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If there ever was an engagement session that needed some prep notes, a gorgeous wintery engagement is it. Snow-filled engagement sessions can be some of my absolute favorite sessions, but they can also be some of the hardest to pull of. So before you convince yourself this is for you (and probably by extension ME!) there are a few things to consider.
If you’re following along, we chatted about some best practices when planning engagements in all 4 seasons over here: Spring, Summer, and Fall, and why engagement sessions are in my opinion so important, to begin with right here.
But when you’re talking about a winter engagement session it is sort of a category all on its own. The upside is that the images come out beautifully, and you have a few really spectacular looks you can go with. The downside is that logistically it’s far harder to pull off than you can imagine while you’re browsing on Pinterest.
Generally, there are two different looks you can go with for your winter wonderland vibe.
Extremely Glamorous or Cozy Picnic
- Glamorous. Personally, the glamorous look really is my very favorite. For this look, you just need some kind of an amazing dress (preferably with a rich color that’s going to pop off of that snow) and a great suit (but keep in mind we’re going to be in snow, so probably not your best suit). You’ll want your makeup done for sure but you don’t need a ton of makeup here because you’re going to be freezing (think naturally red lips and cheeks) and we’ll be doing a lot of big sweeping shots. These look AMAZING on camera, the big downside to them is you’re left standing outside in a snowstorm in some kind of an evening gown and not everyone can handle that.
- Cozy. This look is all about warm and cozy in the midst of the vast winter wonderland. Think cute hats, hot cocoa or coffee, blankets… anything that’s going to bring that we’re out together and it’s ‘our love that’s keeping us warm’ cuteness. You know what I’m talking about! 😉 Again, the biggest thing here is to watch the color choices. We already have a ton of black and white behind you, so jewel tones are amazing, bright colors are amazing, things that are rich and really pop off that background is what you want to aim for.
There are a few important things to note no matter which look you decide to lean towards, and of all the seasons these are the most important because some of these are just plain safety!
5 Things to note when planning your snowy winter engagement session in Cleveland, Ohio
- Plan Ahead. A winter engagement session is a bit of a waiting game. Typically when we plan for a winter engagement we get it on the books at least 6 months in advance. What that means, in reality, is that we block about 3 weeks that both our team and our couple is on ‘snow watch’ and ready to go. During those dates at any point when it snows we drop everything and go photograph an engagement session. This can book up fast because physically we can only do so many of these engagements per-snowstorm (remember, I can’t wear gloves!) and it only snows so many times. So if you’re thinking this might be for you, let’s chat about it right away!
- Hair. Ladies, you’re going to want to think about what’s going to work well for your hair. I love having a more free-flowing style, with your hair down, or natural hair if that’s how you wear it, (and it will keep you warmer) but chances are it will probably be snowing. We’ll also be jumping in and out of cars, a lot. This means you’re going from freezing cold, dry, and possibly wet, to blasting humid heaters. You know best when it comes to what’s going to hold up in your hair the longest. This is one of those days that I would actually suggest getting your hair professionally done outweighs your makeup. Obviously, both are best if possible (see below) but hair will show more in this case.
- COLD! So this is a major consideration when we talk about winter engagements. It’s going to be so much colder than you realize. I promise. However cold you think you think it will be, it will be colder. The only way to make this work is by photographing for short periods of time and then taking breaks to warm up in the cars. Which we’ll do often. It’s a lot of fun, and we’ll laugh a lot, but it’s a lot of work and a far cry from the carefree frolic of a summer engagement session. Both you AND your partner need to be aware of that and have a sense of humor about it going in, or it won’t be fun for any of us. Remember, I don’t have gloves. 😉
- Schedule professional hair and makeup. This is something I think is important no matter what the time of year but having a professional craft your look will help you feel like the most stunning version of yourself. I can’t recommend it enough. Again, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get a feel for vendors you may want alongside you on your wedding day. But do plan ahead, the really great ones book up quickly!
- Flexibility. Obviously, we can’t predict exactly when that picture-perfect snowstorm will arrive, or exactly what the picture-perfect location will be. If this is your dream look, my last tip is this: you need to be flexible and prepared. Depending on what the snow looks like and the look you’ve chosen will depend on the location I chose for you guys. Sometimes there was no snow at all and then we wake up to gorgeous piles of it. The days are short in the middle of winter. It usually takes a whole lot of weather reports and chatting back and forth and then a quick decision to get to our engagement. Part of that means you need to be able to be flexible with your work schedules, and you need to be totally ready. Outfits picked (as in tried on and LOVED at least a month before our blocked dates), everything ironed, and just waiting for our perfect moment. The last thing you want is major stress because your dream dress doesn’t fit quite right on the day of the perfect snowstorm.
Winter engagement sessions are so much fun when it’s all said and done. It’s a wonderful time to get comfortable in front of our cameras and focus on the two of you. And truly after an engagement session that takes this much prep and planning, it’ll make your wedding day seem like the easiest thing you’ve ever done!
Hopefully, this was helpful and gives you a better idea of what it takes to create those gorgeous winter looks. I’m currently on snow watch for a few amazing couples and I’m only a little excited and prepping my return (thaw out) coffee.