Stan Hwyet Hall & Gardens Engagement
Have you seen those memes or GIFs about those small business owners who calmly complete transactions in front of customers and then slide down behind the counter and have some sort of dance party with themselves behind the counter as soon as the customer walks away?
If you spend any time around me at all you’ll know that it’s no secret that I happen to think Merideth is one of the sweetest people on the planet. She’s also a brilliant and talented wedding professional that owns Makeup by Merideth, and I have the pleasure of working with her often. So when she and Mike chose my team and me as their wedding photographers, basically it was that meme, come to life. 😉
Stay calm, act professionally. Have a dance party.
Mike and Merideth have many things going for them, being really great human beings would rank at the top of that list, but impeccable taste and style rank up there as well. So when we started planning her styled engagement shoot I was a little more than excited. We spent time chatting about the look and feel of what they wanted overall for their engagement looks, from there we decided on three locations, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Three beautiful wedding venues that if you’re local to Cleveland you are probably pretty familiar with.
An interview with a Bride-to-Be
Although I’m just dying to show you their beautiful engagement session because they were so gorgeous and their love for each other came through in such an obvious way. The thing that I thought might be most helpful is if I had her answer a few questions about her process leading up to her engagement. Her engagement images got a lot of reaction (which makes sense, she was stunning!) but the reality is that to get stunning images like this it takes a bit of preparation. Because she is such a professional she knew that and was willing to put the work in. Mike is just a super nice guy who loves his fiancée and will wear a well-tailored suit and take her out to dinner afterward because he knew she wanted him to. 😉
Often I think what’s missing for couples when they see gorgeous images like this is that they might not realize that there is actually a formula to getting these kinds of engagement photos. They don’t just happen. As a start, you can find our ‘what to wear for your engagement session style guide here and find out more about engagement sessions as a whole here. We work with all of our couples on planning their engagement sessions, but if you’ve chosen a Styled Engagement session it’s on a whole different level. The idea is that we’re going to create something that is going to live alongside your wedding images, usually in a sign-in album or artwork in your home, and that’s going to take some preparation and thought. Just like your wedding day would. I’m going to let Merideth explain…
How to Plan a Styled Engagement Session As Stunning As This
Merideth! Thank you so much for doing this! I know there were points that were surprising for you as a bride, and maybe even a little frustrating, and I’m hoping your experience will be really helpful for others to learn from everything you figured out as they’re planning their engagement sessions.
Would you tell us, how did you and Mike meet? Share a little of your love story?
Of course, I’m so happy to chat about this and hopefully help other brides through the process! Mike and I were both fairly new residents of Cleveland when we first met there. He had originally moved up from Texas, and I moved from West Virginia about a year after he did. Our modern-day romance first started online, where we instantly took note of each other’s witty banter. Our conversations soon led to us meeting up at a local taco joint, where I ordered three impressively-sized tacos, joking about how unashamed I was about eating a hearty meal on a first date. At the very end of the date, when I looked down at my perfect plate of tacos, totally untouched, I knew there was a VERY good chance he was the one.
Did you use any of the inspiration of your relationship when planning for your engagement?
When planning for our engagement pictures, our hope was to have classic images that were a true reflection of who we are and how we love, surrounded by the beautiful city where we’ll get to tell our kids we met one day.
Translating the magic of such a special time in our lives through the vibrant colors of nature as well as the wardrobe pieces we selected were really special for us. Mike and I both spend a lot of time together outdoors, and yet we also wouldn’t miss a moment to put ourselves together (especially during a pandemic when those opportunities are scarce), so it was important to us to represent both of those elements in our love story.
Where did you find engagement inspiration?
We started planning our look about three months beforehand. I’m a very visual person, and outfit planning was one component that I knew I couldn’t guess on last-minute. I scoured fashion blogs for outfit ideas and gathered inspiration on my Pinterest board. As you know, I also made sure to share a few looks with you, as my photography to get your professional view on how things would pair with our shoot locations. You were such a major resource for us during the whole process.
That’s so kind of you, we had a lot of fun, didn’t we?! So can I ask, how did you plan your looks?
Once I narrowed down my favorite looks, I helped my fiance pick out coordinating outfits of equal formality so everything felt cohesive. One of the most helpful tricks for me was creating a virtual moodboard, where I pasted images of my entire outfit on one side (dress, heels, jewelry, etc.) and Mike’s look on the other. That truly helped us envision the full picture before we purchased a single item, and also allowed us to be fully confident in advance so we weren’t stressing out about details last minute.
Aside from outfit planning, one thing I never heard anyone talk about was how much beauty preparation is potentially involved with planning an engagement session. Between hair appointments, makeup, facials, nails, and spray tans there are several appointments that I’m glad we set up early that helped us look and feel our best for pictures.
Thank you, Merideth!
A few last tips here, if this feels just too overwhelming to do on your own many planners will help you style your engagement session and if you have a Styled Engagement session with us we’re extremely involved as well.
As far as your personal look goes, you can always hire a stylist to take care of that for you. Stylists are trained to curate everything about your look from your earrings to your shoes, find all your pieces, and bring the look together for you. The only thing you need to do is make your final decisions on what feels the most like you.
But for most people, just following the steps that Merideth talked about, or having a look at the simpler What to Wear for my Engagement Session post here can be a huge jump in the right direction as well.
Now, on to the images. Merideth, you were BEYOND stunning. Mike, you’re kind of a great guy and I’m so glad she’s marrying you. 😉 I cannot wait for your wedding. Everyone else, please enjoy! Style credits below.
Nails: 50 Shades of Polish
Hair: Prime + Process Hair Lounge
Makeup: Makeup by Merideth
Spray Tan: CLE Glo
Dress: Badgley Mischka, Rent the Runway
Stan Hywet Gardens:
Dress: Vici Collection | Heels: Ted Baker London
Blazer: Calvin Klein | Dress Shirt: Lorenzo Uomo
Cleveland Cultural Gardens:
Dress: Diane von Fürstenberg | Heels: Vince Camuto
Suit: Calvin Klein