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7 Things to Consider Before Your Engagement Shoot

It's not simply looking your best and plastering a smile across your face -- it's about making sure you are prepared and setting yourself up for an enjoyable experience.
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Lauren Hardy for Clane Gessel Photography


Last Saturday, my fiancé and I woke up with big smiles on our faces. It was the day of our engagement shoot -- a day we'd been looking forward to for a very long time. As a teenager, I would often pause romantic movies at my favorite spots. I wanted to capture the precious moments, so I could put myself in the actresses' shoes, with my future fiancé standing by my side. Now nearing 22, I was excited for the two of us to finally be in the spotlight.

The difference between those romantic movie shots and an engagement shoot? I learned quickly that there are many additional things couples must consider in real-life before they step in front of the camera. It's not simply looking your best and plastering a smile across your face -- it's about making sure you are prepared and setting yourself up for an enjoyable experience.

Here are 7 things every couple should keep in mind before their engagement shoot:

1) Don't wait until the last minute to decide what to wear


Maybe this is a no-brainer for you. If fashion is your passion, chances are you've had the wardrobe planned out for months. On the other hand, some of us push it to the back of our minds. We tell ourselves we'll worry about it later, or assume that our significant others will know how to dress themselves accordingly.

Wrong... I made the mistake of waiting until the hour before our shoot to discuss with my fiancé what he was planning to wear. (This is coming from a woman who might as well be a wedding planner for as much as she likes to organize and schedule.) I told him what I was wearing and he looked at me with a blank stare as to say, so what am I supposed to wear again? I expected him to be able to just match my style in the blink of an eye. But that's not how wardrobe pairing works.

Give yourself some wiggle room. Talk about outfits a few weeks before the big day. Start with a broad approach and select four possible outfits, then narrow it down to the ones that go together the best, and fit your personality and love for each other.

2) Take advantage of the resources you already have


Who says you have to go to the mall and purchase an entirely new outfit? A month before our shoot, I had this idea in my head that I HAD to buy a brand new dress. I went to the Mall of America and browsed the racks of more than 15 stores to find something new. After my search turned up empty, I had an epiphany: Maybe I could wear clothes I already owned, but pair them in a way that was special and unique to our shoot. In the end I ended up saving a lot of money, and I also feel like the photos have more meaning, too.

3) Watch the weather and see if you're photographer is flexible


Our original shoot was scheduled for a week earlier than the day we actually had it... The problem was, when we checked the weather for that original date (3 degrees Fahrenheit), we noticed that it was going to be 25 degrees warmer the following weekend. We needed to make a change, and luckily, our photographers were flexible and rescheduled. It's a good idea to talk with your photographer about what their availability is and rescheduling dates before it needs to happen.

Another reason why it's good to watch the weather: It can help you make better wardrobe choices! Is your shoot inside or outside? These are questions that effect what you end up wearing.

4) No shoot is perfect


Even though the day of our shoot was 25 degrees warmer than the original day it had been scheduled, it was still cold outside -- 28 degrees to be exact, and that's before the wind chill! By no means was our shoot like the romantic movies I grew up in awe of. But that's OK, because it was special and unique.

Remember that even though having beautiful photos is important, having a beautiful moment and overall experience is what matters the most.

5) Consider the length of the shoot


The number of scenes and photos you want influences the amount of time you will spend on the engagement shoot. Because my fiancé and I were only doing two scenes, I assumed that we would be done in a couple of hours. The reality? It ended up taking four hours.

Pack snacks and beverages along for the ride. You never know how long your shoot is going to take, and you don't want to get hungry or thirsty during the process.

6) Be mindful of your schedule for the entire day


Engagement shoots are exhausting! It doesn't matter how much you love the person -- after hours of smiling, posing, standing and changing outfits, you will be tired! Keep this in mind and keep the rest of your day's schedule light so that you won't feel overwhelmed. Maybe even plan to get dinner out that night, too.

7) It really is all about you


This is the time to show off your love. If you are in a public place, don't worry about the people around you. Be comfortable in your own skin and do what comes naturally. If a pose feels forced, mix it up. Nothing is set in stone. A photographer might offer suggestions, but you cans steer the ship wherever your heart's compass leads.

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