You booked your engagement session and now you have soooo many questions…. Where should we take the pictures? What should I wear? What if I don’t know what to do? This is a guide I put together to help you through a few decisions.

Let’s start off by saying that this is a guideline and that you do not have to follow every single thing as if it were a rule. Good experiences and errors throughout the years have brought me to this point. The most important thing for me is that you feel YOU!

Destination wedding photographer - elopements - Best Wedding Pho

picking a location

  1. Is there a location that is important to you? Are there any spots that are particularly special to your relationship? Going somewhere familiar brings out emotions and memories that will make the session even more important. The place where you met, perhaps or where you spend your vacations together, or a spot that you both just truly love.

  2. Would you like to do something different than your wedding day? If you’re having a wedding downtown, with an urban look, you can probably do an engagement session with some beautiful landscapes. The Blue Ridge Mountains offer so many beautiful views! If you’re having a wedding outdoors, maybe you can choose to do a coffee shop or somewhere with an urban look for your engagement session.

  3. You can do multiple locations! Most of my sessions are about 90 minutes, so if you choose two locations, make sure they are no more than 15/20 minutes max away from each other. Engagement sessions are scheduled when the light is at it’s best so any traveling that would take more than 15 minutes would be too far, because we would be losing light

Restaurant - Engagement Photos - Virginia - Pat Cori
Picnic - Engagement - Blue Ridge Mountains - Pat Cori

what do you like to do?

A big part of choosing a location has to do with who you are as a couple. An engagement session shouldn’t be just a session of the two of you in a pretty spot. It should portray you as a couple, your personalities should come through and that happens if you are doing something that you like to do.

*The couple in the image below were both biologists. When they talked about their studies their eyes would light up, so I asked during the session if they wanted to include a lizard in their pictures (his PHD was on lizards). They immediately said yes! It took then a minute to find one! LOL

What I’m trying to say is, no matter what it is that you like to do together, it should be part of your engagement session. If it is reading books on your favorite couch or eating popcorn while watching Netflix, we could do an in home session. If it’s hiking, then we could plan a hike!

Mountain Lake Lodge - Engagement - Virginia - Best Photographer

What to wear.

Simple tips

If you’re feeling undecided on what to wear, bring options. Most of my couples bring 2-3 bottoms and 3-4 tops. One dress for her and a button-up shirt for him. Then you can bring a jacket, accessories, anything you would like to add. Keep in mind that most times, based on location you will be changing in the back of a car, so make sure you are comfortable with that. If not, no big deal, we can stick with one outfit! Also, you can text me some images of your choices or you can create a Pinterest board and share it secretly with me. This will allow me to help you with the process!

Cascade Falls - Engagement - Virginia  Wedding Photographer - Pa
Fall engagement portraits - explore park - wedding photography -
SML - Engagement Pictures - Smith Mountain Lake - Engagement Pho
  1. dress accordingly

Keep in mind the time and location where we will be shooting at. If we are hiking, it’s better that you have comfortable shoes and clothes. If we are shooting in freezing temperatures, dress up in layers and wear warm clothes. If it’s warm, light materials work best! If you are the type of person that sweats a lot think of shirts that don’t show sweat stains. Be comfortable! If you’re not, it will show through in the images…

Most of my couples like having two looks. A more casual one and a formal one. We typically start with the casual one, which is the one that most people feel more at ease in.

Mountain Lake Lodge - Engagement - Virginia - Best Photographer
Blue Ridge Parkway - Engagement portraits - Virginia Engagement

2. colors

Neutrals and earthy tones are the best when it comes to getting your pictures taken. Neutral doesn’t mean just gray, there are neutrals for every color! Stay away from bright colors, especially bright reds which can alter the color of your skin and use colors that look good with your skin tones. Here are some examples of neutrals that aren’t gray!

3. patterns

Yes to little patterns, if it’s only one of the two wearing them! Big patterns distract too much. Same goes with stripes, logos and graphic shirts. Even if you look good in these, they don’t transfer well in photos. One important tip, iron your clothes so that we don’t get unnecessary distractions!

Fall engagement portraits -tree picking- wedding photography - Virginia - Pat Cori.jpg
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4.do not match!

Complement each other but do not match. Look for complimentary colors, the idea of both wearing jeans and a white shirt is a big NO NO!


Props are a great way to tell your story or to include more of you in your pictures! It doesn’t have to be cheesy! Props can be your pets, a cheese board with a picnic blanket, a paddle boat, a golf cart, etc… Also consider a hat, a beanie, scarves, jewelry! Those are all accessories that add interest!

Virginia Engagement Photographer - Elopements - Pat Cori
Golf engagement portraits - Virginia - Pat Cori
Props - Engagement sessions - Virginia - Pat Cori
Engagement - Blue Ridge Mountains - Virginia - Wedding Photograp

Hair & Make-up

Do what you feel like doing!! Most people like to do their trials on the day of their engagement portraits. It’s a good way to get pampered and look amazing in your pictures! In the end, whatever makes you feel good inside and out do it!

That’s all!

Hopefully after reading this guideline, you’re feeling more comfortable about our engagement session. If not, don’t worry! No matter what you decide in the end, we will capture some great moments and if you feel like sending me some pictures of your outfits or creating a Pinterest board to share with me, go ahead and do it! Remember in the end, the most important thing is that you are YOU and that you feel comfortable and at ease throughout the session! No matter what I promise your pictures will be amazing! :)

Summer - engagement portraits - Virginia - Pat Cori