Engagement Session Guide

One of the first steps we take couples through is the Engagement Session. Engagement Sessions play a big part in the initial stage of the 88 Love Stories Experience. It’s a perfect and very casual way for us to photograph you before the wedding day. We get to know each other better, and it gives you your first experience being photographed. It’s okay to feel awkward about being in front of the camera! Couples love that we give so much direction during the Engagement Session and often express how much better they feel knowing we’ve directed them in a fun and comfortable way!

We include Engagement Sessions in our wedding collections because we believe it’s an exciting and vital part of the entire photography process. It helps us arrive on the wedding day already knowing how you two interact, what your best poses are and how to photograph you in the most genuine way.


Common Questions


Where Should We Go for Our E-Session?

We love it when couples pick a location that’s special to them! Some couples will even pick two locations (sometimes one just isn’t enough!). So, what places draw you as a couple? Are there hobbies you like to do as a couple that could be incorporated (i.e. painting, cooking, hiking, etc.)? Based on your response we can help you find the right location.

What Should We Wear?

This is an important question that’s frequently asked. We say: Don’t try to match. Instead, pick outfits and accessories that coordinate. What’s your personal style? It’s okay to get glammed up and dressy, or if you’re the casual type you may want to dress down. Most patterns are okay except when they look TOO busy. Stick with something that’s not distracting. We can also help you select your best outfits that look most photo-ready.

Can We Bring Props, or Even Our Pet?

Absolutely! Whether its pets, banners, letters or numbers that match your wedding date, props are a great way to bring some extra personality into your E-Session. When bringing a pet make sure to bring a friend who can be in charge of their care.


When Should We Schedule Our E-Session?

Always schedule your E-Session with your photographer at least 2 months from the date you wish to book. Finding the right day can be based on several factors, so here’s the skinny. We require having your E-Session on a weekday due to our busy wedding weekend schedule (though we will be flexible where we are able!). If you plan to use the photos for save-the-dates schedule at least 6-8 months from your wedding date. We can also shoot sunrise sessions. We require sunrise sessions for busy locations such as the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

Approximate Start Times

Winter | Nov to Mar 3:00 - 5:00pm

Summer | Jun to Aug 6:00 - 8:30pm

Spring | April 5:30 - 7:30pm | May 6:00 - 8:00pm

Fall | Sept 5:30 - 7:30pm | Oct - Early Nov 5:00 - 7:00pm

How Soon Do We Receive the Photos?

Turnaround is one week from the date of your session.



Picking the right outfits for your engagement session is a question we get asked by every couple, so we thought it would be helpful to give you a few more tips!

1. Most couples have two outfits for their session. One is normally dressier and the other more relaxed and casual. Ladies can wear dresses that are short or long and flowy! Guys can wear business casual or, on the relaxed side, a v-neck shirt and jeans.

2. Coordinate, but don’t “match”. The same color can be worn but it’s wise to have a different shade of that color so you don’t blend into one another when hugging each other close.

3. You can wear patterns, but make sure the patterns are large and non-distracting. Plaid, for instance, can be worn but is best to have large plaid patterns rather than small.

4. Go Colorful! We love color palettes that resemble seasonal colors.


5. Black! Given the right setting black can be an awesome choice for the mountains or urban environments. Balance the black color with something neutral, denim blue or white.

6. Make sure any formal attire is equally balanced. A flowy black dress should not be complemented by shorts and flip flops, right?!

7. Accessorize! Bring your jewelry, scarves, bags, belts, etc!

8. More than anything else be yourself. If you’re the dressy type glam it up! On the other hand, if you love feeling relaxed in your attire go with it! Show off your unique style!


Sample Wedding Day Timeline

Please note: These timelines are here for your reference and do not represent the “ideal” timeline for every wedding.


No First Look

2:00 - 2:45 Bridal Details Photographed

2:45 - 3:15 Bridal Prep

3:15 - 4:00 Bride & Bridesmaids Portraits

4:00 - 4:30 Groom & Groomsmen Portraits

4:30 - 5:00 Reception Details Photographed

5:00 Ceremony

5:30 - 6:00 Gather Family & Family Portraits

6:00 - 6:10 Full Bridal Party Portrait

6:10 - 6:25 Bride & Groom Portraits

6:25 - 6:30 Bustle Dress

6:30 Reception Begins

10:30 The Exit


With a First Look

2:00 - 2:45 Bridal Details Photographed

2:45 - 3:15 Bridal Prep

3:15 - 3:30 First Look

3:30 - 4:00 Bride & Groom Portraits

4:00 - 4:30 Bridal Party Portraits

4:30 - 5:00 Reception Details Photographed

5:00 Ceremony

5:30 - 6:00 Gather Family & Family Portraits

6:00 - 6:10 A Few “Just Married” Portraits

6:10 - 6:15 Bustle Dress

6:30 Reception Begins

10:30 The Exit

Write Out Your Ideal Timeline

____________________________ Bridal Details Photographed

____________________________ Bridal Prep

____________________________ Bride & Bridesmaids Portraits

____________________________ Groom & Groomsmen Portraits

____________________________ Reception Details Photographed

____________________________ Ceremony

____________________________ Gather Family & Family Portraits

Advice for Different Seasons

When it comes to knowing what the weather will be like for your engagement session or wedding day we’ve provided various insights we thought would be helpful for our couples.



We love summer weddings because there is so much daylight. If you’re having a summer wedding you will experience daylight until as late as 8:30pm. Many couples plan their ceremony time between 4:00-6:00pm because of this. Plan to have a few minutes to slip away from your reception for some gorgeous sunset portraits. They will be absolutely beautiful and you won’t regret it! Best of all, no one notices you’re gone for those few minutes because we plan it during dinner or open dancing.


Winter is magical! We recommend planning your wedding based on the sunset time (5:00PM in December and 4:00pm as the months go on). We like to take advantage of the light while it’s there. This isn’t a problem if you’re having an early afternoon wedding. If you’re planning on having a late evening wedding, you will want to consider a First Look to make the most out of your portraits.


We could easily say that Fall is our favorite time of year. The weather begins to cool and the colors are absolutely amazing. Every year, we experience a change in fall leaves during the mid-October to mid-November timeframe (Of course, this may be different if you’re not in Virginia where we’re from). It makes perfect sense to take advantage of these beautiful colors! Keep track of the sunset and time your Ceremony at least 2 hours before. You won’t regret having a little sunlight!


This is the time of year when nature literally springs back to life! Any photos taken against natural scenery is so worth it! With warm weather and plants and trees blooming around us, you will love your portraits! With the possibility of imminent weather, we will always create a plan and backup plan so that we know we have all our bases covered to get the photos you want on your wedding day.

Pre-Ceremony Guidelines

Information on how to prepare for the photographs taken while you are getting ready.


Bridal Details

This is typically our first big task for photography on the wedding day. We like to focus on shooting details first so that by the time we are finished we will be completely focused on photographing your hair & makeup shots. Have your details laid out together in one place ahead of time for us to access. Bridal details include: dress and special hanger, all three rings, jewelry, perfume, shoes, flowers, veil, invitations, heirlooms, and a gift / letter from your groom.

Hair & Makeup

Timing is everything on a wedding day. Have your hair & makeup scheduled to end earlier than you think you need it to. This is the part of the wedding day that can make schedules run awry early on. Though we account for buffer time built into the schedule to account for this, it’s helpful to be proactive about your planning for it.

Dress Prep

When you are ready to put your dress on be sure to have your bridesmaids already dressed and anyone who should be in the room to help you such as mom or grandmother. Save the jewelry for after you put your dress on as these photos will look much prettier! It also helps when the room is nice and tidy, so we and the bridesmaids can help clear things out of the way to have minimal distractions in the photos.

Groom Prep

Since one photographer is with the bride, the second photographer will be with the groom & groomsmen while they are getting ready. Similar to the Dress Prep, we like to make sure the room is cleaned up to allow for minimal distractions around the focus of the photos: the groom and his groomsmen. We will capture the finishing touches of the groom putting on his suit, the pinning of the boutonniere, and more.

The First Look 

A First Look is a modern tradition when the bride & groom see each other for the First Time, fully dressed, before the ceremony. This is one of our favorite parts of the wedding day! We will help you find the right location for your First Look. Our couples have always said having a First Look never took from the intimate moment of seeing each other as the bride walked down the aisle. Having a First Look means you get to genuinely express real emotions and react to each other in the most honest way without all of your guests staring at you. It also helps diminish the nerves typically felt before the ceremony.

You’re also able to enjoy more time after the ceremony with your guests because you’ve already taken care of the large majority of your portraits (bride & groom, and bridal party). It’s one of the few times you have alone the entire day.

Tip: Some couples opt for a First Touch by holding hands around a corner without seeing each other. This is an intimate and fun way to share a few words before your ceremony and help release those nerves you will feel!

Daddy Daughter First Look 

When you have a special place in your heart for your dad it makes sense to share a moment together before you walk down the aisle together. Capturing this moment means everything to a bride and her father. Though it doesn’t take long, every minute counts since you are getting close to ceremony time. Thus, dad will want to show up on time.

The Bridal Party

Bridal Parties come in all sizes. With two photographers, we take care of bridal party photos efficiently. Bridesmaids should have bouquets in hand, and groomsmen should be wearing boutonnieres.

Sample List of Bridal Party Portraits

Bride with Bridesmaids

Bride with each Bridesmaid individually

Bride with specific Bridesmaid groupings (sisters / Sorority, etc.)

Groom with Groomsmen

Groom with each Groomsmen individually

Groom with specific Groomsmen groupings (brothers / childhood friends)

The Ceremony

 This is the part of the day you’ve been waiting for. We see so many special moments happening all at once and so we position ourselves to maximize capturing every angle. The ceremony passes by so quickly, yet in that time we document the bride & father walking down the aisle, the look on the groom’s face as he witnesses his bride entering, family & friends smiling and crying as they celebrate this short yet beautiful occasion.

Remember, as much as everyone will give you advice for how your ceremony should look, make your wedding yours. Some couples light a unity candle, tie a three-fold cord, wash each others feet as a sign of serving the other, and more. Having an element of what makes YOU you can bring a special spark to your ceremony!

Family Portraits 

Family Portraits gives us the best opportunity to interact with your family on the wedding day. We make sure to keep this part of the portraits shorter so that we can make more room for your bride & groom portraits. It is almost inevitable a family member may disappear just before portraits are being taken, but rest assured we always find everyone without hindering the schedule! Any family shots we don’t accomplish during this time can also be captured at the reception!

For Family Portraits, we welcome your lists.

Below, we’ve created a sample list of common groupings.

B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

B&G with Bride’s Parents

B&G with Bride’s Siblings

Bride with her Parents

Bride with Mom, Bride with Dad

B&G with Bride’s Grandparents

B&G with both sets of Parents

B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family (Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

B&G with Groom’s Parents

B&G with Groom’s Siblings

Groom with his Parents

Groom with Mom, Groom with Dad

B&G with Groom’s Grandparents

B&G with all family members if time allows

The Reception

Let the fun begin! From the time your bridal party lines up for introductions to the time you exit your reception, we are there to capture the party and have fun, too! As your wedding photographers this means we acknowledge it's best to be inconspicuous, but not to the point that we can't interact with you and your friends & family to ensure great smiles in photos! We want your guests to know we are approachable which makes the photography experience much smoother. Because we know everyone is enjoying your celebration and having a great time, we always feel comfortable being a part of your wedding in this way, too.

Here are some key moments during a typical reception:

Bridal Party Introductions

First Dance

Daddy-Daughter Dance

Mother-Son Dance

Anniversary Dance

Money Dance

Traditional Religious Dances

Welcome by Father of the Bride


Cake Cutting


Bouquet and Garter Toss

Large Group Portraits with Friends

The Exit of the Bride and Groom

A Quick Note on Reception Details

Whether it’s before the Ceremony or during family portraits, one of us will plan to photograph your reception details. This is typically a 15-20 minute process, and we know you will love having these photographs to remember all the details and decor that went into decorating your wedding day.

The Exit

We love photographing exits! We do our best to include enough hours of coverage to cover the most important parts of your reception. If you’re having your exit photographed, we can make sure the timeline fits for our coverage or add additional hours if the reception is extending your given coverage time.

Rainy Wedding Day

 One of the questions couples ask is “What happens if it rains?!” We’ve come across gorgeous, sun-lit wedding days and days with inclement weather. Because we’ve been there before we know what to do. Rain isn’t ideal but couples have been surprised by our images after receiving them. Common responses have been “Wow! I can’t believe the colors still look so vibrant!” or “It doesn’t even look like it rained!” With our creativity we can use the rain to our advantage. Though no bride would wish for rain on their big day be assured we know how to handle it and still get the most beautiful photos.

Here are a few ways we handle a rainy wedding day:

1. Use natural light in an area with a roof, such as a porch.

2. Let’s be creative with the rain and use it as part of your portraits.

3. Use a clear or white umbrella as a prop for your wedding photos!

4. Overcast skies mean we can use ANY location for great portraits!

5. Let us worry about the rain. Your job is to enjoy the wedding day!

Wedding Albums

 Imagine it’s the weeks after your honeymoon and you’re sitting on the sofa together. The fireplace is on and the two of you are enjoying an evening off (as if any of us get those very often!). You open a large box on the table in front of you and, inside, is your very own custom wedding album. Your memories of your wedding day were such a blur that you can’t wait to turn each page as you recall your wedding day memories together. This is the common experience couples have after they receive their wedding album!

Wedding Album Sizes

Sizes: 8 x 8 / 10 x 10 / 12 x 12

Selecting the best photos for your album is easy! Similar to “liking” photos on social media, you can “like” your favorite images through your Online Gallery. When you finish, your album is designed in-house and only goes to print once you’ve finalize the design. We offer two rounds of revisions to ensure the album is perfect for you.

When the holidays approach, we all wonder what meaningful gifts we can give to our parents. This is why many couples love that we offer Parents Albums! To ensure we can deliver the albums in time for Christmas, please order no later than November 1st!

 Thank You!

Thank you for trusting 88 Love Stories with your wedding day. We are so honored and so excited to be the ones capturing your story and helping you remember all the special memories. As you move forward with all the hustle & bustle of planning your wedding remember to make time for one another as your relationship is more important than anything else! The next step after booking will be to schedule an engagement session, and as we get closer to the wedding day we will talk about the schedule and have you complete our online wedding questionnaire. This gives us the most important information we need to know about your wedding day schedule. We hope this guide has been helpful in preparing for your wedding day!






(804) 887-7594