Want Great Getting Ready Images? Here’s How!

Not every gal wants getting ready images but for most brides after a photojournalistic (story telling) wedding portfolio, the ceremony pre-game is a must have.  If going the family heirloom route, starting your album with gorgeous images of final touches, dressing, and details are pertinent to recanting your wedding day and sparking those fun memories.

Cantarera_0147_MelissaMcClainPhotographyFrom the photographer perspective, I love capturing this part of a couple’s wedding day.  It’s the anticipation, catching natural candids, nervous expressions, and emotions that can make this small part of your wedding day that much more special when looking back years from now.  Although not hard to capture great images during this time, there’s always a few things to keep in mind if getting ready images are important to you.  Not to neglect the gentlemen, but as Jason describes to almost every couple, Bride getting ready shots are always fun, elegant, and beautiful where for the men… it’s basically putting on another pair of pants!  Yes.. we gals are super jealous that our grooms can roll in two hours before the ceremony and still look like rock stars while we’re up at the crack of dawn getting primped and prepped:)

Here’s a few food for thought items on achieving kick ass getting ready images:

*No Junk in the Trunk– Okay a total expression, however getting ready images are much more elegant when bags, trash, and other must have prep items aren’t scattered in various places throughout the getting ready room.  cohen_0122_mmpAs a gal, I completely understand us ladies have baggage and NEED a ton of products and things to feel our most glamorous, however asking your maids to sequester their items to a specific area of the room can take your prep images to the next level of photojournalism.  I usually recommend, depending on the location, to “junk” areas farthest away from natural light windows since the majority of getting ready images are captured in that vicinity.  Along with the amazing images, keeping things orderly will make the end of night departure so much easier instead of scavenging for your items in a potential drunken bliss.

*Open the Curtains– Within reason of course!  If your getting ready room has the means, throw open the curtains and let the natural light pour in for the most beautiful light.

*Gather the Details- With months of planning out the details of your dress, shoes, and accessories, I want to make sure we’re capturing those special, well-thought-out items before you don that gorgeous gown if possible.  I usually recommend for brides who love details, to have your MOH or bridesmaid gather the items you want photographed into one location.  Upon arrival those are the go to items I typically will capture first and REALLY want to capture if possible as potential publishing opportunities on blogs and magazines will always want to see your well planned details.baughman_0025_mmp

*Everyone Dresses Before the Bride– Completely aesthetic and your bridesmaids might thank you for it, but consider having your dressing assistants in their gowns before zipping you up.

*RELAX! Your Face Tells All– Most brides during the getting zipped, fastened, tied into her dress beam a gorgeous natural smile or relaxed thoughtful expression.  In some not so perfect dressing moments such as the 32nd loop on the corset, it’s easy to hit that “OMG are we done yet” or “What do you mean it’s not _____”  expression which is captured on camera.  Take a breath and relax!Baranowski_0204_MMP

*Keep the crowd to a minimum– It’s easy to invite close friends and extended family into the getting ready room, however keep in mind that it can crowd up your room and make grabbing different angles and perspectives a challenge, not to mention potential added stress.  Either opt for a sizable getting ready area if expecting a large group or keep your posse to a few close important people.

What do you recommend for the best getting ready images on a wedding day?


10 Wedding Trends Coming Our Way!


Weddings and the trends that shape them are every changing!  Just 10 short years ago mermaid style gowns and Vera Wang were the go to in wedding dresses.  Popular theme colors were chocolate brown with various shades of pastels (normally carnation pink) and don’t even get me started on the disposable cameras on every table (alright… which drunk college friend took a picture of his ass?).

Wedding Wire released their 50 Fresh Ideas for 2015 which is promised to not have been overtaken yet by Pinterest this week which made us drool at some prospects for the year into the next few years!  Here are our 10 of our favorites from the list!

1. Let the Bridesmaids Wear Skirts!  Such an awesome idea!  Shopping might be easier and you could get super creative with colors, styles, and patterns plus the wear again factor is pretty probable!

2. Change up the Bouquet Toss by attaching (or offering the recipient) a gift certificate, piece of jewelry, or lottery tickets and invite all the females out.. not just your single friends!

3. Commemorate Vows with a Beer Ceremony!  Seriously.. with all the micro and craft brews out there (including the local ones such as Troegs, Hershey, and Iron Hill) what groom would say no to this?

4. Make Grandma the Flower Girl!  Especially awesome for both sets of grandmothers to toss the petals together!

5. Throw Sprinkles After the Ceremony (or even after the reception)!  Edible, fun, and photographically awesome!

6. Hold your Ceremony Inside a Covered Bridge!  With the plethora of bridges in our area, this would make for a kick ass ceremony location!

7. Give Favors for Four Legged Friends!  Mix and match tables with both dog and cat treats.  Guest can trade around based off of their fuzzy family members.

8. Snuggle up in a Settee (aka love seat)!  Instead of separate seats for dinner, share a cute settee!  Rentals can be found at one of our favorite local businesses, Swoon Vintage Rental.

9. Serve Everyone a Late Night Snack.  When the bar closes, bring out the comfort foods.. think pizza, sliders or mac and cheese.  Bonus points for rolling up a food truck outside!

10. Offer Guests Champagne Before the Ceremony!  Not only a delicious way to start your celebrations, but an awesome photo op to capture guests clinking glasses at your first kiss!

What are some unique ideas you’re planning for your upcoming wedding?

Engagement Sessions- When to Schedule?

I’m pretty sure engagement sessions are hands down one of my favorite things to photograph.  Don’t get me wrong… I love a fantastic wedding, but with engagements we have ample time to work with our couples and can creatively control when and where images are captured.  One of the most common questions aside from what to wear (see this post for those details) is when to schedule your engagement session. 10506645_10152584097192259_4780065743080305203_o I personally REALLY like our clients to make the schedule decision based off of the time of year since well.. they’re your images, ones you’re going to look at far more regularly than myself and hopefully not punish to be kept on a computer or USB but proudly displayed in your home and on your walls (end soapbox) plus you guys probably know what seasons you enjoy the most.

10317572_10152503888162259_6265076660794116129_oSchedule wise, first the time of year should be chosen appropriately.  About 75% of our client family chooses to have their sessions captured between the beginning of April to the end of June also known as prime time Spring and early summer season.   The other 20% choose autumn months starting towards the middle of September into the end of October.  The remaining 5% are our gladiator couples opting for summer months of July and August or the winter months between December and February.  Scheduling also really depends on your location, such as a winery like recent couple Kim and Ethan chose for their late May session.  Kim and Ethan definitely wanted greenery and to have some open foliage on the vines to accent their backdrop, basically choosing the perfect time to capture this and not sweat it out like a 5K runner at the gym.

Along with the time of year, the time of day is equally crucial and in most cases when scheduling with our couples I will do a quick internet search to see what the proposed sunrise and sunset times are versus the chosen location.  Valleys or tree covered areas I want to get a start time sooner in the evening versus a mountain top or open field area to capture the right lighting based off of the couples preferences.  For morning sessions I want to start a bit earlier in the day to avoid heavy face shadows around the eyes if possible.  10383755_10152541664577259_3430027562085323212_oFor Jocelyn and Brandon, whom we captured a few weeks ago, grabbing key images around the “golden hour” was key to starting the session at a certain time based off of their covered bridge preferences then to an open field where sunset was approaching, making way to some stunning colors as a backdrop.

In closing, your preferred look, theme, or outfit should also be taken into consideration when scheduling.  Having a gorgeous summer dress would look a bit.. odd in October, as would sporting a long sleeve button down and a vest for the guys in the heat of summer.  1548202_10152540280607259_3258425399173538759_oWhen it came to pairing an outfit with the time of year, Dana and Stephen hit it perfectly for their late May session.  Dana chose a very classy blue and white a-line dress while Stephen chose khaki pants and a classic green button down making this perfect pair look as if they stepped off a Ralph Lauren catalog and right into their engagement photos.

There’s a lot of food for though when working through your who, when and where’s of your engagement session, but start basic.  Choose the time of year first, then the type of location you prefer, and work around the best timing for the lighting you love and when all else fails contact your photographer, most have seen it all:)

Time to Ditch Your Pinterest Account?

Take a break and think about how well connected people are to social media these days… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.  All are great tools when planning a wedding or could be if used correctly.  Lately I’ve noticed a decline in Pinterest fandom among professional creatives and although some valid points were made, I have to agree with NOT using much of pinterest in wedding planning.  Before bringing out the pitch forks and torches.. let’s discuss.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.00.54 PM*It’s Recycled Ideas.  I’m all for inspiration however it should be taken lightly in planning.  The best weddings photographically in my opinion are those with a touch of the couple’s personality more so than handfuls of pinterest recreations.   I still remember weddings where the couple made DIY items or creations that may have had some pinterest inspiration, however they twisted it to fit their wedding design dream which made their celebrations even more personalized.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.48.05 PM*Stylized Images.  Okay hope you’re sitting for this one, but a lot of those pinned couple images are stylized sessions.  Stylized shoots are fantastic for inspiration, but should be known that it’s designers, photographers, or publishers who are setting these up, gathering every detail surrounding the couple and the photographers have hours to shoot with perfect light.  Not every image is from a “set up” session thankfully but be aware that some are and although can be “inspiration” for your own images, will take time to set up, so plan accordingly for your timeline if that’s a heart set item.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.37.28 PM*Backfire on Trying to be Unique.  Although I don’t believe that every plan in a wedding needs to be unique, I do feel the couple IS unique and shouldn’t aspire to recreating poses in images that may not fit the personalities of both you and your spouse.  If you’re a fun and goofy couple, pulling off that sensual pose you pinned months ago is going to be more work than one would think, especially to make it look natural and “fitting” for who you guys really are as a couple.

*Out of Date Boards or Unrelated Pins.  I tend to look up pinterest boards of our clients to see where your image preference is more so than the details planned.  Like your guests, I want to be a little surprised when I walk into your reception to enjoy my own personal ‘Oooo’ and ‘Ahhh’ moment.  Don’t laugh.. I seriously love this part of the day:)  The hardest part of scoping out boards is that preferences and poses may change over time and with trends (i.e the jump shot.. hated personally but done upon request although I’ll sigh internally as I shoot it).  Also pinterest is tricky and it’s so darn easy to pin tomorrow night’s dinner recipe up with your wedding inspiration boards. Although I love new recipes, I’d rather just cruise your inspiration on it’s own.  Keep it clean and keep it up to date.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.56.48 PM*Does it Match?  There are tens of thousands of wedding venues all across the nation and most rarely look the same.  Pinning a grand ballroom photograph of a couple’s first dance in NYC doesn’t really match your chic rustic B&B style wedding here in central PA.  When looking over boards as a viewer, it’s hard to see why a couple may have pinned an image that isn’t the same “feel” as what was described for their wedding venue, especially if the pin remarks at the bottom of the image are passed along from pinner to pinner.  Best recommendation, if you’re going to pin and have others ogle them, make appropriate inspiration remarks such as “Love the lighting, love the pose, love the dress” to avoid that ‘Say wha…’ moment to your viewers.

So to ditch or not to ditch is up to you, however when it comes to wedding posing, inspirations and creations, trust your professionals such as your wedding planner, DJ, or photographer… after all, they’re typically at a wedding almost every weekend in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Wedding Pre-Game Tips Most Blogs Forgot to Mention

It seems to come with the ring and proposal.. the god-forsaken checklist of all the things you as a couple need to accomplish before the wedding day arrives. Slightly overwhelming, the checklist can be helpful but also tedious as some sites seem repetitive with the must have essentials… i.e. research photographers, meet photographers, book photographer, pay photographer… um.. we got it!  On a popular site Jason and I still have 102 outstanding and overdue items unchecked, however considering we’re nearing our 6th wedding anniversary in the fall, I think we’re good:)

In the 6 years we’ve been rocking the wedding photography, there are some items that are either missing from the checklist or are so far buried in the massive lists that overlooking can be so easy.  Our thoughts are definitely not a must have X on your check box but good food for thought when coming down the home stretch of wedding planning.


Corsage Magnets- Okay I would SO add this to the must buy before the wedding list, especially if opting for pin corsages over wrist corsages for the special ladies in your lives.  Most mothers or grandmothers wedding fashion choices opt for chiffon, satin, or lace material which pins can bitch up the fabric or end up having a heavy corsage drooping for those family pictures.  The magnets simply wrap around the base of the boutonniere or corsage and have a magnetic backing that holds extremely well.  Probably one of our best personal wedding finds so many years ago and one we rarely see but Mom’s would love.. I promise!

Extra Black Socks- Gals this isn’t necessarily for you however it happens more often than not that one of the gentlemen forget to pack a pair of black socks which channels a flash back to an 80’s music video featuring Michael Jackson.  Although potentially coming back in style, this may not be the look you want in your wedding imagery.  Pack an extra pair and save yourself the trauma:)

Schedule a teeth cleaning- Very few people we meet love going to the dentist but having a cleaning scheduled close to your wedding date will not only freshen up those pearly whites but also make an impact on your wedding images.  Yes we zoom in to fix any blemishes but editing out that plaque or left over vittles from breakfast is sometimes nearly impossible depending on the size of your smile. Will it be seen in the end image.. most likely not, however for those close ups why chance it.  Plus what significant other doesn’t love a fresh clean kiss as their first to their new partner in life?

Make your Social Media Demands-  Every couple has different opinions and feelings on social media sharing.  Modern etiquette has that guest posts and pictures not be posted until the couple does, however this, like tearing into the salad course before you’re even introduced, seems to go out the window and can create a massive media bomb if not prepared.  A few options are to share your preferences with guests to not post images before you’ve kicked off the heels and popped on the dancing shoes, change your settings that others can’t tag/post images without your permission, or just go with the flow and take it as it comes.

Make an Appointment at the Social Security Office- If your local SS office is anything like ours, we highly recommend to make an appointment rather than drop by if choosing to change your name post wedding.  Although entertaining to people watch while you wait, after 45 minutes on a popular day, you may want to start pulling your hair out or rolling in the keg.. which actually may get you through the lines faster?

What are some pre-game tips or tricks that you’d recommend to other couples?



Where’s Your Wedding Inspiration Coming From?

storm_0010j_mmpWedding planning is never an easy project for most couples, however it amazes me how many fantastic planning and inspirational tools are available for today’s couples within a few short keystrokes!  Actually.. it makes me downright jealous!  Eight years ago when we were planning, we had magazines, books, and a few select websites which were all heavily geared towards more traditional style weddings.  Today you can find a blog or site that is specifically catered to your personality, orientation, or wedding style.  Did I mention I’m jealous?  For those new to your engagement or looking for a little special something to make your wedding more customized, here are a handful of our favorite inspirational sites.

*Offbeat Bride– One of our fabulous couples turned me on to this site a few years ago (thanks Rebecca & Mason) and I’ve been an avid creeper on their real wedding posts ever since!  Offbeat Bride caters to non-traditional couples who can pop over to their site for a daily dose of ‘wedding porn’, advice, and inspiration.  What I love most is there isn’t a one size fits all to their real wedding posts- GLBT, plus size, cultural traditions.. nothing is off limits and every type of offbeat style is covered.  Also after the wedding, you can still check in for your daily dose of offbeat with sister sites of Offbeat Home, Families, and Empire.

davis_0498_mmp*Wedding Chicks– I love poking through this site for the mass amounts of pretty, very much trend-setting, wedding images and of course real wedding inspiration. The coolest part of this blog is the DIY section for those ueber creative couples who not only save a buck or two but love the hands on details portrayed at their wedding.

*A Bicycle Built for Two– ABB2 is definitely geared towards lesbian couples celebrating their weddings and engagements but I love sneaking a peek at how other photographers are capturing these gorgeous ladies and customized details couples choose to incorporate in their wedding day.  This site is all about real wedding inspiration but the best part is reading about how couples made the planning decisions for their wedding day and of course their back stories which are always heartwarming.

*Green Wedding Shoes– Fabulous finds and gorgeous imagery geared towards the fashionista bride is what this blog is all about.  Along with a DIY section and the real wedding gallery, my favorite feature of this site is the Galleries section where images are broken down into different categories based off of what inspiration you’re on the hunt for.  There’s even a section for honeymoon planning which who wouldn’t want to ogle some fantastic vacation hot spots?

*When Geeks Wed– Okay so I married a geek, I have friends who married geeks, and a good chunk of our MMP client family are geeks in some fashion so this site was a given on my daily blog check in’s.  From ideas on how to DIY a Star Wars themed wedding to the best bridesmaid dresses for the geeky gals, this site is jam packed with unique awesomeness that caters to all forms of geekdom.Cullison_0350_MMP

This is of course not the end all, be all of amazing wedding inspiration out there but just a few of our favorites.  What blogs or sites can you not live without or do you recommend we check out?



How to be the best possible wedding guest in five easy steps!

DiSantis_1607_MMPWith the warmer temps (finally) and the beautiful spring blooms, so begins the wedding season!  Aside from the warmer weather, it’s both one of my favorite yet busiest times of the year with just about every weekend booked with weddings and portrait sessions.  Although each wedding is completely different from the next, guest etiquette is pretty standard across the board, yet party fouls sometimes seem to happen when couples least expect it.  You already know the etiquette staples of never wearing white, don’t be too early or definitely not late, and no whining or complaints.  Definitely not the end all be all tips for guests, but here are a few to get your guests through the wedding and keep you in a peaceful state of mind.

1. Be Respectful of the Day.  It’s easy as a guest to get a bit carried away when seeing others you may not have seen in months or years, get snap happy with your iPhone, iPad, or point and shoot, or take full advantage of the open bar… repeatedly. gross_0432_mmp We’re not saying don’t do these things or other “wedding tourist” actions, just be mindful of your actions and how it may affect the bride or groom you love and came to see.  The average couple spends upwards of $25,000 to $30,000 on their wedding day with a huge chunk going towards their venue, entertainment, and photography- they want you to have an amazing and unforgettable time, but falling over drunk will only make some not so desirable memories.  One respectful practice that can help out a photographer- keep the cell phones down during the ceremony and key moments that are imperative to the couple.  Believe me.. your iPhone won’t capture nearly the same quality image as a photographers $5000 camera will:)

2. Go to Cocktail Hour.  I’ll never understand why guests like to mingle and hang out at the ceremony venue after the kiss and recessional are complete.  Go… drink… nibble on tasty hors d’oeuvres! clark_0636_mmp Spoiler Alert- after the ceremony, a limited amount of time is devoted to family pictures, which most photographers want to accomplish as soon as possible, and couple portraits which they will showcase in their home, share with family and friends, and use as their Facebook profile pictures.  Unless you’ve been asked to hang out afterward, please go enjoy cocktail hour.  It keeps the couple calm and on time which leads to a happy photographer and caterer (late couples = late food service = mushy vegetables = yuck!).

3. Sign the Guest Book and Take your Favors.  A couple typically plans out their wedding day 12-18 months in advance of your arrival to their festivities.  From the linens, to the flowers, and beyond they’re envisioning how they want their dream to come together, which includes the fun favors planned for their guests as a sincere thank you for being a part of their wedding day.  Take these!  Knowles_1062_MMPFavors can cost between $1-$10 a piece depending on the personalization and what exactly they are.  Most couples are opting for edible favors which can serve as a bonus snack for the drive home!  Although most are doing away with it, couples are still choosing to do some sort of guest book/ ‘I was here’ item to remember you by- Sign it!  Make it a bit more personal and add a sweet note to the couple for great marriage tips, well wishes, or even a good recipe.  Knowing ahead of time that most couples choose some sort of guest book item, plan ahead with what you’re most apt to write.

 4. Dance!  Whether you need a drink or two, or have the moves of Beyoncé.. get out there!  The DJ appreciates it, the photographers appreciate it, and the couple appreciates it!  Hate the thought of your picture being taken while you’re getting your groove on?  No worries.. you may want to sit down for this one… but we honestly don’t care what you look like when you dance.  Picture wise we get to capture a packed dance floor which makes the couple’s wedding portfolio brick_0015j_mmplook even more kick ass and focus on your happy, smiling faces as you laugh up someone’s fantastic MJ moves or attempts on break dancing.  The more candid, the better memories the couple has in their imagery.  You’ll also look like a rockstar to get your date out there dancing throughout the evening!

5. Avoid Social Media Posts. Sure you want to share how awesome of a wedding you’re at or post selfies of your gorgeous wedding attire but resist the urge.  Most couples, especially the brides, prefer to NOT have their guests post wedding play-by-plays on social media pages.  Although you may be the next Ansel Adams of iPhone photography, I’ve rarely seen a good looking instant post of a bride on her wedding day.  A good rule of thumb is to wait until the bride or groom (usually the bride) posts images from her wedding day on her page or the photographer has released professional images of the beautiful bride and groom.  Think of it like the 80’s.. when the average American didn’t have a cell phone, but had big ass hair, eclectic dance moves, and funky fashions instead.


Tips for Bridal Show Season

Ah.. just as wedding season is closing, so begins Bridal Show/ Booking season.  Many wedding professionals, including yours truly, will be setting up booths at local bridal shows in hopes of meeting great couples and filling in the few remaining dates for the current year before wedding season is yet again upon us.  When we first started setting up for bridal shows, I’m not going to lie.. I was nervous!  I have to talk and “sell ourselves” to how many people?!  I remember attending a few shows when we were getting married and it was so overwhelming!

Over the past years, I’ve made it one of our goals to be the opposite of a standard, typical wedding show vendor.  Many times if you come up to talk with us, one of the first things I’ll say is “I’m a photographer, not a salesperson”.  There’s nothing worse than listening to a crappy sales pitch from anyone when you either have no idea what the product or service is or are no longer in the market for said item.  We also attempt for practical, yet fun “forget-me-nots” aka show schwag. Lastly the decor.  With each new year of shows, we aspire to do something a little different in our decor.  What we didn’t realize was the inspiration that our tiny detailed touches would make on attendees. I hope we can keep inspiring some folks with each show we participate in!  So with all the gray area of bridal shows, I wanted to share some tips before heading out and things to keep in mind while you’re there.

1. Wedding Only Email Address and Pre-Printed Labels.  When registering for a bridal show, all of the vendors, interested or not, do receive your contact information and you’ll most likely know when the list was shared due to your inbox being filled faster than a coffee cup at Starbucks.  Many vendors and wedding planning sites highly recommend to set up a wedding only email address.  Speaking from experience, we had one vendor who is no longer around, contact us well after our wedding date despite the unsubscribe and “Please stop sending us information” emails.  Preprinted labels will save you a huge chunk of time filling out giveaway forms which most booths have.  In most cases, your name, phone number and that wedding only email address is usually all that is needed, however we’ve seen address labels used as well.  You could also save yourself from hand cramps by designating your MOH or mother as the Entry Form Diva… don’t forget their sash and crown of course!

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time.  Most shows offer a website or some sort of listing of which vendors are attending.  If on the hunt for a DJ, check out their facebook, blogs, or website in advance to start narrowing down your “must see” list at the show.  Also highly, highly, highly recommended to check out reviews on vendors regardless of attending the show or staying home in your PJ’s.  Reviews are fantastic, usually raw, responses from previous couples who have booked the vendor.  On most sites, vendors can only dispute or file complaints on reviews, yet cannot have a bad one removed.

3. Be Leery of “Today Only” Show Specials.  We’ve never understood why some vendors choose the “Book today and save… or Book today and we’ll….”.  Today only specials, wedding show or not, is not something that we believe in.  You’re not purchasing a toaster, you’re making a huge investment in each other with a celebration of your love with family and friends.  We recommend regardless of which vendor you’re shopping for, interview multiple for comparison.  It’s also easy to get hooked on looking for the lowest cost vendor, however the service standards, overall product, and your experience may differ across the board.  Regardless of vendor, your search should lead you to professionals that not only match or compliment your style, but match your personalities.  This is especially true for venues, coordinators or planners, photographers, and DJ’s- those that you spend a large chunk of your actual wedding day with.

4. Have fun.  Taste the snacks, sip the wine, and eat the cake even if you have a caterer.  Attend the fashion shows, they’re great to start getting an idea of the newer styles.  Soak in the sample decor and flowers, who knows what inspiration you may find.  Lastly smile!  No one likes a grumpy bride:)

I hope you may have found some insight in our show tips and if heading out be sure to stop by and say hello!  See below for where we’re at this winter!

January 19- Unveiled, Clarion Hotel, New Cumberland

January 26- Best Wedding Showcase, Lancaster Marriot Convention Center

February 9- Weddings In Style, Blue Ridge Country Club, Harrisburg

February 26- The Elegance Behind the Bride, AACA Museum, Hershey

Making the Most of your Engagement Session

Often we get asked by clients and fans alike how to figure out the best location for engagement pictures.  What we’ve found over the years is it’s more about what you choose rather than where you choose when it comes down to getting the best possible images.  Here are some tips- both common and offbeat- to satisfy the masses:)

Absolute hands down #1- BE COMFORTABLE!  We’re not talking fuzzy bunny slippers and yoga pants, although comfy and enjoyable, definitely doesn’t have the classy look you may be going for.  Be comfortable in your skin, in what you choose to wear, and so very much, comfortable with each other.  Many times we ask clients to be themselves- sit, talk, relax, while we set up the shot.  Hidden MMP secret… getting set up on our end for some images actually means we want to capture YOU.. in your natural element.  Nothing is more magical on film (okay digital) than a couple who is in love, talking to each other, stealing kisses and taking in each others presence and enjoyment of the session.  Cheesy as it may sound, you absolutely cannot pose love or emotion, and thankfully all of our clients have zero issues with the giddiness that is, the love for each other.

#2 Location, location, location- Location is a hot topic when it comes to engagement sessions.  Focusing on the where rather than the feel of how you want your images to appear can sometimes be overwhelming.  When deciding on a location it’s best to ask yourselves, do we want architectural elements or something incorporating greenery, urban or rural?  When it comes down to it, a park is a park and most won’t be able to tell the difference between the tree at Fort Hunter versus a tree at the Masonic Gardens.  Architectural- desiring a known location in your town or something off the beaten path?  Still stressing on a location- Ask!  We love helping our couples choose the best location based on your preferences!

#3 Spice it up! Natural beauty is the best and being confident is key, however we’ve noticed that ladies who primp and prep with professional hair or makeup applications for their engagement session have an innate sass in their imagery!  Nails, hair, makeup, all regardless of for an event or just for beautification fun, can make a girl feel even more gorgeous and confident!  Money saving tips- go DIY style or schedule your hair/makeup trials on the same date as your engagement session!

#4 What the hell should I wear!?  Also another popular question from our couples is the attire.  Most commonly, couples opt for two outfits, one being a casual, kicked back style and another being more formal/business casual.  Guys, be prepared.. your lovely bride may change at least 3-5 times until grabbing the perfect outfit, not speaking from any experience on that subject or anything:)  Ideas for a spring/late summer evening session might include a cute sundress with embellished sandals for a cool casual look, and your best date night dress with killer pumps for the formal attire.  Guys maybe opt for a complimentary casual button down with jeans and a pair of kicks, and a classy formal look of a suit minus the tie, potentially adding a pop of color in the dress shirt or belt.  Ultimately being confident and comfortable (see the theme yet) in what you’re wearing is key.  What not to wear- another popular request- nothing to matchy-matchy (Both wearing white shirts and khakis), if going for a more green/natural location avoid the vibrant reds, pinks, and oranges, and shoes are noticeable in images, although those new bright pearly white sneakers look great at the gym, they don’t so much in your engagement images.  Ladies also remember heels and rock-climbing/farms don’t always mix well:)

#5 Think outside of the box! We ADORE when couples take the road less traveled for both their engagements and weddings!  Some awesome trends we’ve seen are theme/stylized engagement sessions! Love the Mad Men era?  Why not grab some vintage inspired threads, work with us to secure a location that will match your feel, and don’t forget the red lipstick!  Not ready for an all out theme?  No worries.. grab a few rental pieces from local vintage rentals like Swoon or Maggpie Vintage Rentals for a truly unique setting for some of your images!  Maybe try to incorporate props in for your save the date cards?  We’ve seen a TON of awesome and creative ways to announce your upcoming nuptials from cool places like Etsy!

Overall, just have fun!  We love working with unique and dynamic couples who wear their personalities on their sleeve so give in, relax and have fun!epler_124_mmp