Carolina Bride

Engaging Style

Susan Kelly Photography

Consider the filter. Make sure that you like your photographer’s style and can see yourself enjoying the photos for years to come. “Sun flare, in particular, is a trend I like to use a lot. My favorite things about sun flare are the softness and warmth it creates. It gives a sense of the couple being wrapped in a cozy glow that heightens the sense of intimacy between the two of them.”

Don’t wear clothes that are particularly trendy and will quickly date the photos. You want your photos to be timeless—not something that you will look back on and cringe.

Be comfortable. If that means wearing a cocktail dress and heels, go for it! If it means wearing an oversized sweater and jeans, that’s fine, too. Just be sure that you feel your best; the pictures will reflect your comfort and confidence. “I love when couples wear outfits that coordinate, but do not match. Layers are great. Most importantly, be comfortable in what you’re wearing, and make sure it flatters your body! I would definitely avoid any large words on shirts or large graphic prints because they can be so distracting to the eye.”

Get your hair and makeup done. If used for your save-the-date, these photos will set the tone for the wedding to come, so go the extra mile. It also creates a good opportunity for your wedding day makeup artist to do a test run. “Another trend I've tried to encourage is using professional hair and makeup artist for the portrait shoot as well as the wedding day. Professional makeup in particular, especially from a makeup artist that is used to working with photographers, can make a world of difference.”

Don’t use props unless they are especially meaningful to you. Incorporating small props into your photos can add a lively quality to your photos, but consider the significance of each item. While you might want to include a “Downton Abbey” headpiece into the photos because you are hooked on the series, you might question that decision down the road. “I would only recommend using props that are classic, like a blanket, or a bottle of wine. I try to avoid poses that will come back and haunt you, like the ‘heart hands’ or sitting on tractors or other things of that nature.”

Should Fido come along? Keep in mind that your love is likely to outlast the life of your pet. While some photos with your furry friend might be cute, incorporating him into every frame is not advisable. “If you want to use a pet in your shoot, make sure you photographer knows he's coming! Also, bring someone with you to watch the pet for you during the times when the shots are just the two of you. If you pet is a part of your family, it makes perfect sense that you'd want him to participate in the shoot!”

Find a meaningful location. While your photos are sure to be beautiful no matter the locale, consider a place that holds meaning for you as a couple. “I love to see couples choose a location for the shoot that is meaningful to them, rather than just picking a generic spot that is beautiful. Maybe a local coffee shop, or a trail they like to hike, or a park where they usually walk their dog.”

Plan for the poses. The best way to get great photos is to do what comes naturally. If you are comfortable taking more posed photos, then do so. If you and your fiancé are goofy and playful, be active and go for more candid shots! Talk with your photographer about your style to help them get a better sense of your desired results. “I think the best way to achieve a balance between candid and posed photos is to makes sure everyone is comfortable. When I shoot an engagement session, we spend a little time initially just walking and chatting, and I snap a few shots. Then when I know the couple is at ease, we might try to do things that are slightly more posed. All of my posing is very fluid and natural, and consists more of giving the couple ideas or things to think about or even silly things to say to one another than ‘Put your hand here. Turn your chin there.’"

Make it about both of you, and you as a couple. A newer trend in engagement photos centers the bride-to-be as the focus of all attention. Remember that your wedding is a special occasion for both bride and groom and consider poses to reflect that. “It is definitely difficult sometimes to get equal numbers of great shots of both the bride and the groom, especially since the groom, more often than not, is the less comfortable of the two. I try to think about capturing the relationship, rather than just the people. If you really focus on the feelings and the emotion between the two of them, it's much harder to become unbalanced. And if I get shots of just the bride, I always try to remember to get equal shots of the groom by himself as well.”