; each detail adds to the story and compliments the bride’s figure in a delicate and feminine way.
Oh, the layers. Layers upon layers of precisely constructed tulle, lace, and silk. LOVE.
Jasika of Two Back Flats was the hair stylist for our gorgeous models and man, is she talented at her craft.
I had so much fun capturing so much timeless beauty with all of you! I can only hope more brides choose to have Jill design their wedding dress so that we can work together again soon! And, if you’re a bride with a connection to Long Island, let me know. I’d bet we could bond over more than just our love/hate accent relationship… 😉
You know what I hope for all of my brides? That the wedding planning process is going more smoothly than this month’s weather has been acting… what is up with mother nature?! This morning I woke up to snow falling steadily outside as it stuck to the ground for a few hours before melting quickly as temperatures rose to the 50s by 4pm.
While gearing up for our final coordination meeting this week for our first wedding of the year, I wanted to take a breath and invite you to relive some of my favorite ‘first’ moments from last year (and some from the year before)… I’m pretty sure they’ll be just what you need, if you’re in the mood to smile! 🙂
first morning waking up to this view at rixey manor!
first time wearing betsey johnson’s shoes.
first time seeing her dad, as a bride.
first time seeing her girls, as a bride.
first time celebrating their anniversary in a greenhouse…
on a flower farm…
and in a cornfield.
first time crossing (close!) paths with a rooster.
first time pouring beer into your fiance’s mouth and not spilling it.
first time hearing “introducing mr. and mrs…”
first time a bride embraced her curly hair and kept it down during the wedding.
first look to end all first looks.
first dance hilarity.
first married walk in fells = photo bomb time!
Here’s to a fabulously memorable 2017 wedding year ahead! May the weather be manageable and your smile always just a tiny bit brighter than the sun… 🙂
If you’re considering making flower crowns for your bridesmaids and/or flower girls to wear on your wedding day, you’ve come to the right place…
The flower crown making at our workshop at Bird in Hand in Charles Village (Baltimore’s new cafe and bookshop in one), was ON POINT! Mallory, owner and designer at Everyday Rose Events, led the Galentine’s group and broke it down into extremely manageable steps. 🙂
But first, a little history…
Besides being beautiful accessories for special occasions, did you know flower crowns are full of tradition and meaning? They have been a symbol of love, fertility and celebration throughout history and around the world. They date as far back as ancient Greece where they were worn to honor the Gods.
These design tips are helpful to keep in mind:
- After measuring twine to the right length for your head, cover twine in foliage. Secure to twine with floral tape or wire.
- Cut flowers leaving 2-3 inches of the stem.
- Secure flowers with wire, remember to leave the end of the wire facing out so it doesn’t poke you in the head!
- Decide if you want a symmetrical or asymmetrical crown.
- Spray final product with water – flowers will still soak up water through the petals/leaves.
I think my favorite tip that Mallory shared was to take a break if you get frustrated and sip some rosé… you may actually like your friend’s crown better than yours, at first. Workshops are great for that – inspiration, creativity and education all in one place! After a few sips of wine, all is right in the world of beautiful blooms and headpiece accessories! 🙂
After all the crowns were assembled, we had to head outside for a mini-photoshoot… and let’s just say, these ladies were the definition of gorgeous and oh-so-photogenic!
Strike a pose.
If you’d like to be a part of our next workshop, get in touch with me or Mallory! We can’t wait to add more pretty to your days… 🙂
The most stunning getting ready photos are full of incredibly emotional moments that often have had a lot more thought go into them than you may realize… after 5 years of capturing weddings, the question I get asked the most is related to how much time to allow for these photos. While answering that question with a number is helpful (approximately 3 hours +/- before the ceremony is when I like to arrive at your getting ready location, FYI), there’s so much more to it than just a portion of time!
Here are some critical lessons I’ve learned, in the hopes that it’ll help with your planning and create a seamless and relaxing getting ready experience!
Location, location, location… there’s no such thing as too much natural light!!!
Spacious rooms are great, but if I had to choose between a large space and one with many large windows, it would definitely be the latter. Of course, spacious AND well-lit would be a photographer’s dream, but prioritize the light and let it guide you. 😉 When light is coming in from various angles, it washes you in a softness that compliments everyone and gives your images that dreamy, ethereal quality.
Bonus points if the area right against the window is clear and open – standing close to the light source is ideal. If there are a few items to move out of the way, having your bridesmaids help relocate these items would be a great thing to do before your photographer arrives!
And if you need to remove a ladybug on your dress, consider it good luck. 🙂
Clean the clutter… create a zone.
Time during a wedding day is precious and if we spend a good portion of our time cleaning up, it means less time for photos of you. Throw away trash; hide suitcases, boxes against a far corner or under the bed, move extra clothes and shoes into the closet. Keep things organized to allow us to capture photos quickly.
A good rule of thumb is to have your girls monitor a sort of ‘bride zone’ closest to the window; this zone should remain free and clear of any stuff (which can quickly accumulate!) so that we can photograph there and bring different people in and out of the photos as you transform into the stunning bride we all can’t wait to see!
Designate a ‘holder of all the things’… everything in ONE place (generally).
The last thing we’d want to happen is to be missing important items from all your bridal details! I’ve found it most helpful if you can designate one person who knows where everything is or better yet, gathers everything into one place for me to start shooting right when I arrive. The list may include some or all of these: the rings, jewelry, perfume, heirloom photos/prayer books, hairpiece, veil, shoes, garter, letters/gifts and bouquet.
If you happen to have a special hanger you’d like your dress photographed on, ask your bridesmaids to take your dress out and hang it up on the hanger prior to your photographer’s arrival – steaming it (if necessary) would be a great thing to do early on too since a dress shot is one of the first details a photographer will capture.
Don’t forget your man… and all of his details.
Oh yeah, your groom… it may seem silly to think that you’d forget about him, but what I really mean is, his details deserve some thought too. Those are what you both may forget to plan ahead for, especially if you’re getting ready in different physical locations/buildings. Be sure someone is accountable for his cologne, boutonniere (and all of the guys’ flowers for that matter), ties/bowties, letters/gifts, watch and cufflinks! He may not know how to tie his bowtie and that’s ok… (that’s what The Art of Manliness is for!) and it makes for fun photos when all the guys band together to figure out how to make it happen. 😉
Protip: EMPTY your pockets, gentlemen. No need for bulging, unflattering pockets.
EAT, drink and be merry… you have a long, important day ahead!
Amongst all the excitement, fun and memorable moments, please don’t forget to eat and drink (mimosa, water, repeat…) while you’re getting ready! The last thing we want is for you to get to your ceremony and realize you feel lightheaded and haven’t eaten anything all day. Hours fly by like minutes (trust me!) – so if there are snacks and hydration available, be sure to indulge! You’ve made it this far, so I think you’ve earned at least a cookie or two.
Enjoy yourself… it’s not everyday you get treated like royalty.
Trust that we will capture not only gorgeous details, but candid moments as well. For timeless, authentic and classic getting ready photos, it’s important that you relax, take it all in and enjoy each element as it unfolds; we will be sure to ask if we need anything from you. Put on some music (whatever makes you loosen up!), keep a sense of humor and sip some champagne…
BONUS TIP! Ask your photographer for advice with timing… we’ve done this more than once. 😉
Start your day by looking out the window and taking a deep breath. On my wedding day, a hurricane was rolling in (no joke!); it was cloudy, thick and gray outside. I was in a hotel room with my sister and after tears started forming since I wasn’t going to have the bright and sunny day that every bride wants, she helped me realize it didn’t matter. We were working with talented photographers that were going to capture the beauty and emotion of the day no matter what! Some things are out of your control for a reason… remember that.
Please use us for all of our acquired knowledge over the years! I’d highly recommend reaching out to your photographer if you have any timing concerns or specific shots/moments you want captured as you’re getting ready (looking forward to a father/daughter first look? We’ll need to build in time for that, so it’s definitely worth a mention!). They also may have suggestions based on your getting ready location, if they’ve photographed there before.