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Lauren + James | 1Hotel Wedding


Venue: 1Hotel, South Beach
Planner: Lourdes Milian Productions
Florals: Sage Design and Co.
Band: Rock With U
Performers: Black and Wine Hora Loca
Hair + Makeup: Marz Makeup and Hair
Stationery: Card Cottage
Bridal Boutique: Lelite Bridal
Lighting: Event Factor

On The Fence About Engagement Photos?

Before having our own engagement photos done (almost a year ago!), I was pretty unbiased on the topic. I don’t force engagement sessions into someone’s wedding collection if they’re not interested, and while I always tell couples “they would be nice to have!,” I was pretty middle of the road on them from a personal preference/business-sense.  They’ve always been one of my top three favorite things to shoot, but I always wanted people to *want the session for themselves* and want to be excited about the whole experience without having to be convinced otherwise.   

But then we had our own session… And my outlook changed. So if you’re on the fence… Here’s my take (as a wedding photographer and bride): Absolutely do the engagement session. 

We secretly eloped last year, and while I was more than cool with foregoing all of the typical pre-wedding stuff (Bachelorette party, the shower, etc.), the engagement photos were the one “traditional” thing I knew I wanted. We had been together forever, yet we had no professional photos together (says the shoe maker without shoes). 

We landed in Charleston, SC for our elopement and jumped into our engagement session that night. That newlyish engaged feeling (8mos) was unlike any other feeling I had experience yet in life… a constant happy, love-filled, excited high.  Two nights later, we were married 🙂 

Our engagement photos are my favorite. They depict our mood, our love, our happiness and excitement in that moment. It was just us, together, not on a timeline, not with an audience, not in an expensive white dress and suit. It was true to our personal style. It was running around the city of Charleston with two bad ass photographers (looking at you @AaronAndJillian) without pressure. It was flirty, fun, conversational and memorable.  When I look back at these photos, I remember how I felt in that moment of time (and that’s theee best feeling).

So yeah- Do the damn photos.  You’ll be SO HAPPY you have them. 

How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Session

*While this was geared towards engagement sessions, much of what’s found in this write-up is also applicable to most family, couples or maternity sessions.

Boston Engagement Session

Congrats, you’re engaged!  One question I always get from clients when booking their shoot is “what do we wear?!” Do you go with something more formal or casual?  Maybe something with drama?  What about hair and makeup?  And how is he supposed to dress?  I’ve come up with a few quick hitting tips to put your mind at ease.

Engagement photos (typically) only happen once so use this as an excuse to go shopping.  Photo sessions are an heirloom investment, something that will live on throughout time, and part of the experience should be the build up and preparation.  The likelihood of you pulling something out of the back of your closet a night or two before your shoot probably isn’t going to give you that same fiery feeling of confidence and excitement that a new outfit would. So yeah, go shopping! 

Some of my personal favorite online stores for engagement shoot dresses/outfits are: ($$$) Investment pieces for sure. Free 2-day shipping and free returns (the best!). Take the time to measure yourself (bust, hips, waist) for the most accurate sizing.  I did it and it’s rare something doesn’t fit me based on their sizing guides (minus the pants–but I’m short). I get lost on this site… big, big fan.

Zara ($/$$) Truthfully, I’ve never shopped their online store, but their brick + mortar in Boston is worth the drive. I like how their pieces are versatile (can be dressed up or dressed down) and they have unique offerings compared to other retailers (from fit, style and color options).  From my personal experience, their customer service in Boston is also A+ (an associate moved mountains to find my pant size in the back room, which goes a long way for me!). ($) Quality isn’t fabulous, but the prices are cheap and their stuff is super cute.  Be prepared to spend some time on their website though to really sift through the thousands of items. Ships from China (usually about 2-weeks). First round of returns are free. I did a SHEIN haul before one of my California trips and I swear I never got as many clothing compliments in a 5-day span as I did decked out in SHEIN.

Beach Engagement SessionOther online favorites: Hello Molly ($$), Vici Dolls ($$), Red Dress Boutique ($$), Abercrombie (before you sh*t on me, trust me when I say they have come A LONG WAY since high school… Especially the last 3-4 years).

Good American Jeans: I hadn’t splurged on a pair of jeans in my life until about three years ago.  This brand has become my go-to spot for jeans. 

My next suggestion, variety is the spice of life my friends! So I always suggest a full outfit change for our girls and at least a shirt change for our guys.  I usually like the idea one casual outfit and then one on the dressier side, but I’ve had a ton of girls double up on dresses or skirts lately and I’m really loving that too.  Don’t forget to plan your undergarments appropriately– If a bra fits you funny or your dress is kind of see-through, the camera will expose all secrets 🙈 

Boston Engagement Session

In terms of patterns, I personally have “a one pattern rule” which says that there should only be one pattern for every three people in a group.  So if your fiancé goes with a patterned shirt, pick a solid color found in that pattern and rock it.  Winter accessories (hats, scarves) are the exception to that rule 😉 

In terms of colors, I personally don’t have a favorite. I’d suggest wearing what you look/feel best in. When it comes to whites though? Make sure your whites match! (ie. Don’t wear an ivory dress if he’s wearing a bright white shirt).  Wear colors that compliment each other. 

Charleston Engagement Session

Next up, be true to your style.  If you’re not wearing something that you’re comfortable in, the camera will only magnify that.  You’ll want to pick something that compliments your figure. (–> One thing that doesn’t shoot great across the board– tops with puffy/very padded shoulders 🙁 Unfortunately, it boxes girls out and makes them appear wider than they really are.) If you’re doing an open air shoot (on a beach, in a field, etc.) I love the idea of picking a dress (or skirt) that’s fitted on top with some flowiness on the bottom; this will allow for movement, playfulness and will help keep your hands busy.  As for shoes?  Barefoot on the beach, heals or wedges in the city and whatever your heart desires for green space.  If you hate your legs, don’t wear a short dress and if you hate your arms, wear something with a sleeve. You’re in control here!  So play to your strengths while drawing attention away from those “trouble” spots you might be a little self-conscious of.  We all have them.  

What about hair and makeup? I would say about a quarter of my clients get their hair and makeup done for their engagement shoot. Some use it as a trial/test run for their big day while others just want to soak up the whole experience.  For me personally? I just know I feel my best when I’m tan.  If you’re feeling a little ghostly pre-shoot, consider getting a spray tan 2-3 days prior or invest in some self tanning drops (a link to my favorite can be found here).  Don’t forget to get your nails done too for the engagement ring close-ups.


Give yourself plenty of time.  Plenty of time to find an outfit, plenty of time to get ready, plenty of time to travel to your shoot.  Rushing will only cramp your style and stress you out the day-of, so give yourself grace!  Remember to enjoy the whole experience, preparation included. Blast your best Spotify playlist and indulge in a glass of champagne while getting ready.  Take your time, have fun with it and just let it all sink in. PLUS, a little liquid courage always helps take the edge off <3 

And lastly, FLORALS.  Looking to elevate your engagement session in a big way?  Add a fresh floral bouquet, wristlet or flower crown.  It’s amazing how much one prop can totally up-level the tone and mood for a shoot (not to mention they’re beautiful and live on for days afterwards). Holler at me if you’re interested in this and I’ll gladly put you in touch with some of my favorite local florists. 

Hope this has helped!  Can’t wait to shoot with ya!


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