when to take engagement photos

The answer to when should you schedule engagement photos depends on many factors. The biggest factor is how much time you have between whenever you book a photographer and your actual wedding day. Some couples may only have a few months, while other couples have more than year. Here are some factors that can help you decide when to schedule your engagement photos.

Do you have a deadline or plan to use the photos for something specific?

If you’re planning to send save-the-dates or use the photos for your invitations, earlier is better. Six months or so is a good rule of thumb for save-the-dates, but invitations are usually sent about two months before the wedding. Keep in mind that with all engagement sessions, my normal turn-around time is about two weeks, but can be a little longer during wedding season. If you have a custom project, such as a photo guestbook, it will depend on their delivery time as well. If you don’t need the photos by a certain time, consider some of the options below.

Do you have a season that you prefer?

The next big factor to think about is weather. Here in Chicago, we have some pretty extreme seasonal differences. Most couples try to avoid the really hot & humid months in the summer (July & August) and the really cold months (January & February). That’s usually a good idea since t-shirts and shorts don’t photograph that well, and nobody wants to be outside when it’s 5 degrees.

With the changing colors, Fall is by far the busiest season, so make sure to let me know early if that’s what you’re planning on. If you’re really into winter and want to play in the snow, we can make that happen. I’m much more flexible with my schedule during those months. We can wait until we get a fresh snowfall. Spring is a good option, as long as the leaves on the trees have come back.

Once you know what timeframe you’re interested in, we’ll put something on the calendar. I usually also have you pick a ‘back up’ date in case of weather troubles. If it looks like rain we can make the call on the day-of.

What’s your schedule like?

Planning a wedding is usually one of the busiest seasons of your life! I totally understand that couples are often finishing school, buying homes, or have demanding job schedules – sometimes all of the above. I try to be as flexible as possible to work around your schedules, but there are a couple of things to know.

During wedding season, most of my weekends are devoted to shooting actual weddings. That’s pretty much every Saturday between May and October. Some of those are destination weddings, so I’m traveling Thursday-Sunday. I can schedule Sunday engagement sessions if we need to, but usually workday evenings are best.

What about day of the week and time of the day?

We shoot in the evening because that’s when the light is the best. If we’re going to any of Chicago’s most popular engagement photo locations, they will be much less crowded on the weekdays. As I mentioned above, my weekend availability is very limited during ‘wedding season’ months.

Most couples shooting in Chicago like to have a mix of daytime and night photos. I usually start by checking when sunset time is for that particular day, and work backwards from there. If sunset is listed at 8pm, we can shoot until 8:30pm or later and still have light in the sky. I work with each couple to plan times and locations more specifically. But I generally plan to get together about 3 to 3.5 hours before sunset. That gives a chance to meet for a drink and chat before we head out. Ideally we should start shooting around 2 to 2.5 hours before sunset.