Chicago Engagement Session and How to Prepare

Engagement session - many couples hear that term and have a million questions.

What is it?
Do we need it?
Do we really have to be in front of a camera more than just the wedding day?

In a word, YES. Yes, you do need it and yes, you do need to be in front of your photographer's camera before your wedding day. Most couples haven't spent much time with a professional photographer, so it's a great opportunity to get comfortable before you put on your wedding dress and tux. It's also a great way for your photographer to get to know you! The more they understand what works and doesn't work, the better off you'll all be on the big day.

I also hear a lot of couples say they don't think they'll ever use the photos, but I beg to differ. My favorite engagement sessions are those done in the couple's home, their favorite coffee shop or restaurant or with their pets. Use this opportunity to get some photos in a place that's special to you that won't necessarily be a part of your wedding day. And anyway, trust me, you will love these photos 10-15 years down the road. I can just hear you saying, "Remember when..."

Photo courtesy of  Ashley Bosnick Photography

Photo courtesy of Ashley Bosnick Photography

I'll get off my soap box now and let the experts step in.

So excited to get some insight on how best to prepare for your engagement photo session from our friends over at Gerber & Scarpelli Photography. They've been at this for years and certainly know how to get couples in the right frame of mind to have some fun!

Photos courtesy of  Emilia Jane Photography

Photos courtesy of Emilia Jane Photography

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We get it!  Not everyone enjoys being in front of the camera.  For many couples, Engagement Sessions seem like an overwhelming and unnecessary part of wedding prep.  For us, an engagement session is a great opportunity to meet our clients, learn your dynamic as a couple, and see how natural you are at posing and being photographed.  We love the opportunity to spend some time with you and get all the photo-related butterflies and awkwardness out of the way long before your wedding day!

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and get in the mood to look and feel your best during your engagement shoot:

Eat well and hydrate!  Drink plenty of water in the days before your shoot to make sure your skin looks its best.  Try to avoid salt, lots of sugar, and alcohol the day before your session.

Get a full night's sleep!  Easier said than done, we know.  The more sleep you get before your shoot, the more relaxed and rested you'll feel.

Choose your clothing carefully!  We advise clients to avoid clothing that has a certain time or style specific quality.  Just look at a photo of your parents in bell bottoms and polyester, and you'll know what we're trying to avoid.  Solid colors, classic styles, and the occasional pattern are safe ways to go.  Make sure to coordinate your outfits as a couple so you don't end up wearing conflicting colors or patterns.

Embrace movement!  Ladies, flowing dresses, scarves, or tops are a great way to guarantee some dynamic movement in your photos.  You'll look and feel like a movie star when the wind starts to blow.

Get a little crazy!  We've met enough couples over the years to know all couples are weird in their own way.  Show off your particular brand of weird by getting a little crazy with the one you love.  We love a couple with a sense of humor and we promise your photos will be unforgettable.

Get ready for some close ups!  Ladies, try to get your engagement ring professionally cleaned before the session and make sure those nails are camera ready!  You'll be glad you did when you're showing off your bling!

Don't be afraid of early evening or winter sessions!  We don't need warmth and sunshine to make beautiful pictures.  We love a dramatic shot framed by Chicago at night.  Fall leaves or winter snow can be fun and beautiful settings for your shoot.  Grab a stylish coat and let's take some photos!

Photo courtesy of  Gerber & Scarpelli Photography

We want you to look like you!  You don't need to wear tons of makeup to look great in your photos.  Choose colors and styles that feel comfortable and normal for you.  If you choose to wear a darker shade of lipstick, make sure it won't rub off when you kiss!

Bring along your fur babies!  We get it, pups are family.  Not only will they help make your photos feel more special, but they'll help you relax and have more fun in front of the camera!

Highlight special locations!  When we're scheduling your shoot, make sure you let us know if there are any significant places you want to visit to help make your images even more meaningful!

We love a costume change!  For more variety in your photographs, consider preparing two outfits each.  Try switching out a formal look for a casual one.  Need advice on what to wear?  Feel free to ask us!

Brush your teeth right before the session!  Everyone looks and feels better with some fresh pearly whites!

Relax and be in love!  We're all here to capture your love and your story.  Try to forget the camera is there and enjoy some time to snuggle up with your honey in a beautiful location!

Photo courtesy of  Sarah Postma Photography

Photo courtesy of Sarah Postma Photography

Make the Most of your Wedding Day:
Hair & Makeup

Planning a wedding can get overwhelming very quickly. One of the best things a wedding planner can offer engaged couples is clarity when it comes to hiring the right vendors. With so many (fantastic) potential vendors out there, it can be so beneficial to work with a professional to help you assemble a great team!

So, we've asked a few of our most favorite vendors to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at what goes into working with their clients. We're starting with the wonderful Bianca of Bianca Sansosti Artistry, a collective of hairstylists and makeup artists who specialize in on-location services for weddings and events. She's here today to talk about the hair and makeup trial: what is it and why is it important?

Take it away, Bianca!

Photo courtesy of  Bella-Hill Wedding House

Photo courtesy of Bella-Hill Wedding House

The Importance of a Hair and Makeup Trial

With all the different services that a couple experiences during wedding planning and on the wedding day, none is a more personal experience than hair and makeup. How you look translates to how you feel so we, as professional hairstylists and makeup artists, want to ensure that you look (and feel) absolutely amazing that day.

In almost ten years of working in the beauty industry, I have had my fair share of clients who were apprehensive about having their hair and makeup professionally done, and rightfully so! Some have had bad experiences in the past, some have never had services done at all, and many were nervous to have someone do their hair who is not their regular stylist; mostly they were afraid that they weren’t going to look like themselves. We want you to look like you, the best, most enhanced version of you. 

This can mean different things for different people, so having a hair and makeup trial is such an important step in the process. I like to say that the trial is more important for us than the actual wedding day – that’s because on the wedding day, we already know what to do because of the trial! We want you to look back at your photos 25 years later and still love how you looked and felt that day! 

Photos courtesy of  Emilia Jane Photography

Photos courtesy of Emilia Jane Photography

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What should I expect at a trial?

Your hair and makeup trial is an extended appointment time, where you practice the styles and looks you want for the wedding day, and then make adjustments and tweaks until it’s perfect. It’s so helpful to use inspiration photos since clients often can’t tell us, in hair and makeup terms, what they are envisioning. 

During initial calls with clients, I ask a lot of questions, including some that are not necessarily beauty-related. The answers provide a sense of overall style and vision, providing the opportunity to provide our professional advice and recommendations as to whether or not those styles and looks will work for features, such as eye shape, hair texture and hair length. Our goal is for longevity and performance on the wedding day, using the best style to complement features. 

From there, it’s styling time! We will pin your hair different ways, try a couple lip colors and determine your final look. At the end of the trial, it’s important to provide additional do’s and don’ts for hair and/or skin leading up to the wedding for best results and staying power.

Photo courtesy of  Alaina Bos Photography

Photo courtesy of Alaina Bos Photography

Tips & Recommendations for Successful Hair & Makeup Trials

So how can you make sure your hair and makeup experience is top-notch and delivers flawless results on the big day? 

  1. Communication is key! Let your artist and stylist know how you’re feeling about everything, both what you love and what you want to do differently. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments. You’re not going to hurt our feelings; this is our job, and we want you to be HAPPY! 
  3. Tell us your normal hair and skin care routines - we may have additional recommendations for you! Let us know (especially your makeup artist) if you have any allergies or skin conditions we need to be aware of.
  4. Your inspiration photos are just that – inspiration. It’s important to be realistic, and be aware that your final look may not look exactly like the photos. Most of the time, photos that are sent to us are from Pinterest and are heavily retouched. That gorgeous, super textured, low bun that is the perfect balance between messy and polished? That’s not actually going to hold for an 8+ hour wedding day.
  5. Keep your hair color in mind when looking for inspiration, making sure to look for photos with similar hair coloring. Blonde and highlighted hair is going to show off more texture and depth than dark hair or hair that is one overall color, so if you have dark hair and your inspiration photo was a blonde, the hairstyle is going to look a little different on you. 
  6. The same goes for makeup – look for photos of models with similar skin and eye color, to have a realistic idea of how that will look on you.
  7. Don’t change your haircut or hair color drastically after your hair and makeup trial, because your new look may not work anymore for the new style. Instead, tell us your plans so we can give you recommendations, and show your regular stylist photos from your trial.
  8. Don’t schedule your hair and makeup trial for other events, like engagement photos or bridal showers. Most times, your wedding look isn’t appropriate for those events, since there is not as much formality. If possible, try to schedule a dress fitting the afternoon or evening of your trial, so you can see your whole look, head to toe. Such a fun way to experience it before the big day!
Photo courtesy of  Kat/Eye Studios

Photo courtesy of Kat/Eye Studios

Was that informative or what?! Thank you so much to Bianca Sansosti for the inside look at hair and makeup trials. Our clients love working with you and your incredible team! We want you to make the most of your wedding day, so let us know if you're feeling overwhelmed by the planning process - we're here for you! Send us an email and we'll work through it!