Hi there!  I'm Caiti and I am a portrait photographer living in Disputanta, Virginia.  I am a music loving, doughtnut eating, coffee drinking, mama of 2.  This is the place where you can come to see my latest work with my beautiful clients and learn more about me, my husband, and our sweet babies.  Take a look around and enjoy! 


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Engagement, Personal, Photography

March 24, 2017

Planning Your Engagement Session | Ask Caiti

Happy Fri-YAY! I am hitting you with some advice today! Here we go!! I love engagement sessions – it’s no secret! I feel like they are SO important to the wedding experience and..basically..they are just fun! Some times couples won’t want to do them because they don’t think they need them or don’t think they will like them, but NEVER have I had a couple leave an engagement session regretting that they did it. NEVER! If anything, the guys end up telling me how it was actually fun or they actually didn’t hate it (those are huge compliments coming from a groom), and the girls are just so happy they have these pictures of them with their fiancé!

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? We will get pictures together on our wedding day.” Sure you will and, if you are one of my clients, I am sure to give you a TON if you make sure to leave me time in your timeline [which I work with you on 😉 ]. Engagement pictures are much more natural, though. While you will most likely hang a wedding picture or two in your home, you are more likely to make an album or book with those pictures. Engagement pictures are more often the ones my clients have hanging on their walls! They just feel more themselves in them. Also, it gives you a chance to get comfortable in front of the camera, comfortable posing together, and it gives ME a chance to really get to know my clients as a COUPLE.

So now that I have told you why I love engagement sessions and why I think you should do them…I am going to tell you what to think about when planning your engagement session. During this process, I strongly encourage you to be in constant contact with your photographer. I love to hear about any ideas my clients have, especially outfit choices! So here we go!
Planning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter Photography

1. Timing:
The first thing you need to decide is whether or not you are sending a “save the date” and, if so, do you want a picture on it. Some couples aren’t engaged for very long so save-the-date’s are pointless. Other couples kind of need them. If you want to send them, you need to be sure to take your engagement pictures with enough time for your photographer to edit them and get you the gallery, then have them created the save-the-date, printed, and mailed out. I would say you need to do the session at least a month before you want to send them out.
Also, when it comes to timing, think of the time of year! This effects what you wear and your location choice! If you want flowers to be blooming at your location, then you need to plan for a spring or summer session. I suggest deciding on some options for your location and then looking up pictures of it to see if it looks the way you want at THAT time of year.

2. Weather:
This may just be me but engagement pictures in the winter have the potential to be extremely miserable. I am just being honest! If I am shivering, then I am sure my couples are cold because they aren’t usually moving around as much as me. Unless you really want to be super bundled up in pictures OR you want engagement pictures in the snow….then I would suggest maybe not doing a winter session. I don’t want my couples to just “get through” a session! My goal is for them to HAVE FUN as well as me get simply beautiful images for them to have forever. That means not being miserable (haha). However, Virginia tends to go from 25 degrees to 65 degrees in less than 24 hours so winter could be okay some days. Engagements in July & August have the potential for being slightly miserable as well because you are snuggling up on someone when it is 100 degrees out BUT I do have something that might help with that, which I will talk about in the Time Of Day section.
Planning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter Photography

3. Time Of Day:
The best time of day for a photographer to take your pictures is going to be sunrise or sunset. The light is just perfect at these times of the day!! The light is more golden and evenly spread out. Even light means you have more options for where your pictures are taken, and it also means no dark, uneven shadows on your body (or raccoon eyes because NO girl wants that!).
Majority of the time, I am going to push for a sunset session. It just works best for most people’s schedules and the light is gorgeous. Sometimes that is hard in the winter, especially on a week day because people are at work still that early in the day. I have amazing clients who make it work though! Winter is also a little of a slow season so my weekends are more open, as opposed to the middle of wedding season when you most likely will NOT get a weekend session. However, sunset can be crazy hot here in Virginia in the summer. So a great option during those HOT days is a sunrise session! I know…waking up with the sun does not sound fun, especially when you don’t need to be at work. However, engagement pictures means you are probably going to be hugging and snuggling up to your fiancé so you definitely don’t want it to be hot! What girl wants to be cuddling with her man while sweat is dripping down on her? Um, not me!! Sunrise is the coolest part of the day in the summer so this is a great option! It also has great light AND it leaves the rest of your day free! Another reason it is smart, ladies, is because your hair and makeup will still be on point since you JUST finished doing it.

4. Location:
Do the two of you have a place that is sentimental to you? Is there somewhere you two love to go together or you just feel more natural together? This could be a college, your hometown, the beach, a coffee shop, a park, whatever you want! I really suggest going somewhere that means something to you because it will make the session & photos so much more precious. I have had clients go back to where they got engaged, where they went to school together, or just the beach because they love going to beach! (So do I sooooo the beach is always a great choice 😉 !!)Planning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter Photography

5. Outfits:
Okay..we have touched on this a little bit and this could probably be a post all by itself because there is a lot of things to consider when planning your outfits for a session (that goes for ANY session – couples, families, newborns, children, whatever). The first thing I tell my couples is to choose a dressy outfit AND a casual outfit. Dressy really means fancier than you normally would wear. You don’t want to look exactly how you do every other day of the week in your engagement pictures, am I right? You want them to stand out. YOU want to stand out in them! Brides – you want to look your absolute best, right? You want to be beautiful and romantic. Grooms – you want to look like a straight up stud! 
 When choosing your outfits, think about the weather! Don’t wear a scarf & cardigan in August. Also, think about your insecurities!! This is a big one. READ CAREFULLY – No matter how beautiful your images are, or how beautiful other people tell you you are, if YOU are not comfortable in what you are wearing or how you look, you will NOT love your pictures. If you hate your legs, don’t wear shorts. If you don’t like the way your arms look, don’t wear a tank top. If you think tight shirts are unflattering on you, wear something flowy. You want to look great AND feel great! {more free advice: if you haven’t already noticed, I LOVE FLOWY! Flowy dresses are always a good idea and take every session to the next level. It’s a fact!}
 Another tip for what to wear would be to NOT match (good gosh, please do not match), but coordinate. Where colors that compliment each other, and NOT opposing patterns. Wear styles that compliment each other as well. Guys, your lady can’t show you up by wearing a stunning, flowy, romantic dress and you are in cargo shorts & a t-shirt.
You need to be equal.
Think about your location, as well! Make sure your outfits work well with the location you choose. For example, I wouldn’t want my couple to be wearing a suit and classy dress with heels while we are in an open field. It just doesn’t work. 
 I have so many more tips for this that I may just right a separate blog post for this. UNTIL THEN, my BIGGEST advice would be – talk with your photographer about your outfits!! This is essential! I love love LOVE talking with my girls about what they are going to wear and having them send me pictures of their outfit options. It allows me to talk through some of these things with them, tell them whether they need more accessories or dial it back on the pattern.Planning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter PhotographyPlanning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter Photography

BONUS: 6. Hair & Makeup:
This last one is NOT necessary but it is a fun little bonus if you really want to go all out. Ladies….I highly recommend you consider having your hair or makeup or BOTH done on your session day. I promise you that you will feel so much more confident at your session, as well as be a little more glamorous than you normally would. I know that I have hit or miss days on curing my hair. I do it the EXACT SAME WAY, but it just doesn’t want to work some days. Same goes with my makeup. One day I am loving it, and the next day I am wondering what my eyeliner is even doing. When someone else who is a professional is responsible for doing all of this, I know it is going to look great! My girls that have taken advantage of this advice have NOT regretted it! They always tell me how a weight has been lifted off of them and just allowed them to relax, knowing they look their best. {Plus…fake lashes take EVERYTHING up a notch!}
Planning Your Engagement Session, Engaged, Engagement Pictures, Central Virginia, Planning A Wedding, Caiti Garter Photography

Okay – that was pretty wordy BUT I hope it helps you when planning your engagement session!



Lindsey & Cory’s Downtown RVA Engagement Session

Clare & Geordie’s Old Town Engagement Session

Stacy & Sean’s Alma Mater Engagement Session

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