When to Take Engagement Photos

Once you start planning your wedding, the venue and wedding photographer are traditionally booked first due to limited availability. If you and your fiance have decided to get an engagement session you may be wondering when to take engagement photos?

Summer time engagement session

Summer time engagement session

Generally you want to take engagement photos 2-3 months after booking your wedding photographer. BUT that is not a hard and fast rule. There are some variables that go into deciding when to take engagement photos, the biggest being our crazy unpredictable Indiana weather.

Since most couples book their wedding photographer in the first few months into the new year, 2-3 months later is usually spring time here around Indianapolis. This can be great for engagement photos. There is the occasional rain shower or cold day, so be aware that some locations could still be damp or muddy. So have a back up plan of Indianapolis Engagement Photo Locations. But Spring is still a great time to take engagement photos.

Fall time engagement session

Fall time engagement session

It also helps to know what to do with engagement photos. Do you plan to put your engagement photos on save the date cards? Depending on your wedding date you may need to take your engagement session sooner to ensure you will have them back in time to send out your save the dates. Be sure to ask how long it takes to get engagement photos back from your photographer.

Know that at the end of the day, this is still your wedding. You can do things your own way. If you want fall engagement photos, take fall engagement photos. You will remember this time of your life forever. Have it captured the way that will keep you smiling for years to come.

See More: Complete Wedding Planning Guide!


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How to Prepare For Your Engagement Session

You have planed When to take engagement photos and Where to take engagement photos, but before you step in front of the camera there are still a few more tips you should know to get the most out of your engagement session.

 Cory And Monica's Fall 100 Acer Woods Engagements  - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

What to expect from your engagement session:

Your engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get to know your photographer better before the wedding. If you have hired a quality wedding photographer you will not need to worry about feeling awkward of uncomfortable in front of the camera. And if you are worried about that, you are not alone. In my time photographing over 100 Indianapolis couples they have all said the exact same thing. At the end of the session they are shocked at how fast time flew by and surprised at how comfortable they felt in front of the camera. You and your photographer will most likely be walking around a specific area talking about your wedding and when the photographer sees something interesting, they will stop you and give you some light direction of how to stand. I have my couples interact with each other through a set of questions geared to getting you two to open up and forget the camera is there. By the end of the session my number one goal is to make sure you two had fun and now feel closer than ever.

 Kimberly & Keagan's Eagle Creek State Park Engagement Session - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

What to wear for engagement photos?

First and foremost you should wear something you are comfortable in. When you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera, it will show. An outfit that is a solid neutral color will be more flattering than something bright with busy patterns. Then pick an outfit for your partner following the same guide but opt for some something that complements rather than matches. You two are not twins, no need to dress like it. Lastly pick one accessory that will stand out. A necklace or bracelet are perfect. More and more couples are using a rental subscription like Amazon Wardrobe that lets them rent multiple outfits for engagement session and return what you don't want to keep, all from the comfort of your own home.

engagement-session-time-of-day

Think about Hair and Makeup:

Your engagement session is the perfect opportunity to get a hair and makeup trial done to see exactly how your look will photograph. Compile a list of ideas and bring it to your makeup artist and talk about what you are going for. For your engagement session try to shoot for slightly less makeup than you will on your wedding as it’s easier to turn it up on the day than it is to turn it down. Also as many wedding make up artists will tell you, use SPF free makeup when taking photos as it can make skin look more pale because of how it interacts with some light.

 Sarah and Zakk's Indianapolis Art Center Engagement Session - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

Can we bring our dog to our engagement session?

Absolutely! If your fur baby is a member of the family you can absolutely bring your four legged friend to your engagement session. From experience I can tell you it is very helpful to bring a friend along who can hold on to the pup while you two take some more romantic and intimate photos together. Pro tip, take the pup on a walk to to the dog park before the session to let out some wound up energy!

 Torsten and Trish's Eagle Creek State Park Indianapolis Engagement Session - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

Should we bring Props?

I love the idea of making your engagement photos as personal as possible. If you two have something that you share that means a lot to your relationship like a favorite book then by all means bring it! I have found that once a couple brings more than 1 prop it can become cumbersome carrying and keeping track of the items. Remember your engagement photos are a reflection of your relationship and does not have to include a vintage picnic complete with chevron paper straws and vintage wire birdcage.

What time of day to take engagement photos?

As a photographer my number 1 tool is light. If you have ever taken a photo with a lens cap on, you know how important light is. Because of this it is generally best to start engagement photos an hour and a half before sunset when the sun is low in the sky. Because of this timing is everything. Try to prepare for possible traffic or road conditions to ensure we can start on time and get the best engagement photos possible.

fall-engagement-session-without-props

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How to Make a List of Family Photos to Take at Your Wedding

Weddings are a special occasion for more reasons than you’d think. With how busy our lives are it's rare for entire families to get together. So when they do all get together it is important to get everyone in a family photo.

Family photos traditionally happen immediately following the ceremony. Some couples take family photos before the ceremony starts if they decide to do a first look, and others wait until after dinner. That's more common in the summer months when the sun is out later.

Whatever you decide is right for your wedding you will need to compile a list of family photos you want your wedding photographer to take.

Here's what I like to have my couples do. I call this my "wedding planning homework":

Sit down together, and put together a full list of all of the family combinations that you might want.

Rather than stressing about what you're supposed to do, think about the photos that you might actually want in an album or framed on your walls. Who are the people you want to remember being there when you show your wedding photos to your kids in 30 years? Most couples have 5-10 groups, plus a few more casual groups at the reception later. You can absolutely plan for more or less, but make sure that you leave time.

 Katie and Kyle Rhodes Wedding
Glenwoddie Country Club Golf Course
Glenwood IL
Salem Lutheran church
Homewood IL

Send the list to your parents to make sure that you haven't missed any combinations.

There might be photos that they want for their own homes that you hadn't thought about. Just make sure the list doesn't get so long that this will take over a huge chunk of your wedding day. Again, a max of ten groupings is ideal.

Put the list in order.

I like to start with the largest groups so that they can leave first and clear the area out, but sometimes it makes sense to prioritize grandparents and who will have a hard time standing or need extra help or children who will have short attention spans. It's also helpful to note who is "finished" after each grouping so the person calling names can tell them that they're all set to go.

Assume that groups will take an average of five minutes each

It only takes a few seconds to take the photos once everything is set up, but it can take a few minutes to get everyone in place, especially large groups. Smaller groups can usually jump in and out within two minutes or so, but I always leave a buffer in case things run long or we can't find someone who we need (it does happen).

 Cory and Casey's Mariners Village Carlyle IL Wedding - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

Share the list with everyone who is on it, and let them know where they need to be and when.

You can email out the master list to everyone ahead of time, then print out copies to pass out to family members so they know when to be ready.

Find your "Person”

Identify the person who is the loudest and/or knows the most people. This person will get a copy of the photo list to help corral the groups since your photographer most likely does not know your Uncle Jim from Aunt Sally.

Here is an example list

  • B+G w/ Brides immediate and extended family (Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins)

  • B+G w/ Brides immediate family

  • B+G w/ Brides Parents together then One with mom, one with Dad

  • B+G w/ Brides siblings

Then the same list would apply to the groom with any changes that don’t apply, possibly without siblings ect.

 Scott Terese DeBoer Wedding
Munster Indiana

Things to keep in mind:

If your parents are divorced, don't feel pressure to put them in a group photo together. Again, if you wouldn't frame it, don't feel like you have to take it. This is really a personal decision.

Think about special occasions that you might want photos for in the future. Don't forget a photo with just you and your siblings that you can give to your mom on her birthday (or post on national siblings day, because Facebook just told me that that's a thing). The same goes for photos with just you and each parent individually. These can make simple gifts for Mother's Day/Father's Day.

The sooner this is done, the better as it can take a bit of time to compile.

See More: Complete Wedding Planning Guide!


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The Importance of an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

Ever since the iPhone came along humans have continued to take more and more photos than ever before. Staring at life through a screen has become a part of everyday life. This has also became true during a wedding ceremony. Guests will stand up and get in the middle of the aisle to take a photo of the bride walking down, blocking the groom from seeing his bride for the first time.

 Tony and Rachel's 502 Event Center Carmel Indiana Wedding  - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

To prevent this an increasing number of couples are opting for an unplugged ceremony. Today we will talk about what that means and if it is the right decision for your wedding.

What is an unplugged wedding ceremony?

If a couple has decided to have an unplugged wedding it means they will ask guests to refrain from taking photos or video or uploading to social media during the ceremony. Including the first kiss and the recessional. Some couples will take it a step further and ask guests for a total social media blackout during the entire wedding.

Why unplugged wedding ceremony is important?

Couples may choose to have an unplugged wedding for a number of reasons. The first being when we are glued to our phones are not truly present. When couples have an unplugged wedding, their guests will be more attentive and immerse themselves more in the ceremony. When guests are taking photos with their phones they are more likely to stand up or get in the middle of the aisle during your first kiss, blocking the shot for the professional photographer you have paid to capture that moment. About 85% of the weddings I shoot are unplugged for the ceremony. For the remaining 15% it is a noticeable difference in how guests interact with each other.

 Chris and Jessy The Lodge at River Valley Farm Wedding Yorktown IN - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

How to announce unplugged wedding?

Preparing your guests and letting them know the ceremony will be unplugged and why it is important for you is key. Traditionally a sign is made asking guest to turn off their phones for the length of the ceremony and placed at the entrance for all guest to see. You can also ask your officiant to make a quick announcement at the beginning of the ceremony as well.

 Ryan & Jessica's Intimate Backyard Wedding New Castle IN - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

How to word unplugged wedding

There are many ways to word that you are having an unplugged wedding ceremony. Something as simple as

Welcome to our Unplugged Wedding Ceremony.

Please turn off your cell phone or camera and refrain from taking photos during our ceremony to fully enjoy this moment with us. Don’t worry about missing a moment, we hired a professional photographer who will share the photos they take with you.

Or if you want to know how to word that you are having an unplugged ceremony for the officiant to announce

As a reminder, the couple has asked all guests to turn off their cellphones and refrain from taking photos so you can be more present and enjoy this moment that they want to share with you

How to make unplugged wedding sign

There are many options and designs to display that you are having an unplugged wedding. From printing one off of the internet, printing it out and placing it in a frame to hiring a calligrapher to design one for you on a large chalkboard.

 Michael and Kayla's Plum Creek Golf Club Wedding Carmel IN - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

Should I have an unplugged wedding?

In my experience as a wedding photographer here in Indianapolis having an unplugged wedding ceremony greatly reduces the chance of a guest standing up and blocking the perfect shot. But more, as a wedding photographer I can see first hand that when a guest looks at you exchanging your vows joining your lives together the joy in their eyes and face is so much more than when they are viewing it through the screen of their cell phone.

But ultimately ask yourself why have you invited your closest friends and loved ones? Was it so they can snap a pixelated version of you standing together from 10 rows back? Or did you invite them because you wanted to share the joy and experience of your special day with those you love most? You are hiring a professional with an experienced artistic eye to capture your wedding day. Let your guests relax and enjoy themselves.

 Vince & Connie Russiaville Indiana Wedding  - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com


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What to ask Wedding DJ or Live Band

Think of every great party you have ever been to. What is the one thing that links them all together? Amazing music. The music can make or break any party. Picking the right entertainment for your wedding is a big decision. Today’s I will cover everything related to picking out the perfect DJ or Band for your wedding!

What does a Wedding DJ or Band do?

Your wedding DJ or Live Band is the entertainment coordinator for your wedding. They will keep spirits high and the party going.

Wedding DJ vs Band

If you are going for the ultimate experience, nothing beats a live band. Their presence is part of the show. A live band will typically cost more than a DJ as there are more members performing. A wedding DJ will have a selection of music that it unmatched.

Why Hire a Wedding DJ or Band?

Hiring the right DJ or Live Band for your wedding is important. Quality entertainment keeps their egos checked at the door, play as a team, and know they only have one shot to make your wedding perfect.

When to book a Wedding DJ?

Quality wedding DJs or Live bands around Indianapolis will book 8-9 months in advance.

Now that you know the basics of wedding entertainment you should schedule time to meet with some potential candidates to hear who they are and give you the opportunity to ask questions.

PS Download this list of questions to ask wedding dj or band, at the bottom of the page to bring with you to your meetings!


 Sam & Alex's Homestead 1835 Wedding New Carlisle IN - www.RHatfieldPhotography.com

1: How long have you been in the wedding business?

This is a great opener and will give you a sense of who they are and why they love being wedding entertainment

2: Do you have my date open?

From the time that you inquire about your wedding day and the time you meet they may have booked your wedding date so just confirm.

3: What is your specialty?

Some live bands specialize in classic rock while others, disco. Some DJs specialize is creating their own mixes while others keep a playlist. If you are going for a specific theme or feel to your wedding, be sure to pick entertainment that will suit that.

4: How extensive is your song list? Can we make requests for songs?

With access to YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and other sources a Wedding Dj should have no issue dealing with requests. For live bands it is much tougher as you could imagine. But they should have a list of songs they can play that are open to requests. If there is a specific song you would like played at your wedding, be sure to ask if they can accommodate with enough time to prepare.

5: Do you provide any extras, like lighting?

A wedding DJ or band should have some sort of lighting kit. Some have a few party lights that sit on top of their speakers while others have an extensive kit with colored up lighting that can light up the largest of reception venues. Even though the reception will be dark, the more lighting the better the mood. Since they will also be in charge of keeping the flow of events moving, some will help with the planning of the reception.

Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos

Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos

6: How much space or stage do you require?

Unless you have a very small venue a DJ should have no problem fitting anywhere. A live band will take up more room as there are more people performing. Ask to ensure your venue will fit their needs.

7: How much time is needed for set up, sound check, and breakdown?

Both a DJ and a live band will have a lot of equipment that will take some time to set up. If you have time restrictions from your venue find out how much time they need so you can plan ahead.

8: Are there any additional charges?

From Travel, to set up and take down, and overtime if the party just won’t stop, make sure you are clear on any additional charges so you are not surprised later on.

9: How often do you take breaks? What happens when you do?

A live band will typically break for 15 mins every hour while others rotate band members to play continuously (this may be an additional fee) A DJ might do the same but they can walk away for a moment while the music is playing. If looking into a band, be sure to ask what happens while they take a break and if some other music will be playing.

10: Do you have liability insurance?

Many venues around Indianapolis require wedding venues to have liability insurance in case of accidental damage. If they do have insurance and an accident happens you will not be on the hook for damages.

Ask to see a sample contract

Reading over contracts is not fun but with how important your wedding day is a contract is essential to protect yourself. Also make sure the contract lists what happens if the wedding is canceled in the event of a natural disaster or death in the family.

Click Here to Download this List of What To Ask Wedding DJ / Band to take with you to your next meeting!

 Trent and Jessica Heldt Wedding
Highland Indiana

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